by Melissa d'Arabian in Family, Food Network Chef, March 7th, 2015
by Foodlets in Family, Recipes, March 2nd, 2015
My daughters had been begging me to buy a particular box of cereal for the month of March. In our house, cereal is either healthy enough to be considered a breakfast item (by virtue of low sugar and high protein and fiber), or it is a dessert treat that we buy once a month. This box of cereal was the “dessert” cereal for the month of March. I brought the cereal home today, and the girls cheered with excitement, knowing that dessert tonight would be a bowl of crispy chocolate cereal in cold creamy milk.
I returned to work back in my office. Suddenly I heard a soft knock and saw the eyes of my 7-year-old Margaux peeking through the cracked door. I knew it was important. I stopped my typing and invited Margaux in, with her earnest, somber face. In her little hands, she held the box of chocolate cereal. “Mom, I just checked, and this cereal has 13 grams of sugar. I don’t think it’s very healthy at all.” She was conflicted — a gift of being a reader and being incapable of unseeing what she had read on the label. What followed was a conversation about our health, making balanced choices and reading labels. We brainstormed some options that would enable her to enjoy the cereal sometimes, but without feeling bad about it. (Simply not eating this cereal again, however, was not on the table for Margaux.) We talked about maybe buying a treat cereal less often — perhaps every six weeks — and making the servings a little smaller in order to reduce the sugar. She suggested maybe skipping the piece of candy she is allowed at the movies next time to balance out the sugar. (I don’t hold high hopes for her making good on that one, if I’m honest.)
by Foodlets in Family, Recipes, February 24th, 2015
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.
by Foodlets in Recipes, February 17th, 2015
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.
by Foodlets in Family, Holidays, February 10th, 2015
As a mom of four small kids, I love dinners you can cook once, then use again in a new way later in the week. I call them “2 Dinners in 1,” but today I’m sharing how to be a suppertime overachiever. No two dinners here. Nope, this strategy is a bona fide three-in-one timesaver. After roasting a classic chicken and vegetables, you’ll serve chicken breasts and some of those veggies for a family-friendly meal. Dinner two will be legs and thighs in a simple casserole, and finally on night three, you’ll put leftovers to work in a whole delicious stock. Here’s your game plan for making it work.
Dinner #1: Easy Lemon Roasted Chicken with Carrots & Potatoes (pictured above)
- Use the largest bird you can find, then slather a quickie vinaigrette — I like olive oil, thyme, fresh lemon juice and zest, plus salt and pepper — on both the chicken and vegetables. Be sure to double the amount of vegetables, so you’re cooking another dinner’s worth of carrots and potatoes (plus any other vegetables you like, sweet potatoes, butternut squash and so on), and cook them on a separate baking sheet. And if you don’t have enough lemon vinaigrette for the second pan, just use olive oil with salt and pepper.
- Cut up the breasts for dinner, using Alton Brown’s method for carving a turkey, and remove each breast in one large piece before dicing it up to serve. (P.S. Ina Garten does this for chicken too.)
- Serve just the chicken breast and roasted vegetables with a nice loaf of crusty bread and soft salted butter. Reserve everything else — and I do mean everything, including the bones!
by Foodlets in Family, February 1st, 2015
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.
by Jackie Alpers in Family, How-to, January 27th, 2015
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.)
by Foodlets in Recipes, January 23rd, 2015
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.
by Foodlets in Family, January 16th, 2015
Got a carb lover on your hands? A couple of pintsize cheese addicts? Me too. In fact, I have four small kids, and sometimes it seems like they’ll eat only cheese, crackers and other carbs (CCC), at least without a fuss. When we’re in a CCC rut, I break out a few of these delicious alternatives.
Carrots and Dip Taste Test: Hear me out. If your kids don’t like raw veggies, give them a choice of a few dips (salad dressings, hummus or whatever you have in the fridge), and ask them to pick a winner. Alternatively, pick their favorite dressing — say, ranch — and offer three to four kinds of raw veggies to dip right in. Have them declare a favorite vegetable instead.
by Foodlets in Family, January 13th, 2015
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.)
Most food resolutions are about swearing off something: carbs, dairy, sugar, only refined sugar, white flour, all grains altogether … My Facebook feed is full of these New Year’s goals right now.
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.