Tag: kids & family

In Defense of Bean Night: Save Big and Eat Well (Plus 6 Ways to Get Started)

by in Family, Food Network Chef, February 20th, 2014

Pasta with Salsa CrudaEvery budget shopper knows that dried beans are downright cheap. So when I’m thinking about inexpensive, but healthful, meals to feed my family (and let’s face it, I spend a lot of time thinking about just that), it’s impossible not to place this versatile little nutritional gem front and center on the menu. Thus, I created “Bean Night.”

It started 10 years ago when Philippe went back to graduate school and we transitioned from having two steady incomes to having suddenly none (plus a very expensive tuition bill and a baby on the way). I watched every penny, so I created a handful of uber-cheap dinners that I could feel good about eating — meals that cost about $5 to make. My plan was to rotate these extra-cheap meals into our weekly menu plan to save money.

It worked.

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White Bean Dip: The Key to Getting More Veggies Into Your Kids

by in Family, February 18th, 2014

White Bean Dip: The Key to Getting More Veggies Into Your KidsTwo of my three small kids love hummus and I know many, many more who do. But hummus at the store usually has lots of mysterious ingredients in it — things I can’t pronounce — and having tahini on hand to make it myself is something my pantry just can’t seem to do. Enter the easiest, healthiest dip of 2014. If you want to get your kids excited about eating a few more veggies with lunch or as a snack, this is the way to go.

All you need to do is rinse a can of white beans and add a slug of olive oil, a dash of salt and pepper, the juice of one lemon and, if you dare, mince half a clove of garlic and throw that in too (it’ll make the whole thing a little spicy so be careful with delicate palates). Then fire up the food processor — blend, eat and enjoy with your vegetables of choice.

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How I Got My Kids to Try — and Love — Sugar Snap Peas

by in Family, February 3rd, 2014

How I Got My Kids to Try and Love Sugar Snap PeasThis year I’ve figured something out. Raising kids who eat healthy, whole foods seems to be half recipes, half behavior. While I’ve been focused on the healthy recipes for the last couple of years, I’ve also read tons of great books, and my new favorite piece of advice comes from, It’s Not About the Broccoli. When trying new things, let kids be critics, says author Dina Rose, Ph. D. So when I made a new dish with a new ingredient, sugar snap peas, I told my 4 and 2-year-olds that I wanted their opinions. Thumbs-up, thumbs in the middle or thumbs down — and if it’s either of the latter options, that’s OK because we’ll try this dish again another time and maybe they’ll like it better.

Call me an amateur psychologist, but releasing the pressure and allowing them to like or not like a new food seemed to yield just the results I was looking for. Not only did they give this one a thumbs-up, they stood up on their booster seats to stretch their arms even higher in the air — like two tiny Statues of Liberty at my kitchen table. That’s what I like to see.

Get the recipe for Ginger Pork Over Pasta with Sugar Snap Peas at Foodlets.com.

No-Bake Chocolate Pretzel Peanut Butter Squares — The Weekender

by in Family, Recipes, January 17th, 2014

No-Bake Chocolate Pretzel Peanut Butter SquaresI spent most of last week in Austin hanging out with my sister and her family. It was a trip I planned months ago, for no other reason than to see their new house and get a chance to spend many days playing trains with my 2-year-old nephew, Emmett.

One of Emmett’s favorite things to do is to pretend to make food (pizza and soup are two of his regulars). Because of that, I thought it would be fun to do a real food project with him. To maintain my sanity, I went in search of a no-bake cookie recipe and came up with Trisha Yearwood’s Chocolate Pretzel Peanut Butter Squares.

You start by crushing up enough pretzels to make two cups of crumbs. I put them in a big zip-top bag and told Emmett to break them. He put the bag on the floor and jumped up and down on it. He enjoyed it greatly and it worked perfectly. Once they’re crushed, stir in melted butter, powdered sugar and peanut butter until fairly well integrated. I got it started so that the sugar wouldn’t explode everywhere and then let Emmett help with the stirring.

When that base layer is fully combined, pat it into a baking pan. This is another opportunity for a kiddo to help. I put a sheet of aluminum foil down and had him help me push it flat.

Before you start assembling, read these tips

2-Ingredient Banana Cookies (and Neither Is Sugar)

by in Family, January 13th, 2014

Two Ingredient Banana CookiesI’ve seen versions of this cookie recipe online in many places, so when it was my family’s turn to bring a snack to my 4-year-old’s preschool class, we gave it a shot. What a hit! It’s the only time we’ve ever come home with an empty bowl, to my toddlers’ total dismay. They were really looking forward to eating those leftovers and I don’t blame them because there are many things to love about these cookies.

First, they’re simple. You mash up two very ripe bananas with old-fashioned oats and bake. That’s the whole technique right there. But you could also add things to your liking: walnuts, raisins, almonds, chia seeds (which we used), dried cranberries, etc. Add whatever mix-ins your kids enjoy (whatever you want them to eat more of in a perfect world). Second, they’re sugar-free. And third, they’re full of great-for-you ingredients.

We have a fresh bunch of bananas sitting on our counter right now, just waiting for a brown spot or two to appear before we whip up a new batch to keep for ourselves.

Get the full recipe for Banana Cookies at Foodlets.com.

 

Sweeten Up Your Brussels Sprouts (Kid Approved)

by in Family, January 8th, 2014

Sweeten Up Your Brussels SproutsI’m going to say something that may sound like bragging, but stick with me: my kids eat Brussels sprouts. Here’s the story: there are three of them — ages 4, 2 and 1 — and each one eats these mini cabbages with a different level of, shall we say, enthusiasm. So with all those juicy cranberries around the house typically destined for muffins, I threw a handful into our last pan of oven-roasted sprouts and the good got even better. And those resigned to trying a couple of polite bites got even happier. Get the recipe for Brussels Sprouts with Cranberries at Foodlets.com.

Sweet and Salty “Lollipop” Cheese Balls

by in Family, January 1st, 2014

Sweet and Salty These make the perfect special-occasion food — kids can help make them and they’re also delicious (to children and adults). Between the rolling, covering with cranberries and poking of pretzel sticks, there are at least three jobs fit for small fingers. Then there’s the fact that the recipe requires only a handful of ingredients (four to be exact). Now that’s something to make parents swoon. Get the recipe for these kid-friendly cheese balls at Foodlets.com.

Get more kid-friendly snack recipes

Kid-Friendly Cranberry Oat Muffins

by in Family, December 26th, 2013

Kid-Friendly Cranberry Oat MuffinsThere’s something about the tart taste of cranberries this time of year. The New York Times recently reported on a study confirming that what kids eat during the first three years of life (starting in the womb) sets the stage for what they consider comforting later on. Jogged by memories as adults, these are the flavors they’ll crave — for better or worse. Now if that’s going to be the case, I’ll serve these muffins — full of fresh berries, whole oats, maple syrup and plain yogurt — every year. This is the kind of eating I want these rascals to associate with the holidays — the kind that makes both of us feel good for years to come.

Get the recipe: Low-Sugar Cranberry Oat Muffins

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Whole-Wheat Cinnamon Sugar Crisps, a Healthy Snack for Kids

by in Family, December 20th, 2013

Whole Wheat Cinnamon Sugar Crisps‘Tis the season for snacking, and this recipe combines two of my favorite elements: It’s pretty healthy and the kids can help. All you need is a pack of whole-wheat pitas, olive oil and cinnamon sugar. I like to make my cinnamon sugar with a ratio of 2:1, sugar to cinnamon, which is a little less sweet than most. Slice the pitas, brush them with oil and sprinkle away — do it again on the other side and pop the whole pan into an oven at 400 degrees F for 10 to 12 minutes. My preschooler made these herself, then told her dad the step-by-step instructions the moment he got home from work (you know, while he was trying to get his suit jacket off, set his bag down and avoid stepping on the baby’s toys that somehow got scattered across the kitchen floor). The crisps are a huge hit here, and I hope they will be for you too.

Hot Drinks for Small Fries

by in Family, Holidays, December 14th, 2013

Hot Drink Recipes for KidsThere’s nothing more snuggly than sitting around with warm mugs of goodness this time of year. And if you’re not into a massive sugar crash after they’ve gulped down hot chocolate, look no further than your favorite summer smoothie for inspiration.

We recently discovered the joys of warm flavored milk at our house, and here’s the great thing: Anything works. Frozen strawberries plus milk and a zap in the microwave? Sweet and yummy. Peanut butter and banana? Thick, creamy and wonderful. We’re doing frozen peaches with milk next time, plus a pinch of cinnamon. Sounds a lot like pie, without all that pesky crust.