Archive for November, 2009

Healthy, tasty and unusual snack: East Indian Popcorn

November 28, 2009 3 comments

East Indian Popcorn

This totally different popcorn recipe is a simple, quick and easy way to make a healthy and delicious homemade snack for kids or adults.  Popcorn is actually nutritious, if it’s not slathered in unnatural grease and tons of salt. This curry-spiced version is full of interesting flavors and textures.

When I first came across a Food & Wine cookbook recipe for “Indian Popcorn,” I looked for the “nigella seeds,” aka “black onion seeds,” it called for. Not finding them, I substituted sesame seeds. They ended up burnt to a crisp on the bottom of the pan.

Flowers of garlic chives

Since then, my garlic chive plants have blossomed and are now dropping their little black seeds. I thought maybe I could use those seeds in this recipe.  They aren’t “nigella seeds,” but seemed pretty close to “black onion seeds.” I discovered that the flowers and seeds of garlic chive are edible.  These seeds are probably better for you soaked or even sprouted, which I’ll try next time, but they are quite flavorful and crunchy.  So this time, I made the recipe my own with not only my own garlic chive seeds but also a jalapeno from the garden, instead of the cerranos the original Food & Wine recipe called for. My daughter and I find that there are never enough shallots and chilies, so next time I’ll put more of those.

Seeds of the garlic chive plant

We had a lovely Indian- themed, late afternoon snack the other day with this popcorn and some chai tea made with hot milk.

East Indian Popcorn

1/3 C oil

5 or more shallots (small, pink, delicately flavored onions), very thinly sliced

1 or more jalapenos, very thinly sliced

1 ½ t mild curry powder

1 t garlic chive seeds or nigella seeds or black onion seeds (optional)

¾ C popcorn kernels


1. In a large skillet, heat the oil. Add the sliced shallots and jalapeno, and fry over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 4 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer the fried shallot and chilies to a paper towel-lined plate to drain.

2.  In the same skillet, cook the curry powder and optional chive or onion seeds over moderate heat until fragrant, about one minute. Stir in the popcorn kernels and cover. Cook, shaking the pan every 30 seconds until the kernels are nearly stopped popping, about 5 to 8 minutes. Season the popcorn with a little salt and transfer to a bowl. Sprinkle with the shallots and jalapenos, and serve.

Related post:  “French Tea Time: Glorified After School Snack Crosses the Atlantic”

This post was featured on Food Renegade’s Fight Back Friday on Dec. 4, 2009

© Sacred Appetite / Anna Migeon / 28 November 2009 / All rights reserved

Our menus this past week

November 23, 2009 4 comments


Artichokes with vinaigrette (

Tuna on tuna (“tuna-on-tuna”-or-fresh-tuna-with-tuna-pickle-sauce/)

Tomato, cucumber, black olive and feta salad with vinaigrette


Creamed onions with sage and thyme (Food & Wine)

Boiled potatoes

Roasted red peppers with vinaigrette

Leftover menudo from a church sale


Appetizers: Roasted red peppers with vinaigrette,  fresh basil pesto from the garden on crackers, goat cheese on toast

Dinner: Turkey meatball Albondigas soup (Bon Appétit )

Salad from the garden with shallot vinaigrette


Omelet with leftover Kale and Olives (Food & Wine)

Boxed tomato soup (an organic 32-oz. find at the 99 Only Store)


Creamy Fettuccine with Prosciutto, Asparagus, Mushrooms and Peas (Bon Appétit) (made at the request of my daughter and against my better judgment because of the carbs and salty processed meat. It was scrumptious, though)

Light cream of celery soup (Moosewood Cookbook)


Leftovers from Thursday


Spinach crepes bernoise (delicious! An old favorite of ours, filled with chicken livers, mushrooms, cream cheese, dill, green onions) (The Seasonal Kitchen: Return to Fresh Foods by Perla Meyers)

Salad from the garden


Ground patties of grass-fed local beef

Turnip greens and daikon radish greens with miso

Light cream of celery soup again

PM: Miso soup with daikon radish, green onion and tofu,

Sliced cucumbers and red peppers

Fresh pomegranate for dessert

Categories: Uncategorized

The Tempting Apple: How to make raw fruits and vegetables appealing to kids

November 21, 2009 6 comments

This post was featured on Food Renegade’s Fight Back Friday on Feb. 5, 2010

Let me just say right off the bat that the best ways to make raw fruits (and vegetables) or anything else that’s healthy more appealing to kids are:

1. Avoid giving them junk food. Ever. Kids who eat junk food develop a taste mostly for junk food.

2. Also: catch them when they’re hungry. Food plus hunger and nothing else equals kids eating.

3. Perhaps most important: do not push them to eat whatever it is. At all. Ever. Kids who are never pushed to eat will naturally like raw fruit. Kids who aren’t pushed do not develop food resistance.

Other posts here expound upon those topics at length. But here is a bit more on the topic of making raw fruit appealing.

The other night, I went to a gathering of “creative artists”—a loose term including all sorts of people who want to develop their creativity, including even me, blogger, writer of press releases, newsletters and grants, and photographer (lacking formal training).

The group shared a delicious potluck dinner, and then our friend Elizabeth Mesick presented her own art: what she calls “painting with food.”

Elizabeth, who has lived in Italy and England, talked about her history of enjoyment in making food and serving it appealingly. She rhapsodized on the ways food appeals to our five senses and described and demonstrated how even very simple food can be presented attractively.

The story that struck me most was her going to a restaurant for a simple lunch. She chose an apple over chips with her sandwich, but didn’t end up eating the apple, because it wasn’t sliced.  It wasn’t appealing, she explained.

For our group, Elizabeth passed around a lovely dish of sliced apples drizzled with a little honey, dusted with cinnamon and garnished with raisins and sliced almonds.  It was so simple but so much more pleasing and special than a plain whole apple.

I had already been thinking about how easy it is to make fruit and vegetables disappear, not by having them sitting around so much as taking that little step of cutting them up and throwing them in a bowl on the table at strategic moments.  All the better if it’s actually arranged attractively and temptingly, on a nice dish, maybe, and with some care.

Sometimes it’s just too much effort, especially for kids, to wash an apple and bite into the big thing and have to chaw on it and get it all over your face. You have to really want it to do that. Some nice wedges on a dish go down all by themselves, though. Same with cut up carrots or celery or just about anything along those lines. Some dip or enhancements like Elizabeth used are certainly nice sometimes, but it’s not necessary.

Whenever I have fruit sitting around that needs to be eaten, I cut it up and set it out at breakfast or before dinner. It always works.  No need to tell anybody to eat it, which tends to create resistance for most people. It raises suspicions.  Is it going bad or something, or does it just taste bad? Why do you want me to eat it?  A single casual offer is more effective: “You want some?”

My daughter will mindlessly eat anything I set out in front of her while she’s doing homework at the kitchen table. I think it’s a comfort to her to be taken care of that way and to have something to munch on with her books.  When I’m fixing supper, and things are smelling good and people are hungry, is the perfect time bring out a little appetizer.

My family has pretty much always been ready to eat anything presented around here, but nevertheless, I was inspired by Elizabeth’s talk to look for little ways to make meals more appealing.  For example, I think I’ll bring food to the table in serving dishes more often, and instead of in ugly pots and pans. It doesn’t cost any extra or take more than a few seconds extra. Yet, it makes a difference.

Much of feeding children is just facilitating. Bolster them, make the good thing easier, make the good thing tempting.

Related posts:

Feeding children made easy: Parenting sun style instead of north wind style:

Five steps to removing food resistance:

© Sacred Appetite / Anna Migeon / 21 November 2009 / All rights reserved

Do it yourself: save money, eat better by making your own yogurt

November 17, 2009 5 comments

Homemade yogurt made from raw milk from local pastured cows!

Do you dream of getting your hands on some raw, local, organically produced milk from grass-fed, pastured cows at a reasonable price? Do you love the idea of making your own simple, old-fashioned cultured milk products?

Where there’s a will, there’s probably a way.

I am getting three gallons of good raw milk every other week from a farm in the area. I make four quarts of delicious and nutritious yogurt for about $7 every other week.  It’s extremely simple and satisfying.  It’s an easy way to be more self-reliant and less dependent on industrial food corporations. It’s also a great way to give your kids a closer relationship to food and its magic.

The sources for good raw milk tend to be more underground than otherwise, but such sources do exist.  They’re likeliest found by word-of-mouth or word-of-internet. For a list of possible sources along with good information on why raw milk is better, go to  Dairies are forbidden to deliver raw milk in Texas, so you fellow Texans can choose to be a renegade like me and my sources or you can pick it up at the dairy.

The World Hunger Relief Farm in Waco, TX, sells raw organic goat milk. They sell it in frozen half gallons. I’ve stopped there when I’ve passed through and brought some home a couple of times. It makes good yogurt, too, and the purchase supports a great cause.

I’ve been warned of the risk I’m taking with unpasteurized milk.  I’ve also been cautioned of the dangers of using manure in my garden.  The methods humans used for millennia have become foreign to us. There is good bacteria and there’s bad, but many have grown afraid of small farms and any bacteria that might be alive in raw milk. We seem to trust the modern, industrial, antiseptic and regulated more than the seemingly unenlightened natural and traditional.

Let’s not throw out the baby with the bathwater.  It’s not raw milk that’s dangerous; it’s the industrial production conditions that made it dangerous. Good raw milk can’t be produced under industrial conditions.  A smaller scale is necessary.  I think that’s a good thing. For more information on the benefits of raw milk and the detriments of conventional milk,

Question: which is scarier?

Small farm using traditional methods       OR     factory farm relying on ultra sterilization to kill all                                                                              bacteria
Raw milk from a small local producer       OR     pasteurized milk produced with hormones, antibiotics
Naturally fatty meat                                OR      McDonald’s French fries
Raw milk cheese with good mold            OR      Velveeta
Butter and eggs                                      OR      Margarine
Manure in the garden                             OR      chemical fertilizers and pesticides

Like a yogurt culture that is passed on and keeps reproducing, the yogurt recipe I share with you came several years ago from Peggy Sechrist, a sustainability and real foods activist. She’s the owner of the first certified organic grass-fed beef ranch in Texas. She wrote down the recipe for me from the Weston Price Foundation website.

Homemade Yogurt

–  One gallon raw whole milk
–  ½ C starter yogurt: I use Greek Gods plain, whole milk yogurt, works well. A quality starter yogurt makes better yogurt.
– 4  glass or ceramic quart jars with lids (sterilized is better, I’m told, so the good bacteria don’t have to fight any other bacteria)
– Candy thermometer

Slowly and gently bring the milk to 180°. I do this by rigging up a double boiler, placing one pan inside a larger one with some hot water in it. It takes a good while to heat it up, around 60 to 90 minutes, depending on the strength of your fire and the amounts of water and milk you’re heating.

Warmed milk cooling down to introduce the starter yogurt

Then remove the pan of milk from the stove and let it cool to 110° (takes about another 90 minutes).

Meanwhile, divide starter yogurt among the jars. When milk is cooled, pour in about ¼ C milk in each jar and whisk in with the starter yogurt. Fill jars with the rest of the milk and put on the lids.

Set the jars on a heating pad set on medium heat and wrap it up around the jars as is possible. Then cover it all with a heavy blanket or towels. Leave it alone for a good 8 hours.  Unwrap the jars and place them in the refrigerator.  The yogurt keeps well in the fridge.  Delicious with a little honey or jam.

Related post:

“Why Milk in France is a Completely Different Animal from Milk in the U.S.”

© Sacred Appetite / Anna Migeon / 17 November 2009 / All rights reserved

Getting Kids to the Dinner Table: What is the parent’s job?

November 13, 2009 3 comments

The proper attitude for parents at the dinner table (and a lot of other places) is “engrasa y aprieta,” a Spanish expression meaning literally to grease and to tighten.

A balance of both greasing and tightening is generally needed to successfully bring order out of chaos in your family meals.

If you are joyless and grim about what, where, when and how much your kids eat, you need to lighten up.  Make it fun, make it delicious. If on the other hand, you are haphazard and careless about how, when and what they eat, you need to tighten up.

Bringing in some structure requires discipline on the part of parents and children, but maybe not in the ways you might think.

Knowing when to grease and when to tighten is easier if you know what your job is a parent and what is the children’s, with the labor clearly divided.

The parent’s job description:


  1. Be in charge.
  2. Plan ahead and be prepared.
  3. Serve only foods you want your child to eat.
  4. Serve meals regularly at around the same time.
  5. Set a nice table, and serve attractive, fragrant, tasty dishes.
  6. Aim for an atmosphere of calm and peace.
  7. Orchestrate hunger by restricting eating to certain times.  Leverage their appetites to motivate eating and cooperation.

Don’t :

  1. Back off about proper behavior and manners.
  2. Don’t offer alternatives if your child doesn’t want to eat what’s served. He’ll be all the more open-minded next meal.
  3. Don’t say anything about how much or what they eat.  Enjoy your own meal and let them alone about their eating.
  4. Don’t allow random snacking between meals.  Hunger and anticipation increase interest in meals.
  5. Don’t introduce change as a grim and dreadful reform you’ve instituted for their good.
  6. Don’t tell them what you’re up to.  Just start doing it cheerfully.
  7. Don’t go in expecting a fight.
  8. Don’t air your anxieties and insecurity. Project confidence.

Where tightness is in order:

  1. Plan, shop and cook consistently. The more you are cooking appealing meals and serving them regularly, the more kids will come to expect it and anticipate it.
  2. Insist on everybody sitting at the table and behaving civilly.  Establishing habits takes some time and persistence, but it’s worth it.

Where looseness is best:

  1. Let kids be increasingly in charge of their own eating as much as possible–serving themselves, feeding themselves–according to their age. Never urge them to eat anything.
  2. Make meals pleasant, interesting and affirming for children (without praising or rewarding for eating, or using food as a reward).

Related posts:

How to Get Kids to Come to the Dinner Table, Part III

How to Use “Negative Reverse Selling” Techniques at the Dinner Table

How to get kids to the dinner table: get an attitude

November 9, 2009 8 comments

OBSERVED at the Pearl Brewery Farmers Market on Saturday morning: this little girl wanted to know how much it would cost to buy a tomato. The seller got out her special stock for the girl to pick from and weighed her selection. A quarter? That's exactly how much the little girl had in her little purse to spend on something special that day. Now what kind of kid in today's world wants to buy a tomato with her quarter? And what kind of parent raises a child like that? I should have interviewed them.

I like to say it’s never too late to change. While in theory, it’s never too late, the reality is that sometimes, for various reasons, it just is.

Whether it’s too late for you to start serving real meals and getting your kids to eat them all depends on your attitude.

“Masterly inactivity” is the most effective attitude for a parent to take on, at the dinner table or elsewhere, according to Victorian-era British educational reformer Charlotte Mason.

Masterly inactivity is the state of being in charge, seeing all, yet purposefully leaving children alone to a great degree.

The elements of this attitude, according to Mason, are:

  1. Authority

Children need to be aware at all times that you are in charge. Establishing your authority from the beginning is the best, but better to do it now than try to yet later. It may take some time. Your children should see that you are steady and solid, not wishy-washy and hesitant.  “This element of strength is the backbone of our position,” Mason says.  Be the kind of parent who can fix them with your eye, without nagging.

2.      Good humor

Having natural good humor at the table doesn’t mean you let them walk all over you or don’t care what they do. But being in a pleasant mood, being able to joke around and laugh are good things.  Be firm but pleasant at the table.

3.       Self-confidence

“Parents should trust themselves more,” writes Mason.  Avoid worrying out loud, fussing, explaining, interfering, pestering, hovering at the table.  Be dignified, straightforward, and clear in your own mind what you expect from you children as far as behavior. Then make it clear to them and stick to it.

At dinner time, if you’ve done your homework, you know what you should feed your kids, you’ve gotten it together and it’s on the table. At that point, your job is over and you’ve done it well. Once at the dinner table, it’s time to let that purposeful leaving alone take over as far as the eating goes.

4.          Confidence in the children

It’s not all up to us. Expect the best, believe in your child, then let her fulfill your expectations without constant checking up on her. Know that your child can enjoy healthy foods without being forced, and only without being forced.  Believe in their appetites. Believe in their ability as little humans to regulate their own eating by listening to their appetites. We’ve all heard the tiresome mom who hounds her child: “Emma, eat your salad. You can’t have any dessert unless you eat that. Yes! At least one bite. Stop it!” Neither effective nor agreeable to be around.

5.         Serenity

“This open-eyed attitude must be sphinx-like in its repose,” Mason tells us.  Rushing around and doing too much, complete with stress and pressure, doesn’t contribute to successfully getting kids to the table.  Planning ahead and allowing time for just being at the dinner table are requirements.

We should cultivate the “serenity of a Madonna,” as Mason calls it. This attitude adds to the security of our children in knowing their parents are in charge and know best. Children don’t need to hear about our worries about obesity and health. They don’t profit from our fussing and hovering. Don’t share your nervous fears with them, such as what if they won’t eat it? What if this isn’t really good for them? What if I can’t get them to eat right and they get fat and sick and die?

The parents must bear the burden of their children’s training, urges Mason, but “let them bear it with easy grace and an erect carriage as the Spanish peasant bears her water jar.”

© Sacred Appetite / Anna Migeon / 9 November 2009 / All rights reserved

Related posts:

“Using sphinx-like repose to end the food fight”

“How to use masterly inactivity to win your child to healthy eating for life”

“Taking a detour: One good way to neutralize a kid’s food resistance”

This post was feature on Food Renegade’s Fight Back Friday on Jan. 22, 2010

Grease and tighten: How to Get Kids to the Dinner Table

November 2, 2009 2 comments


It’s one thing to cook dinner regularly and sit down to it together at the table daily from the start of your life as a family. It’s another to come under the conviction that it’s something you should have been doing all along, when the children are five, ten or 15 years old.

How can we get kids used to sitting down and eating regular meals at the table when they’ve become accustomed to doing things altogether otherwise? Where do we begin?

There’s a Spanish expression, “engrasa y aprieta,” meaning “to grease and tighten,” that describes the proper attitude for the parent undertaking such a major family overhaul. While you restrict and require, you also make it enjoyable. Both parts are needed.

It’s similar to the way logic and emotion work together in a balanced personality.  It’s like the combination of the inspiring and fun “whole language” approach with the more technical and demanding phonics and drills that appears to be the most effective way to teach reading.

In physical fitness, as I’ve heard it explained, you need both strength and flexibility: somewhere between stiff, hard muscularity and wet-noodle floppiness. Likewise, in healthy relationships, we need to know how to balance acceptance and giving with honesty and personal boundaries.

Reforming family eating is another one of those times when neither extreme is the best approach, but a balance of both together.

Are you setting out wondering what reasons children could possibly find to want to sit down to a meal with their family? You are going to have to challenge them and make some demands. There are rules to follow. It requires building new, constraining habits. It requires them to sit still, be polite, be pleasant. They have to share and cooperate. It means kids no longer doing what they want but having to go along with the group. It could mean being faced with unwelcome new foods.

Replacing chaos with order can be a daunting task, especially if we introduce it as a grim crackdown, the end of fun times, and the beginning of hard discipline. The danger is of coming in like a strident reformer set on cleaning house: “We have to do this now.”

But let’s ask ourselves instead why in the world a child would not want to eat dinner with the family.

While you’re going to have to make some demands to make it work, family meals can be naturally enjoyable.  Instead of the zealous enforcer, try coming in with a bit of a Santa Claus attitude and introduce it as something we get to do.  If you get them good and hungry, food will be at least appealing if not irresistible. Their hunger is our best trump card.  Interesting and pleasant interaction with the family and positive attention from parents adds to the motivation to get with the program.

Enough grease and that tightening will scarcely be noticed.

Coming next:

–          How parents’ attitude sets the atmosphere for family meals

–          Clear division of labor: where your job ends and the child’s begins at the table

Related posts:

The Best Way to the Stomach is through the Heart:

Having Trouble Getting Kids to Eat? Feed Them, but Cook for Yourself:

How to Make a Grocery List:

© Sacred Appetite / Anna Migeon / 2 November 2009 / All rights reserved