Real Food For Families

Trick or Treat?

I’m sending you around the web today to check out some of my favorite Fall treat ideas. This from “A Life From Scratch” is just adorable. If you are a “real food” purist…can’t go wrong with these from “Eating From The Ground Up”. And finally, if you’re wondering what NOT to give out on Halloween night, check out this informative post. Drat! I have little packages of #1 all ready to go…who knew?! Have a wonderfully spooky and safe Halloween!

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Roasted Red Peppers

I scored these beautiful peppers during our most recent visit to my parents home. One of my favorite things to do with red peppers is to roast and then marinate them. I use the recipe from Mark Bittman’s “How to Cook Everything” cookbook.

First, you roast the peppers in a 500 degree oven for about 30 minutes, shaking the pan a few times during cooking so they don’t stick. They will come out looking like this…


Then you let them cool until you can handle them, peel the skin off and remove the stems and seeds. You will then be left with this…


Next, you mix a 1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil and a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar in a jar. Add a minced garlic clove and some salt and pepper to taste. Add the red peppers and let them marinate for at least an hour and up to 24 hours.


And finally, you will be left with extreme deliciousness that you can add to whatever you like…or just eat them as is!

We used ours to top some whole grain Naan bread along with pesto and feta cheese…baked for 5-7 minutes at 450 degrees…yummm!
Here are a few more pictures from our weekend…as you can see, Fall is in full swing around here!


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Chopped Salad with Grapes, Pecans, Feta and Rice


We are not vegetarians, but we do occasionally like to eat meat free meals and this is one of our favorites. When I make rice, I try to make extra so that I can make this salad. You can change up the ingredients depending upon what you like. You’ll notice in the above picture, I used arugula and actually didn’t have any rice that day. This delicious salad has enough protein and fiber to be a real meal versus just salad (if you happen to be one of those people that doesn’t consider salad to be a real meal!). I adapted this recipe slightly from The Kitchn.com .

Chopped Brown Rice Salad with Grapes and Pecans
Serves 6 to 8

For the salad:
1 cup cooked brown rice, cooled to room temperature
1 cup whole pecans
1 heart of romaine lettuce
2 cups red grapes
1 cup crumbled feta cheese

For the vinaigrette:
3 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons spicy brown mustard
Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 350°F and spread the nuts on a baking sheet. Roast the nuts in the oven for about 10 minutes, stirring once or twice, until toasted a darker shade of brown and very fragrant. When cool enough to handle, transfer the nuts to a cutting board and roughly chop. Set aside.

Chop the lettuce into bite sized pieces and slice the grapes in half. Combine the rice, chopped pecans, chopped romaine, feta and grapes in a large bowl and lightly toss to combine.

To make the dressing, combine the vinegar, olive oil, brown mustard, a pinch of salt, and a few shakes of black pepper in a small bowl. Whisk to combine, taste, and adjust as needed.

Leftovers will keep for about 5 days refrigerated.


Choosing Ice Cream


I guess this should be more of a summer post, but we are in the middle of an amazing stretch of sunny, warm weather here in the Northeast…and it’s just making me feel like writing about ice cream! As with many food products that we buy, ice cream has been sabotaged by the food industry. While it has never claimed to be anything more than a treat, the ice cream that our parents ate was quite different than the ice cream of today. And not just because a cone only cost a quarter back then. Ice cream is supposed to consist of things like cream, sugar and milk…but go take a look at the list of ingredients on the carton sitting in your freezer right now. Unless you make your own, the version that you have might list things like carrageenan and mono & diglycerides.

I looked into these ingredients and am thinking that I don’t really want them in my ice cream! From Dr. Andrew Weil’s website, “Carrageenan is a common food additive that is extracted from a red seaweed, Chondrus crispus, which is popularly known as Irish moss. Carrageenan, which has no nutritional value, has been used as a thickener and emulsifier to improve the texture of ice cream, yogurt, cottage cheese, soy milk and other processed foods.” He goes on to discuss studies that have shown carrageenan to be harmful to human health and he recommends that you avoid foods that contain it, especially if you have irritable bowel syndrome.

According to the Live Strong website, mono and diglycerides are food additives that help to extend the shelf life of processed food. They help ingredients containing fat to combine with ingredients containing water. They may contain trans fats, but because they are classified as emulsifiers rather than lipids, the FDA does not require them to be labeled as trans fats. How sneaky is that?!

There are ice cream brands out there that stick to basic, natural ingredients, but as is usually the case, they are few and far between. Breyers used to proclaim that they used all natural ingredients, but since 2006, they have reformulated many of their products (as did their competitors) to the point where there is not even enough milk and cream to qualify as ice cream…they have to call them “frozen dairy desserts”. Sigh…I’m just shaking my head here.

Our current go to ice cream is the Turkey Hill All Natural Ice Cream brand. Be careful to buy the kind with the black around the sides of the lid. Their other products are not all natural. By the way, I apologize for not embedding links into this post to take you to Dr. Weil’s and the Livestrong websites…Apple updated their operating system…and things are just not functioning the same around the old iPad this week…I barely knew what I was doing before…and now I am quite confused. I’ll have it figured out soon…maybe.