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.

Punched Up! Colorful Potatoes Kids Love

by in Family, June 5th, 2013

Colorful Potatoes Kids LoveFrench fries aside, my kids don’t exactly clamor for potatoes. I’ve made them all sorts of ways: oven-roasted fries, mashed with kale and Parmesan cheese, smashed with Greek yogurt, steamed with butter and herbs — and while those options have all had their ups and downs, this technique is the one that brought actual squeals to the table.

The trick was a simple bag of colored potatoes along with a set of vegetable cutters. Together they produced a giggle fest of interest before our girls even tried the potatoes. Before I even baked them. What color will the potato be inside? Will there be stars or hearts? Can I mix them up in the oil?

For roasted potatoes, my favorite way to go is extra-virgin olive oil, garlic pushed through the press, salt and a couple rounds of pepper out of the grinder. Dump all that along with the potatoes right onto a baking sheet, mix with bare hands, spread out and roast at 425 degrees F for about 25 minutes, depending on the size of the potato pieces. Flip them once along the way.

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3 Ways to Make Kids Say, “Yay, Asparagus!”

by in Family, May 25th, 2013

3 Ways to Make Kids Say, Kids don’t always love eating the green stuff. But instead of offering less of it, one of my favorite techniques is adding things they do like to any given dish. Take asparagus. Our toddler loves lemons, so it’s a go-to trick for encouraging her to try new foods. (It also works for previously refused foods, but I’m sure that never happens at your place.)

1. Our favorite way to make asparagus is sauteed in a pan with olive oil and a handful of peas. Add a few shavings of salty Parmesan cheese on top and let the kids squeeze their own lemon at the table.
2. Or try asparagus on homemade pizza with big drops of fresh ricotta cheese, a drizzle of olive oil, salt, pepper and oregano.
3. Never underestimate the power of roasting veggies. A pan of asparagus with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and a dash of salt will be amazing after 10 minutes of roasting at 425 degrees F. You might even get a cheer, but I always settle for at least a bite.

Try these kid-friendly recipes

3 Ways to Make Meatloaf More Kid-Friendly

by in Family, May 19th, 2013

Mini Skillet MeatloavesWho doesn’t love meatloaf? Well, plenty of people, actually — especially kids. The other issue is making it healthy enough to feel good about serving to your family. As the mom of three kids under age 4, I also need quick and easy techniques for getting dinner on the table fast. These are some of my favorite tricks to use (bonus, these work for meatballs, too):

1. Use organic whole oats in place of breadcrumbs in your favorite meatloaf recipe. Or combine half breadcrumbs with wheat germ to boost the nutritional value of your binder.

2. Add extra veggies. If your recipe calls for cooked onions or carrots, add 1/2 cup chopped frozen spinach, thawed, or finely chopped peppers. Neither will be detected. Even simpler: Just double the amount of veggies in the recipe.

3. Make it miniature. I always cook several small meatloaves instead of one big one. Everything is done (and smothered with ketchup) within 35 minutes, and everyone gets their own meatloaf.

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Making Mashed Potatoes More Kid-Friendly

by in Family, May 12th, 2013

Making Mashed Potatoes More Kid-FriendlyMashed potatoes are a new item on our three kids’ menus — ages 3 1/2, 2 and 10 months. We’ve lived in Italy for the last four years, where potatoes aren’t very starchy, so we didn’t eat them this way often. Now we’re in North Carolina, where the local spuds are organically grown and perfect for mashing. Because they’re novel, I’ve got a few tricks to make them a successful part of the meal.

Always: Use Greek yogurt in place of sour cream and buttermilk for cream — both add protein and cut fat, two habits I’d like our kids to get used to early.

Sometimes: Add finely diced veggies to the boiling water during the last few minutes of cooking. Shredded spinach, kale or carrots can always be called “confetti.” Or get more clandestine with turnips or cauliflower.

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Macaroni and Cheese Made Even More Kid-Friendly

by in Family, May 5th, 2013

Macaroni and Cheese Made Even More Kid-FriendlyIf you have picky eaters, try updating a classic that most kids can’t get enough of. They’ll have a built-in veggie and you’ll eat a meal in peace (probably). Update your favorite mac and cheese recipe by adding 3 cups of chopped cauliflower or grated carrots to the pasta water when there’s still about 3 minutes left to cook. Continue with the remainder of the recipe, adding an extra 1/2 cup of milk to the cheese sauce so everything stays nice and moist. Note: Cauliflower works especially well for anyone going through a “white food-only” phase (and if you are, I hear you).

Keep going? Crumble 1/2 cup of extra-firm tofu or mashed white beans into the pasta as you mix it together with the cheese sauce. Instant protein, undetected.

But if presentation is what inspires your brood, as it often does from the booster seats here, try individually baked ramekins. Or save time by scooping this creamy goodness into little dipping bowls and stacking them on top of each child’s plate. Who knew invisible veggies could be so cute?

Start with these basic mac and cheese recipes