March 19, 2012

Healthy Kids & Fun Recipes

We're fresh off our fun lecture, "Cooking for Healthy Kids."  And it was a great success.

I did what I did best, lecture.  And Ann did what she does best, be socially awkward and make people laugh.

The lecture was put on by Ann's church (just like the last one we did), and the turnout was great - a dietitian, Dr. Stevens, spoke on the importance of encouraging children to eat healthfully - as well as the dangers of childhood obesity, which is on the rise.

I think her most interesting point was when she said that we don't have to love absolutely everything we eat.  We eat because we need nutrients for our bodies.  Not every single bite of food we take has to be the absolutely best freaking thing you've ever tasted (although if you make our recipes, it just might be :).  Encourage your children (and maybe yourself) to not just see food as something that tastes really, really good.  See it as something that nourishes our bodies, helps our minds, and keeps us healthy so we can avoid disease and hospitals.  For example, if you like, but don't love, spinach, eat some anyway.  Maybe your taste buds will change, and it will become more enjoyable.

Dr. Stevens speaking
For our part (well, my part), I told the crowd what I tell everyone when they ask me why I'm a vegan:  I'm not looking to live 'til 100.  I'm just looking to avoid debilitating diseases, prescription medications, chemotherapy, surgeries, and a poor quality of life.  It's about quality, not quantity.  And if you want to live however many years you will live, with a high-quality life, you need to start with the most ridiculously easy step - the food you eat.

I also encouraged people to not always hide the healthy food they feed their kids.  Don't disguise the food, or tell them it's something different.  Although it will be tedious at first, tell your kids what fruits and veggies are in their meals.  Tell them that those weird looking things are garbanzo beans, and they give our body fiber and protein so we can be strong and healthy.  Plus, it's fun to say garbanzo!


Remember, it's about creating your new "normal" - for not just yourself, but for your kids.  Arm them with the information they need to know how to make healthy choices - and to know why they're making healthy choices.  It will take time (just look how long it took us to mess up our palettes!), but it will be worth it.

Ann made people laugh by telling them that although the all-natural foods are a bit more expensive, she's going to save a bundle on prescription medication costs and co-pays.  It's funny 'cuz it's true.

Heidi, fellow healthy food blogger, also presented to the crowd and made some awesome food!  You can find her amazing Caribbean Black Bean slow cooker recipe on her wonderful blog.  I will be making this recipe this week - YUM!

For our part, we made our Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Muffins (recipe below),

our Cheezy Broccoli Orzo (click for recipe),

our No-Bake Cookies (recipe below),

and our Meatless Balls (click for recipe).

For the balls, I altered the original recipe by making them in mini-muffin pans, instead of the regular muffin pans.  Then, I whipped up some mashed potatoes (pun intended) by boiling 2 russet potatoes, mashing them with a touch of Earth Balance and some soy milk, salt and pepper.  Then, I put the mashed potatoes into a large ziploc bag and cut off the tip of one of the corners:

Then, I frosted my little heart out.

Voila - adorable (and healthy!!) little meatless balls with mashed potato "frosting"

Ann made some awesome Cookie Dough Dip (recipe below) for the kids to dip apple slices and pretzel sticks.

Then, we had each table make some Energy Balls (recipe below).  This is a fast, easy and healthy recipe that I absolutely love.  You get your whole grains from the oats, your fiber and omega fatty acids from the ground flaxseeds, your protein from the peanut butter, and your awesomeness from the coconut and chocolate chips.  Be warned though - these are addictive little things.

We felt that these recipes exemplified how easy it can be to serve your kids healthy foods - that are FUN!  Cookie Dough Dip?  Meatless Balls that look like little cupcakes?  Cheezy Orzo?  Fun little Energy Balls!?

Yup, kids can be vegan rock stars too.

Love & Kale,


Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Muffins
Makes 1 dozen awesome muffins
Original recipe from Forks Over Knives.


  • 1 medium banana, mashed
  • 1 (15-oz.) can sweet pumpkin puree
  • 1/4 cup 100% pure maple syrup
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 cups whole oat flour
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1 cup grain-sweetened dairy-free chocolate chips


  1. Preheat oven to 375°F. In a large bowl, combine mashed banana, pumpkin puree, maple syrup, and vanilla extract.
  2. In a small bowl, combine oat flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger. Transfer mixture to large bowl and mix together gently until well-combined. Avoid over-mixing to prevent toughness in the final product. Fold in chocolate chips.
  3. Spoon batter into silicon muffin cups and bake for 20 minutes or until the muffins are lightly browned. Remove muffins from the oven and let cool for 5 minutes. Store muffins in an airtight container.


Fast No-Bake Cookies
Makes about 8 cookies.
Print here.

  • 1/3 cup maple syrup 
  • 1/3 cup almond milk 
  • ¼ cup cocoa 
  • 3 tbsp peanut butter 
  • 1 tsp vanilla 
  • 1 ½ cup oats 
  • ¼ cup chopped walnuts, optional


1. Put maple syrup, almond milk, and cocoa into a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Simmer for about 2-3 min, stirring frequently.
2. Add the peanut butter and stir until incorporated.
3. Remove from heat and add the vanilla, oats, and walnuts (if using).
4. Stir well, the form into small cookies and let them firm up on wax paper.


Energy Balls
Recipe from this website.  Makes about 18-20 balls.

  • 1 cup oatmeal
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter (or other nut butter)
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1 cup coconut flakes
  • 1/2 cup ground flaxseed
  • 1/2 cup vegan chocolate chips
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  1. Mix all ingredients in a medium bowl until thoroughly incorporated. Let chill in the refrigerator for half an hour.  Once chilled, roll into balls and enjoy! 
  2.  Store in an airtight container and keep refrigerated for up to 1 week.

Cookie Dough Dip
Serves 2-3
Recipe from this website.


  • 1 cup raw cashews
  • 2 tbsp almond butter (or any nut butter you choose)
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp nutritional yeast (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 tbsp non-dairy milk (we used coconut milk)
  • 1/4 cup dark chocolate chips
  1. Combine first 6 ingredients in a blender or food processor (cashews through vanilla).  Stream in the non-dairy milk until mixture reaches a "dip-like" consistency.
  2. Transfer dip to a bowl and add chocolate chips.
  3. Serve with apple slices, graham crackers, pretzels, etc.!  Enjoy!


  1. What a fun class, Healthy Food, Healthy Kids. Ali, you, Ann and Heidi did a great job and the food was great! Thank you for all of your hard work in cooking and in presenting such a great variety of recipes. Anxious to cook with my granddaughter. You make cooking fun for all of us.

  2. Forgot to sign above comment - Thanks again, Judy

    1. Judy, we're so glad to hear you enjoyed the program! Joyce did a great job putting it together. Let us know how the recipes you make turn out - and how your granddaughter likes them. Cooking with your granddaughter sounds like a lot of fun - I bet you're making lots of special memories together :)