Thursday, February 11, 2010

Jeannie's Kid-Tested Mother-Approved Recipes

Jeannie is a fellow nature-loving, healthy-ish eating Colorado Monkee. We "met" through Glennon's blog, Momastery, and learned that we used to live just blocks apart from one another in my old Denver 'hood before we moved up to Steamboat. I like her a lot and I think you will too. I also think she looks a lot like my sister-in-law Becky. Beck ... don't you think you two could be sisters??

Anyway, Jeannie has two kid-friendly, oaty-delicious recipes to share with us today. Everyone ... meet Jeannie!

Hi Full.AtLasters and fellow Monkees. I'm excited to be able to share with you a couple recipes that are a regular part of the Cimino/Brisson household. I've always considered myself a health-conscious, physically active person. Although, the "conscious" hasn't always translated to "action" if you know what I mean. I mean, I know that a banana is healthier for you then a Peppermint Patty, but dammit, sometimes I just want the Peppermint Patty! And if I've spent the whole day snowboarding, doesn't that mean I deserve a burger and fries?!

I became more active about my family's health when my son, Henry was born. I became more careful about what I ate because I realized that if I wasn't getting sleep, the only thing I had left to give me energy and some sense of sanity was the right food. Oh, and I REALLY wanted to lose that baby weight too! I also became intrigued by the idea that I could make Henry's food from scratch, and had a lot of fun learning about that. It had never occurred to me before that I could make baby food AND that being in the kitchen could be fun and not feel like a chore.

Seven months later, I became pregnant again with my daugher, Olive. (No, this was not planned, people!) And while preparing for a homebirth, I learned a heck of a lot about how nutrition has an impact on labor and delivery, something I didn't learn as much about when I was pregnant with Henry.

I made a completely crazy decision this past summer to try and become a vegan. I was in Cape Cod with a great group of friends and it just so happened that the book, "The China Study" was on the nightstand in my room. I was astounded by the research between animal protein and long-term health conditions. This was the same time that I learned more about a very special friend's experience with rheumatoid arthritis. It turns out that after trying several medications, none of which were working well for her, she switched to a plant-based diet. Almost two years later she is symptom free and takes no medication.

Both the book and hearing more about Michele's story was compelling enough for me to make a change. It's taken me a long time to adjust, but I would say that now 80-90% (depending on the day) of mine and my children's diet is vegan and I noticed the change in how I felt pretty quickly. (Husband is more 50/50 because he makes his own breakfast and lunch! Too bad for him that I make dinner.)

So, are you hating me right now?! Well, don't! Because I still crave (and can be found giving into eating) Twizzler bites, M&Ms, Raisinets, Peppermint Patties, of course, oh, and I love Toblerones!, flank steak, and being the good Italian that I am, chicken parmigiana, really cheesy lasagna, baked ziti, manicotti...and the list goes on and on. I just take it one meal or snack at a time.

Thanks to Erin, I say to myself everyday, "Progress, not perfection." And that is an important piece of being healthy for me.

Buon appetito!

Banana Oat Cookies (courtesy of my friend, Julie N. Hi Julie!)

This is an easy and quick recipe that is a great healthy snack for little ones. I make it weekly and my son (and now 10 month old daughter!) loves them. I'm become a bit addicted also. It also doubles as a toddler activity; Henry helps me make them everytime. So, if you're snowed in and have run out of ideas, this will kill about a 30-45 minutes including bake time.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease two baking sheets with cooking spray.

3 mashed ripe medium bananas
2 cups of old fashioned oats
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
A dash of cinnamon (I usually make it a couple heavy dashs)
A dash of salt

Optional to add any of the following:
A tbsp or two of agave nectar (to make it sweeter)
1/4-1/2 cup of any one of the following (dried cranberries, raisins, dates, or walnuts).

Spoon tbsp-sized drops onto the baking sheets. Bake for 20 minutes. Makes about 2 dozen. (For you high altitude ladies and gents, bake about about 21-22 minutes.)

Good to know: Your older kids may not like these! I recently offered them to some of the neighborhood kids and they about gagged. Ha! So, if giving them to kids, they're probably best for the little ones who haven't tasted much sugar yet. But, who knows, maybe someone will prove me wrong. You could always try putting some fruit spread on the top. I put apple butter on one this morning and it was tasty.

Four-Grain Pancakes
(This is a recipe I adapted from the Joy of Cooking. I make these weekly as well and we can't eat them fast enough! NO ONE will know they don't contain dairy products.)

Combine in large bowl:
1 cup of whole wheat flour
3/4 cup unbleached white flour
1/3 cup cornmeal
1/4 cup old fashioned oats
2 tbsp sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cinnamon
dash of nutmeg

Whisk in small bowl:
3 tbsp ground flaxseed with 9 tbsp lukewarm water and let sit while you combine the following in a medium bowl:

1 3/4 cups plant milk (soy, almond or rice milk)
4 tbsp butter substitute, melted (I use Earth Balance sticks)
1/4 cup honey or agave nectar

Add flaxseed/water mix to this bowl.
Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients and you are ready to make the pancakes!

Optional: If you have fresh blueberries on hand, add a cup to the batter. You will not be disappointed.

Finally, I drizzle them with agave nectar instead of syrup. Yum! Enjoy!

Thanks Jeannie!

And, don't forget that oats are a significant source of dietary fiber and have been proven to reduce blood cholesterol. They also help stabilize blood sugar, help prevent heart disease and contain important phytochemicals that have been shown to have anti-cancer properties. Those are some pretty compelling reasons to try these recipes, don't you think?



  1. I can't wait to try both of these recipes! My 2 year old son has food allergies: dairy, eggs and nuts, which in itself is tricky, but I find it even trickier because my two older sons don't have any food allergies. So almost all of my cooking is now "allergy free" but I haven't had a ton of luck with pancakes!

  2. Jeannie - I can't wait to try these cookies for the twins. They look like the perfect "on the go" snack. I'm also a big fan of making double-batches of healthy pancakes or french toast on the weekends when I have more time and then freezing them in small servings to use during the week. Looking forward to trying yours!

  3. Hi Ladies,
    I am so grateful for this blog today. Just reading the words "Progress, not perfection" helped me with my bad mood this morning. I'm 8 months pregnant and have been snowed in for a all I've been doing is EATING! Granted, I'm eating "healthy" foods but my portion control is out of control!

    Jeannie - thanks for these recipes, they sound great. I've been eating lots of oatmeal on these cold mornings and am looking forward to new uses for the oats. I see that you use agave nectar in both recipes. I recently bought some and love it...I use it as a sweetner in my tea and on my oatmeal - how else do you use it?

  4. Christi, I've found the flaxseed/water combination to be a great substitution for eggs in quick breads, muffins, pancakes, etc.

    For each egg, combine 1 tbsp of ground flaxseed with 3 tbsp of water. Whisk and let sit a couple minutes before adding it with ingredients.

    I've also found that 1/2 banana, mashed, is another good substitution for one egg depending on the recipe, that is if you are willing to have it taste like banana.

    I have a friend who has a daughter with the same allergies as your son, PLUS wheat, and she loves the banana oat cookies. She now has named them after her daughter! :-)

  5. Brooke, well, my favorite is to use it as a syrup on pancakes. (That was a suggestion from my friend, Julie, who gave me the cookie recipe. Erin, you should really have her do a post! I can get you in touch with her.) But, I also use it to substitute sugar in different baked recipes, like banana bread. It feels like a lot and I've definitely made some mistakes, but here is the deal...

  6. All of these recipes have been really great sounding and they look yummy!

    I am feeling a bit overwhelmed though because I haven't had time to get to the store to get the incredients with the first recipe because of all this NOVA snow. Also, I had already gone to the store to get food to stock up on before the big snow! I feel like I will get behind and not be able to do it ALL. I want to do and try it all but am behind.

    O.K now that I vented and cleared my mind I will tackle one recipe at a time. My two boys will love to help me make them and I am running out of the food I shopped for pre-snow storm.

    Also, since I have been venting. How can I say, I have taken this snowed in situation to a whole new level. I have found really no motivation to do much and why not just sit and eat the processed food that was in my cabinet and frig before I started reading this wonderful blog? Clear out the cabinets and frig has been like a sport for me. What's another oreo, chip with tons of cheesy plastic dip, washed down with a huge fat sundae. This is how bad I have been this week. Been getting my two boys to bed early so I can devour all the treats in the house without them down my back begging for a treat for them. Let's spare them the ugly processed food for their mommy. UGH. I can't wait to get back to school!!! I thought I would never say that but at this point it would save me from total processed misery.

    Luv2run (this hasn't happened in about a week)

  7. Oh and by the way....that DOES look like Becky!


  8. Yum Yum Yum, can't wait to try the recipes! Pancakes will be perfect for another snowed in morning in VA! Thank goodness the power is still on ;)

    I think my niece will love the cookies. Okay, I hope.

  9. OK, I just made the pancakes and they were a BIG hit with the twins and, well, ME :) I omitted the 2 TBS sugar in the dry ingredients and used Agave nectar in the wet. I also added some fresh blueberries and Jeannie was right ... I was NOT disappointed!!

    Also- just an FYI that you can buy 50/50 flour at most grocery stores now. It comes pre-mixed half whole wheat and half regular flour. It's a great "transitional" food for those not used to 100% whole wheat and also works great for kids who aren't used to pure whole wheat flour yet!

    Luv2Run: Silly girl, you are not behind ... the idea of the recipes is not for you to run out and make every one each day one is posted ... think of it more as having some in the "bank" that you can refer to when you want to try something new :)

  10. ooo, Erin, good idea on omitting the sugar. I never bothered becaues I thought it was so little sugar anyway, but sugar is sugar. Thanks!!
    I'm so glad you liked them. They are my fav!
    And I second what Erin is saying to you, Luv2Run.

  11. Oh and Brooke, you can use agave nectar anywhere you would use sugar or honey. It is sweeter than both so you need less of it and agave nectar has a low-glycemic index so it doesn't spike your blood sugar which makes it safe for even diabetics to use!


    Jeannie and I used to play viola together in elementary school. We were cool, swear.

    Can't wait to try these recipes...but there's now way they'll be as scrumptious as that Henry.

    Love, G, not sister

  13. I know G, don't you just want to GOBBLE up that little Henry? And Olive too? I also really, really like saying the name Olive.

  14. Olive is a serious looker, too. That picture of Henry got me, though, because I often have that expression in the kitchen as well.


  15. Jeannie! Thank you for these recipes.... we can't wait to try them! Wow our story is so similar & it sounds as if we are at about the same point in this journey. I read the China Study too & it absolutely changed the way I feed my family..... it's so hard to dispute the shear volume of research, huh?

    Thanks again!

  16. Glennon, how could you out us like that? We didn't play viola. Glennon is a big liar....
    Oh, and that expression on Henry's face is what he does when I say, "Smile." Still working on that one.

    Mel, how exciting! How are you doing with your cooking now? I have my good days and days where I struggle with cravings (as discussed above)!

  17. holy cow! My dear jeannie!
    so excited to see you posting here!
    you're the one who introduced me to glennon and now this blog from that, etc.
    I just found out I have to get it together food wise - cholesterol is too high, like my dad's... this may help me suck it up!
    and here i was gonna feel good for making rice krispie treats tonight for a party instead of brownies! can I get partial credit at least?

  18. Jeannie, I can't help but laugh at this statement "I've always considered myself a health-conscious" all I can think about is that time at Val's house where you ate a record 8 taco's. Love you girl