Kid-friendly, Mom Approved Pizza

This recipe actually came from Harvesters Nutrition Department. We made it with volunteers during our New Year’s Eve Family Volunteer Day. I told my team, “We should try this recipe before we serve it.” It got a thumbs-up from my entire team.

My husband was a little apprehensive about trying it. He was surprise how much he enjoyed it. In fact, it’s become our go to snack.

Here’s hoping your little ones enjoy making this healthy snack.

FullSizeRender (14)Fruit Pizza by Harvesters Nutrition Service Department
1 flavored rice cake
Greek yogurt
Fruit

Spread yogurt on rice cake and top with fruit.

Notes:

  • We used chocolate and caramel with the volunteers. I like the caramel best.
  • We used vanilla Greek but you can use another flavor to match your fruit. You can also just use regular yogurt.
  • I’ve used bananas, berries (raspberries/strawberries/blueberries), and mangos. Fresh or thawed frozen fruit both work.

Fruit and Veggie Smoothie

I’m a pretty practical person. When my mom ask me what I want for a holiday gift, I usually have a hard time coming up with stuff. This year, I decided to take my birthday money though and invest in a Ninja blender. Sure, we have all seen the infomercials for it – but does it really work? I did a little online research. I usually don’t read people comments on stuff because it just gets my heart racing. The anonymity of the internet makes people think they can say anything. But I figured if the major of the 100 reviews written on multiple websites were good, maybe all those people weren’t paying to write them. I also chatted with a friend of friend who said it worked good at everything but chopping kale. Ice was my biggest concern. I had some cheap blender and it couldn’t chop ice for anything. I wanted a Starbucks quality blender at a price that fit my budget. The basic Ninja is $99. I used my Bed, Bath, and Beyond 20 percent off coupon getting it down to $80. With birthday money, I could justify the expense.

This smoothie was one of my first test. I have to say, it work beautifully. (Just so you know, I haven’t been paid a dime to say this or anything else on my blog). In the weeks ahead, I will share how it did on other recipe. (I’m even going to give homemade ice cream a try even though I didn’t buy that level of Ninja.) This recipe is definitely a keeper though. I saw it while watching Pioneer Woman on the Food Network and found the exact recipe on the internet. It will be on my Pinterest favorites if you want to tag it for later.

Orange Resolution SmoothieOrange Resolution Smoothies by Ree Drummond
2 c. frozen mangos
2 c. peaches
2 c. Greek yogurt
1 c. Orange Juice
1 c. pineapple
¼ c. honey
1 banana
1 c. mini carrots

Blend together and serve. Makes eight servings.

Notes:

  • I used canned pineapple packed in natural juices.
  • I chopped up the carrots.
  • I cut the recipe to a fourth and it made a good cup and half smoothie.

Berry-Burst Yogurt

In September, I took a job as the Volunteer Services Manager at Harvesters – The Community Food Network. The position was the perfect match for me – volunteerism and food. Plus, as a donor and episodic volunteer I knew just how great an organization Harvesters was…or so I thought. I quickly learned that this organization was even better than I realized.

Harvesters is the Kansas City area’s only regional food bank. The difference between a food bank and a pantry is something most people don’t know. Each week, Harvesters processes enough food to feed 66,000 people in our 26 country service area. They work with a network of over 620 food pantries, kitchens, and shelters to get the food to where people live. From some of the rural counties we serve, this might even be a few hours from our Topeka facility. Harvesters operates like a business – quickly processing food orders placed online like Amazon might do. The high level accountability and relationship building with local businesses mean that 97% of the food and funds received go right back out to the people served by our community partners. I’ve worked for a lot of great nonprofits by nobody with that little of overhead expenses.

I, like so many of you may be, was shocked by just how many people are food insecure. One in six people in our country are hungry. That means, probably someone you know has or currently is struggling to eat. And for some reason, many people have this perception that if someone isn’t skinny or displaying a bloated stomach than they aren’t really hunger. In fact, major health issues like obesity and diabetes are often the result of food insecurity. When people are limited on funds, they purchase unhealthy, cheap foods that fill up their bellies. Since 1980, the cost of processed foods has decreased by 40% while the cost of healthy foods like fresh vegetables/fruits and lean meats has increase by 40%. Are you as surprised as I am by this? What is even sadder is that one in three kids born in the year 2000 will develop Type II Diabetes (the kind that is caused by what you eat and limited exercise).

One of the coolest things Harvesters does to help address these issues is that it provides nutrition education. We have a whole team of people who spend their days testing recipes and teaching nutrition classes. These dishes are selected for their healthy qualities, tantalizing taste, cost, and ease in preparation. I have to say, I haven’t tasted a recipe yet that I haven’t liked – and you know veggies aren’t my favorite. In addition to teaching classes for both children and adults, we also share these recipes at our Mobile Food Pantries. Each month, Harvesters distribute a ½ million pounds of fresh produce. Nutritious recipes help people utilize the healthy fruits and vegetables they receive.

Check out this Kids in the Kitchen recipe for a delicious breakfast/dessert favorite.

Berry-Burst YogurtBerry-Burst Yogurt with Granola by Harvesters Nutrition Services
1 c. uncooked oats (quick or old fashioned)
¼ c. honey
¼ c. canola oil
1 lemon, zested (2-3 T. juice, 1 T. zest)
1 (12 oz.) package frozen mixed berries (2 ½ c.)
2 bananas, ripe
¼ to ½ tsp. cinnamon
3 c. vanilla Greek yogurt

Combine oats, honey, and oil. Heat skillet to medium temp and add mixture. Stir frequently for 8-10 minutes until golden brown (but don’t burn). Immediately remove from skillet and cool on an aluminum foil lined baking sheet for 10 minutes. Then, break into clumps.

Zest lemon and add with cinnamon to yogurt. In a separate bowl, mash together bananas and berries. Dish up ¼ c. yogurt, ¼ c. fruit, and top with 1/8 c. granola.

Nutritional Information: (Serves 12) 178 calories, 6 g. protein, 27 g. carbs, 3 g. fiber, and 22mg sodium.

Notes:

  • Total cost is $8.31 or $.69 per serving
  • I made it with lemon juice and no zest.
  • I microwaved the berries for a few minutes to thaw. Leftover yogurts were refrigerated.
  • Greek yogurt is expensive so I used low fat vanilla yogurt. Greek yogurt is $1.15 per container. Each regular yogurt was $.40 per container. Just note it might change your nutritional information.

Monkey Tail

As a kid, I didn’t really eat a lot of sweet treats. My sister was allergic to chocolate so that meant I never got to eat chocolate candy bars. Occasionally, we might go to the Dairy Keen (yes, you read that right) to get a soft serve ice cream cone. But once in a blue moon, we might go to Goodrich Dairy in Norfolk. Goodrich locations are homemade ice cream, treats, and malts/shakes stores throughout Nebraska. I loved a Goodrich Malt. In fact, I still enjoy stopping for this treat on a warm Spring/Summer day driving through Lincoln on my way back to Kansas City.

I will never forget a trip to Goodrich as a pre-teen. My mother, sister, sister’s friend Jeanna, and I stopped at the Goodrich store in Norfolk to get some ice cream. A child we didn’t know kept screaming “I want a Monkey Tail.” In case you aren’t familiar with this cold treat, it is a frozen banana covered in chocolate. I don’t entirely understand why this child wanted that over homemade ice cream but I will never forget those tears streaming down their face in disappoint as they left without their monkey tail. I’m sure their parents where just mortified.

As I ran across this recipe on Pinterest, it made with think of that Goodrich experience. This super easy refreshing treat is perfect for your next summer barbeque.

Frozen Fruit SkewersFruit Skewers on Pinterest
4 bananas, sliced
2 T. orange juice
green and red seedless grapes
chocolate chips

Line a cookie sheet with waxed paper. Mix sliced bananas with orange juice. Thread skewers alternating grapes and bananas. Melt chocolate chips in the microwave on high for 1 minute, stir, and follow with 20 second intervals until completely melted. Scoop melted chocolate into a Ziploc bag and seal. Snip corner and drizzle over skewers. Place in freezer for 2 hours. Defrost for 5 minutes before serving.

Notes:

  • I used a frozen banana to make my skewers. If you do that, I would use half the amount of orange juice. They can be very slippery.
  • I only had red grapes. It worked just fine.
  • Blueberries would also be good.
  • I halved the recipe and melted probably ¼ c. of chocolate chips. But I think almond bark would also work if you wanted a white chocolate taste.
  • I placed a Ziploc bag in a glass and poured melted chocolate into baggie. It’s the easiest way to fill the bag with spilling or burning yourself.

Don’t Give Up

Let’s be honest, we all know we need to work out. But sometimes we make excuses for why we don’t go to the gym. I’m busy. I’m tired. The list goes on and on. After five years of practicing yoga twice a week religiously, I found out last May my yoga teacher would no longer be teaching my class. The saddest part about the whole thing was that she had to stop teaching the class because she couldn’t afford the vehicle expenses to continuing driving 30 minutes each way to teach our class. I loved that yoga class – the teacher, my fellow yoginis, and the way I felt participating in the class. The place where I practiced decided to cancel the course instead of searching for a new teacher. That was really hard for me because our class was called “Yoga Just for You.” It was designed for larger women because ANYONE can practice yoga. It took me a long time to figure out what to do with my free time on Tuesday and Thursday nights. But it took me even longer to accept my class was over and I would need to search for a new yoga teacher if I wanted to continue.

In December, I used a Groupon to check out a studio in Overland Park. I couldn’t find a teacher whose style really fit me and got frustrated by all the skinny people who could move their bodies in ways in simple could not. I gave up and walked away once again.

Last week, I found the motivation I needed to return to the gym. I was angry and frustrated with things in my life. I, not a super religious person, prayed for guidance before I went to bed. When I awoke early that morning, I knew where I needed to go – the gym. At 5:45AM, I put on my workout clothes, grabbed my iPod, and heading to the Y. I felt great! I even managed to do it again the following morning.

The saddest part is I have had a membership at the Y for five and half years. And I’ll be honest, I come and go from working out on a regular basis. I have no accountability for going. I don’t even get super mad about paying the month membership fee when I miss for months at a time. The Y is a nonprofit that makes a healthy lifestyle accessible to all by offering a sliding fee scale. My membership fees were helping offset the expenses of others.

So what is my motivation to keep at this time? Who will make me be accountable this time? It’s going to have to be me. I have to make myself and feeling good a priority. I may never be skinny but I can exercise for my health – mental and physical. I also have someone else who is going to keep on me – a Y employee. There is an older gentlemen at my Y that works most mornings. I don’t know his name but he has been working at this location since I started working out at it three years ago. He recognized me Friday morning. He said, “I haven’t seen you in awhile.” I told him that’s because I hadn’t been in awhile. On my way out, he said to me, “I’ll be here Monday morning. I hope to you see you then, Amber.” It worked. He knew my name and he made sure I know he was going to be looking for me. I’m going back Monday morning.

My recipe today is for all my friends battling to be healthier. I hope this dessert helps you stick with your weight loss goals. I got this recipe from an old co-worker at SAFEHOME who was participating in Weight Watchers.

Orange Fluff

1 box of Orange Sugar Free Jello
1 c. of hot water
1 box of White Chocolate Sugar Free Pudding
1 small can of mandarin oranges, drained (look for one without or light syrup)
1 tub of Sugar Free Cool Whip

Mix Jello and hot water to dissolve. Cool. Add Pudding and whisk. It will start to thicken. Add oranges. Fold in whipped topping. Refrigerate until firm. The best part is that the entire recipe is only 2 Weight Watchers points.

Don’t like orange? Switch it to your favorite fruit and matching Jello flavor. I’ve tried this with strawberries and it was delicious.