Sunday, March 24, 2013

More Pizza Please

My kids love pizza. Most kids do!  So this recipe is healthy but at the same time it is delicious.  Since we have some vegans in the house, this recipe can easily be made vegan.  Daiya mozzerella cheese and unsweetened almond milk are easy substitutions.
Here is the recipe, Mom's stir and roll pizza!
1 cup white flour
1 cup sprouted grain whole wheat pastry flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup coconut oil
2/3 cup your favorite milk
Add all ingredients into a bowl and stir till combined.
Press dough onto pizza plate.
I love this pizza pan and these parchment papers.  Makes a super easy cleanup!
Add your favorite sauce, cheese, and toppings (oregano is awesome) and then bake at 420 degrees for 10-15 minutes.  Watch carefully that you do not burn it!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Three More Recipes, all oil free and vegan

The second recipe I demonstrated was Mushroom Stroganoff
This recipe is really easy, vegan, and has no oil, cream, or butter, but still tastes rich and creamy!
1 onion, chopped
8 oz cremini or other wild mushrooms
8 oz sliced white mushrooms
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 T whole wheat flour
3 T balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup almond milk(unsweetened)
thyme, 2 pinches
16 oz cooked whole wheat pasta

Cook onion in non-stick skillet on high heat for 3 minutes. Keep moving them around. Add all the mushrooms and garlic.  Keep stirring as the veggies get brown and release juices.  Sprinkle flour over mushrooms.  Stir continuously with spoon until the flour is dissolved.  Add in balsamic vinegar, and almond milk, sauce will thicken.  Add in thyme to taste.  Add in your cooked noodles and eat immediately. Sprinkle on some nutritional yeast for a "cheezy" taste.

We also made 2 desserts.
Strawberry Mousse
1 pkg extra firm silken tofu
1/3 cup maple syrup
1 pkg frozen strawberries, 8 oz
zest from one orange
Blend all ingredients in a blender, food processor, or vitamix.  Chill for one hour.  Enjoy with some granola or by itself.

Oil Free Vegan Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
1 cup peanut butter
1 cup brown sugar
2 T chia seeds, mixed with 6 T water, stir together and let sit in fridge for 15 min.
1/2 cup oats, whole or quick
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup vegan chocolate chips
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
2 T crushed walnuts
Preheat oven to 350.  Use a cookie sheet with parchment paper to prevent sticking.
Mix peanut butter and brown sugar together.  Stir in your 2 chia eggs.  Add in flour, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, vanilla, and oats.  Stir in walnuts and chocolate chips.  Scoop out cookies with a 2T measure.  Press cookies down with the back of a spoon.  Bake for 12-14 minutes.  Enjoy with a nice cold glass of almond coconut milk.  Or, if you do not want to bake the cookies. This makes an incredibly delicious raw cookie dough, with the bonus that it is safe to eat!  We have been munching on the raw dough all day, it is amazing!

Chia Egg Tip: Anytime you see a recipe that includes eggs, you can veganize it by making a chia or flax egg.  Use 1T of either chia seeds or ground flaxseeds.  Add in 3 T of water. Stir it up.  Let sit in the fridge for 15 minutes and you will be amazed at how egg like it becomes!

I Did It!

So what did I do last night?
I taught a cooking class at Whole Foods.  I attempted to post here on my blog that my cooking class was coming up, but every time I sat down to write a post about it, I got more and more nervous.  Then time raced by as it always does and it came and went.  I think it went really well.  All the people loved the food we made, asked for seconds, and one person told me it was the best cooking class she has ever attended!  This absolutely made my day!
Gina and Wendy, who both work at our local Whole Foods, have been asking me for a while to teach a cooking class.  I attend many different classes and I cook every day in my home kitchen.  But cooking for other people is a whole other game.  Plus, you have to hold a microphone, while sauteing your onions, YIKES!
I was lucky enough to have two helpers during my hour long cooking presentation.  My little girl and my husband.  They were both amazing assistants and I could not have done it without them.  Wendy did an amazing job setting up all my ingredients and reassuring me that I would do a good job.
I have not posted enough recipes on my blog lately so here are the 4 recipes I made last night.  The class was a part of the Engine 2 Diet 28 day challenge group.  My class was called "How do I live without Refined or Extracted Oils?"
Here is the calendar on the wall of Whole Foods. It was really official!
My class loved the recipes I made and I hope you will too.
Steel Cut Oats for Breakfast:
I prefer making the oatmeal in my rice cooker. Use the porridge setting and set it up the night before if you have a timer on your machine.  You can also put the ingredients into your crock pot and cook it at low for 3.5 hours.
1 1/4 cups of steel cut oats
3 cups of water
Once your steel cut oats are ready, you need to add some toppings. These are our favorites!
goji berries
peanut butter
maple syrup
ground flaxseeds
chia seeds
almond milk
pine nuts
If fresh organic fruit is not available, buy frozen, it works perfectly when you add it to your hot oatmeal!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Real Parent Review of The Croods, Oz the Great and Powerful, GI Joe and Olympus has Fallen

This month has been filled with new movies for us. Movies are a great way to get the family out of the house.  Even better when we have free passes to go to an early screening of said movie.  Most of this month's new movies were awesome too!  Here is a quick rundown of the last four movies our family watched.
The Croods in 3D
We attended a screening of this movie and we were surprised at how empty the theater was.  This does not bode well for this cute animated movie.  I brought my 5 year old daughter and her four year old best friend and Mom with us.  The movie felt a bit long towards the middle and my daughter got restless and a bit scared at parts.  I think the 3D part made this movie quite difficult. The two little girls took off their glasses five minutes into the movie and never really put them back on.  Without the glasses the movie was very blurry and I cannot believe the girls enjoyed it that way.  The 3D effects were really cool. The first scene with different flying items had the girls reaching out and trying to touch the objects.  It was so much fun to watch their reactions.  The story of the Croods, a typical family was cute.  Nothing earth shattering happened but many of the voices, (Nic Cage and Cloris Leachman) were fantastic.  I laughed a lot and enjoyed the strong girl character who loved to show her Dad she was the boss.  If your kids will keep their glasses on, I think your family will really enjoy this movie. I will add though, that my little girl, who does not go to many movies, did have 2 nightmares last night, even though she did not seem scared during the movie.  Our feeling was that this movie is good for kids 3 and up who will keep their 3D glasses ON! 
You can watch the trailer for the Croods here:

The next real parents review we have for you is Oz the Great and Powerful.
Our family gives this a 5 star, instant classic rating.  The 3d was the best in ANY movie we have ever seen.  The opening credits alone, are so visually stunning, that you cannot imagine how the movie will get any better, but somehow it does! James Franco plays this movie as "old timey" with all the mannerisms and acting and he is awesome!  The movie was very true to the original Wizard of Oz. It begins in black and white and switches to color when he lands in Oz.
Oz the Great and Powerful is a new movie from Disney which is a prequel to the classic tale of Dorothy's trip, The Wizard of Oz.  Growing up I remember watching the Wizard of Oz every year and how fantastic the story was with the Wicked Witch, the flying monkeys, the Munchkins and all of the characters from Dorothy's home in Kansas who showed up to help her out.  Trying to make a movie that would could compare in any way to that ultimate classic would be a tall task indeed, and nearly impossible.  In this case, they succeeded.

The story starts off by following Oscar Diggs (Oz) as he works his magic at a carny show in Kansas.  He is a charlatan in every way.  He tricks girls into working with him and being with him and is inconsiderate to all around him as he lets his selfish ways run his life.  As he is escaping in his balloon from someone he has wronged, he gets sucked into a tornado and brought to the Land of Oz.  As the screen goes from black and white to full color you see the beauty that is the Land of Oz.  I don't want to reveal too much more than this about the plot since I think the story is wonderful (and try to avoid any reviews which give away too much).  I will tell you that many elements of the original movie show up in this prequel such as his friends in Kansas show up in Oz only slightly different than he remembered them.  We also learn why he is the man behind the curtain and how the witches became so bad.

I would recommend seeing this in 3d (and/or IMAX) since this was the best use of this feature in ANY movie I have ever seen.  I have read a few reviews which pan James Franco and his acting.  My analysis couldn't be more divergent.  James Franco plays this role as "old timey" and intentionally overacts with the mannerisms of a vaudevillian star and to me it worked perfectly.
While we have seen some reviews that have been less than stellar, we have to tell you that when we left the theater both my son and I agreed that the movie was incredible.  There was no sex or sexual scenes at all and the violence was minimal.  There were a few scary parts when the flying monkeys appeared out of nowhere, but we both thought this was not as scary as many of the villians we have seen in animated Disney movies.  We highly recommend this movie to anyone with children or anyone who enjoys classic movies.  We suggest this movie for kids 6 and up.  You can watch the trailer for Oz the Great and Powerful Here:
 Olympus has Fallen VS GI JOE Retaliation:
Last week we were able to preview two new action movies which were different in almost every aspect aside from the expected action and violence.  We enjoyed both movies, but their intended audiences and how they portrayed their stories were far different. 

Olympus Has Fallen is an action movie in the vein of Die Hard and Under Siege, in which they follow the path of a lone hero who has to fight superior numbers to save something they care deeply about.  In this case its Gerard Butler who is a Secret Service agent who is relegated to desk duty after serving for the President for many years.  His new position means he is not actually in the White House when the terrorists begin their attack and he eventually finds himself in the thick of the action saving the President and the entire country with his actions.  

The action in this movie is spectacular, but completely inappropriate for younger children (depending on your child probably 13 or older).  There are multiple killings as Butler's character works his way through the White House and there are also multiple scenes of civilians and military people being killed on screen.  The opening scenes of the movie (after the prologue in Camp David) where the terrorists take down the White House are exciting and thrilling.  The action is non-stop for a good 20 min...... and then it gets exciting.  

We really enjoyed this movie, but it is as far from a chick flick as you can possibly get and it has a well deserved R rating for the violence. I felt comfortable watching this movie with my teens, but you will probably want to take the younger ones to see the Croods or something else more in their range.You can see the trailer for Olympus has Fallen here:

GI Joe Retaliation is the second in a series of comic book turned into a movie starring The Rock, Dwayne Johnson (who I will refer to from now on only as the Rock).  This was originally slated to be released last summer, but was pushed back to turn it into 3D (which apparently helps with the overseas box office).  The premise for this one, is that Cobra has infiltrated our government at its highest levels and use that, to destroy the GI Joes (the MOST elite fighting force we have). With the Joes out of the way, Cobra can destroy the USA and take over the world.  

Again, the action is this movie is exceptional and there are far fewer "killings" that you witness compared to Olympus (which allowed GI Joe to have a more kid-friendly PG-13 rating).  Much of the fighting is done hand to hand and those sequences are really well done and very exciting.  The extra time they took to work on the graphics clearly pays off and you see this in many scenes (including the destruction of a major city and a chase along a mountain cliff).  The story itself is very much a comic book story, where the plot is over the top and oftentimes unbelievable.  If you see this movie you should be prepared to let those plot issues go, and just enjoy the ride that The Rock and team are going to take you on.  Bruce Willis even shows up at one point, but he doesn't put in a great performance, just his usual squinting, looking tough routine.  

Overall, we enjoyed both action movies, but Olympus was definitely a much better movie all around. If you want to see a movie with your older kids (ages 10 and up) we can recommend GI Joe.  Just realize that the story is weak, but the action strong.  I would not recommend Olympus for young children due to the very graphic violence and R rating (which is well deserved) even though there is absolutely no sex or nudity at all.  If you would like to watch the GI Joe trailer, here it is:

Hope you have a great time at the movies with your family! There is definitely something out there for everyone.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Real Parents Review Jack the Giant Slayer

Lots of great movies coming out this month!
We were lucky enough to receive passes to see Jack the Giant Slayer in 3D.
Wow, was this movie surprisingly good!
As adults we found it very appealing and entertaining.  Older children and teens will most likely love it as well.  It is really way too scary for the under 6 year old crowd.  A four year old girl sat next to us and she spent the whole movie with her coat over her head, pleading with her family to leave!  Leave your younger kids at home and get out and enjoy this fantasy soon.

Jack and the Giant Slayer is a fun take on the traditional story of Jack and the Beanstalk.  It was beautifully shot and presented on the big screen.  The story itself is very true to the original with some slight additions to make this a genuine long form movie.  The story begins with the telling of the legend that Jack and all the children of the kingdom have been told for generations. The story they are told is about a land of giants in the sky which came down on a giant beanstalk to conquer the kingdom below and were eventually stopped by a great king who formed a magic crown which enslaved the Giants.  After Jack grows up he finds himself in possession of the magic beans which he has been given in exchange for his horse which he was told to sell to buy thatch to fix their roof.  He has been warned not to get them wet, but through a series of circumstances one of them drops and gets wet.  The incredible beanstalk grows and Jack is off on an adventure to save the Princess and the entire Kingdom.

We were very pleasantly surprised by this movie and enjoyed it greatly from beginning to end.  This movie reminded me very much of The Princess Bride in many aspects especially as it relates to the story and how it is told (thats a VERY good thing, by the way).  The retelling of the original fairy tale is done in a way where they add elements to the story which extend and expand the legend and the overall theme without going overboard. It all fits together very nicely.  The acting is very well done and the scenery and filming are exceptional. The Giants were very realistic looking even though they were completely done with CGI.  You never felt like the "people" were performing in front of a green screen with the giants pasted in afterwards. 

There was no sex or sexual situations in this movie at all, aside from some minor kissing.  There is a considerable amount of violence between the King's men and the Giants, but there is very little that is graphic in the violence.  You see Giants picking up men to eat, but you don't actually see the Giant eating the person.  They do show the Giants being hit with arrows and falling from the Beanstalk to the ground, but again its not overly graphic in nature.  There are some scenes which would be scary for younger children (when the Beanstalk first grows, the Giants in general and some of the scenes with Giants fighting) and if you have a young child that scares easily you may want to consider that before taking them. We recommend this movie to any child 6 or over.  But remember, you know your child best, and there are many children 6-10 who would be very scared at this movie.

Come back tomorrow for a real parents review of Oz the Great and Powerful!