Posts tagged ‘Mandarin oranges’

August 7, 2018

Time for Another Pantry Challenge

My pantry is a mess; it’s time for another pantry challenge. My range broke recently and you can see it in my pantry. Apparently I’ve been cooking less, but buying as if I’m going through food at the regular rate. There are so many layers of lazily stacked pasta, tuna, honey, chicken stock, strained tomatoes, and baker’s chocolate I can’t see what else is in there. My sister calls making yourself use what’s in the pantry a pantry challenge.
If I make this pantry challenge a game for my grandson DJ, maybe I can accomplish two things at the same time. At the ripe old age of two, DJ has become a picky eater. He used to love broccoli, beets, sweet potatoes, carrots, butternut squash, bananas, blackberries, steak, chicken, and bacon.

Now he only wants cheese, cheese dip, cheese quesadillas, cheese crackers, and cottage cheese. Funny thing though, he doesn’t like mac & cheese or other typical kid food for that matter. He won’t eat hot dogs, hamburgers, chicken nuggets, French fries, or mashed potatoes either.

Truthfully, he likes hummus, pretzels, applesauce, grapes, raisins, dried mango, dried figs, scrambled eggs, pancakes, and pizza. But we’d really like for him to eat more green vegetables, fresh fruit, and meat, fish, or poultry. We’d also like for him to enjoy whatever we’re eating.
DJ has his own stove – a metal one that I played with in my grandmother’s attic when I was his age. DJ has also started helping me cook. He likes to add salt and pepper and stir with a whisk. Maybe if I let him choose one or two things from the pantry as the basis for a meal he can help prepare, he’ll be willing to taste a wider variety of food.

If he chooses a box of pasta and strained tomatoes from the pantry, we’ll be in good shape. I’ll make pasta with some kind of red sauce that includes meat. If he chooses tuna and green chiles, I can make a southwest tuna casserole. On the other hand, if he chooses a bottle of vinegar and a bag of caramel chips I may have to think for a very long minute.

I don’t really want to reorganize the pantry until I’ve emptied some of its contents, but I may need some rules to keep this challenge headed in a positive direction. Here’s what I’m thinking…I’ll choose 6 items, sit them on the counter and let DJ choose 2 from the preselected inventory.

Then he can help me prepare something with the two items he has chosen. As long as I pick 6 things that can be mixed and matched easily, I can use the other 4 in the same dish or an accompanying one later in the day. DJ is here two days each week. Using 6 items at a time, the excess should be gone quickly.

A quick look in the pantry reveals these possibilities…

Wednesday’s proposed selection can be mixed and matched several ways:
Egg noodles
Black beans
Chicken stock
Green chiles
Gluten-free breadcrumbs

Next Monday’s options lean toward something Asian:
Tamari gluten-free soy sauce
Mandarin oranges
Raw cashews
Shredded coconut

The following Wednesday could lend us cornbread:
Yellow cornmeal
White cornmeal
Sweet white sorghum flour
Baking powder

Another Monday will garner ingredients for a hearty salad:
Dried figs
Pumpkin seeds
Golden raisins

As I dig deeper, I’m sure to find other suitable combinations. I’ll probably let one day be dessert treats just to keep the game fun. I know I have some chocolate chips and marshmallows hanging out somewhere in the pantry. I can make gluten-free grammy crackers in advance & we can make s’mores. Maybe we’ll make solar s’mores on the back porch. It’s certainly hot enough!

In a couple of weeks I’ll have reduced the pantry contents to a more acceptable level. At that point, I’ll reorganize and get rid of anything that’s too old. Then I can resume shopping as usual.

In the meantime…game on!

April 5, 2016

Try It, You’ll Like It!

You may remember the phrase from 1970s Alka-Seltzer commercials, “Try it, you’ll like it!” The urban dictionary defines it as a lie your parents tell you, especially about food. It’s the theme of the Dr. Seuss book, “Green Eggs and Ham”. Around here, it usually follows me telling Ben about a new recipe and him responding, “That sounds terrible!” (A guarantee, by the way, that it will be delicious.)

One night a few years ago, I made a salad topped with Mandarin oranges. Ben popped one in his mouth and said, “Oh, that’s good. I never knew these were so good!” I was confused. I replied, “Ben, I sent those in your lunch box to school every day and you always ate them.” He said, “No, I used to open the container & throw them in the trash or trade them for chips.” Really? For YEARS I sent Mandarin oranges in Ben’s lunch every single day because I thought he loved them. Apparently, he’d never even tried them. All I could do was laugh.

Sometimes we have preconceived notions about a food whether we’ve eaten it or not. We may not like the way it looks or smells. We may not like the way its name sounds. Rutabaga isn’t particularly audibly appetizing to me. But the only way to know whether I will like the way it tastes is, in fact, to try it. This can be a real obstacle for a child newly diagnosed with Celiac Disease who may believe all gluten-free food is gross.

oatmeal cookieIt’s true that there are many gluten-free packaged foods that taste unpleasant, and a few bad experiences can even make an adult skeptical. I took some cookies to a Final Four party the other night. Of course, I advertised them as gluten-free. While this appealed to a couple whose son is gluten-intolerant, everyone else was immediately hesitant to try them. Mind you, these were homemade oatmeal cookies fresh out of the oven, not something odd and unheard of. I watched the crowd tentatively view the pan until finally one person tried a cookie and eagerly finished it. The ice was broken. By the time the evening ended, only a couple of cookies were left. Thank goodness for that first adventurous taster.

If you are the parent of a gluten-intolerant child, an adventurous approach to avoiding gluten may be the greatest gift you can give him. Playfully sampling new foods, trying new recipes, and expanding her food vocabulary will help your child feel like the choices are abundant and fun to make. She may not be able to eat a traditional croissant, but the world is still her oyster.

Delicious, kid friendly, and gluten-free doesn’t have to mean expensive, difficult, and time consuming. This Cooking2Thrive recipe can be made with ingredients available at any grocery store. In fact, you may already have all the ingredients in the pantry. If so, grab a kid and have him bake you these cookies:

PB & J Cookies

About 25 cookies

Baking parchment
1 cup sugar
1 cup natural crunchy peanut butter (peanuts & salt)
1/4 tsp salt
1 egg
1 1/2 tbsp Concord grape jelly

Preheat oven to 350º. Line cookie sheet with baking parchment.

In medium bowl, combine sugar, peanut butter, salt, and egg. Mix well, then stir in jelly. Form dough into small balls approximately 1 inch in diameter. Place balls on cookie sheet about 2 1/2 inches apart.

Put water in a small cup. Dip a fork in the water and use it to press each ball flat, then press each ball with the fork a second time at a 90º angle to the first pressing.

Bake for 10 – 12 minutes. Remove parchment to cooling rack and cool for 5 minutes, then remove cookies from parchment directly onto rack to continue cooling. Serve.
Helping prepare recipes like this can be a mind opening experience for your child. Once he has prepared and sampled a delicious gluten-free cookie, he still may not be convinced each time you say, “Try it, you’ll like it!”, but he’ll be much more likely to feel good about adhering to the diet that makes him healthy.

When you keep an open mind and adventurous approach, your gluten-intolerant child will learn to see possibility and abundance rather than deprivation and restriction in the words gluten-free. That makes me feel better. How about you?