Don’t Fear the Little Fishy

If I say let’s have sardines for lunch, will you wince? Some might, I used to when I was a kid. Unfortunately, this petite fish has been given a big bad rep; kind of like it’s cousin the anchovy. Can this “fear” be overcome? I believe, with the right recipe you will get “hooked”.

So, where to begin….. You have to start with a quality product, I didn’t say expensive- just great quality.Over the years, I’ve tried many brands of sardines; some in cans and even some in bottle jars. And like anything, they run the gamut of really good and “why did I open that?!” I have found one brand that, has great quality and is affordable- Wild Planet (www.wildplanetfoods.com). Yes, the ones that make that hearty, non-“fishy” tuna. IMG_5372

Now we have the heart of the dish, what dish do we begin with? Wild Planet offers a mini recipe book, 50 Ways to Eat a Sardine- great ideas! Want something different? I remembered the sardine dish I had when I was young that converted me to a sardine eater- it’s a Filipino dish! It’s called “Ginisang Sardinas”, loosely translated Sauteed Sardines. The ingredients are simple, besides the sardines; onion, garlic, tomato (can also use tomato sauce) and spices. And using Wild Planet’s Wild sardines in extra virgin olive oil lightly smoked.

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So we’ve sliced and diced our basics, now on to the recipe. You can use ripe tomatoes or canned tomato sauce (depends on preference or what you have on hand), a little bit of lemon juice, about a tablespoon of chopped parsley, salt and pepper to taste. If you would like more of a Filipino flare, instead of salt you can use a teaspoon of fish sauce which can be found at most Oriental stores.

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The next few steps are super simple, start with sautéing the onions then the garlic. once they begin to brown you can add your tomatoes.IMG_5357

Believe it or not it’s almost done; next comes the sardines, let it simmer in the tomato sauce. Time for seasoning, salt (or the fish sauce) and pepper, and the lemon juice.IMG_5361

A sprinkle of parsley before serving, at times we’ve also added a hard boiled egg to the dish. This is served with steamed rice.

As I was looking at the sardines in a tomato sauce, I remembered that Wild Planet also has Sardines in Marinara sauce! This screams Pasta dish!!

A drizzle of olive oil, finely chopped garlic and onions in to the pan. As it starts to brown, in goes the sardines in marinara sauce.IMG_5350

Final seasoning, maybe a sprinkle of parmesan cheese and on top of some fettuccine or spaghetti and you’re good to go.

Since I was on a roll, I decided to try the other varieties of Wild Planet’s sardines. Okay, I wound up cooking five more dishes using sardines! Yup, time to call the neighbors over for a tasting! I didn’t tell them that I would be featuring sardines, only to be able to surprise them with it’s versatility and dispel the “fear” that some have with sardines.

I stumbled on a recipe that said was sure to be the best one for first time sardine eaters. It’s called “the works salad”. I once again used the sardines in extra virgin olive oil lightly smoked. With all the ingredients; sliced black olives, cilantro, shredded/grated carrots. diced dill pickles, chopped nuts, a tablespoon or two of apple cider vinegar and salt! because Wild Planet’s sardines are not drowning in salt! The sardines? You “mash” them before you mix them into the other ingredients. Chill before serving, can be served with crackers or on some lettuce.

What about something for appetizers? Tapenade goes well with any refreshment. Some black olives, capers and a drizzle of olive oil into the food processor creating a paste. Mix in the sardines- I used the ones in extra virgin olive oil with lemon. Don’t forget to season, I put a sprinkle of garlic powder.

I wanted to try something really different with the sardines in water with sea salt. But what? How about a four ingredient salad for lunch? Here goes; a few hard boiled eggs, fine diced onions, dice the sardines and a dollop of mayonnaise.

Let’s do something crunchy. Tempura style! IMG_5385

I used the same recipe that you usually use when frying fish. With the sardines in water no salt added, I did a pat dry first. got my flour, “scrambled” eggs and Panko in three separate bowls to begin the dredging. I do like to season the breadcrumbs or Panko as well.IMG_5391

Ok,Ok…. Just one more. Fried rice seems like a fun one to try. This may be surprising, but I’m allergic to rice. It was shocking for my family- my aunts thought it was peculiar for a Filipino to be allergic to rice when that is something that you eat all your life. I need an alternative, and I want it to be an easy assembly.

Any Trader Joe’s fans out there? I love their cauliflower stir fry, you can find it in their frozen sectionIMG_5387

I prepared the cauliflower fried rice as per the package, and added the sardines in water with sea salt. A little bit of fine diced onions and garlic, I used a small sprinkle of soy sauce to taste instead of salt. And it was done in a flash!!

All the dishes are cooked and plated, time to set the table and call everyone over.IMG_E5395

Thank you Wild Planet for cute coloring books I can share with the kids!IMG_5415

A smidgen of everything on the plate.

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Let the tasting begin! What fun! We’ve conquered the fear of sardines! Even the kids liked it!! IMG_5398

It was so generous of Wild Planet to send some coupons to share with everyone!

I love that you can find Wild Planet Foods in the stores I frequent.

P.S. I heard some Costcos carry them too.

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Making Math Fun

There are those that absolutely love math, and then there are some that are “ok” with it. Either way, there are times when math can get the best of us. When you say “math homework” to be answered with groans and eyeball rolls.. what do you do? How do you take the “chore ” feeling out of math for the kids?

I was recently introduced to Numbers Alive (www.numbersalive.org). A delightful organization that puts the fun back into math. As you peruse the website you see many great ideas and materials that you can use to support what they learn in school. They even have things to help get a jump start on future math areas!

You get introduced to the Number Lady, The STEM Squad and Team Ten! What caught my eye was Pi!!

How cute is he? As they say on the website, it’s never too late to learn about Pi. And boy do they have fun ways to learn!

I pictured it inside-out, but it’s a little chef hat for Pi; the green item is a Pi tape measure!

Now that would come in handy in a math competition! The other side is an actual tape measure.

Is all of this popular with the kids?

Yes it is!!

I wanted to share his with our friends kids , so what better way than on National Pie day!

As you would’ve guessed, the plush Pi really caught their attention!

Overall, the important part of this was that it started the conversation and curiosity of Pi and Math.

More Than Just a Community Supporter

There is no doubt that time flies by so fast. You see it as you watch the children around you. Your own kids, nieces, nephews, and even the kids in your neighborhood seem to sprout up in the blink of an eye.

In the daily busy schedules we always hope there will be time to stop for just a little bit and enjoy the stages our children go through. And, yes, sometimes we need a hand in “stopping” time. Maybe an event or venue that fits into any schedule where we can take a breather and catch up with the kids.

If I told you that Chick Fil A helps you find that moment what would you say? How?

Here’s how……

My local Chick Fil A recently hosted a “Daddy Daughter Date Night Dinner”*

Can’t imagine it? How about a shimmery backdrop, live music and beautiful table settings.

There’s more to make the evening a special occasion. What’s a special dinner without a special menu.

Dinner begins with a sampler appetizer

Don’t forget the ice tea- lemonade bar to quench your thirst.

As dinner gets under way, take a peek at your placemats. Such a fun little quiz- it’s great to see their view and insight on different things.

The night doesn’t end with dessert of their infamous chocolate chip cookies or creamy Ice Dreams.

The Cow has come via limousine to take the Daddy Daughter groups on a lovely night ride.

As the night winds down, the girls are given bag of fun as a souvenir of their night to remember with their Dads.

Why does Chick Fil A do this? Because thy are more than just a Community Supporter, they support the FAMILY! An evening to spend with your princess(es) is the treasure they will have with them to tell their future children about.

*Check your local area Chick Fil A for events like this and many more during the months.

Taking it Step by Step

Winter is getting ready to say goodbye as Spring makes its approach, how did the resolutions go?

With all our busy day to day schedules it can be difficult to stick to them. Most of the time we need to find time to see these through. Or with the plethora of weight management programs how do you choose the right one for you?

I recently had the opportunity to tryout a program courtesy of Tryazon, and the privilege of being on my best friend’s “team”.

The name of the program is Personal Trainer Food, which was created by a husband that wanted to help and support his wife’s challenges and journey in weight management. The program contains meals that are pre-portioned; you have breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks. Okay, okay, I know you’re saying this sounds familiar. But there’s more than just meals.

Let’s start at the beginning of my journey, the arrival of my first box containing meals for the next 14 days

At first you might not think it’s a lot of food or enough to keep you full on a daily basis.

After unpacking I realized I need to organize.

Before you dive in head first, you want to “start with a clean slate”. You will have a cleansing day for that, mainly liquids such as broth and tea with no sugar or milk, all clear liquids. Ideally it’s good to do the 48 hour cleansing, but you can also do 24 hours.

The program doesn’t truly focus on weight numbers. It recognizes measurement differences as well.

I’ll admit, I was concerned at first if I could do this, it looked pretty small in the individual bags.

Here’s my very first lunch- teriyaki chicken and vegetables

I was pleasantly surprised that it was just right- not too little and not too much. I didn’t stand up from the table hungry, and bonus, it was delicious! With the entrees and vegetables individually wrapped you can mix and match what your in the mood for. This also makes it convenient to take to work or on the go- I pack it with a reusable ice pack and use a”cooler” type lunch bag.

Now, you do initial “weigh in” for a gauge. After that you continue on the plan.

Our team participated in the program for four weeks. It was a big help to be a team, we’d check in with one another from time to time and compare meals. It made it fun.

But, it doesn’t stop there- on Facebook there is a Personal Trainer Food Group. Yes, there is truly power in numbers., and maybe this is where the “Personal” comes in. It’s a wonderful forum of people just like you. Families with kids of all ages, busy daily schedules and wanting to improve their health like you. It is comforting to post a question or share a small victory and get a response from someone who is miles away going through the same thing.

Also included are guides, even a couple of recipes using the food in the meals; for example using the meatballs and a little mozzarella creating a no pasta lasagna. If you’re anything like me, condiments are a usual part of meals. They offer sauces are well.

Here we are, four weeks later. I did lose some pounds, but saw more improvement in measurements. Am I continuing with the program now that the month is over?

I haven’t decided yet, they cover that too. There is a guide and a do’s and don’t chart of food suggestions. There are tips on how to eat out and not deviate from the program. You will get into a groove of how to eat and truly take it step by step to a healthy lifestyle.

Special thanks to my great friend Adeina Anderson (Creative Lifestyles with Adeina) and our buddy Anne-Marie Hotard Weldon (a_well_done_style) for inviting me to do this together .

And a big thanks and shout out to Tryazon (http://www.tryazon.com) in cooperation with Personal Trainer Food (http://www.personaltrainerfood.com) fo the opportunity to take the first step in helping create the healthy lifestyle we want in the busy lives we have.