All Posts In Family

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.

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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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Making Meatballs Cuter: Spaghetti Just Got Even More Popular

by in Family, July 3rd, 2013

Making Meatballs Cuter: Spaghetti Just Got Even More PopularWe have an almost 4-year-old in our house and that means it matters when things are “cute” now. In fact, one recent spaghetti dinner became an even bigger hit when we did just a few easy things. To make pasta even more popular (and sometimes a bit healthier) in your home, try these tips:

— Use a whole-wheat blend of pasta instead of regular white bread.

— Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of salt to the cooking water; the flavor gets in as the pasta cooks.

— Reduce the cooking time 2 minutes less than whatever the box says and let the noodles finish cooking in the sauce on the stove.

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Try Making: A Red, White and Blue Gelatin Flag

by in Family, Holidays, June 29th, 2013

A kid-friendly project that will bring the entire family together for the 4th of July, this Red, White and Blue Gelatin Flag by Food Network Kitchens will be the centerpiece of your party. Fun and festive, kids will enjoy making it just as much as they’ll enjoy eating the sweet combination of strawberry-, coconut- and blueberry-flavored layers.

Find out what you’ll need to create this dessert by clicking the play button above.

Grilled Pork Chops 2 Ways: Kid-Friendly and Parent-Approved

by in Family, June 25th, 2013

Grilled Pork Chops 2 Ways: Kid-Friendly and Parent-ApprovedPork chops aren’t just for the frying pan. A thick pork chop, bone-in or -out, can be just as juicy as any burger when you cook it on the grill. What you need is a good rub (to be delicious) and skewer (to be a hit with the kids).

Our three kids were all born in Italy, where a summertime staple is arrosticini, small cubes of meat (usually lamb) on a skewer, seasoned with nothing but olive oil, salt and the occasional sprig of rosemary. The flavor is delicious, the technique is fun and kids love them for both of those reasons.

Recreating that dish was one of the first things we did when we moved back to the United States this spring, and pork chops do the trick. Use a rub of 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon smoked paprika, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, 1/2 teaspoon dried or fresh thyme and 1/4 teaspoon pepper for the whole chops and for one diced up for the kids.

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Chicken Nuggets You Don’t Have to Feel Guilty About

by in Family, June 11th, 2013

Chicken Nuggets You Don't Have to Feel Guilty AboutWe moved to the United States from Italy about six months ago, and the adjustments have actually gone pretty smoothly. Our family is indeed American, but a four-year project took us to Rome, where all three kids were born. Now they’re in the thick of learning all things American first-hand, including chicken nuggets.

So when I found a recipe for a homemade version online, I made a few updates and came up with a new staple for a tasty dinner that travels well, too. These nuggets have been to the park, the playground and our own table.

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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.

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