Friday, February 25, 2011

Spelt Gnocchi With Puttanesca Sauce And My Worries About Staying At Home

Lots of people nowadays are waiting longer to have children. I know I'm glad I did. Back in my earlier days, I didn't have much advice to offer any of my offspring, and I wasn't ready to settle down so I thought it would be better if I waited to get married and possibly start a family. Good thinking on my part.

Now that's all changed. There's a short, little person wompin' and stompin' around the house, so everyday represents a new challenge for me as a stay-at-home dad. Sometimes it seems pretty easy, but then reality checks in and the s*** hits the fan. "Uhhhh.... ok, she ate about an hour ago, but I think she's getting a little cranky now because she's thirsty.... I  hope." Then there's the "Ewww, what's that smell.... oh geez..." And then she's hungry again, then there's some laundry to do, and then I have to take her to Gymboree, then I have a meeting lined up and have to find our babysitter. Blah, blah, blah. It never ends. But, I must say I have no regrets. Everyday I get to see my little girl, usually all day. A lot of my friends never had this chance. But, this may change soon as there are a few things coming down the pipe in my world on the business end, so I am going to enjoy every minute of it while I can.

Now, I suppose I should explain the last part of the today's title. I added this to the title because I never realized how much work it was with one kid let alone two, three or more. Don't get me wrong, I always knew it was extremely difficult doing all the things a parent has to do, but for me, a guy with absolutely NO experience dealing with kids, it can get a little nuts. Luckily for me I know when to take a step back, take a deep breath, gather my thoughts and emotions and step back into the fun zone when my brain is back working again. Now, that's just the everyday activity part of it. What about the sustenance part of it, meaning eating and drinking? I have been studying food and every part of and around it for a long time now, but this is very different. It's hard to feed your child something they like, something which is good for them all in the same dish, then get them to keep eating it while always looking for other ingredients and other ways to cook those ingredients. I will not cop out and feed our little girl stuff out of a box. What I mean is there will be the odd time she will have to eat something from a fast food joint or a box, but only after I have exhausted every other option to get her something healthy to eat or drink.

Another way to look at this is our diets as well. Sometimes we have to eat at the drop of a hat, so it has to be fast. I will do my best to try and make something healthy, but sometimes this doesn't always work out properly. It all depends on what you have in the pantry and the fridge. This is why I keep them stocked fairly well and know what's in there most of the time. I also go shopping 2 or 3 times a week, if not more. Having a meal plan is a good idea too, but most times I like ad-libbing dinner. It keeps me on my toes.

I came home a little late yesterday, so I wanted to get cooking as soon as I could. Eating late is not a good idea for two reasons: 1) Because you aren't supposed to. It's a little hard on your body if you do it constantly and experts say eating before 8pm is your best plan. 2) Other experts (not too sure if they're the same ones or not) say eating late or just before bed helps promote a pot belly. I don't need any help with that, so the earlier we eat the better.

I had to figure out something to eat fast and still keep it healthy. The wife pulled out a pack of spelt gnocchi she picked out at the Italian market the other day. I thought "Alright, what kind of sauce can I make here." This is what I came up with and it only took me 35 minutes to plate it.

Spelt Gnocchi With Puttanesca Sauce

- 1 500 g (17.6 oz) package of spelt gnocchi
- 1 796 ml (28 fl oz) can diced tomatoes
- 1/2 cup (118 ml) onion. chopped
- 1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
- 3-4 anchovy fillets, chop them up if you wish
- 8-10 black olives, pitted and chopped
- 3 forkfuls of capers, rinsed. I use a fork to get them out of the jar rather than a spoon as it's easier to get them out and leave the brine in the bottle.
- 1-2 pinches of dried chili peppers
- 1 tbsp (15 ml) dried oregano
- 2 tbsp (30 ml) parsley, finely chopped
- EVOO
- sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Directions

1) Over medium heat, add some EVOO to the pan. I generally use about 2-3 tablespoons when not using a non-stick pan. Add the anchovies and onions, stirring occasionally. Add salt and pepper and cook until the onions start to turn a lighter color.


Smush the anchovies up with a fork and they will melt into the sauce eventually (I added them after I took the picture). Add the garlic, stir and cook for another minute.
2) Add the olives, capers and chili peppers. Dump in the can of tomatoes and mix everything together. Turn the heat down to low and let simmer, uncovered for 10 minutes. At about 8 minutes, add the parsley and stir.


3) While the sauce is simmering, cook the gnocchi in a pot with salted water. You will know when they are done when they float to the top, about 4-5 minutes in boiling water. When they float, you can take a spider or some kind of slotted scoop or spoon to get them from the pot to the pan. Let them simmer in the sauce for 1-2 minutes and serve.
Yield: Serves 3 or 2 bigger sized servings if you don't care about how much you eat. I made the whole pack so there would be a some leftovers.



Spelt is an ancient grain which is a cousin to wheat and is a nutritous option to regular pasta for people with wheat intolerances. It's high in manganese which helps promote a healthy bone structure, and also has a good amount of fibre in it as well as vitamin B2 and niacin.

I would've made my own gnocchi, but then we wouldn't have ate until about 10 pm, so the store bought stuff does just fine in a pinch. I know there are some additives in there but it's not like we eat anything from a box or package like this very often at all. This is quick, easy and fairly healthy. A good meal when you're in a hurry.

Little O's Menu

Her appetite is pretty aggressive right now, so I believe she's in another growth spurt. This means it's very important to be smart when feeding her or she will be hungry most of the time and/or will not get the nutrients she requires. She still likes her oatmeal, and we are still mixing in blueberries and ricotta with it. This is good for her to eat about an hour before she goes to bed as it sustains her throughout the night. She usually sleeps for around 11 hours, so if it works stick with it. Throughout the day, she will snack on about 20 grapes and around 15 blueberries. The juice she is drinking right now is pear. I've started mixing it in with mango puree as well. This is a good source iron, vitamins A and C.

Whether or not she eats what we eat, we feel it's important for her to eat alongside us to understand it's important to sit down and eat with your family. She seems to eat more and give us less grief when we do this.

Last week, a lady who I went to school with had a baby. Congratulations Tracey to you and your husband. She's a little small yet from what I've read, but I hope she gains all the weight she needs and continues to grow strong and healthy. And congrats to my friend Dave as well. He's a new Grandpa and very proud to be one.

Quote Of The Day:

"One thing they never tell you about child raising is that for the rest of your life, at the drop of a hat, you are expected to know your child's name and how old he or she is."
~ Erma Bombeck (1927-1996) American humorist


Until next time, good eating everyone.

Mark

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