Now that the days are getting noticeably longer and the weather considerably warmer, summer is on everyone’s mind, including your kids’. They’re likely eagerly awaiting a sunny, stress-free summer vacation, but before they can close the books on another school year, most will be forced to endure a few weeks of final exams, projects and reports. As moms and dads, you may not be able to help out your kids with their advanced algebra problem sets or their comprehensive timeline of World War I, but you can surely send them to school with a hearty breakfast in their bellies. Just in time for test-taking season, Food Network checked in with Julie Negrin, M.S., a nutritionist, who shared Nutrition 101 for Parents and Kids. Among other benefits, following her suggestions for serving must-have wholesome foods “can lead to kids who feel calmer, sleep better … and study more.” Read on below for some of her top tips, plus find family-friendly breakfast recipes to give your kids the fuel they need to succeed.
In place of cold cereals that are likely packed with unnecessary sugar, swap in a bowl of warm oatmeal. “Stick to whole food carbohydrates that are packed with nutrients,” Julie recommends, explaining that they “take longer to digest.” Food Network Magazine‘s Whole-Grain Breakfast Porridge (pictured above) is packed with healthful ingredients like red rice, steel-cut oats and barley, plus it’s sweetened with just a single cinnamon stick, fruit and a bit of brown sugar. Since the porridge is made entirely in the rice cooker, it’s a no-fuss breakfast that requires little attention. Your child is not an oatmeal eater? Try serving Food Network Kitchens’ Whole-Grain Waffles, which can be partially prepared the night before you plan to cook them.
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Dear Food Network Fan,
In the four years I’ve been part of the Food Network family, I’ve been lucky to share paths with so many of you — whether on TV, through social media, when meeting you in person at events and book signings (or the grocery store, airport, etc.). And now I’m excited to tell you that I will be joining FN Dish as a regular contributor! I’ll be answering your questions, writing about my experiences and giving you insights into my life as a working mom raising four young girls in San Diego. Food, behind-the-scenes sneak peeks, parenting ideas — the possibilities are endless.
So let’s start the party. My first post next week will be answering fan questions. Is there something you’re dying to know? Ask your question in the comment section below or click here to email me, and I’ll pick a handful to answer next week.
I’ll see you here every other Thursday on FN Dish.
Mashed 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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Listen up, dads. Even though Mother’s Day is just a few hours away and you may not have bought the devoted mom in your life a worthy present yet, there’s indeed time left to gift her something from the heart, a present that she’ll surely appreciate. Instead of resorting to a bouquet of flowers from the local bodega, gather your kids in the kitchen and commit to making Mom an extra-special Mother’s Day dessert. While there’s a time and a place for fancy, intricate sweets, Mother’s Day isn’t it, especially if they are to be prepared by little hands. Can-do desserts are the treats of choice instead — those that deliver tried-and-true results every time. Check out a few of FN Dish’s favorite easy desserts below, then browse Food Network’s Mother’s Day Central for more recipe inspiration and entertaining tips.
A no-bake recipe that can be prepped in only 20 minutes, Food Network Kitchens’ Lemon Tiramisu Trifle (pictured above) relies on store-bought goodies like lemon curd and ladyfinger cookies to ensure that this dessert is a cinch to prepare. Once you and your kids have arranged the first half of the cookies in a dish, start layering them with lemon syrup, lemon cream and fresh berries. While the trifle is essentially done as is, it needs to chill for at least eight hours so that the flavors of the lemon, berries and cream marry and the ladyfingers become soft with syrup. This means that it’s best to make the dessert tonight or first thing tomorrow morning, so it will be ready to enjoy after dinner.
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What’s your favorite piece of kitchen equipment? I’m not talking about your fancy stand mixer or mega-speed blender. I’m talking about the thing that time and time again assists in the smallest of kitchen tasks. For me, hands down, it’s a spatula. But the difference in all the brands on the market can make a mega-watt difference. I’ve used spatulas that heated up to the point I could almost wipe the outside coating of plastic off after it hit something hot, like soup or a sauce, so always make sure to use ones that are heat-resistant to 500 degrees F. I’ve also tried those oversized spatulas that should be used only when trying to mix 50 gallons of cookie dough in an industrial kitchen.
And how about getting the remaining mustard or ketchup out of a jar or bottle? It says there’s 9 to 15 ounces inside, but I would guarantee you toss out a good 2 ounces each time because it’s so challenging to figure a way to get the remaining spoonfuls out.
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If 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
While some elements of Cinco de Mayo — the spicy salsas, spiked margaritas and too-green guacamole among them — may be no match for little ones and their picky palates, others like soft-shelled tacos, cheesy nachos and sweet churros are go-to bites that are practically made with kids’ appetites in mind. These dishes, although guaranteed kid-pleasers, are also some of the most-classic picks for traditional Mexican fare, so by serving them at your Cinco de Mayo celebration, you can be sure that grown-up guests will be happy to enjoy them, too. Whether you’re hosting a big-bash fiesta tomorrow or simply spending a quiet day at home, mark the fifth of May with a family-friendly spread of Mexican eats. Check out a few of FN Dish’s favorite tacos, nachos and churro recipes below, then browse Food Network’s Cinco de Mayo Central for more go-to recipes and entertaining tips.
Tyler’s top-rated Tacos Carne Asada is a must-try meal if you’re cooking for kids, because you can control the ingredients of the steak marinade and pico de gallo, making them as spicy or as mild as you want. Tyler opts for a jalapeno and a few garlic cloves in the mojo-style marinade and a serrano chile in the salsa, but little ones may appreciate less heat. After letting the meat marinate, grill it until juicy and tender, then serve it in warm tortillas. Let your kids assemble their own dream tacos by setting up a spread of traditional toppings like shredded lettuce, Jack cheese, white onion and fresh pico de gallo and inviting them to help themselves. Watch this video to see Tyler make this can-do recipe.
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More likely than not, your kids have better things to think about than garden-fresh produce, bustling farmers’ markets and mindful grocery shopping. But, when they sit down at the dinner table, all that good stuff is what’s for dinner, even if they’re morally opposed to eating their veggies. Use these recipes to get your kids excited about spring produce.
For some, green beans are good eaten straight out of the produce bag. But for those who need a little push, Alton Brown’s Best Ever Green Bean Casserole is just as the name implies. Rather than using the store-bought crunchy onions, Alton whips his up from scratch.
Broccoli is typically a no-go for most little ones, but when it’s served up in a style reminiscent of mac and cheese, it’s much easier to sell. With a foundation of rice and a scattering of florets, Sunny Anderson’s Cheesy Mushroom and Broccoli Casserole (pictured above) does just that.
Get more kid-friendly sides from friends and family
Whether you’re grocery shopping to feed just yourself or an entire family of 10, it’s easy for your total bill at the checkout counter to reach an uncomfortably high price, even if you’re stocking up on essentials alone. But you shouldn’t have to sacrifice nutrition for the sake of your wallet, and indeed eating well on a budget is easy to do. The key to making wholesome meals without breaking the bank is knowing which products to buy — and knowing how to best put them to use to get the most out of them in dishes that your family will enjoy. Check out a few of Food Network’s favorite money-saving tips below, plus get can-do, kid-friendly recipes that are easy to prepare on a budget.
Make Each Ingredient Go Further
To stretch the value a somewhat pricey ingredient, like meat, mix it with far more inexpensive products that won’t distract from the overall taste or texture of the dish. The next time you make tacos, burritos or burgers, try swapping out a portion of the beef or chicken for mashed beans or rice; the supper won’t suffer, and you’ll use less meat to feed more people. In her recipe for Beef and Black Bean Sliders (pictured above), Ten Dollar Dinners host Melissa d’Arabian combines ground beef with cooked black beans to create moist, flavorful burgers on a budget. She forms the mixture into traditional patties, grills them and serves them on toasted buns with tangy coleslaw for a fuss-free 10-minute meal.
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In the midst of the hustle and bustle that is inevitably your morning routine, it can seemly nearly impossible to serve your kids a breakfast of anything other than cereal, and while of course weekdays are no time for leisurely prepared flapjacks or made-to-order omelets, it’s important to send your little ones to school with a wholesome meal in their bellies. Quick-fix recipes that can be made easily and eaten in a flash are welcome timesavers, and kid-friendly picks like egg-in-toast, breakfast-style pizza and better-for-you ganola bars are go-to classics. Check out a few of Food Network’s favorite simple-to-make recipes below for no-fuss morning meal ideas and must-see tips.
The ultimate all-in-one weekday breakfast, the Pioneer Woman’s Egg-in-a-Hole (pictured above) is a kid-friendly favorite that’s ready to eat in only five quick minutes. Using the rim of a round glass, remove a hole in the center of a piece of bread — whatever kind you have on hand will work — then drop it in a buttered skillet and fill the hole with a cracked egg. In less than a minute, the egg will have begun to set within the bread and it will be ready for a gentle flip. Ree recommends letting the egg cook just until the yolk is soft — any longer and it won’t be runny.
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