Kid-friendly meals are a necessity when you’re a busy mother of two. Like other parents, I also want these creations to be healthy, fast and something I actually want to eat. Here are five recipes that cover all the bases.
Tag: kids’ meals
Enlisting kids to help out in the kitchen can have numerous benefits beyond an extra pair of little hands assisting us:
- Cooking teaches children useful skills, including cooperation, coordination, math (fractions and more) and problem-solving.
- Cooking is a bonding experience for parents and kids.
- Cooking an array of things, including fruits and vegetables, helps children develop a healthy relationship with the foods they eat, which is associated with better health and eating habits as they become teens and adults.
With their steady rotation of grilled cheese and butter-topped noodles, the “kid-friendly” section of restaurant menus has always been unimaginative. But these days it’s hard not to notice that the offerings are also fairly unhealthy. The palette of food geared toward children is primarily white, brown and orange — the colors of french fries, fried nuggets (of one sort or another) and mac and cheese. Not only is such fare typically lacking in creativity, it’s also lacking in nutrition, although there’s generally no lack of calories or sodium. It’s not uncommon for a kid’s meal to exceed 1,000 calories, more than any adult needs in one sitting.
The good news is that many restaurants are making strides in revamping the menu options for pint-sized patrons. The National Restaurant Association just hosted the second annual Kids LiveWell Recipe Challenge — a competition that encourages chefs to come up with enticing but healthy alternatives for kids. Winners included an organic sunflower butter and jam sandwich on multi-grain oat bread and a whole-wheat quesadilla filled with broccoli, chicken, peppers and corn. Read more
When you cook and freeze breakfast items ahead of time, you’ll always have something handy to serve before school, even on hectic mornings. Try making double or triple batches of any of these recipes.
Instead of buying mixes, make homemade pancakes and let them cool before storing in the freezer. Use these tips to lighten up your next batch.
Recipes to try:
- Lemon Blueberry Pancakes (above)
- Blueberry Buttermilk Pancakes
- Whole Wheat Pancakes with Nutty Topping
- Whole Wheat Apple Pancakes
- Oatmeal Pancakes with Maple-Glazed Roasted Apples
Although fish sticks can be a great way to introduce kids (and other picky eaters) to seafood, they’re basically breaded, fried, bland-tasting finger food. Yes, the omega-3 fatty acids are a terrific addition to the meal, but the 17 grams of fat per serving (3.5 ounces) isn’t. Instead of raiding the freezer, whip up a healthier version in a snap.
Although it’s easy to give into kids’ pleas for the same old not-so-healthy foods, parents and caregivers should provide a variety of dishes that will help kids grow and develop. Happily, summer offers a great opportunity to break away from the same old chicken nugget and mac-and-cheese routine. The season’s bounty of fresh fruits and vegetables make for deliciously healthy dishes kids will love. Here’s a sampling.
Clean eating has been around since the 1960s but has been gaining popularity recently. Registered dietitian Michelle Dudash author of Clean Eating for Busy Families explains how simple it is to follow.
Q. Could you explain what clean eating is?
Clean eating is the lifestyle of enjoying foods in their most natural and least processed state, including fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, nuts and seeds, lowfat dairy and expeller-pressed oils. For example, instead of eating white bread, seek out sprouted wheat bread, which is a true whole grain. Also, if you can’t pronounce an ingredient on the label, you probably shouldn’t eat it. Instead of components that sound like things from lab experiments, opt for foods with ingredients found in home kitchens. Clean eating to me also means opting for in-season foods—not just produce, but seafood, too—whenever possible.
Q. So many foods marketed to kids are processed — how can you eliminate or minimize processed foods, and how can you tell which packaged foods are clean?
Unfortunately, many foods marketed to kids can be deceiving. You must look past the healthy images on the front of the package and go straight to the ingredient label on the back. If you see sugar in any form (yes, even evaporated cane juice and brown rice syrup) as the first ingredient, put it down. If it’s a grain product like a bar or cereal, whole grains like oats or brown rice should be listed first. If you see more than a few ingredients you can’t pronounce, it’s probably been manipulated and is highly processed. Despite the widespread availability of processed kids’ snacks, remember, kids still love fruits and vegetables or whole-grain crackers paired with dip.
We’ve all heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and a new study shows just how important breakfast is for kids. The study, released by Share Our Strength, an organization Food Network has partnered with to raise money to fight childhood hunger, reveals that of the 21 million U.S. kids that get free or reduced-price school lunch, only a shocking half get breakfast. That means millions of children are starting their day hungry, making it more difficult for them to learn. The study also found that kids who eat school breakfast attend on average 1.5 more days of school, average 17.5% higher on math test scores and are 20% more likely to graduate high school.
Share Our Strength is making breakfast in schools a priority through Breakfast Changes Lives, an initiative in conjunction with the organization’s No Kid Hungry campaign.
If the struggle to get your kids to eat right is driving you nuts, there’s hope! We asked registered dietitian and (my all-time-favorite) child nutrition expert Ellyn Satter to weigh in.
Q: Why do so many parents have trouble feeding their kids? A: Because they care so much. Parents have been brainwashed about what is good and bad nutrition-wise and feel pressured to produce a healthy child.
The most important thing is the family meal. The parents’ job is to help preserve a positive attitude about eating. It almost doesn’t matter what you’re eating as long as it’s together. Once parents can establish structure and rhythm to getting meals on the table, creativity will start to kick in and deciding what to serve gets easier.
Q: When it comes to feeding kids, what’s the biggest mistake parents make? A: Parents often provide too little support and too much interference – insisting and bribery don’t work. You can’t fool a child. Parents need to trust that the child will learn to make smart decisions when it comes to what they eat. Read more
People constantly confess to me that their biggest diet pitfall is nibbling on their kid’s leftovers. French fries, macaroni and cheese, burgers, pizza. Things you wouldn’t put on YOUR dinner plate, but eat while doing the dishes. Instead of feeling guilty, why not enjoy kid food with reckless abandon? Even better – get creative with leftovers and make memorable meals for the entire family. Macaroni and cheese is the perfect place to start because kids love it and parents devour all remaining scraps (along with their adult meals). That’s when calories skyrocket. To start, you need a great recipe for macaroni and cheese; one that’s healthy yet rich and bursting with cheese flavor. My renowned macaroni and cheese is below. I bake mine to create a creamy middle and crisp, Parmesan-spiked topping (the part everyone loves). It’s sinful tasting, yet lighter in fat and calories thanks to light sour cream and evaporated skim milk. Since the recipe makes a big batch, you can easily store leftovers and enjoy my mac n cheese cakes with spicy tomato sauce another day – crispy, Parmesan and panko-crusted cakes dipped in warm, smoky tomato sauce. Got creative uses for YOUR leftovers? Let’s hear ‘em!