All Posts by Kendra Peterson

chocolate

Chocolate-Dipped Oranges

Orange you glad that this is the perfect dessert for kids (and you)?

chocolate

Okay, so I know you spend tons of time fretting over healthy lunches, dinners, and breakfasts for your kids, and of course you do an excellent job, but it’s okay to treat yourself and your kids to a little something sweet every once in a while! Here at MOMables, we are all about having fun with healthy and delicious foods; gotta’ keep it entertaining, right?

Why should the terms “treat” or “dessert” only apply to sugar-filled stuff? I love turning something healthy into a treat instead! Subscribe to the MOMables e-newsletter to have healthy ideas like these delivered right to your inbox!

These chocolate-covered orange segments are the perfect treat—yummy and EASY!

Lunchbox Treat: Chocolate-Dipped Oranges!

chocolate
  • Author:
  • Yield: 3

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup chocolate chips or chunks (or a 3-4 ounce chocolate bar, broken into rough chunks)
  • 1-2 teaspoons shortening or coconut oil, if needed
  • 3 mandarin or satsuma oranges, peeled and separated

Instructions

  1. Line a baking sheet with parchment or wax paper.
  2. Melt your chocolate. You can use a double boiler, a fondue pot, or the microwave. To microwave, heat in a small microwave-safe dish for 1 minute, then in 30-second intervals, stirring in between. If the chocolate seems too thick, add 1 teaspoon shortening or coconut oil. Add more if necessary.
  3. Dip each orange segment into the chocolate, rolling to coat both sides if your chocolate is too shallow. Coat one-half to three-fourths of the way up each slice. Let some excess chocolate drip off, then place on the prepared baking sheet, separating them at least 1-inch apart so that their chocolate puddles won’t touch.
  4. If the chocolate cools before you’re finished, you can re-melt it as above.
  5. Place the tray in the refrigerator for at least 20 minutes, then serve or store refrigerated in an airtight container.
  6. They will start to dry out, but can last a few days in the fridge and still be tasty!

Notes

Most chocolate bars already contain an emulsifier, so you usually won’t need added oil or shortening. Chocolate chips and candy melts tend to be very thick, so they may not cover all three oranges without added oil to thin.

 

For some other healthy foods-turned-to-treats, check out these MOMables recipes:

1 how to freeze veggie puree

How to Freeze Vegetable Puree

how to freeze veggie puree

Whether you “sneak” it in or not, adding vegetable puree into other dishes is a great and easy way to amp up the nutrition! But roasting a squash to add nutrition while cooking noodles and tomato sauce is a lot of work all at once! A better way is to prep a bunch of puree and then freeze it for when you need it!

What else do you need to know to make your kitchen life easier? MOMables has the answers, join us here!

What Veggies Work Best?

The best veggie candidates for cooking, mashing, and freezing in advance are squash (any kind,) sweet potatoes/yams, beets, cauliflower, and carrots. But feel free to try something else!

Portion Sizes

Depending on what your plans are for each veggie, there are different serving sizes you’ll want to freeze them in. I usually do 1 to 2 cups for squash, since they’re my dairy-free macaroni and cheese base. Sometimes I just need 1/2 cup to sub for the oil in a recipe or to add to pancake batter.

The easiest way is to cook and puree your chosen veggie(s) or veggie blend and then scoop 1 cup into a small zip-top baggie. Suck out the excess air with a straw, mark the portion size with a permanent marker, and then place that in a larger freezer bag. Once all your puree is prepped this way, label the outer bag with the contents (e.g. “SQUASH puree”) and freeze. Boom! Done!

Another option is to freeze in ice cube trays or muffin tins.

Most ice cube slots are approximately 1 ounce, and most muffin cups are 1/3 to 1/2 cup. I recommend silicone for this, versus plastic or metal. It’s much easier to remove frozen cubes or pucks to place in the larger freezer bag! And keep in mind that the lower the sugar content, the more it will stick!

To freeze using this method, portion out your puree into the cube trays or muffin pans and place in the freezer for about an hour. Then pop the frozen puree out and place in a large freezer bag. Try to lay them evenly in a single layer if possible. This prevents them from slightly thawing and re-freezing together (every time you open the door, stuff starts thawing!) Plus as an added bonus, a flatter bag stores more easily!

I Have A Freezer Full of Puree. Now What?

Some uses for veggie puree include adding to tomato saucesadding to macaroni and cheese sauce, or using as a dairy-free “cheese” baseveggie nuggetsCauliflower Bites, or Cauliflower Pizza Crust, and substituting for oil or adding to pancake, bread, cookie, or cake batter (chocolate cake and brownies are especially good at hiding veggie flavors!

Check out this MOMables Chocolate-Beet Cupcake recipe! And we love our sweet-potato biscuit cookies!

Check out these MOMables posts for more ways to prep and freeze ahead to make mealtime easier!

1 how to freeze pasta

How to Freeze Pasta

how to freeze pastaEven though pasta tends to cook fairly quickly (boiling for 8 to 10 minutes), it actually takes longer than you’d think to complete it from start to finish. It often takes 10 or more minutes just to bring the water to a boil in the first place! Having pre-cooked noodles at the ready can not only save time, it also saves you from washing the same pot night after night and avoids having multiple pots going at once! Laziness pays off once in a while! Ha!

Plus, having cooked pasta in the freezer can help make lunch packing quicker and easier! Be sure to check out these MOMables tips for using frozen pasta dishes in lunches, and you can even sign up here to get menus delivered straight to your inbox!

Freezing Noodles 101

Step 1: Cooking the Noodles

When cooking noodles you plan to freeze, be sure to undercook slightly. Al dente is best and helps prevent mushiness when re-heating.

Step 2: Prepping the Noodles

After the cooked noodles are drained, be sure to toss with a little oil to prevent them from clumping up and sticking together.

There are three different ways to freeze them. The best way is to spread them flat on a parchment-lined baking sheet and “flash freeze” for 30 to 60 minutes before portioning into zip-seal baggies. (For longer noodles, pile them into small nests on the parchment-lined baking sheet.)

You can also portion the noodles into muffin tin cups, which works especially well for longer noodles.

The third option is to just put them into the baggies straight from the pot, but reheating them evenly is hardest when using this method. Try to spread them flat within the bags before freezing, rather than bunched at the bottom.

Step 3: Reheat

Noodles that were frozen spread out on a baking sheet can be tossed into skillet meals and such without any microwaving needed.

To reheat on the stovetop, bring enough water to cover the noodles to a boil (you won’t need as much water as used to boil them initially.) Drop in the frozen noodles, and cook for 30 seconds and check. If not thoroughly heated, cook in 15-second increments until done, and then drain. Do not overcook.

When reheating in the microwave, be sure to lay them in the container flat, to heat as evenly as possible. Cover the container lightly. You want the moisture to be retained, but you also need it to be able to vent a little. Cook for 60 to 90 seconds, rotating the dish halfway through if your microwave doesn’t have a turntable. If not warmed thoroughly, keep cooking in 15-second intervals until done.

If using in lunches, you can just pack the frozen noodles and some sauce or mix-ins, and they’ll thaw by lunchtime. Yum!

Do you use gluten-free noodles? Freezing gluten-free noodles has mixed results. They barely refrigerate and reheat well. Rice noodles do best, especially Tinkyada brand, and you’ll want to be sure to cook them just to al dente, maybe 2 minutes under the recommended cooking time. Then rinse with cool water when draining to halt the cooking process, and toss with a little oil, same as wheat noodles. To thaw, toss into boiling water just long enough to heat, then remove them immediately.

Gluten-free noodles frozen mixed with sauce tend to have the best results.

For more tips on what to do with leftovers or extras designed to be eaten over several meals, check out these MOMables tips on How to Store and Use Up Leftovers.

1 how to freeze rice

How to Freeze Rice

how to freeze rice
I’m pretty lazy—I mean “organized,” and find that having staples like rice pre-cooked and ready to go makes it easy to throw together a greater variety of healthy meals in a hurry instead of relying on packaged or fast foods.

I usually do one big batch every other weekend, then freeze it and pull some out as needed. Frozen rice is good for roughly 30 days, so if you had the time and the freezer space, you could even do it just once a month.

Subscribe to the MOMables menu plan for more ways to prep foods and dishes ahead to make lunch-packing easier!

Step 1: Cook the Rice

I usually do a blend of rice(s) and quinoa for a more nutritional punch (and I add the proper water ratio for the amount of each grain I’m cooking, and cook according to the instructions for the ingredient with the longest time). But for just regular rice, check out this MOMables post on How to Make Perfect Rice!

Step 2: Let the Rice Cool

Either in the fridge or *cough cough* in the pot forgotten and left on the stove until after the kids are in bed. Warm or hot rice tends to freeze into a big clump, and if you like your rice fluffy, you’ll want the granules to freeze separated.

Step 3: Portion and Freeze the Rice

I tend to portion into both snack-size and sandwich-size zip-top baggies, for both single-serve and single-meal-size options. Since those baggies are not freezer-safe, I then put those into a larger freezer bag. But don’t be afraid to portion into serving sizes right for your family.

Or when I’m feeling particularly frugal and eco-friendly, I portion and freeze the rice into a silicone muffin pan, and then put those pucks into a larger freezer bag. (I use silicone because it’s easy to get the frozen pucks out. No promises on metal ones.)

Either way, be sure to use a straw to suck out as much excess air as you can from all the baggies, and label at least the outer bag with the contents (including serving size[s] if applicable) and the date.

Step 4: Thaw and Reheat the Rice

Here are some MOMable tips on using frozen rice for school lunches.

I try to keep a baggie thawed in the refrigerator ready to go any time, but on days when I need a larger amount, or just plum forgot to grab a new one out of the freezer when I used up the last one, there are a few ways I thaw and cook the rice.

When I want the rice to add in a dish, I submerge a baggie of frozen rice in warm water, and let it sit, refreshing the water a few times when it gets too cold.

If I just want hot rice, I put it in a microwave-safe container, add a splash of water, and reheat it in the microwave, loosely covered. I cook it in 30-second increments, breaking apart and stirring between cooking, until hot.

For more tips on what to do with leftovers or extras designed to be eaten over several meals, check out these MOMables tips on How to Store and Use Up Leftovers.

12 gluten,-egg,-dairy-free-homemade-oreos-recipe-A

Allergy-Friendly Homemade Oreos

Do you want an alternative to those super-processed cookies you buy from the store?
gluten,-egg,-dairy-free-homemade-oreos-recipe-A

One of the first things we had to give up when sprucing up our diet was those “O” so delicious creme-filled chocolate sandwich cookies. Initially, they didn’t make the cut thanks to the artificial flavor in them.

Then I discovered my girls and I are intolerant to gluten, so I couldn’t even turn a blind eye to the ingredients once in a while. There are some packaged gluten-free versions available, but they tend to be very chalky. And expensive.

What other snack ideas are you looking for? MOMables has tons of easy recipes that you can get delivered straight to your inbox! Click here!

So I was thrilled when I tried these. Other than cutting the shapes, they were easy as pie to make. And I’m just about the laziest, least-experienced baker you’ll ever meet! I didn’t even need to clear a path to the stand mixer—I was easily able to mix it all by hand! And whether you choose the whole-grain flours or the lazier all-purpose flour option, they’re both kid-approved!

DIY “MOMeos” Creme-Filled Chocolate Sandwich Cookies

gluten,-egg,-dairy-free-homemade-oreos-recipe-A

A totally do-able allergy-friendly whole-grain chocolate sandwich cookie. Yes please! Makes 50 to 60 sandwich cookies.

  • Author:
  • Category: Dessert

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter, room temperature (you can substitute non-dairy butter, coconut oil, or palm shortening)
  • 1/2 cup amaranth flour
  • 1/2 cup teff flour
  • 1/4 cup brown rice flour
  • 1/4 cup tapioca flour
  • OR substitute 1 1/2 cups all-purpose gluten-free flour blend for all flours
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons honey or agave syrup
  • 3-4 teaspoons chocolate extract (optional: you can use vanilla extract plus 1 tablespoon cocoa powder instead)
  • Water
  • 1/2 cup organic palm shortening
  • 1 cup powdered sugar

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F.
  2. In a large bowl, cream the sugar and butter.
  3. Add the flours, cocoa powder, baking soda, salt, honey, and chocolate extract (if using) and blend well. Taste and add more chocolate extract until strong enough.
  4. If the dough is still crumbly, slowly add water 1 tablespoon at a time until the dough will hold together. Do not get it too wet, or the dough will stick. To everything. Ugh.
  5. Place 1/3 of the dough onto a piece of parchment paper, and place another layer of parchment paper over the top. Roll the dough between the parchment paper until it is 1/8- to 1/4-inch thick. Remove the top paper.
  6. Use a cookie cutter or pizza cutter to cut cookie shapes, and place onto a baking sheet lined with parchment or a Silpat. (You can save cookie cutter scraps to re-roll.)
  7. Repeat the rolling and cutting process until you have used all of the dough.
  8. Bake the cookies at 350F for about 13 minutes. Allow to cool completely.
  9. To make the filling, cream the shortening and powdered sugar in a small bowl. (You can add more sugar for a stiffer cream, but note that it will firm up anyway when it’s chilled.)
  10. Place the cream filling in a small plastic bag. Cut off one of the corners of the bag for a pastry bag. Pipe some cream onto the center of one cookie, leaving space at the edge. Top with another cookie. Press together just until the cream reaches the edge. Repeat this process until all of the cookies are filled.
  11. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. (Cookies can also be frozen.)

Notes

You can make either the cookies or filling (or both) in advance to assemble later. Be sure to store the filling in the refrigerator if made in advance, and let it come to room temperature before filling the cookies.

Adapted from a recipe at Homemade Dutch Apple Pie

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