Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Orange Julius Smoothie

I absolutely go crazy for the taste of this Orange Julius smoothie. It brings back memories of being a teenager and hanging out at the mall and buying this ice-y, creamy smoothie. Orange Julius was where it was at before the days of the juice bar boom. 

When I was pregnant with my third child, these were my main craving. The healthy swaps to yogurt and milk make this a guilt-free dessert or a fantastic breakfast. I can almost guarantee that when I get the stuff out to make these, I am going to have a line in my kitchen with requests for me to "make them one too" 


1/2 Cup Frozen Orange Juice concentrate
1 Cup Milk
1 Cup Vanilla Yogurt (I have a secret crush on this Vanilla Honey Greek yogurt - But it if you can!) 
1 Teaspoon Vanilla
2 Cups Ice


Step 1 – Put the milk, yogurt, vanilla, and orange juice concentrate in the blender and blend for 30 seconds

Step 2 – Add the Ice and blend for another minute until the ice is chopped up

Step 3 – Pour into cups and serve

Be sure to add the ice to any smoothie or milkshake last.  If you put it in the blender first, it can stick together and jam up your blender.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Snap Specific Cookbook - Good and Cheap

I came across a news article the other day that was highlighting a brand new cookbook by Leanne Brown. I am so excited to share it with you. It is beyond amazing!! And not only has wonderful recipes and delicious ideas but brings much needed information to those of us trying to eat and feed our families healthy and yummy food on a tight budget. 

You can download the entire cookbook right Here. 

or from Leanne's own website Here. 

I absolutely love the cookbook. There are beautiful pictures and the recipes are amazing.  They allow for lots of substitutions based on taste and availability. And we all know (and are learning) that being in the kitchen is all about practicing and creating confidence. 

I have started a list in a notebook of all the things from this cookbook that I am wanting to make. I think I am going to start with the Cornmeal Coated Veggies and maybe try the Chickpea and Beet Salad since the beets are available at my local farm stand. 

A lot of the principles that this wonderful cookbook is based on are taught right here at Food $ense. We even have recipes that you can give a try. 

Monday, August 18, 2014

Healthy Snacking for Little Ones

I have some hungry little snackers at my house. They are so interested in anything that goes on in the kitchen and they really want to be a part of anything that has to do with food. They want to help mix, add ingredients and especially help with the tasting. This is all really great, but it can be frustrating when their interest wanes at dinner time and I am having to beg them to sit in their chairs and eat a meal with the family. The big boys in our family can eat so much at mealtime that it is easy for me to forget that little tummies get full really fast and sometimes feel empty just as quickly. That is why it is especially important to offer your little ones snacks that are good for them. They can't afford the junk food empty calories any more than the rest of us can.

We were shopping yesterday and grapes were on mega-sale. Grapes are a super snack food, and it just kills me in the winter when they get so expensive (not to mention they look like they are almost raisins while they are still in the store). We came across these grapes that were bigger than quarters - we had to buy them. In fact, we barely made it home to wash them before we all dove right in. 

Offering your kids healthy snacks can be an easy way to establish not only healthy eating habits but to help them develop at taste for healthy food in a non-threatening way. Sometimes when we are faced with a plate full of a new food it can seem really scary and intimidating. Having just a little bit of that same food presented in such a casual way can really add to the chances that the food will not only be eaten but enjoyed.  

If you are looking for some additional ways to present healthy snacks to your kids, Choose My Plate has some really great ideas. 

They even have a whole My Plate for Kids area full of ideas to inspire you (and motivate your kids)

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Cantaloupe with Creamy Yogurt

One of the greatest things about food is the memories that we associate with it. Perhaps you have special memories of Christmas cookies or Thanksgiving potatoes. Maybe you have special memories of your dad making pancakes on Saturday mornings or a special after school cookie your mom made just for you. 

I have lots of food memories. I don't think I am alone in the fact that some foods bring up really special feelings for me. One of those foods is cantaloupe, specifically cantaloupe with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream. My dear grandpa used love to sit down at night in the summer with a half a cantaloupe melon with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream in it. He probably would never have been able to eat the whole thing if we grand kids didn't gather around him like little birds with our mouths wide open. He was lucky to have us. 

Now that I am all grown up, one of my most favorite summer treats is cantaloupe with honey vanilla greek yogurt. I could (and sometimes do) eat it daily and eating ice cream that much isn't good for anybody. So this healthy substitution takes what feels like a special childhood dessert and makes it something I would happily serve my family as a healthy breakfast.

This is one "treat" in our family that I am more than happy to continue the tradition of eating. That is one of the greatest things about making healthy choices for yourself. You are creating positive memories and good habits for your kids and your family.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Family Mealtime Can Be Simple

As Food $ense and the principles that it teaches has become a bigger part of my life, I have been so thankful for the little things that it has taught me. (Is still teaching me!)

One of the biggest things that has changed is my attitude about Family Mealtime. It used to be such an incredibly stressful time. We didn't eat together and when we did, we didn't enjoy the time we were spending together as a family. I didn't think it was a big deal. I was just trying to get everyone fed and the mess cleaned up as soon as possible. 

As I began menu planning and stocking my pantry with basics dinner time became a lot less stressful and I was much more patient at dinner time. As I have become more confident in the kitchen and in providing for my family I have even begun to relax and not just enjoy but really look forward to sharing meals with my family.  

We have started to realize that family mealtime isn't just about making sure everyone isn't hungry anymore, but that we have fed our brains and our spirits and our relationships with each other. 

We are enjoying the last few days of summer sunshine and last few days trips of fun and frolicking. Pretty soon everyone will be back in school and the daily routines that we have are going to change in a big way.

Yesterday I decided instead of focusing on a big dinner or complicated recipe that I would just have the kids' favorites and we would enjoy some time together. I made sure that I gave them plenty of notice that dinner time was coming up and that we would be eating together. This prevents anyone from being upset that they have to come home from a friends house or feeling upset that dinner is interrupting their plans.

When it was time for dinner, to lessen my stress, I assigned everyone jobs and we all worked together. The little ones washed grapes and we all husked corn. We put the bread on a tray and added the cheese to melt. It was less than 5 minutes prep time with all of us helping. Having everyone help with the dinner prep teaches your kids basic cooking skills as well as gives them a partial responsibility for what everyone is eating. Kids are more likely to try new foods and eat healthy when they are involved in the preparation of meals.

I think one of the hardest part of family mealtime (put probably one of the most important parts) is that is be a positive experience.  You may be tempted to take over a task that your child is struggling (and perhaps complaining about), but don't - this is an invaluable learning experience. You may be tempted to take this time to "discuss" a bad report card or negative behavior that has been going on - please resist. No one wants to feel attacked every time they get cornered in the kitchen. 

Use this time to get to know your kids, ask them questions that let them open up to you. Involve your child in conversation. Ask questions like: What made you feel really happy today?  What did you have to eat at lunch today?  What's your favorite veggie? Why? Tell me one thing you learned today. What made you laugh today? Some of my kids have taken to opening up faster than others, and it has been harder for me to make sure that I am not criticizing and nagging at some more than others. But I am making changes, just like they are. 

Eating together as a family, doesn't just have to happen at dinner time. If you have older kids who have jobs or sports commitments, try making breakfast your family mealtime. If you have a spouse who works late and little ones who go to bed early, make lunchtime your family mealtime.  There are actually very few rules that are important to remember - mostly just enjoy being together as a family. 

Here are some great additional resources to help inspire and motivate you to make your time together more enjoyable (and of course, stress-free!) 

Food $ense has fantastic information and you will never regret starting to make even the smallest of changes. 

Choose My Plate has some great, easy to start tips for Family Mealtime.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Baby Red Smashed Potatoes with Salt and Vinegar

I absolutely love baby red potatoes. I don't know exactly what it is about them, their adorable size, their sweet flavor, maybe their speedy cooking time, perhaps the fact that you never ever peel them. But whatever it is, I just can't get enough of them. 

We picked some up at the farm stand this week. There they were in big bushel baskets, so small and red. They actually looked like miniature play food. I had to buy a bunch of them. I am a total sucker for food that is "cute". 

I decided to make them plain and simple. Not much to this recipe, and it ends up being a little bit of something different. Nothing that is going to be strange and scare people away, but just enough that it isn't the same as always. 

Crispy Salt and Vinegar Smashed Potatoes

2 pounds baby potatoes (Yukon Gold, red, etc.)
1 cup plus 2 Tbsp. white vinegar
1 Tablespoon kosher salt, plus addt’l for sprinkling
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 Tablespoons olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with foil. 

Combine potatoes, 1 cup vinegar, and 1 Tbsp. kosher salt in a medium saucepan. Add enough water to cover by 1 inch. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes.

Drain and return potatoes to saucepan. Add butter and gently toss to coat. Transfer potatoes to prepared baking sheet, spreading them out in a single layer. Using a potato masher, smash each potato to about 1/2-inch thickness. You could use a heavy glass or mug here if you wanted to. But I prefer the texture of the potato masher. It leaves for lots more crispy peaks and creamy valleys. 

Bake for 20 minutes. 

Once baked, sprinkle with 2 Tbsp., salt and pepper. Serve hot. You could also top these with a dollop of sour cream or some ranch dressing.  They are fantastic served as a side dish with some saucy meat, but we just ate them plain as a snack. 



Remember to season them generously, potatoes just love seasoning. 

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Brown Sugar Muffins

I have created muffin eating monsters! It all started with the fluffy Zucchini Muffins we made a few weeks ago and they have been begging for and consuming muffins non-stop every since.

This is a really great thing because muffins are super easy to make and you can hide lots and lots of Good for You stuff inside a muffin. Whenever I made muffins I exchange half the flour for a whole grain / whole wheat flour instead of using just all white flour. The kids don't even notice the difference anymore (to be honest with you, I don't even notice either anymore). 

My mom used to make these while I was growing up and their simple flavor and the delicate texture has always made them one of my favorites. They are a great recipe to start making with your kids because the measurements are very easy and there are very few ingredients.  They whip up in less time than it will take to clean up your kitchen after while the kids lick the beaters. 


2 cups flour (I use half all purpose flour and half a whole grain flour)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1/2 cup butter

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Cream vanilla, brown sugar and butter.
Add egg and milk.
In a separate bowl mix flour, baking soda, and salt.
Add dry ingredients to the creamed mixture.

 Fill each cup of a muffin tin 2/3 full.
Bake 15 minutes.

I think they might actually eat them faster when they have made them on their own. These were disappearing faster than I could take pictures of them.

And as a bonus, My biggest helper had such a good experience he asked if he could help make dinner tonight! Score!!