All Posts In Cooking for Kids

Lightened-Up Family Spaghetti and Meatball Night

by in Cooking for Kids, Healthy Recipes, Meal Makeovers, January 3, 2017

A classic crowd-pleasing meal, spaghetti and meatballs is all about family. Get the kids in the kitchen to help stir the sauce and roll the meatballs. Use these tips to make a meal the entire family will look forward to eating.

Meal Prep
Most of the components of spaghetti and meatballs can be made ahead. Be sure to make a big ol’ batch and freeze some for a busy night down the road, and tuck some in the fridge for school lunches the next day. Then all you’ll need is 10 minutes prior to dinner to boil the pasta and reheat the meatballs and sauce.

Pasta
Pasta has a bad reputation for being unhealthy. It’s true that processed wheat products are missing some key nutrients, but the real issue is inflated portions. One cup of cooked pasta contains 200 calories, an appropriate amount for most family members to enjoy as part of a meal. Fill the remainder of the plate with lean protein and vegetables for a well-balanced dinner.

Whole-grain pasta is also looked down upon for being bitter and unappetizing, but whole-wheat pasta options have come a long way. Or try a brand made with rice, beans, quinoa or egg whites for better texture and flavor, plus a higher protein content. Read more

Should You Sneak Veggies Into Your Kids’ Food?

by in Cooking for Kids, December 6, 2016

Every parent knows the pain of dealing with a picky eater — and the fear that the child will suffer malnutrition from a constant diet of pizza, grilled cheese and noodles. Hence, there’s a great temptation to take the stealth approach to your child’s health by slipping undetectable amounts of produce into those same favorite foods.

Employing this tactic is easier than ever now, thanks to companies like Oh Yes Foods, which markets frozen pizzas whose crusts are loaded with pulverized produce, and Kidfresh, whose frozen entrees of mac and cheese, chicken nuggets and cheese quesadillas hide ample amounts of veggies like carrots, spinach and cauliflower. Considering that, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nine out of 10 Americans kids fall short of the recommended intake of vegetables, this all seems like a brilliant idea. Yet some experts caution against relying on this technique. “Yes, it’s a good thing nutritionally,” admits Marcia Pelchat, Ph.D., a psychologist with the Monell Chemical Senses Center. “But if children are only exposed to vegetables in ways that mask their smell, texture and flavor, they may not learn to eat them.” Read more

Lightened-Up Family Pizza Night

by in Cooking for Kids, Healthy Recipes, Kid-Friendly, October 12, 2016

Who says pizza can’t be a healthy meal? Although a store-bought slice of cheese clocks in at about 400 calories, you can make a healthy pizza-centric meal that is loaded with vegetables, dairy and whole grains. These easy tips can help you make to-die-for pizza — that your whole family will love — each week.

Choose a Night
Theme nights are fun, make planning meals easier and get kids excited to eat. Sample theme nights include Meatless Monday, Taco Tuesday and Pizza Friday. If you schedule pizza night for Friday, it’s a way to help reduce food waste, as most anything, like leftovers or extra vegetables, can be a healthy pizza topper. Scheduling also gives you time to stock your fridge with pizza essentials such as dough and cheese, or whatever else you choose to be on your pizza. Once you choose the night, then you have a few more decisions on how you’re going to build the pizza. Have your kids chime in on how they would like to make it more of a family affair.

Dough
This is the perfect opportunity to meet the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s recommendations to make half your daily grains whole. You can make your own 100 percent whole-wheat pizza dough, purchase whole-grain pizza dough from your market or ask your local pizza maker for an order of whole-wheat dough. You can also whip up dough made from legumes, like chickpeas, or that’s gluten-free. Other out-of-the box dough options include whole-wheat naan bread, whole-wheat English muffins or whole-grain tortillas. Read more

6 Tips for Less-Stress Family Dinners

by in Cooking for Kids, April 9, 2015

Is there anything better than an evening around an energetic table with friends, loud chatter and home-cooked grub? I do love hitting a new hot spot, but an old-fashioned potluck is truly the way I love to roll most. Recently I was in charge of bringing apps and dessert and was reminded that the dad-host is a lactose-intolerant paleo eater and the mom-host is gluten-free. Rex helped me prep veggies and we made mini kebab-on-toothpick appetizers and a pile of crudites with guacamole. Maizy whipped up five-ingredient coconut bites and a fruit salad. We showed up with our pile of eats and had quite the memorable eve. Only, we’ll remember it more for the stress and complicated menu, not the snarf that kid-host let out when Maizy told everyone at the table why the chicken crossed the road. Read more

Cooking for Different Shapes and Sizes

by in Cooking for Kids, February 28, 2015


It’s fun to find a dad’s eyes and a mom’s smile on a toddler’s face, and when I can figure out the sisters in a group just by their mannerisms, I feel proud, like I just solved a puzzle. The sensitive me always notices a dad carrying a baby and wishes I could reverse time and hold my kids at that young age one more day. The professional me is quick to note when one kid appears thin and athletic and the other looks round and soft. Same gene pool. Same food in the fridge. Same access to exercise and likely similar lifestyles.

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Talking with Dana Angelo White, Author of First Bites: Superfoods for Babies and Toddlers

by in Cookbooks, Cooking for Kids, February 23, 2015


Every day we hear about superfoods adults should be eating. But what about our little ones? What are the best foods to be feeding our children during their peak time for growth and development? I had the opportunity to chat with Dana Angelo White, registered dietitian, Healthy Eats contributor and author of the new book First Bites: Superfoods for Babies and Toddlers.

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Pack a Smile! Healthy, Creative School Lunchbox Ideas

by in Cooking for Kids, February 21, 2015


When my kids were little, I remember opening up the refrigerator and pantry doors and closing them. Then opening them, then closing them. I’d scratch my head and think, “I’m a nutritionist, for the love of God; why is making lunch for my 4-year-old so hard?!” My second thought was always, “If this is hard for me, it must be even more stressful for moms who didn’t study food!” In all fairness, there’s a lot of pressure surrounding what goes into what we put into those superhero boxes every day.

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Want to Cook with Your Kids? Read Chef Jonathon Sawyer’s New Cookbook, Noodle Kids

by in Cookbooks, Cooking for Kids, February 16, 2015


Chef Jonathon Sawyer always had a good palate. He was born into a family that cherished and celebrated good food, and his grandmother often whipped up meals, or rather feasts, for Sawyer and his 33 first cousins. He entered the restaurant world at the young age of 13, but it wasn’t until Sawyer landed at an upscale bistro, Café Boulevard, that he discovered he had true culinary potential. One day the surly and old-fashioned German chef tasted his food, nodded and then said, “You know, Jon, you’re not bad at cooking.” That was the pivotal moment for Sawyer, and soon after it, he ended his engineering studies at the University of Dayton and pursued a degree from the Pennsylvania Institute of Culinary Arts.

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Make Family Meals a Resolution This Year

by in Cooking for Kids, Healthy Tips, January 30, 2015


It may seem like a daunting task, but there’s so much to be gained from eating as a family.  It’s not just a great way to spend time together; it can actually help children develop social skills and improve learning ability. A study published in 2014 revealed that the social involvement that takes place at the family table may reduce the risk of childhood obesity. But let’s get real – in order to get those meals on the table, they’ve got to be quick, easy and user-friendly. Here are five tips and recipes to help you make 2015 a year of delicious and healthy family dinners.

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The School Food Truck Movement is on a Roll

by in Cooking for Kids, January 29, 2015


School food may not be widely considered cool (sorry, cafeteria workers), but food trucks are. So, to entice trend-aware students to eat a healthy breakfast or lunch, a number of public school districts around the country have thrown open the cafeteria doors and taken lunchtime to the streets, revving things up with a new kind of meals on wheels.

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