Planning Healthy Meals for Kids (That They’ll Actually Eat)

Post by Adrienne of Susie Makes SupperPlanning Healthy Meals for Kids (That They'll Eat)If your kids are anything like mine, they would be happy with chicken nuggets and pasta for supper every day of their lives. And if you have ever tried to feed a kid like mine homemade macaroni and cheese when he or she is expecting the orange stuff that comes out of a blue box, you know that feeding kids real food can be a challenge.

Here are a few tricks that I use when planning healthy meals for kids:

  1. Rename the dish. My aunt recently told me a story about a casserole that her mom made when my aunt and her brothers were little. The casserole was simple: noodles, ground meat, and tomato sauce. You know the casserole. If it were pasta with sauce and meatballs, each ingredient separately identifiable, the kids probably would have eaten it without complaint. The boys refused to eat this casserole. One day, my aunt’s mom told the boys that they were having cowboy food for supper. She served the same noodle, ground meat, and tomato casserole that her boys had previously refused and that night received rave reviews from her boys. A favorite was born. “Cowboy Food” was regularly requested for supper. Same dish, different name. A little creative license goes a long way and is exactly the way to get your kids to try meatballs with spaghetti squash instead of pasta or homemade macaroni and cheese. Your kids’ favorite story characters or zoo animal or game can provide wonderful inspiration for your next meal’s name.Planning Healthy Meals for Kids - Meatloaf
  1. Make it cute. Truth: anything in the shape of a cupcake or made in miniature is more appetizing to kids. I can’t explain it, I just know it is true. This concept works for homemade macaroni and cheese, tacos, and meatloaf. Using the cupcake technique allows you some creativity with your ingredients. Meatloaf cupcakes? How fun! You can even frost them with mashed potatoes and decorate them with peas. (I’ve actually done this before – without telling my kids what they were eating. The kids not only thought it was hilarious, but ate every bite.)Planning Healthy Meals for Kids - Chicken Nuggets
  2. Let your kids help you make the dish. What’s in chicken nuggets, anyway? A lot of things you probably don’t want to eat if we are talking about the frozen, shaped variety. But your kids can help you make their own chicken nuggets (and shape them, if you have an awful lot of anti-bacterial soap in your kitchen) with ingredients you probably already have in your kitchen. This trick works well with other classic kid favorites like spaghetti-os and pizza. It also works really well with new dishes like gnocchi and potpies.

Do you have any tips for updating kid favorite meals? Drop a note in the comment section with your favorite tip or requests for future posts about cooking for kids.

Adrienne is a compulsive list-maker with a very busy family and a not very clean house. She’s also a planner and a recovering perfectionist. Adrienne blogs at Susie Makes Supper, where she shows her successes and failures in the kitchen and freely gives advice on all sorts of topics.

Chicken Tacos with Cilantro Slaw + Avocado Cream

Post by Rebecca of A Feteful Life
Chicken Tacos with Cilantro Slaw + Avocado CreamLooking for a simple recipe to spice up your dinner menu? These Chicken Tacos with Cilantro Slaw + Avocado Cream are a must try. Fabulous, authentic flavors in a super simple package. Enjoy!

Rebecca and Suzanne are bloggers, graphic designers, and event stylists living in Washington, DC.  Rebecca is a mom to two young kiddos and, in her spare time (ha!), likes to pretend she’s a back-up dancer, craft cocktails, and run long distances. Suzanne is a big fan of good design, good wine, and her two rambunctious little boys. They share DIY lifestyle and event styling projects at A Feteful Life. Rebecca also blogs kid-friendly projects at Not-So-SAHM

Pasta with Baked Tomato Sauce

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Yes, we are still working on our supply of tomatoes and this baked tomato sauce is a yummy addition to our rotation. The first time I made it was three years ago when my friend Suzy gave me the link to The Wednesday Chef blog. I’ve made the recipe many times since and Luisa’s blog is a steady source of great recipes and stories. 

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What I like about this recipe is the use of cherry tomatoes or grape tomatoes. It lends a different flavour to your sauce than larger tomatoes do and we tend to get large batches of them in September. Adding breadcrumbs just elevates everything – the smell coming from your kitchen will make you want to dive into the pot of pasta immediately. These are basic ingredients that let the tomatoes shine – try it and you’ll make it over and over again.

Pasta with Baked Tomato Sauce – from The Wednesday Chef
 

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 pound very ripe cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/3 cup plain dry breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano
  • 2 tablespoons freshly grated pecorino (or, if you don't have this, just more Parmigiano)
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 pound dried penne or spaghetti
  • 1/4 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves, torn

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 F. Grease a 13-by-9-inch baking dish with one-third of the oil. Place the tomatoes cut side up in the dish.
  2. In a small bowl, combine the bread crumbs, cheeses, and garlic and toss with a fork to mix well. Sprinkle the bread-crumb mixture over the tomatoes, making sure that each cut side is well covered with the crumb mixture. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake until the tomatoes are cooked through and starting to brown on top, about 20 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes, or until al dente. Time the pasta so it finishes cooking about the time the tomatoes are ready to come out of the oven.
  4. When the tomatoes are done, add the basil and stir vigorously to mix everything into a sauce. Drain the pasta and immediately transfer it to the baking dish. Add the remaining olive oil and mix well. SERVE AT ONCE.

Notes

To cut a large amount of cherry tomatoes fast: Place a bunch of them on a large Tupperware lid, cover with a second lid, hold down and slice with a large knife from the side all the way through. You'll be done in no time.

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Post by Giulia Doyle : Audrey's

Tomato, Mozzarella and Basil Orzo

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Making pasta is a way to ensure that everyone has a meal they enjoy -  adding melty cheese to it makes it even more of a success. Once in a while though I like to change it up and move away from Spaghetti or Penne. Using orzo and cooking it like Risotto seemed like the prefect way to do this. I like that this recipe also allowed me to use our last tomatoes and tiny little basil leaves growing outside. It’s comfort food with a node to late summer – a time where you can cuddle up with blankets, walk through piles of leaves on a crisp day, but tomatoes still burst with flavour. I urge you to try this simple recipe – it truly is comfort in a bowl.

Tomato, Mozzarella and Basil Orzo (adapted from Emeril Lagasse)

  • 3 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1/2 cup of minced red onion
  • 1 tablespoon of minced garlic
  • 2 cups of orzo pasta
  • 4 cups of chicken stock, heated
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 cups of diced fresh tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup of diced fresh mozzarella (I increased this amount)
  • thinly sliced basil
  • Heat olive oil in a medium sauce pan over medium heat. When hot, add the red onion and garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the orzo and stir well to coat.
  • Gradually add the hot chicken stock in 1/2 cup increments, stirring until all of the stock has been absorbed before adding more. Do this until you used up all the stock, the liquid is absorbed and the pasta is just tender – about 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Add the tomatoes to the orzo and cook until just heated through, 1 -2 minutes. Add the mozzarella and cook for another 2 minutes or just until  incorporated.
  • To serve, spoon the orzo into bowls and garnish with basil.

Post by Giulia Doyle : Audrey's