Friday, 10 May 2013

Oat Crepes {Planning & Preparation}

Subscriber Question: "Would you be willing to talk about how you and your family eat outside your home or give some suggestions on keeping my family from trying to eat out when the boys have activities? i.e. baseball games etc." ~ Dohna L.

This is an excellent question as we move into this time of year when the weather is warm and the kids activities for the Summer are in full swing. It can be very tough especially with multiple children to make sure everyone gets to where they need to be AND make sure they eat well so their little bodies perform well! It can become a habit to just grab fast food after every game and activity, but that can add up pretty quickly financially and takes a toll on our health. It may seem like a daunting task, but planning and preparation ahead of time is what will help in the long run.


Our little family loves to just jump in the car at a moment's notice and just drive...somewhere, anywhere...just to have fun together. We may not know where we are heading when we set out, but it always turns into a nice time of memory-making. We try very hard not to spend too much money eating out either on these adventures or when we are involved in activities throughout the summer. Outings to fast food restaurants aren't the end of the world...they are a treat! But that's exactly what they should be...a treat, not the norm. I always try to have some items on hand to put together a nice picnic to share wherever we end up! (More on that below)

When I was growing up, as I've mentioned, I had a wheat allergy and my mom was very vigilant in preparing good, safe foods for my brother and I. We would, on occasion, be able to eat out at some popular fast food restaurants and I remember being SO excited to have the french fries! That was our treat and we REALLY looked forward to it! She also tried to limit our sodium intake so she would actually request that the restaurant prepare a fresh batch of fries with no salt which meant we always got a new batch, not one that had been sitting around for awhile! As I got older and eating out became more the norm it didn't have the same thrill as it had when we were kids. So, what's a busy parent to do when they have a busy schedule and active hungry kids to feed as healthily as possible? Here are a few things that I try to do and I hope they help you in planning for your summer outings as well:

Granola Bars
First of all, my kids have come to depend on the fact that I usually have some of my homemade granola bars in my purse. These are healthy snacks that will give them lots of energy, but without all the sugar and artificial ingredients that many store-bought granola bars contain. (Just make sure you replenish regularly and remove any uneaten ones promptly from your bag or you will have a moldy mess in no time!) Same with the allergen-free Chocolate Chip Cookies. A great on-the-go snack that fills their tummies with good things and still acts as a treat!




Erie Beach for Kirk's Birthday - a family tradition.

Secondly, I like to be able to throw something together quickly and know it will be tasty, easy to assemble and healthy so I am always preparing extra of whatever I make for meals and either refrigerate or freeze the leftovers so they can be easily grabbed and packed to go. Whenever we decide to jump in the car for one of our adventures, I will throw some waters, juices etc. in the cooler along with something salty (I keep Lay's Plain Chips on hand...not the healthiest thing, but I do try to purchase the lower sodium variety and they are Gluten and MSG free! Check the labels because many potato chips contain either or both.) and most definitely some fresh apples, bananas, clementines...whatever fruit I have on hand. BUT, what about a main course? Well, what I have been doing lately is making Oat Crepes. They go with so many things! Besides being able to use them as you would regular crepes at home with various fillings, they also travel very easily and are quite durable no matter what you choose to wrap them around. Watch the How-to video and then read on for more ideas and health benefits of oats!

I apologize for the smoky pan...I've pretty much used my pots and pans into the ground. If someone felt led to gift me with some new ones I would not be mad!


Ingredients:
2 c Oat Flour (I like to use "Only Oats" Wheat-free oats and grind them to flour in my Vitamix)
1 Large Egg (or 2 egg whites - do not omit)
1 tsp Sea Salt
2 2/3 - 3 c water

Directions:
Put all ingredients in Vitamix (or other) blender and blend for 30 seconds to 1 minute. It shouldn't take long!
There may be some froth at the top. You can let the batter sit for a few minutes to firm up a bit, but just know that it will get thicker quite quickly.
Heat your skillet on medium heat until fairly hot.
Spray with some oil to get started.
Pour desired amount of batter in skillet and swirl to spread around.
When the bubbles are gone and the sides start to curl up, CAREFULLY flip over and cook for another 30 seconds or so until done.*
Layer on a plate to cool as you use up the remaining batter.
You can also make smaller silver dollar pancakes to use for other meal ideas!

*Important to note that the first attempt usually has terrible results! :-) Either the pan's not hot enough or the batter it too thin etc. Don't despair! Just wipe out the pan and go again...I guarantee that you will get the hang of it as you go. It takes some practice, but you'll have it in no time at all! And I have even taken some of the discarded crepes, blended them up again with some more water and succeeded in making even more crepes so don't throw it away if it doesn't look good to start!

Filled with Chicken & Veggies, Almond milk & Cheddar Cheese. Prepare filling, wrap them up, sprinkle with cheese then bake at 350° until cheese is melted on top.
We have filled these crepes with so many different things. Kirk sometimes likes to just spread some jam and roll them up for a quick sweet treat. Pictured below are chicken "wraps" with fresh veggies and avocado and Kaiden has had "Breakfast Sushi" which was terribly easy to make: I just spread some natural peanut butter (made in the same way as my Almond Butteron the crepe, rolled it around a fresh banana and sliced it up sushi-style!

Use them as Wraps!

Breakfast (or afternoon snack) Sushi!

Another easy and portable picnic idea is to make some taco or lettuce wrap meat (recipe to come soon!) I put it in a container (don't forget the spoon and plates for easy preparation!) and take along some romaine lettuce and some of these crepes/wraps. Then the whole family can just prepare their meal the way they like it! And because of the durability of these crepes and the lettuce, you can be fairly sure that you won't have a big mess to clean up afterward and as a busy mom, I know you're thinking about that too! Another variation is to use the Homemade Hamburger Recipe and take those along to wrap in either lettuce or the crepes. Really there are so MANY possibilities and if they all TASTE good your kids (and you) aren't going to miss those "Happy Meals" at all, trust me! In fact, there will still be big smiles on their faces and you can really save those fast food trips as a special treat to celebrate some of their achievements along the way!


I am aware that certain people do have an intolerance to oats including a close friend of mine. Some with Celiac Disease cannot tolerate oats at all, but some can...it varies from person to person. So if you cannot tolerate oats then use the original buckwheat flour alternative or use brown rice flour. Both should have similar results and be just as versatile. However, if you are able to include oats in your diet I encourage you to! I'm not talking about the packaged stuff loaded with sugars and preservatives, but the fresh rolled oats you get in the canisters or bags. Steel cut oats are great for breakfasts and if you want that sweet "maple and brown sugar" taste then add REAL maple syrup and some coconut palm sugar. It will taste better and fresher than the pre-packaged stuff and is so much better for your body! 

Here's a short list I got from Eat Groovy on why Oatmeal is so good for you:

1. Oats contain fiber (soluble and insoluble) which benefits digestion and aids in preventing cancer.
2. Oats contain vitamins E & B, calcium, magnesium, potassium & selenium, all of which are important to your healthy.
3. Oats contain a large amount of protein and is better than any breakfast cereal out there!

I hope this Crepe/Wrap recipe and some of the ideas listed above help as you prepare for all the Summer activities you and your family have coming up! Remember, all of these things can be made ahead of time and stored for easy access to create your picnics. For those of you following the Fast Metabolism Diet, these have been great for a different way of getting your grains in Phase 3 (or in Phase 1 if you use egg whites). Variety is key to keeping your body guessing and working well for you! 

Let me know in the comments section how you enjoy your families throughout these months...are there lots of sports activities taking place, camping, vacations? Enjoy spending time with your families this Summer!

Treat yourself well,