Monday, May 19, 2014

Food for littles: Popeye muffins and sweet potato mac

Today I ate myself silly on Mexican food, followed by a hungry-girl piece of delicious cake, and later in the evening too much (and not enough!) s'mores muddy buddies. 

See, that's the weirdest thing about parenthood. I know that I shouldn't eat half the stuff I eat, but I do it anyway. But I won't feed it to the kid. No, it's fruits and veggies for her. I'm so conscious of how many servings of fruit and veggies she gets each day, and whether she's had protein, and blah blah blah. I try to make every bite she takes have some kind of nutritional value.

So I love recipes that pack a punch - yummy to eat, but full of good things. My favorites are the ones that Hans and I love to eat, too, so I can make one meal that we all enjoy.
These are two of our favorite recipes and make a great dinner. The sweet potato mac and cheese is all the comfort of mac and cheese with far fewer of the calories. It replaces much of the butter/milk and cheese with all the added benefits of sweet potato (mad amounts of Vitamin C., plus calcium, folate, potassium and beta-carotene!) Em will eat the same size portion that Hans and I will, and it makes for great leftovers the next day.
And these spinach muffins are delish. I made mini-ones for Punkito and Hans and I liked them so much that we had to make a full-size batch for us to eat. These taste like a basic applesauce muffin, but have puree spinach for added iron and that beautiful green color. These also freeze really well so make a big batch and defrost as needed.

Sweet Potato Mac (adapted ever so slightly from Cookin' Canuck)
1 lb. sweet potato
13 oz. whole-wheat elbow pasta
1 tsp olive oil
1/2 medium onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 T. flour
1 cup chicken broth
2 1/4 cups milk
6 oz. sharp cheddar cheese
1 T. Dijon mustard
3/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/3 cup panko breadcrumbs
3 T grated Parmesan cheese
1 T olive oil

Preheat oven to 375.

Poke holes in the sweet potato to vent - really go at it with a fork! Wrap in a wet paper towel and microwave for 5 minutes. Turn it over and microwave another 5 minutes. You may need an additional few minutes, it should feel soft and squishy to the touch. Cut open the potato and scoop the insides into a bowl and mash until it is smooth.

At the same time, bring a large pot of water to boil. Cook the pasta for 6-7 minutes, until it's almost cooked but still slightly crunchy. Drain and rinse and return the pot to the stove.

Heat 1 tsp olive oil on medium heat. Add chopped onion and cook until tender. Add garlic and cook another minute or two. Stir in the flour briskly, making sure it doesn't stick to the bottom. It should form little clumps with the onion. Stir in the broth and milk and bring the pot to a low boil, stirring frequently until the mixture thickens. Reduce the heat and add in the sweet potato, cheese, mustard, nutmeg, salt and pepper and stir until the cheese is melted. Add the pasta and stir to coat.

Spray a casserole dish with nonstick spray and transfer the pasta to the dish.

In a separate bowl, combine the panko, parmesan cheese, and 1 T olive oil. Sprinkle evenly over the pasta. Bake about 20 minutes and then chow down!

Popeye Muffins (adapted very slightly from Weelicious)
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 egg
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup fresh spinach, packed
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and spray a mini-muffin pan with nonstick spray. 

Puree the spinach in a food processor (or blender) until smooth. Add the egg, vanilla, applesauce, sugar and oil. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix just until combined. Don't overmix or they will be tougher! We want light and fluffy :) Fill the muffin tins and bake for 12 minutes. Makes 24 mini-muffins

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