All Posts by MOMables - Laura

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A Behind-the-Scenes Look at Dairy Farming #CAMilkTour @RealCalifMilk

What do you really know about dairy farms?

20120708-131733.jpgAs a mother of three young kids, Chief MOM here at MOMables™, and food contributor to many websites, dairy is a product I use often at home and at work.

Many of you e-mail MOMables weekly with questions about how to pack dairy in lunches, should you purchase organic or conventional milk, and if it’s okay that your child eats a lot of dairy.

From time to time, we even receive e-mails from people suggesting we remove all dairy products from our menus because the cows aren’t being treated nicely.

Recently, I had the opportunity to tour the Fiscalini dairy farm and a cheese-making facility, thanks to the California Milk Advisory Board.

In this post, I’ll answer some of your questions and give you a brief glimpse of my visit.

Q1: Dairy farms are owned by big companies, and their goal is to pump as much milk out as they can. True? Definitely NOT. The California Central Valley is home to more than 1,600 hard- working dairy families who operate their farms with integrity and high standards. All farms are inspected by independent auditors, and government officials can “drop in” at any time. Oh! and the cows have a personal veterinatian who checks on them weekly—more often than my kids see their pediatrician—to make sure they are healthy and treated properly.

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Q2: Should I purchase organic or conventional milk? The decision to purchase organic versus conventional dairy products is a personal one. Organic milk comes from cows fed organic diets. The nutrient content is the same as conventional and offers the same health benefits. It’s the process that makes the milk organic, not the product.

Above: a happy baby cow mooing “gooood mooorning” to us. Below, with fellow blogger Jessica Shyba from Mommasgonecity touring the facility.

The grounds are cleaned several times per day, and all waste is piped out to a gigantic waste tank. There, bacteria consume the waste and release methane, which is then burned in a generator capable of producing enough power to run Fiscalini’s 530-acre farm, his cheese factory, and 200 additional homes.

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After our tour, we enjoyed the farm’s award-winning cheeses. We also met Mr. Fiscalini’s children and grandchildren. Nearly all of California dairy farms continue to be family affairs, and they all work together to create a high-quality product that proudly displays the “Real California Milk” and “Real California Cheese” seals.

Q3: How much dairy should we consume? After talking to a dietitian during my tour, she explained that the dietary guidelines for Americans recommend 3 servings of dairy products for ages 9+;  2 1/2 servings for ages 4–8 years; and 2 servings for ages 2–3 years. These serving suggestions, of course, will vary based on your family’s menu plan and won’t be the same daily.

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Q4: I think my kids are eating way too many dairy products. Is that unhealthy? The truth is that kids might eat a lot of dairy one day and not as much the next day. One 8-ounce glass has the same amount of calcium as 12 servings of whole grains, 10 cups of spinach, and 6 servings of legumes. Other power benefits besides calcium are riboflavin, vitamin D, phosphorus, vitamin B12, protein, potassium, vitamin A, and niacin. Of course, a varied diet is best and should not rely on dairy alone for nutrition.

We also indulged in a delicious lunch at the Fiscalini family’s home. The menu showcased the farm’s dairy and cheese products, local fresh vegetables, and free-range chickens. For dessert, a crème faiche cheesecake on a toasted almond shortbread crust and fresh berries. The milk, fresh from the farm, of course.

Q5: What are some of the best ways to pack dairy in my child’s lunch? Oh, you’ll want to stay tuned for that one. We have a 4-week video how-to-series planned for this back-to-school season. Subscribe to our Fresh News, and stay tuned!

While we all attended the tour for different reasons, I can honestly say that we all left informed and more educated on dairy-farming practices and milk safety and quality standards. Most important, we saw firsthand the commitment and the amazing people who work behind the scenes and who stand behind the California Milk and Real California Cheese seals.

Although my tour was put together by the California Milk Advisory Board, I encourage you to look for your state’s dairy council, find a local representative, and visit a local farm.

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Disclosure: I received the opportunity to learn about dairy farming practices by the California Milk Advisory Board. I was not compensated nor required to write this post. All photos and opinions stated in this post are my own. 

6 Leftovers No More! From Taco Night to Nachos Supreme

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Don’t know what to do with that one serving of left over taco meat? Don’t toss it! Repurpose it.  The MOMables™ way.

Last night was Taco Tuesday at our house. Could anything be better than Taco Tuesday? YES! The lunch I made using the leftovers was even better.

My girls are always excited about the lunch the day after tacos. Instead of sealing up all those tiny bits of leftovers and putting it back away, only to get pushed to the back of the fridge to get moldy….make a lunch for the next day!

Related: Top 5 Lunchboxes We’ve Tested

Leftover taco fixings? No problem! For these Leftovers No More! Lunch, I made nachos supreme.

In the lunch you will find:

  • That last bit of taco meat.
  • Topped with the leftover tomatoes & black olives.
  • On another compartment is a mix of the leftover shredded lettuce and cheese.
  • In the large compartment are some tortilla chips and grapes.

Voila! A fun & yummy lunch. My husband was actually the one who snagged this lunch for work today. He sent me an email later in the day saying how awesome lunch was! (I put the meat in a silicone muffin cup so if could be removed and reheated if you wanted)

Love our dinner and lunch repurposed ideas? You’ll find at least one dinner idea each week inside our subscriber menu.  Click here to sign up.

 

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Homemade Oreos Recipe

Who doesn’t love oreos? These are unbelievably good. Okay, not “healthy,” but they are a treat and a homemade version of the boxed originals. We are going for a remake here.

homemade oreos mountain

These cookies make me and my family happy down to the last bite. Just like indulgences of all kinds, the store-bought variety comes with a long and loaded list of not-so-good-for-you ingredients. So when Mrs. MOMable suggested I dig inside my culinary baking notes—the holy grail of homemade baked goods—I jumped at the chance.

I used ingredients I already had in my pantry (most of them organic), and I’m thrilled about the outcome. I even upped the health factor by substituting whole-wheat flour for all-purpose flour, and the substitution isn’t noticeable! Even more awesome.

 Whole-wheat homemade Oreos? Yes, please!  I hope you enjoy these treats as much as my family did!

Homemade Oreos

4.4 from 9 reviews

  • Author:
  • Yield: 2 - 2 1/2 dozen 2-inch-round cookies.
  • Cuisine: Treats

Ingredients

Cookies:

  • 1 cup unsalted butter (room temperature)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg (room temperature)
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups whole-wheat flour
  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Filling:

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter (room temperature)
  • 2 tablespoons half and half
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt
  • 3-3 1/2 cups powdered sugar (sifted)

Instructions

Cookies:

  1. Cream the butter and granulated sugar until well incorporated. Add the egg and vanilla, scraping when necessary. Sift together the whole-wheat flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt until all the lumps disappear. Add the sifted mixture to the butter mixture, and mix on low speed until well incorporated, scraping when necessary.
  2. Divide the dough in half, wrap, and refrigerate for 1 hour.
  3. Once the dough is chilled, preheat the oven to 350F, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Roll out the dough onto a lightly floured surface until about 1/8- to 1/4-inch thick.
  4. Cut the shape of your choice (I chose to use a small biscuit cutter), and bake for 10 to 13 minutes until set.

Filling:

  1. Once the cookies are baked and cooled, begin to prepare the filling.
  2. Combine the butter, half and half, vanilla, and salt until well incorporated. The mixture will be lumpy, so scrape often.
  3. Add the sifted powdered sugar, scraping often, and mix on low speed until well incorporated. The mixture will be a bit stiffer than cake icing.
  4. Once incorporated, transfer the mixture into a piping bag if making a large batch of cookies. If making a few cookies, like I did, I like to use a small offset spatula to fill the cookies.
  5. You can freeze the extra filling for later use if need be. Just pop into a zip-top bag, and bring to room temperature naturally when ready to use. Or save it in a glass jar for up to 30 days in the fridge.


 

2 Vegetable Tian Recipe

What if I told you that this delicious lunch is made from dinner left overs?

Welcome to our new series: Dinners Transformed.  Because part of eating healthy is having good-for-you food ready, we are going to show you how you can take dinner left overs and create amazing lunches!


I know I can be a regular offender of wasting food because I don’t know how to re-purpose it!  Then MOMables™ asked me to begin this fresh-food series called Dinners Transformed. In this series, I’m going to show you lunch ideas of what you can do with those little leftovers -don’t worry, I will share the recipes too!

This is a Vegetable Tian I made this weekend. One little, lonely scoop of this yummy Tian was left in fridge. I actually have no idea how this scoop survived dinner, because this recipe was soooooooo delicious! It is a must try recipe, trust me, you will thank me later.

If you’ve ever wondered “what am I going to do with one miserable scoop of left overs” then you are in the right place.

I placed the leftover serving of vegetable Tian on a slice of  bread with a little mayo or avocado and now I have lunch made the next day!

Pictured above is a vegetable tian sandwich, cherry tomatoes, watermelon and trail mix.

Vegetable Tian

  • Author:
  • Yield: 6 servings
  • Cuisine: Lunch

Ingredients

  • 1-2 russet potatoes
  • 2 plum tomatoes
  • 1 yellow squash
  • 1 zucchini
  • 2-3 cloves minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup chopped yellow onion
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp Trader Joe’s 21 Seasoning salute (or any salt free multipurpose seasoning, like Mrs. Dash)
  • 1/4 cup Italian blend cheese (mozzarella & parmesan)

Instructions

  1. Thinly slice potatoes, plum tomatoes, yellow squash, and zucchini. Set aside. To give the tomatoes a little extra kick, I placed the thin slices on a paper towel to absorb some liquid and sprinkled 1 tsp or the multipurpose seasoning.
  2. Saute your chopped onions and minced garlic in 1 tbsp of butter until onions are soft (about 5 minutes).
  3. Spray a pie pan with non-stick spray and layer onions on the bottom of the pan. If you do not have a pie pan, an 8×8 pan will also work.
  4. Create a spiral layer (or rows if you are using a square dish) of potato, zucchini, squash, potato, tomato, potato, zucchini, squash, potato, tomato, potato, etc…
  5. Drizzle with the 2 tbsp of olive oil and sprinkle with the remaining 1 tsp of seasoning and salt. Cover with aluminum foil. Bake at 400 degrees, covered for 30 minutes.
  6. Remove from oven and sprinkle with cheese. Bake uncovered for an additional 15-20 minutes.

 

Easy Summer Snack: Frozen Fruit Kabobs

Want an easy summer snack?

This snack is so easy, it’s almost too good to be true. It only takes a few minutes to assemble and freeze, and they are ready to go!

You’ll need:

  • fresh fruit
  • kabobs

To Assemble: Take kabob sticks and your choice of fruit. Slide the fruit onto the kabob, and place it in the freezer for a few hours until frozen. Some of our favorite combinations were grapes, strawberries, and blueberries, but any fruit will work. Have your kids help in choosing the fruit and loading the kabobs to make it even more fun!

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