Better-for-You Baked Mac

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This months issue of Parents Magazine couldn’t have come at a better time. Parents Magazine offered up 21 Twists on Mac ‘n’ Cheese. From a Greek Style to a Protein Boost; there’s a Mac ‘n’ Cheese for everyone!

We started with the basic Better-for-You Baked Mac recipe and added some chopped broccoli. The dish was super easy to make and was a hit with the little one!

Ingredients

Nonstick cooking spray

3 cups dried fusilli (or pasta of your choosing)

1/4 cup light butter with canola oil (we used regular salted stick butter)

3 Tbs. all-purpose flour

1/4 tsp.salt

3/4 cup plus 2 Tbs. low fat milk

1/3lb. fontina cheese, 1.5 cups shredded ( we used 1/2 lb. of fontina cheese)

1/2 cup whole-wheat panko bread crumbs.

Medium head of broccoli

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat 2-qt square baking dish (or what ever shape you have in at least the 2 quart range) with nonstick spray; set aside.

2. Chop broccoli, place in medium sauce pan with a small amount of water and a pinch of salt. Simmer on medium heat, stirring occasionally until broccoli reaches desired tenderness.

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3. Cook pasta as directed on package; drain and keep warm.

4. While pasta cooks, melt butter in medium saucepan. Add flour and salt; stir for 1 minute.

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5. Add milk and stir until thick and bubbly.

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6. Remove from heat; stir in cheese until melted.

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7. Toss together pasta, broccoli and cheese sauce. Transfer to prepared dish and sprinkle evenly with bread crumbs. Bake 20 minutes or until heated through.

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Thank you Parents Magazine for 21 twists to my daughters favorite meal!

Are You Ready for Some…Chili?

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Chili has been a staple at my parents Super Bowl party for as long as I can remember. My mom makes a killer chili; thanks to a little help from Danny Wegman;) Everyone’s taste buds are definitely unique, there’s no question there. Finding the perfect chili that will leave each and every one of your guests raving to their friends…is highly unlikely. However, attempting to accommodate your guests by making what you think or know that they will enjoy makes all the difference! My mom makes two different batches of chili to accommodate her gluten-free friends. It’s the little things, like making a gluten-free chili, that makes you that extra special SuperBowl host.

I’ve pulled recipes from several friends with varying tastes and limitations and want to share with you what your vegan, gluten-free, non bean eating friends may LOVE! No worries though, I’ve added the beef filled recipe that my mom serves too!

Top Row: Beef Chili / Vegetarian / Turkey and Veggie

Middle Row: White Bean and Chicken / No Bean / Chicken and Corn

Bottom Row: Gluten Free

Enjoy!

Peanut Butter Energy Bites

Life as a stay-at-home mom to a three year old and four month old is…busy!! Add to that training for a marathon and some may call me crazy. There truly are not enough hours in the day for a mom to fit in everything that needs to be done. Trying to squeeze workouts in means sometimes training in the wee hours of the morning or late at night after the kids are in bed. I’m typing this post now at 10:30 p.m. after just finishing a ten mile tempo run…ouch. Like many moms to little ones, my meals sometimes consist of whatever my son doesn’t finish. Peanut butter and jelly sandwich crusts, half a banana or partially eaten yogurt. Not exactly the stuff to provide the energy I need to keep up with nursing a baby or chasing after a toddler. These energy bites are the perfect pick-me-up! I love them as a snack throughout the day or even pre or post workout.

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Ingredients

2 cups rolled oats
1 cup Peanut Butter
1/3 cup Agave nectar
1 tbs. Chia seeds
2 tbs. ground Flax seed
1 scoop Protein powder
1/2 cup (or more!) chocolate chips

These ingredients are extremely flexible. If you don’t have agave nectar, use honey. If you are sharing with the little ones you probably want to skip the protein powder. I will find any way to sneak flax seed into my family’s diet and usually try to include it in most of our baked goods. It adds a powerful punch of Omega-3s and dietary fiber. You could even add coconut flakes, raisins or nuts.

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Place all ingredients in a bowl and stir. The batter will be very thick. Roll into tablespoon size balls and place in the fridge to chill. Store balls in an air tight container in the fridge. I promise they won’t last long!

Pancake Muffins


The quest continues to find foods that Reagan will eat. Breakfast time is always a hit or a miss and usually consists of bites of toast, yogurt, fruit and Raisin Bran. I’m not a breakfast fan and pancakes are the absolute last thing that I would ever order at a restaurant, but I absolutely LOVE, LOVE, LOVE New Hope Mills Buttermilk Pancake Mix. I don’t know what it is about this pancake mix, but I am totally in love!

I was up super early this morning, so I decided that it was pancake day! I wanted to make something fun for Reagan to eat and decided on these adorable pancake muffins that I had seen on Pinterest. Reagan loves blueberry muffins and we had just picked up a bunch of blueberries at the market on Saturday, so…fresh blueberry pancakes here we come! (they are muffin shaped, so my hopes were high)

I’ve been adding Reagan’s DHA and probiotic to multiple meals lately, instead of just one. Since she hasn’t been really eating much, it’s pointless to add the entire serving of the DHA or the probiotic to say, just her yogurt at breakfast time. It’s such a waste, because she never eats the full serving of ANYTHING let alone something that I add the DHA or probiotic to.

Ground Flaxseed has also made its way into Reagan’s diet (mine and the husbands too). Flaxseed is known to have many healthy components, but is especially known for containing healthy amounts of Omega-3 essential fatty acids (good fats), lignans (antioxidant qualities), and fiber (soluble and insoluble). Reagan can benefit from ANYTHING healthy!!

I decided to make three different kinds of pancakes- strawberry, blueberry and plain. My husband is not a fruit fan, so the plain would be right up his alley. The amount of fruit depends on how much you want on top of each pancake muffin. I topped 4 muffins with 4-6 blueberries each, used 2.5 strawberries to top another 4 muffins and left 4 muffins plain.


Ingredients
2 cups New Hope Mills Buttermilk Pancake Mix
3 table spoons Organic Whole Ground Flaxseed Meal
1 egg
1 cup water
blueberries
strawberries
cooking spray

Materials
muffin tin
wire cooling rack
metal spoon
mixing bowl
metal fork

Add dry ingredients together.

Add egg and water- mix until smooth (no clumps)

Using cooking spray, coat bottoms and sides of muffin tin holes. I swipe insides of tin with paper towel so that they are not too greasy.

Fill muffin tin holes 3/4 full and then top with desired toppings.

Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes- The strawberry ones took a little longer- 14 minutes

Test with a fork to see if muffins are done- Stick a fork into two different muffins and if the fork comes out clean, the pancakes are done. Using a metal spoon remove pancakes from muffin tin holes and place on wire rack to cool.

These muffins were super yummy, but they were a total FAIL for Reagan. She picked out the fruit chunks and didn’t even attempt to try the tiniest bite of the pancake. Humph…there’s always tomorrow.

Burrito Obsessed


I find myself in a dinner jam more and more often. I don’t know what it is, but some days, I just can’t get my act together to get a nutritious and fulfilling meal on the table for my family. I vowed to make a list of freezer friendly foods that I could make, freeze and grab when I’m in a dinner funk.

My husband is burrito obsessed! So making some freezer friendly burritos helps me on my funk filled days and satisfies his burrito obsession.–So before I go any further…let me take back what I said above about ‘a nutritious and fulfilling meal’- fulfilling…yes- nutritious…not so much.

I added green peppers to some of the burritos, but neglected to add them to the ingredient picture.
I only added black beans to some of the burritos-I thought with both the refried beans and the black beans, it might have been bean overload!

Ingredients

1 lbs. fresh ground turkey
1 (16oz) can refired beens
1 (15.25oz) can of corn
1 (10oz) can enchilada sauce
1 (15.5oz) can black beans
1 green bell pepper
10 Large Burrito Tortilla Gordita Style Wraps
8 oz Shredded Cheddar
Plastic Wrap- I used Press and Seal
Wax Paper

Brown ground turkey in pan till no longer pink. Drain fat. Place in a bowl.

In a medium sized bowl- mix together the refried beans, enchilada sauce, cheese and corn.

If using green peppers dice and sauté in a tiny amount of butter in the same pan that the turkey was cooked in.

Remove tortilla wraps from package, place on microwave safe plate, cover with a moist paper towel and heat in microwave for 30 seconds. Doing this allows for easier rolling and less breaking.

Place ingredients into center of wrap.

Fold in the sides of the wrap (they will overlap),take wrap side closest to you and pull over two sides that you just folded and overlapped, then begin to roll. Try your best to keep all loose edges tucked in. Place wraps on wax paper lined baking sheet.

Place wraps in freezer for one hour to flash freeze.

After the hour in the freezer, remove the wraps and tightly wrap in plastic wrap. Label a large plastic zip lock bag with the contents and the date that they were made. I neglected to take a photo of my burrito bag- I included a picture of the bag that I use for our breakfast burritos.

To heat burritos- Remove from plastic wrap, rinse quickly under a running tap- making sure to wet the entire burrito- place on microwave safe plate and heat for 3 minutes. Every microwave is different, you are aiming to heat the burrito all the way through. My husband and I LOVE these burritos- He eats them plain, I prefer mine with a large dollop of sour cream! Yummy!