Tiffin & a Movie – Join us on April 27!

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This is a really fun event that we are doing in a few weeks on Thursday, April 27 at 7pm. Come enjoy a delicious Indian meal made by Simran’s mom and enjoy a private screening of one of our favorite movies, “The Lunchbox”. It all takes place at 18 Reasons (18th and Dolores in SF). It’ll be a fun night out and we promise the food will be great!

TICKETS: The cost for the event is $35 for 18 Reasons members & $45 for non members. Tickets will go fast, so get yours ASAP! Click here to buy tickets.

MENU: Classic and comforting dishes typical to an Indian lunchbox, cooked just for you by Roop Soni (Simran’s mom). If you’ve been lucky enough to try Roop’s cooking at one of our classes, you know how tasty it will be! You will enjoy Roop’s famous channa dahl, spiced dry potatoes, mint raita, pickled onions, flakey parantha and chai masala!

MOVIE: A mistaken delivery in Mumbai’s famously efficient lunchbox delivery system connects Ila, a neglected housewife, to Saajan (Irrfan Khan), a lonely man on the verge of retirement. Through a series of exchanged notes that they pass back and forth through the lunches, Saajan and Ila find comfort in their unexpected friendship. Check out movie reviews on Rotten Tomatoes (it’s “96% fresh” for all you Rotten Tomatoes readers).

We hope to see you there!

 

Liz Prueitt’s Healthy Flax Muffins (gluten free)

Liz Prueitt's Healthy Muffins

One of the best Instagram accounts I have come across belongs to Liz Prueitt of Tartine Bakery fame. Via her Instagram feed you can follow along with her as she tests and develops recipes which is pretty cool if you’re interested in how that process happens and getting inside the mind of a chef. Most recently she’s turned much of her attention to gluten free baking where she’s been exploring GF twists on classics as well as new, creative inventions, comparing different substitutions and combinations. (She’s got savory cooking projects going on as well). Some posts share the refined, end result of many cycles of testing, other times you get to see the trials and errors along the way. The very best part is that she often throws shorthand recipes onto her posts so you can cook along at home. And since she’s sharing in real-time, her posts always reflect what’s in season right now.

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Breakfast Makeover: Smoothie Collection

Everyone loves smoothies! They’re super quick to make when you keep basics on hand, and they’re wonderfully portable for when you’re in a rush to get out the door (we’re always in rush on school mornings). Lately we’ve been making a big batch for breakfast and refrigerating the leftovers for an after school snack. I’ve also started adding smoothies to the lunch box this year (cleaned up, recycled small Odwalla containers work perfectly). As school lunch periods get shorter and shorter (don’t get me started!), this seems to be something my kids can successfully eat (along with a few other tidbits) in the teensy amount of time allotted for lunch.

If you start searching around for smoothies on the internet you’ll find tons of info– recipes, special containers, little tips and tricks. So…. to the collective oeuvre of smoothies out there I add our list of favorites with an international twist.

Mango Lassi_India Playdate

Mango lassis are by far the most requested smoothies in my house. We all love the creamy, sweet mango flavor, but that pinch of cardamom is what makes it special. For kids who insist they don’t like spices — this is a good place to start. Here’s our previous post with the recipe.

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Banana-Avocado Bread

Stay with me here….. You might be as dubious as I was to see an avocado infiltrating a harmless banana bread, but this is one of those healthy “recipe makeover” substitutions I can whole heartily endorse. I’m all for healthy food of course, but I’m not a big fan of healthy versions of not-so-healthy things if they fall short on the yumminess factor.

It turns out you can substitute avocado for half the butter in many baking recipes. So you’re not only replacing bad fat with a healthier one, you’re also adding some extra nutrients. In our banana bread test, the avocado didn’t end up altering the flavor or color significantly and the end result was as moist and tender as the original. This is excellent news since my family has a major addiction to banana bread and I have become “the banana bread lady” at my son’s preschool. So now we’re eager to see how the avocado fares in some of our other favorite baked goods.

We decided to put this “healthier banana bread” experiment to the ultimate test by making it for a recent family soiree put on by the awesome folks of SF Music Together. [If you haven’t had a chance to check it out, Music Together is a fabulous children’s music program not only here in San Francisco, but around the world, where families can share and create music.] The party was tons of fun with face-painting, singing and tambourine shaking galore — Simran even snagged some totally cute hair clips from Made in the Haight.  The banana-avocado bread was a big hit across the board and there wasn’t a crumb left to take home. We heard many a “yum” which is definitely music to our ears.

Banana-Avocado Bread

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup softened butter (half a stick)
  • Half an avocado (approximately 1/4 cup)
  • 2 cups flour (I used 1 1/4 cups app purpose, and 3/4 cup whole wheat)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 very ripe bananas (this is not worth making if your bananas aren’t super ripe)
  • 3 TBL milk
  1. Cream together sugar, butter and avocado.
  2. Stir in the eggs and vanilla extract and mix well.
  3. In a seperate bowl, combine the flour, baking soda and salt until well mixed.
  4. Fold together the butter and flour mixture until well incorporated.
  5. Mash 3 very ripe bananas. Mix in the mashed bananas and milk.
  6. Bake at 350 degrees for one hour or until the top springs back when you press it.

Lunchbox Hit: Ham & Cheese Samwich

We take Ria all the way to Italy for a vacation and her favorite food while we are there is a ham and cheese sandwich (ok, so they call it a tramezzino but it is just a triangular sandwich with a simple filling).  I was truly befuddled when she said to me as we are taking in the Roman sights, “Mummy, I love this samwich.  Will you make this for me when we get back home? It’s my favorite food in Rome!” How was it possible (did you miss all the other amazing food kiddo?) and don’t I make her this kind of grilled sandwich at home all the time?  And then it dawned on me – it’s white bread with the sides cut off.  Everyone’s dream come true – the humble sliced white.  It’s amazing how we just don’t buy white bread anymore.  The only sliced bread she knows is wholewheat, multi-grain, oat, nut and seed etc.

One thing to know about Ria.  She’s the world’s slowest eater unless she is starving (which seldom happens).  Her teachers have told us that she eats lunch at a snail’s pace, never finishes her (lovingly prepared) food and is too busy being a chatterbox at lunch time.  You are telling me?  I have spent the past few years coaxing her to eat faster, shouting “EAT” every few minutes, even though it doesn’t help at all.  There was a time when three meals took three hours.  I should have cut her off but which mother has the heart to say – “You can’t eat anymore, time’s up!” – when you know your child is still hungry or worse still will be hungry again within 30 minutes.  For me, this is payback.  I was the world’s slowest eater back in the day.  I gave my mother so much grief and it is all coming round like it usually does.

Anyway, white bread was bought (whole-grain, fortified kind – I cannot bring myself to buy Wonderbread though one day I promise I will), sides were cut off (I ate them with hummus – we don’t waste food around here) and the ultimate lunchbox hit was born.  I used some mayo, cheese (orange cheddar kind – the Italians would not approve) and nitrate-free ham and lightly toasted the sandwich on low heat.  Ria ate more than she has ever eaten of any school lunch I have made her thus far.  Now the dilemma begins….

“Mummy, if I eat my whole samwich today, can I get more white bread samwiches for lunch?”

“No!”

“But we have a whole loaf.  We have to finish it.”

Swirly Apples and Quick Applesauce

2 videos for apple lovers….. We love this apple peeler/corer contraption and use it all the time. If you’re a pie lover, you can break down a big pile of apples in a snap. Kids (and adults) will also love the fun, swirly apple spirals for snack time. Pick one up here.

While on the topic of apples, I also happened upon this quick and easy microwave (you can call if faux “sous vide” if you like!) applesauce video recipe from the Voltaggio brothers of Top Chef fame. This is pretty much the opposite of our recent endeavor with slow cooker apple-pear butter — but quite a handy little trick for homemade applesauce on the quick. We don’t microwave a whole lot, but I must say it does have its shining moments. I looked into it and famed foodie scientist Harold Magee says that the quick cooking in the microwave actually retains more nutrients and prevents oxidation in certain items (produce/fruit). So thanks, Voltaggios, for giving the lowly microwave its just due.

The Yummiest Raw Apple Muffins

It’s been an eventful week for us. My little one started preschool which — beyond the obvious “heartstrings” aspect of it all — means thinking about packing a lunchbox on a regular basis. So begins a new chapter in food for our family.

As I was packing up my first lunch, I got to thinking about what would put a smile on my son’s face when he opened up his brand spanking new lunchbox. Something super yummy. A muffin perhaps? Problem was, we were just back from vacation and our refrigerator was really, really bare. Luckily we happened to have a few apples, so I decided to take that as my starting point.

I reached for my “go to” kitchen reference the Gourmet Cookbook and it came through once again with the recipe for “Marion Cunningham’s Raw Apple Muffins” (originally published in Marion Cunningham’s “Breakfast Book“). This is a simple recipe, which requires just a few ingredients and turns out not-to-sweet and very moist muffins. It’s timely, too, with apple season upon us.

[Here’s my little tip: coring, peeling and dicing the apples is the only time consuming step of this recipe. We happen to have one of those apple peeling/coring/slicing contraptions — my husband likes to make pie and this is a fantastic tool for prepping a big pile of apples. I was able to break down my apples into a perfect little dice in no time with very little knife work. Yippee for that.]

Raw Apple Muffins

(adapted from the recipe for “Marion Cunningham’s Raw Apple Muffins” in the Gourmet Cookbook. This recipe was originally published in Marion Cunningham’s “Breakfast Book”)

  • 2 apples (peeled, cored and diced — 1/4″ dice is ideal)
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup oil (I substituted my apple-pear butter, you could also use apple sauce)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon (I omitted this since my apple butter already has spices in it)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • muffin tin liners
  1. Toss the diced apples and sugar in a bowl and set aside.
  2. Mix egg, vanilla and oil (or apple butter) in a bowl set aside.
  3. Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl (flour, salt, spices, baking soda)
  4. Add the egg mixture to the apples and mix well. Add the flour mixture and stir until just combined.
  5. Fill each muffin cup about 2/3 full and bake at 350 degrees. Start checking for done-ness at 25 minutes. A toothpick inserted into the center of the muffin should come out clean. Makes about 10 muffins.

I think next time I might experiment with substituting a third of the flour with whole wheat flour and stirring in a couple of tablespoons of oats and a couple teaspoons of flax seed just to add a little extra nutritional punch. After making these muffins, I think I’m definitely going to have to check out the “Breakfast Book”!