random healthy kitchen tips from me to you.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

+ half your juice with seltzer.  my kids actually prefer it this way now because it's fizzy so they are under the illusion they're drinking soda when in fact they're drinking diluted juice (fools!).  it's basically like making your own izze.
+ dilute your salad dressings (or better yet, make your own!).  i dilute mine with fresh squeezed lemon (key to a delicious dressing), and sometimes apple cider vinegar and olive oil.  but i still do love newman's own non-creamy caesar.  add lemon to that... bliss.  do you have a great dressing recipe?  do share.
+ don't put as much sugar in recipes as is called for.  you'll almost never notice.
+ when your kids are squirrely and starving before dinner, as is always the case, give them a bowl of carrots... and if you're feeling extra naughty, some annies' ranch to dip.
+ don't say no to all treats cause then, when they become teenagers, they'll pretty much shoot high fructose corn syrup like it's heroin.  don't say yes to all treats cause then, when they become teenagers, they'll pretty much shoot high fructose corn syrup like it's heroin.  it's a delicate balance, my friends (and one that i probably don't have right anyway).
+ when you want treats, bake them yourself.  then you know you'll be able to pronounce all the ingredients.  and you won't do it that often because who wants to bake all the time?  michael pollan taught me this one.
+ remember msg has many names.  like hydrolyzed soy protein for one.  read about it and avoid it.  it excites our brain cells so much that they die and is addicting.  i know that because when i think of cool ranch doritos, i want to shove the entire bag in my mouth in a split second.  even when it's been 18 months since i last had some.  how is that possible?  msg, my friends, msg.
+ know where your meat comes from.  cow doesn't count.  learn more.
+ if you can't give up a certain dirty habit, try to find a healthier alternative.  like immaculate baking company brand break-and-bake cookies instead of the pillsbury alternative (though both are YUM).
+ make your own cream of chicken soup.  it's easy.  basically your normal bechamel sauce but with chicken broth and a little more salt... most cream of chicken soups have msg.  hate it.

do you have any for me?  seriously, share.  i love this stuff.

and don't miss my guest post (below)!



  1. will you please not talk to me about cool ranch doritos? i thought they took out the msg or something. cause i don't even buy them and try to convince myself that i won't eat the whole bag. i just eat the whole bag. no questions.

  2. @kera, so insanely delicious right? i want some right now. you know why? msg.

  3. Fools!

    I laughed out loud at that part. Definitely going to keep that juice trick in mind. My MIL is already talking about how excited she'll be to give Bump his/her first juice bottle, "you know, after you're done breastfeeding."


  4. you are just such a good mom:) all these tips are great, and i totally use them on... myself (haha) halfing the sugar in juices and recipes is just a must!

  5. I just started reading your blog recently when Reagan mentioned that she reads you - now I'm addicted (do you have msg?)
    Since you brought it up, my kids won't eat for me - do you have tips since you need to please 4 of them? My oldest (Luc,5) gags and cries if I try to get him to try anything new and my youngest (Cooper, 3) just pushes it across the table and says no.
    any help from your experience would be greatly appreciated, I need to get them away from msg!
    Thanks for considering, Jenna

  6. This comment has been removed by the author.

  7. What a woman after my own heart. I'm teaching a course right now on food and the environment and am using "Omnivore's Dilemma" as a textbook. Corn and corn for dinner anyone? They all keep telling me that I'm ruining their vision of the world... I'm telling them the class is like the army. Breaking them down and then re-building!

  8. Also, if you're trying to make any soup creamy - boil some cauliflower then puree it. BAM! Cream and a vegetable all up in your soup. No one will be able to tell, I promise.

  9. Oh! And you can make ice cream out of frozen bananas + almond milk - add a little chocolate or peanut butter and you've got yourself a {healthy} little treat.

  10. Oh Bridget! You are speaking to my heart when you write about this stuff! haha! love it! keep it coming!

  11. You said Cool Ranch Doritos and now all I can think about are Cool Ranch Doritos. Gah.

    And I love Izze soda, but hate seltzer, so this seems like a good way to make my own without the gross seltzer taste. Huzzah!

    Also, I laughed/cried so hard over your guest post. Sounds like stuff my sister would say. Sigh.

  12. @jenna, well, i will say, i can be a tough guy at the dinner table. don't let me fool you-- my kids can complain about dinner from time to time (more often the older ones than the younger). but, i, more or less, trained them to eat well by pretty much forcing it on them. and not only that but educating them at the same time... i don't suppose your 3 and 5 year old will care WHY that green veg. is good for them though but try hiding it in a smoothie (problem is, i think too much hiding can be bad and you want them to SEE what they're eating and get used to it)... have you tried adding parm cheese to veggies or something of the sort? or having them help you in the kitchen? my youngest lindsey loves salad and i think in part she loves to make it and be in the kitchen with me so that helps... email me and i can think of more!!

    @beautiful little fool - love that book! and let their vision of the world be ruined. it certainly doesn't have their best interest at heart!

    @ashlae- that banana thing sounds amazing. must try.

    @alexandria. i want cool ranch doritos in the worst way right now. seriously.

  13. Oh, you know these are my favorite posts! What a good idea with the seltzer water...I usually just use plain old water, which is fine, but a little boring.

    Best dressing ever = olive oil + balsamic + garlic + honey mustard. YUM!

  14. oh thanks for sharing these tips!

  15. Love these tips. Sadly though, I want to cry myself to sleep about the msg in the cool ranch doritos. Damn. Thanks for the heads up tho.

    I'm a sucker for making my own balsamic vinaigrette dressing!

  16. Yesterday I downloaded the 'Fooducate' app for iPhone and spent an hour in my pantry looking up foods. I was surprised at some of the items that had a form of msg in them. Except then not surprised when I remembered how I have a hard time putting them down. It may take a little more effort to be informed, but it's totally worth it. Thanks for the tips! Lemons are now on my shopping list. And I'm already making a sour face.

    If you haven't already downloaded that app... you should. It's addicting...

  17. @roxanne, love those ingredients. done and done.

    @kristyn, maybe if i had a fancy shmancy iphone, i'd download that app, but since i'm like in 1998 with cell phone technology, no such luck for me.

  18. I love anything sparkly, so that juice trick will have to work for me, too :) The "fools" part had me laughing, too.

    I bake bread. Whole wheat bread with honey. Those freaky ingredient lists at the store scare me.

    I think it's such a mentality thing: either food is a priority or it isn't. For me it is, I don't care about how expensive Whole Foods is. I hardly ever buy clothes and most of my other stuff is purchased economically. I make food a priority :)

  19. yes! we do these all. it helps that the seltzer bottles I buy are Lucy's favorite dog toy...win win.

  20. Love the juice + seltzer tip, I need to try this!

  21. Using carbonated water with juice is an excellent way to make a fun healthier drink for children as well as adults. But may I suggest using sodastream for a healthier planet.... & its more economical too.


    To make an easy but delicious dressing, I cut up a clove of garlic in the bottom of a salad bowl & cover it with salt. Let rest for a few minuets & then mash into a paste with the back of a wooden spoon. Add one large spoon of balsamic vinegar to three large spoons of oil & whisk.

  22. 1) hide the veggies in the smoothies.
    2) the fewer ingredients on the label, the better. 5 or less is best.
    great post, b-town!

  23. Thank you thank you thank you for these tips! Love them!

    So one thing I do with my almost 2 year old is always put a vegetable in with the starch. So he thinks that macaroni and cheese always comes with steamed broccoli and just eats it b/c it is all mixed up. Same with noodles. Just add peas. And of course I put veggies in spaghetti sauce and stuff like that.

    My go-to salad dressing: just put some salt, pepper, and garlic powder on your salad before you dress it and then drizzle with olive oil and red wine vinegar. It's really light and refreshing.

  24. + don't put as much sugar in recipes as is called for. you'll almost never notice.

    this is so, so true! and the thing about the msg/doritos...also ringing very true to me.

  25. oh hey, haven't commented in awhile, what's up. just wanted to add that your last health post is actually something i think of quite frequently. especially all that ginger/lemon talk. and the not drinking water at meals (which so many europeans friends of mine don't do either). i like where your head is, bridgey bridge.

  26. Love these tips! I hate MSG so much- I get nauseous just from eating it. Thanks for this!

  27. oooh good post! I don't even bring juice into the house unless it's for making smoothies, so Bennett doesn't even know what he's missing...but adding the seltzer water is such a good idea!

    Have you tried Annies or TJs Goddess dressing?! It's amazing.

    I totally check to see if I can pronounce the ingredients too!

    Bennett just learned to say "no" this week unfortunatley soooo I'm going to have to get creative with the veggies (at least he will eat Gardenburgers)!

    More posts like this please!

  28. New reader here! Love your blog!! I love sneaking veggies in by adding spinach or kale to my smoothies. That was the only way I was getting leafy greens during the first trimester!

  29. Love this post Bridget!! I have to try the seltzer water trick...on my husband! Fair game, right? He's seriously addicted to juice...I think he was that kid in school who ALWAYS had a juice ring around his lips. Anyway, great tips!! Xo, Katie

  30. I agree about lemon in your salad dressing. I have been making my own salad dressing since I heard Rachael Ray say she didn't trust a salad dressing where the oil and vinegar didn't separate (which is most bottled dressings).

  31. Whenever a recipe calls for bread crumbs I usually use a mixture of breadcrumbs, flaxseed, and wheat germ.

    I love your health posts almost more than I love your bachelor recaps!

  32. thanks to all of you guys for your tips too- keep em coming!!!!

  33. ok i love juice and seltzer... if i had my way it'd be all i drank.
    tip- water in the frying pan when you sautee anything lets you use less oil. : )

  34. Addicting dressing recipe that goes great with so many salads below. Of course it has lemon juice!

    1/2 part olive oil, 1/2 part fresh lemon juice, garlic, salt, pepper, agave syrup

  35. I love your tips here and the tips of your readers.

    I make cupcakes and cakes with pumpkin puree instead of oil/eggs/water when we need a sweet fix. My kids PREFER them that way now. I don't hide it.

    Also, I keep a bowl of fresh fruit on the counter and rarely buy prepackaged snacks. It took some getting use to, but we are getting there.

  36. Amen to all of this. EPSECIALLY the msg part. ew. I hate msg. I wish it would disappear. Forever. That stuff is the WORST.

  37. Very good tips! I like the one about diluting your salad dressing, very good idea.

  38. Wow! I was just thinking about this concept today! Here are a few tips of my own:

    1- When you bake cookies, bake a whole lot, enough so you can gorge your face that night with loads of them to satisfy your "need" for sugar that so compelled you to bake in the first place, AND have enough left over to make little cookie-balls on a sheet pan, freeze them, and put them in a ziplock bag. That way, when those late-night cravings hit but you're too lazy to get your butt off the couch, all you've got to do it stick a couple pre-frozen cookies in the oven and your sugar-fix is filled!

    2- Make friends with a local farm. They'll usually just give you loads of bruised produce. Then you can preserve it any way you'd like. Last summer, we canned nearly 200 lbs of tomatoes!

    3- GET CHICKENS (so easy to keep)! Grow loads of spinach (also ridiculously easy to do), make a dozen quiche at a time, par-bake them in foil pans, then cover in foil and freeze. Such a wonderful dinner, and so easy to just pop into the oven from the freezer.

    4- Add Dijon mustard to your homemade salad dressing. And honey too. A lightbulb moment when I figured that out...

  39. @mckenzie, i want backyard chickens in the worst way!!!!! one of these days... and im loving the local farm tips! and can you send one of those quiches my way?! :)

  40. It's me here!

    Ok, for dressing I love olive oil (EVOO) and fresh lemon juice. In the summer, I add herbs fresh from my garden (oregano, rosemary). I love this on plain Boston lettuce with sea salt.

    Another healthy tip is to try plain tofu as one of a baby's first solid foods. It is squishy so the choking risk is low but it's firm enough to grasp in little hands. And it's packed with protein, as you know. My kids have grown up on plain tofu and love it...and I felt better about that to them rather than those commericially-prepared puffs.

    This is fun...I will think of more!

  41. so..i probably have no brain cells left..

    eh. explains a lot.

  42. First, you look adorable! Second, I use a squeeze of lemon, a drizzle of olive oil and seasalt in substitute of salad dressing and never miss it. I also add feta and sunflower seeds to my salads which makes it just a bit creamy, with a crunch. You'll love!

  43. Love the meat comment! (: Great tips! And beautiful kitchen picture, too!

  44. My chef friend taught me to make dressing with olive oil, balsamic, Dijon mustard, lemon juice, garlic or shallots, and parm. The mustard helps bind the oil and balsamic when whisked together. Delicious.

  45. Oooo and my husband and I use Greek yogurt in place of lots of things, especially sour cream. We like making food really spicy and then adding a huge spoonful of yogurt, which feels so rebellious but is really good for you! And whenever we make cookies, we freeze some of the dough for snacks- not to cook later, just to eat frozen. And we cook a lot of beans because they taste better than canned and we can add them to various meals.

    OK enough out of me!

  46. I make salad dressing with olive oil, balsamic vinegar (white is even better than regular), salt and pepper. My girls love it. And when in season, I add avocado and green onions. Once you toss the avocado makes it a little "creamier."

    We also make our own pizza. Sometimes we make the dough, but we also buy it. Then you can decide what sauce, how much cheese, etc. and it's something that kids can help with.

    I am lucky in that my twins are good eaters, but I think just introducing new things and letting them help prepare/grow food helps. We also do black bean and cheese quesadillas, and sometimes I can put tomatoes and chopped up red pepper in. I use little cheese, and add a mix of cumin and chili powder, and they love it.

  47. Doritos are pretty much my nemesis. I can be a 100% healthy and active person, as long as I don't step in the chip aisle. Otherwise, I'm a goner. But I learned an interesting thing recently that I think might interest you, too. The reason msg, in all of its forms, tastes so good is that it has what's called umami, or full-mouth flavour. Tomatoes have just as much umami as anything with msg. Next time you find yourself craving Doritos, try a toasted tomato sandwich. I know it sounds unbelievale, but you'll actually end up feeling just as satisfied :)

  48. GREAT POST!! My kitchen should be good to go in couple weeks...and I'll be sure to take into account a few of your tips! Thanks!

    And I'm so glad you mentioned the idea of only eating sweet that you make yourself. I actually had that goal at the beginning of the year, but sadly was not very good at sticking with it... I'm back on!!! :)

  49. i have a good balsamic recipe!

    3-4 cloves of garlic
    1/4 cup (or more) olive oil
    (blend together)
    add about 1/4 cup more olive oil
    add 1/2 cup balsamic venegar
    2 tablespoons dijon mustard
    salt and pepper to taste
    (blend together again)

    once you perfect it, it tastes soo much like Cheesecake Factorys balsamic. its fantastic and healthy too!


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