All Posts By Foodlets

Charity Curley Mathews dreams of raising kids who eat (and enjoy) real food. A former VP at MarthaStewart.com, she's a contributor to The Huffington Post and heads up Foodlets.com: Mini Foodies in the Making…Maybe. Together with her husband and three small children, she now cooks in North Carolina.

Kid-Friendly Cranberry Oat Muffins

by in Family, December 26th, 2013

Kid-Friendly Cranberry Oat MuffinsThere’s something about the tart taste of cranberries this time of year. The New York Times recently reported on a study confirming that what kids eat during the first three years of life (starting in the womb) sets the stage for what they consider comforting later on. Jogged by memories as adults, these are the flavors they’ll crave — for better or worse. Now if that’s going to be the case, I’ll serve these muffins — full of fresh berries, whole oats, maple syrup and plain yogurt — every year. This is the kind of eating I want these rascals to associate with the holidays — the kind that makes both of us feel good for years to come.

Get the recipe: Low-Sugar Cranberry Oat Muffins

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Whole-Wheat Cinnamon Sugar Crisps, a Healthy Snack for Kids

by in Family, December 20th, 2013

Whole Wheat Cinnamon Sugar Crisps‘Tis the season for snacking, and this recipe combines two of my favorite elements: It’s pretty healthy and the kids can help. All you need is a pack of whole-wheat pitas, olive oil and cinnamon sugar. I like to make my cinnamon sugar with a ratio of 2:1, sugar to cinnamon, which is a little less sweet than most. Slice the pitas, brush them with oil and sprinkle away — do it again on the other side and pop the whole pan into an oven at 400 degrees F for 10 to 12 minutes. My preschooler made these herself, then told her dad the step-by-step instructions the moment he got home from work (you know, while he was trying to get his suit jacket off, set his bag down and avoid stepping on the baby’s toys that somehow got scattered across the kitchen floor). The crisps are a huge hit here, and I hope they will be for you too.

Hot Drinks for Small Fries

by in Family, Holidays, December 14th, 2013

Hot Drink Recipes for KidsThere’s nothing more snuggly than sitting around with warm mugs of goodness this time of year. And if you’re not into a massive sugar crash after they’ve gulped down hot chocolate, look no further than your favorite summer smoothie for inspiration.

We recently discovered the joys of warm flavored milk at our house, and here’s the great thing: Anything works. Frozen strawberries plus milk and a zap in the microwave? Sweet and yummy. Peanut butter and banana? Thick, creamy and wonderful. We’re doing frozen peaches with milk next time, plus a pinch of cinnamon. Sounds a lot like pie, without all that pesky crust.

Kid-Friendly Pumpkin Muffins: Bran, Chocolate Chips and Yum

by in Family, November 12th, 2013

Kid-Friendly Pumpkin MuffinsOne of the best lessons I’ve learned about cooking for kids is simple: When something works, find a spinoff recipe. We have three small kids, and those rascals love Homemade Ham and Pineapple Pizza (duh!), so I made Pork and Pineapple Skewers. Sure enough, another hit. (Trust me, they’re not all hits, and that’s why this is important.) Our biggest, most-unstoppable hit on Foodlets has been these healthy Pumpkin Spice Mini Muffins, so you know where I’m going with this. Bran cereal and chocolate chips bring new flavors to that classic pumpkin taste. These muffins are also easy, healthy and, yeah, a hit. Score one for parents everywhere.

Get the recipe: Pumpkin Bran Muffins with Chocolate Chips

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Making Kid-Friendly Chili (There’s a Trick)

by in Family, November 7th, 2013

How to Make Kid-Friendly ChiliI must have made chili 10 times, all different ways — chicken chili, chili con carne, chili with corn, chili without corn — and the kids wouldn’t go near it. Until I took a tip from “Fancy Nancy” and made it, well, fancy (and until I also eased up on the cumin, which I suspect was an element that led to previous failures).

It’s the presentation for knee-high critics that often counts the most. You won’t ever find me sculpting scooters out of hot dogs or sharks from watermelons. There are three kids under 5 at my house and I’d need a lot more free time in my life to pull that off. But doing this wasn’t difficult. To make your chili “fancy,” simply spoon and layer it with cheddar cheese into small glasses. Repeat, serve and bask in the success of the moment.

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Have a Hammy Morning

by in Family, October 23rd, 2013

Family-Friendly Breakfast: Have a Hammy MorningSometimes a hearty breakfast hits the spot. But when you have three small kids underfoot like I do, it has to be fast. I love assembling these ham, egg and cheese cups because they’re easy and the kids can help — which translates into insurance that they’ll at least try one. In this case, they usually devour them.

“Line” the  cups of a muffin pan with low-sodium (non-MSG) ham slices. Add a quarter slice of wheat bread, then break a whole egg in. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and cheese, then bake them for 15 to 18 minutes at 400 degrees F.

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Veggies on the Down-Low

by in Family, October 18th, 2013

Veggies on the Down-LowKids aren’t always wild about veggies as a side dish. So I try and add diced or pureed veggies to everything I can, including main dishes like meatloaf and desserts like brownies. Or take this pasta dish: It’s rigatoni with meatballs, but I added diced red peppers during the last minute of cooking. Then I slathered on the marinara sauce and meatballs (cooked separately). With all the chunks of sweet tomatoes incorporated into the sauce, the kids didn’t even notice the peppers. But they did get a boost of vitamin C.

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Egg Sandwiches with a Kid-Friendly Kick

by in Family, October 9th, 2013

Egg Sandwiches with a Kid-Friendly KickOur kids love eggs. We make hard-boiled eggs with bunny faces for breakfast and snacks all the time. But now we’ve moved on to a lunchtime classic: egg salad sandwiches. The kiddie update? Pickles. These sandwiches are simple: just eggs, real mayonnaise, a squirt of mustard and diced dill pickles. High-protein, easy to prepare and even easier on your wallet, these have become a lunchtime staple for the preschool set at our place. Try them with your kids this week.

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Kid-Friendly: Spaghetti Nests with Bird Eggs

by in Family, October 1st, 2013

Spaghetti Nests with Bird EggsGetting kids to eat spaghetti probably isn’t too hard, but night after night it can be a bit dull. That’s why I like to throw a few surprises at the little guys when I can — especially when it’s this easy to make a big impression. Here’s how:

Cook spaghetti for 3 minutes less than the package suggests and drain. Add marinara sauce (you don’t even have to heat it up), plus one lightly beaten egg. Butter a muffin pan and fill each cup with half a cup or so of pasta and sauce, then use your fingers to push the pasta up along the edges, making a well in the middle. Pop the pan into the hot oven at 400 degrees F for 20 minutes. During the last minute, add two small mozzarella balls to the “nest” and you’ll have eggs. Keep an eye on the nests and if they melt down, that’s OK — now you have snowcapped mountain-tops.

Kid-Friendly Breakfast: Bacon, Eggs and Broccoli

by in Family, September 26th, 2013

Kid-Friendly Breakfast: Bacon, Eggs and BroccoliWe make breakfast for dinner all the time because it’s easy, inexpensive and the kids love eggs, so I know it will be a peaceful evening. But since most people don’t eat a side of broccoli with breakfast, it can be tricky to figure out where a veggie comes in. (In fact, kids often have a hard time eating a side of broccoli at dinnertime anyway.) So, I say mix it right in.

Get a bag of broccoli slaw — easily available at grocery stores (a fact I happily discovered after moving back to the United States from Rome this year) — and use an oven-safe saute pan to cook the green stuff on the stovetop along with two slices of bacon (cut into small pieces) and 2 cloves of minced garlic. Add 8 eggs that have already been whisked together with 1/2 cup of milk, then put the whole thing in the oven to finish off. I bake it at 375 degrees F oven for about 15 minutes. When it’s puffy and golden, it’s done — and so are you.