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.

Zucchini Casserole Castles

by in Family, September 17th, 2013

Learn How to Make Zucchini Casserole CastlesI don’t make a lot of casseroles, but I do bake many muffins. This idea combines both — and it made an otherwise ho-hum dinner something so special that our 4-year-old is still talking about it. And that was a week ago.

Mix up 3 cups freshly grated zucchini with 1 cup cottage cheese, 2 cups cooked brown rice, 1 cup grated cheese, lots of fresh herbs, salt, pepper and one hard-working egg — then pour the whole thing into oversize muffin tins instead of a casserole dish. Bake them at 350 degrees F for about 25 minutes, then invert the “muffins” onto tiny plates. Add one homemade flag (bamboo skewer + painter’s tape) and ta-da! A casserole becomes a castle.

A Cherry Tomato Salad Kids Can Appreciate

by in Family, September 10th, 2013

A Cherry Tomato Salad Kids Can AppreciateFirst things first, don’t call a dish a “salad.” Most kids don’t like salad or the thought of a salad. Try something more fun like, “We’re having a cherry tomato surprise!” Most kids like surprises.

Next, let them get involved. For this particular easy late-summer dish, even the tiniest hands can help. I slice the tomatoes and my 2-year-old puts them into a bowl. Same goes for the basil. I handle the onions (and more on this in a second), then our 4-year-old adds the olive oil and helps to gently stir.

So the onions. Yes, I left in the long slices of red onion. I know most kids don’t like onions, but there are usually two ways to approach this: Make the onions so small kids won’t see and taste them or make them big enough to easily avoid. We went with the latter. And it worked.

The Better Side of Broccoli

by in Family, September 3rd, 2013

The Better Side of BroccoliIf there’s one complaint I hear over and over from Foodlets readers, it’s about getting kids to eat more vegetables. And to that I have one piece of tried-and-true advice: Roast them. I’ve roasted carrots, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, asparagus and now broccoli. It’s so easy and so delicious; I can’t believe I haven’t tried it before. Here’s what you do: Slather a few cups of broccoli florets with olive oil, sprinkle with sea salt and roast in a hot oven (around 400 degrees F).

When the edges are crispy, but the centers still soft, you know it’s done. Encourage anyone who’s had a bad broccoli experience in the past to try just one bite. They may not immediately become a fan, but over time, this is the recipe that’ll win ‘em over.

Get the full recipe for Roasted Broccoli here.

More recipes from Food Network

1 Slow-Cooker Pork Loin Becomes 3 Kid-Approved Dinners

by in Family, August 27th, 2013

1 Slow Cooker Pork Loin Becomes 3 Kid-Approved DinnersWhen it’s screaming hot outside, the last thing I want to do is slave over a stove. That’s why I set up the slow cooker and let that little miracle worker make dinner for me three times.

Dinner #1: For this mouthwatering pork (pictured above), set a large pork loin (or two) into the slow cooker, slather with whole grain mustard, olive oil, salt, pepper and dried thyme. Cook for four hours, then let it fall apart, right onto your kids’ miniature plates. Save the rest.

Dinner #2: Using a mix of BBQ sauce and plain ketchup (even sweet BBQ sauce is usually “too spicy” for our small kids), heat up the remaining pork in a pan and serve on toasted buns.

Get dinner #3 and more recipes

The Heirloom Tomato Pie My Preschooler Loved

by in Family, August 20th, 2013

Heirloom Tomato PieWhen I saw the heirloom tomatoes at the farmers market, I was in. And I wasn’t alone. That afternoon, my 4-year-old and I set out to make this Heirloom Tomato Pie. It took a long time, with many steps, but the results were delicious and best of all, both of us thought so.

The secret to this tart’s success was twofold: fresh, sweet tomatoes, plus the truest rule of getting kids to try new food — let them help cook. Because she had so much skin in the game, our preschooler was nothing but proud of the tart once it came out of the oven. Carefully delivering a teetering plate to each person at the dinner table, she only looked happier at one other moment of the meal: when she tasted the first bite herself.

You can’t win ‘em all, but boy, isn’t it nice to have a hit?

4 Ways to Make Kids Excited About Zucchini

by in Family, August 14th, 2013

Zucchini Chocolate Chip CookiesThis time of year, nothing is easier to find (and afford) than zucchini. Finding ways to get the good stuff into your kids, however, can be more elusive. I’ve tried all sorts of things (some hits, many misses) and these are the most popular zucchini dishes according to our three kids:

  • Stovetop Pork and Rice with Zucchini: If you can make rice, you can make this — and your kids will swoon. Just add mustard, cooked cubes of pork and chicken broth to plain brown rice. Throw the zucchini in for the last few minutes. Tada!

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Kid-Friendly Asian Flavors

by in Family, August 7th, 2013

Kid-Friendly Asian FlavorsGetting kids to try new foods and flavors can be about as easy as putting them to bed early. Practically impossible. That’s why I do a few things with our brood:

  • Keep It Sweet: When I make Asian noodles at home, I use a combination of honey, soy sauce and a very small amount of fresh ginger.
  • Include Known Favorites: I like adding three veggies, including at least one that each child likes and, if possible, one new one for them to try (or try again). That way, everyone is already excited by what they see on the plate.

Get more ideas

Spinach Salad with Sweet Shapes

by in Family, July 30th, 2013

Kid-Friendly Spinach SaladMy kids don’t like salad. In fact, every time they see lettuce, or fresh herbs for that matter, on anything, I hear the same thing from the pink booster seat section of the dining room: “Salad!? I don’t like salad!” But if you’re trying to get kids to eat (and at some point enjoy) fresh and healthy foods, it’s all about repetition — sometimes with a twist. I bought these Japanese vegetable cutters online for less than four bucks, and they’ve been worth their weight in gold. Here, simple carrots and cucumbers get a new look in seconds — and make this spinach salad suddenly appealing.

I’m no fool; I know a star-shaped carrot will get you only so far, but I’m just trying to get the kids engaged. Pique their interests. If it takes a heart or a star to pull off a spinach salad for the under-five set, I’m in.

Breakfast for Dinner with a Built-In Veggie

by in Family, July 16th, 2013

Breakfast for Dinner with a Built-In VeggieCall it an ode to Dr. Seuss: Green Eggs and Ham is such a favorite with our girls, now 2 and 4, that adding spinach to a pan of scrambled eggs was a natural. And now it’s a weekly thing.

The bummer about the usual breakfast-for-dinner scenario is that it’s typically a starch-fest. That’s why I love eggs in the evening. If your crew will be resistant to visible spinach, steam it first (use frozen or fresh) with a quarter cup of water, then throw the whole thing in the blender. Mix the green puree in with your eggs, then scramble together. Don’t forget salt and pepper, and add a little cheese, too. I love Parmesan with this dish.

Round out the meal with sliced kielbasa, skillet potatoes or toast.

Kid-Size Crudites: Personal Veggie Cups

by in Family, July 10th, 2013

Kid-Size Crudites: Personal Veggie CupsTired of hearing yourself say things like, “Eat your veggies so you can grow up to be big and strong”? Also, just how big and strong are we aiming for here? Because I ate quite a few veggies as a kid and pretty much became an exact replica of my mother. All well-meaning parental messages aside, I loved this popular Pinterest party trick so much that I tried it at my own dinner table. It was an absolute hit.

You can use store-bought salad dressing, make your own or combine a mix of something like ranch with a dollop of Greek yogurt to even out the good-for-you versus not-so-good-for-you ratio. Either way, pour an inch or two into your smallest juice glasses, then arrange a colorful selection of raw veggies on top, vertically.

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