May I have more “special sprouts,” please?

Have you ever had “special sprouts”? They’re actually Brussels sprouts, but if you say it fast, it sounds an awful lot like special sprouts, especially to a 6 and a 3-year-old. (Our very own Nanny Jane calls them Barbie cabbages.)

I love Brussels sprouts. I admit it. (There. I said it.) So I introduced them to my girls last month. I take mine whole, sautéed in a bit of butter, and then tossed with a splash of balsamic vinegar and sea salt a few minutes before serving. I eat them with abandon the same way I can eat bacon or popcorn. And guess what, so do my girls! Mia asks for seconds and Stella, thirds. Mia likes to peel back the layers and savor them one leaf at a time. Stella is an eat-’em-whole girl like me.

Last week we had BLTs, organic French fries, and … special sprouts (a rather interesting combination, but that’s what happens when it’s dance and gymnastics night). Stella’s fries remained untouched, and on her third helping of special sprouts, I wondered if I should make her eat her entire plate of food before I let her have more of something else. I promptly decided against it.

When she asked Friday morning if she could take any leftover special sprouts to school for lunch, I also decided against that. No need for her to know just yet that her peers might not love them the way she does.

Continue reading


Oh, pie!

Mark your calendars, farmgirls …

National Pie Day is on the way!

If you LOVE pie,

(and who doesn’t LOVE pie?),

Then set aside January 23 for some serious pie time.

Pie time?

What sort of pie time?

What can a pie partisan do to prove her piety?

Continue reading

It’s a girl thing!

It’s a girl thing!

Pop quiz:

What’s the first “girl thing” that came to mind?

Stereotypes have a way of superseding our rational senses, so don’t beat yourself up if you immediately thought of make-up or sparkly dresses or slumber parties.

The latest “girl thing” to sweep the globe, however, is not another glitzy gimmick.

It’s …


Yup, science.

Last summer, the EU Commissioner for Research and Innovation, Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, launched the Women in Research and Innovation campaign to encourage more women to choose research careers.

Go, girl!

It all started with a statistic:

Women make up more than half the EU’s student population and account for 45 percent of all doctorates (PhDs), but they account for only one third of career researchers and are very poorly represented at the senior level.

Suddenly, a slogan was born:

“Science: It’s a Girl Thing!”

The first facet of the campaign is bent on bringing teen girls face-to-face with inspiring women-scientist role models and enlightening them about the excitement and challenges of being a professional scientist or engineer. The second phase targets college-level women and encourages them to choose a career in research.

I love the campaign’s website at a glance. There are quizzes, contests, video clips, and dream jobs—all designed to dare girls to dream big.

And the best part about being a girl scientist?

YOU call the shots.

You can …

Continue reading

Smooth Move

I’m sure you know that old trick about freezing bananas that have seen better days. You hold onto them until the banana-bread bug bites you bad, and then you embark on a marathon baking session. Well, I’m a devotee of this method—it’s as if the freezer performs some magic to transform fruit that looks too ripe to even touch into an exotic delicacy.

But you know, bread isn’t all those bananas are good for—why not try a smoothie? A frozen banana makes an excellent any-smoothie base because it produces a rich, creamy texture that’s just like ice cream.

LIKE ice cream, but better.

That’s because smoothies are a great way to boost your nutritional intake and still feel like you’re getting away with something. Liquids make more nutrients available than solid food, and are absorbed faster, too. They’re also easier to digest and frequently more appetizing than solid food when you’re rushed, sick, pregnant, or just plain bored.

So grab your blender.

Drop in that banana, add some frozen fruit: flavor-wise, it’s hard to go wrong. Berries, stone fruits, grapes, citrus, and tropical fruit all contribute a tart, punchy kick that’s as intense and colorful as candy.

Now for the veggies.

Yup, that’s right—I said VEGGIES. Smoothies are a great way to use the fresh or frozen vegetables you have on hand. It may sound scary, but don’t run screaming from the blender just yet. Greens may have a big impact on the color of your drink, but they usually contribute a fairly delicate flavor, especially alongside all that sweet fruit. So toss in frozen vegetables like peas, broccoli pieces, or spinach by the handful. Their natural sweetness will make the vitamin boost completely painless.

You can also boost your smoothies by blending in your vitamin supplement, a scoop of wheat germ, a handful of nuts, a smear of nut butter, a chunk of fresh ginger, drizzles of honey or maple syrup, or spoonfuls of milled flaxseed, wheat germ, or ground cinnamon.

Now pour in a little juice, water, or yogurt to help it all liquefy and let ’er rip. Blend everything until smooth, and then taste a bit to see if you need to tweak the flavors or consistency. There are no hard and fast ratios or recipes. Just experiment with what you have and what you know you like.

Still feeling less than confident? Allow me to share a few of my favorite non-recipes:

Ruby Dream: Leftover cooked beets (go easy), frozen strawberries, apple juice, and fresh carrots (Just a note on beets: they, hmmm, walk out the same color as they walked in. So no smoothie-inspired 911 calls, k?)

Continue reading

Gluten-free Coconut Granola Bars


Continue reading


Today’s Recipe: Rustic Tomato Soup


Continue reading