Saucy Green Beans

As I child I had a confusing relationship with green beans. Every summer, as soon as the green beans were ready I would sit in my parent’s garden and snack on them raw. It’s still one of my favorite ways to eat them. However, at the dinner table, often canned or cooked too soft for my taste, I would refuse to eat them or try to hide them in the cat food bowl. My parents still act surprised that I love green beans. The truth is that it’s one of my all time favorite vegetables. Even after our rocky start.

I notice a similarity in many children I cook for. Children often love either raw or lightly cooked vegetables. And without a doubt, children like vegetables more often cooked fresh, not leftover. Sometimes they prefer fresh, not frozen. Have you noticed this? I cooked for one boy when I lived in Austin, TX, who loved broccoli, but only if it was lightly cooked. Not too raw, not too soft. I often wonder if they have an innate ability to tell which cooking styles bring out the most nutrients.

I found some tender, local green beans this week at my local co-op. If you have green beans such as these, eat raw or lightly blanched. They are very portable and make a great kid snack.

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I believe it’s a heck of a lot easier to put more vegetables on the table when we have super simple “recipes”. I want you to be able to fly through the kitchen without having to use up time looking up a recipe. This recipe for Saucy Green Beans follows this same philosophy. Leave the beans long or cut into bite size pieces depending on what you think your family will like. Of course they are delicious either way.

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Saucy Green Beans

1 pound green beans, tips cut off
1/2 to 3/4 cup of your favorite kid-friendly tomato sauce, preferably low salt and sugar-free ( I love our local Sweet Creek brand.)

  1. Heat a medium size skillet with a few tablespoons of water. As soon as the water is simmering, add the green beans and water saute for a few minutes.
  2. Stir in the tomato sauce. Cover. Let simmer until the green beans are barely tender. Add a tablespoon of water while the beans are cooking if the sauce seems like it is getting too thick.
  3. Remove from heat and serve.

Note:

These beans would be lovely served with a little of the vegan parmesan from Minimalist Baker that I used in the last post. I love having a variety of dressings and sprinkles to pull out at meals. It adds spark to a dish and children love having a little extra something special to add.

A jar of tomato sauce is a staple that is always in my pantry or refrigerator.

More green bean recipes:

Olivia’s Green Beans with Almonds
Green Beans with Pumpkin Seeds

 

 

Feeding Baby: Minced Vegetables

I don’t always have energy to cook full, fresh meals. Often, I just make a new grain or soup and add it to the mix of leftovers available. One thing I do prioritize is having a fresh vegetable dish at every meal. This can get tricky when I am feeding adults, a four-year old and a baby. Sometimes we all have different needs.

Babies don’t do as well with the lightly cooked vegetables that most adults and children need. They need their food to be softer, especially when learning to feed themselves. We need the light, fresh quality and crunch that shorter cooked vegetables provide. If we consume overcooked, or leftover vegetables regularly it can create sweet cravings and a heavy feeling energetically.IMG_20140424_083405

So what are some of the ways I provide fresh vegetables for babies instead of just reaching for a jar?  Continue reading

Lena’s Lunchbox 7: Noodle Rolls

It can be hard to provide variety in children’s packed  lunches. A lot of items that are loved at home, especially those of the saucy variety don’t pack well for school. Plus, some foods just aren’t as delicious at room temperature and it can be a little too fussy to send a thermos. Hooray for those of you sending hot food!!

Another factor is that many children in school aren’t given enough time to eat. Continue reading

Lena’s Lunchbox 6

IMG_20140327_151824Lena will be four-years-old  in a few weeks. An exciting thing she has learned recently is how to make her own nori rolls.

Her favorite filling is rice and avocado, but we were out of avocado this week, so she got creative. These nori rolls are filled with pressure cooked brown rice, steamed kale and currants. Yum! Perfect for lunch.

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Lunch 1
Nori Rolls with rice, kale and currants
Lightly boiled organic edamame pods
Oil sautéed Field Roast rounds
Blanched carrot stars and sliced broccoli stalks

 

 

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Lunch 2

Cooked quinoa mashed with baked yam
Falafel (I buy a few at my local food coop)
Blanched red cabbage
Sautéed broccoli

 

 

More of Lena’s Lunchbox:
Meet Lena
Lena’s Lunchbox 5

You may also like:
Healthy Snacks for Children
Children and Vegetables

 

Stars and Hearts: Food Shapes

Sometimes a whole lot of fun can be had with very little financial investment. Last week I bought these two cute little food cutters for one dollar. I found them in a local store that sells Asian items.

I first saw similar ones at a friend’s house last fall. We were cooking together, preparing a meal for guests. She brought out some little vegetable cutters and suggested I cut some of the soup vegetables into fun shapes. My friend had a variety of sizes to choose from. The ones in this photo are mine and are a little less than 2 inches across.

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Continue reading