Bananas are one of the most-versatile ingredients out there. Of course ripe bananas make a satisfying snack all on their own (even better with some peanut butter). They’re a key smoothie element and a favorite topping for hot or cold cereal, and once they’re speckled and overripe, banana bread comes calling. But that’s just a slice of what bananas can do. Food Network Kitchen used bananas plus two other simple ingredients in five genius recipes that transform the all-purpose fruit into entirely new dishes. Watch the video to see how to make these ridiculously simple and fun banana treats. Read more
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There are four small kids in my house right now, and I’m going to make dinner for all of them. Like I do (nearly) every night. But in order to make all these fresh meals, the ones that the kids like, that my husband enjoys and that I feel good about serving, there are going to be some shortcuts made. Like there are (nearly) every night. Here are a few of my secrets for getting it all done.
1. Use That Netflix Subscription to Your Full Advantage: There is no shame in putting on a video for the kids while you cook dinner. That gives you 22 minutes to get something accomplished while the kids bliss out. Tip: Just be clear ahead of time about how MANY videos or how LONG they’ll be watching. My kids go crazy if they think I’m pulling the plug prematurely. The last thing you want to start dinner with is mutiny.
2. Repurpose Leftovers with Confidence: On the incredulity scale, “This again?” is about a 9.5 at the dinner table. There’s also this: As a food blogger I’m constantly testing new recipes. Sometimes things are a hit, and sometimes they’re not. Either way, I love having a second life planned out for dinners like London broil (which later becomes a pot of beef stew), roasted chicken (which shows up again in a casserole) or meatballs that start out on pasta and end up on sub sandwiches. Sometimes the second time is a charm.
OK, I’ve got to be honest: Sweet potatoes have been hit or miss in our house with my brood of four kids under 6 years old. But because I’m a determined mom with healthy-eating habits in sight (which is not quite the same thing as a glutton for punishment), I just kept cooking sweet potatoes. By now I’ve made them so many ways that we’ve come up recipes that work every time, and I want to share them with you.
1. Honey Roasted Sweet Potatoes
Ellie Krieger’s combination of olive oil, lemon juice and honey — the trifecta of our kids’ most-beloved flavors — turns a pan of peeled sweet potatoes into a side dish little ones love.
2. Sweet Potato & Walnut Muffins
These muffins are not what you think. The batter starts with raw sweet potatoes and walnuts (or almonds or pecans — whatever you like) that you crush in the food processor before adding all the other ingredients without dirtying another bowl. The result is a protein-rich batch of delicious muffins that just happens to be full of veggies.
From super sweet to pretty darn healthy, I’ve got your kids’ Valentine’s Day treats covered. Every one of them is doable for busy parents, and many are so easy the kids can help. So whether you and the little ones are celebrating at home or school, these adorable ideas say nothing but love from the oven.
1. Heart of the Batter Cupcakes: As if a moist cupcake loaded with chocolate frosting wasn’t enough, what kid wouldn’t be delighted to bite into a cupcake to find a heart-shaped strawberry inside? I’m practically clapping myself about these too-cute treats from Food Network Magazine.
2. Chocolate-Covered Mini Pretzel Sticks: For small kids, a pretzel stick — loaded with chocolate and sprinkles — makes the perfect serving size. Bonus: Your little ones can help make a batch with you.
Your mornings may go more smoothly than mine, but in order to get the kids out the door on time I need to have a bunch of lunch staples on hand. And sometimes those supplies come right from last night’s dinner. Hint: Make it even easier on yourself by packing up these lunches as you clean up dinner, while everything’s still out.
1. Homemade Pizza: Some schools balk when you send kids with takeout pizza, but the fresh stuff should be fine. We love ham and pineapple, as well as good ol’ cheese. But Ree Drummond’s 5-star Pepperoni Pizza and Four-Cheese Pizza (pictured above) look so good, we’ll venture out this week.
2. Rolls: Any time we serve rolls or crusty bread, I always use the extras for sandwiches the next day. We have small kids and the size is perfect. If yours are bigger, pack two of these mini sandwiches. (Feeling industrious? Bobby Flay has 164 [and counting] perfect reviews for his Parker House Rolls.)
More often than not, you hear parents complain that their kids won’t eat anything, they’re picky and they press their mouths closed at the thought of trying a new food. One of the easiest ways to get kids to become fantastic eaters is by getting them involved in the cooking process. Try out a few of these tips to see how quickly you can turn your resistant eater into a budding chef!
10. Take them grocery shopping with you. Let them pick out a new fruit, vegetable or meat to try with dinner tonight.
9. Look through cookbooks and recipe websites together. Have the kids choose a few recipes they would like to try making.
8. Assign age-appropriate tasks in the kitchen, like measuring ingredients, pressing the button on the food processor or being in charge of the kitchen timer.
7. Taste everything together. Talk about the colors, textures and flavors of ingredients. Then talk about how they’re different after being cooked.
It’s a common predicament: You buy a bag of baby carrots, eat a few, and then let the rest of them sit at the bottom of the vegetable bin until they become either a slimy mess or dried-out little nubs. Here are easy ways to use up the rest of that bag, get more veggies in your family’s diet and feel good about yourself! Check out the full gallery for all 14 delicious ideas.
How often do you put off grocery shopping as long as possible to avoid having to take your kids with you? You can already hear them moaning, groaning and grabbing for every last food that you don’t want to buy. These ideas will have you actually excited to shop as a family, watching your little ones learning as they go, and excited about all the nutritious foods they will be asking to eat throughout the week!
10. Always have a list. Before you leave the house, make a list and stick to it.
9. Ask kids what they want to add to the list and then make them responsible for finding the items in the store.
8. Before you leave the house, take inventory of your kitchen. Assess what you actually use on a regular basis and notice which items sit in your pantry for months on end. Make a mental or literal note to avoid those items while shopping.
OK, I admit it: I was a little relieved when school started again after the winter break. The house will be quiet again, I thought to myself. The house will be clean again. (In both cases, the “at least for a little while” part is implied, but you parents knew that.) In the midst of all this reflection, though, I forgot about something: packing lunches.
Without the allure of new lunchboxes, packing lunch this time of year can get tedious, so we’re stepping it up. Here are a few of our favorite ideas, including new things to try ourselves.
1. Embrace the Skewer: Chop up your kids’ favorite sub-style sandwich ingredients into big bites, then thread them onto a bamboo skewer, like what’s pictured above.
2. Amp Up Your Cheese and Crackers: Instead of a sandwich, serve cheese and crackers, but do it antipasto style by tucking in a couple of cheeses, one favorite and one new variety. Then add turkey lunchmeat and a couple of slices of salami.
3. Serve Soup: What’s more comforting than a thermos of hot homemade soup? We’re trying this 10-Minute Tomato Soup recipe ourselves. (P.S. Send a few crackers to add on the spot.)
Eating better is a great idea, but I think these goals are off the mark, at least for me and my crew.
Our Family Food Goals
We have four small kids, from 7 months to 5 years, and there definitely are things I want to work on for better nutrition this year:
- Less sugar (especially in hidden places like spaghetti sauce and yogurt)
- More vegetables
- Fewer empty carbs
- And don’t forget manners! Our 2-year-old is a force at every meal, and for the sake of sanity all around, we’ll teach him the same rules his two older sisters follow.