If you’re looking to add some fun or re-spark your little one’s desire to spend time with you in the kitchen, pick up an item or two from Babble’s well-compiled list of the best kitchen tools for kids. I especially like the learning tower (brilliant!) and guitar-shaped cutting board, and definitely plan to pick up the scrub gloves, PBJ bagel knife (perfect for neat freaks), and cherry chomper for my eager little helper.
Well I’m back and should probably explain my absence in the last 4 months (and perhaps a month or so prior) is directly attributable to my having a new baby boy (one, I hope, which won’t be so hard to please in the food department).
The new little guy is pretty easy-going and surprisingly lets me do a bit of cooking and baking every now and again (I barely entered the kitchen for the first 6 months with my first son). I’ve made some simple stuff with my 4-year-old (popsicles, apple-cheese quesadillas, chocolate chip cookies, etc), and I’ve been stockpiling some very promising recipes I intend to get to as well. And this recipe for blueberry spelt bars by my new favourite Canadian food site is one I plan to get to very, very soon.
P.S. Now that the little guy is nearing 5 months and settling into a routine, I plan to update this blog much more regularly. Thanks for hanging in there!
1 cup rolled oats 1 cup spelt flour 1/3 cup packed natural brown sugar 1/8 tsp salt 1/4 tsp baking soda 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon 1/4 cup sunflower seeds 1/4 cup dried blueberries 1/2 cup sunflower oil 5 tbsp orange juice, divided 1/2 cup blueberry fruit preserve
Preheat oven to 325 and grease a 8×8 in. baking pan. Set aside.
In a large bowl, combine oats, flour, sugar, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, sunflower seeds and blueberries. Add oil and 3 tablespoons of the orange juice. Mix well. Save a 1/2 cup of the mixture and press the rest of the oats into the prepared baking pan. In a bowl, mix the blueberry preserves with the last two tablespoons of orange juice. Spread preserve mixture over the oats then sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup of oats. Bake in the oven for 30 to 35 minutes. Cool in the pan on a wire rack. Allow to cool completely before cutting into bars.
I’m a huge fan of kale. When my son was younger and less wily, he even enjoyed a bowl or two. However now that he’s a picky and opinionated 3-year-old, he defiantly resists it every time I offer it to him. That’s why I love this idea for pesto… He loves pesto! He loves pasta too! And he might not even notice if I swap out the basil for kale… but I think I’ll add some just in case.
Makes 2 cups, enough for about 2 lbs of pasta
1 bunch of kale 1 tsp olive oil, plus 1/2 cup 1 cup walnuts 1/2 cup grated pecorino 1 clove garlic Salt and pepper to taste
1. Lightly steam the kale.
2. In the meantime, heat teaspoon of olive oil in a small pan and use to toast the walnuts, stirring frequently. The walnuts are done when they turn golden brown and are fragrant.
3. Place steamed kale, toasted walnuts, pecorino, and garlic in the bowl of a food processor. Puree as you slowly drizzle remaining 1/2 cup of olive oil in a thin stream. Pesto is done when it’s pureed and creamy. Stir in salt and pepper to taste. Serve with pasta.
Ahh, Valentine’s Day. Love it or hate it, when you have a little one, you kind of have to participate. My son’s nursery school is already asking for contributions and I came across this lovely little idea from ingredients, inc. It looks super easy and I know my little guy would love to help decorate these.
Ingredients 1/2 cup all-purpose flour 1 tsp baking powder 1/8 tsp salt 2 oz unsweetened chocolate, chopped 1/2 cup butter 1 cup sugar 2 eggs, lightly beaten 1/2 tsp vanilla extract Red and white icing (optional)
Preparation 1. Preheat oven to 350F. Combine flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
2. Melt the chocolate and butter in a saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and stir in the flour mixture, sugar, eggs, and vanilla.
3. Spoon batter into a greased and floured 8 x 8-inch baking pan and bake for 25 minutes. Cool in the pan on a wire racks. Refrigerate for up 15 minutes before cutting into heart cookie cutters. Decorate with icing if desired.
The United States Department of Agriculture created a food pyramid of daily guidelines for kids. (It’s available online at mypyramid.gov, although the guidelines are only applicable for children age two and up.) Some nutritionists feel the government should have been more strict; for instance, requiring all, not just some, of the grains to be whole grains, insisting on reduced fat when recommending milk and dairy products, and completely restricting sodas and sports drinks, rather than labeling them as drinks to be used occasionally. Essentially, a child’s daily diet should be composed mostly of calories from complex carbohydrates and lean proteins and no more than 20 percent of calories from fat. Here are particulars about each category of food and the specific daily nutritional breakdown for preschoolers, elementary school children, and teenagers all derived from the U.S.D.A. and Institute of Medicine.
Vegetables: Opt for bright and dark veggies. Spinach, sweet potatoes, and carrots are great choices. Starchy, whiter foods, such as baking potatoes and corn have lesser nutrients.
Fruits: Choose vitamin-rich fresh fruits, such as strawberries, peaches, mangoes and apples. Fruit juices should be consumed as little as possible. When offering juice, make sure it is 100 percent real fruit juice with no sugar added.
Grains: Use whole or multigrain flours, whole-grain breads, oatmeal, whole-grain low-sugar cereals, brown rice, and whole-wheat pasta. Ban white bread and white rice from your house as much as possible.
Meats and Beans: Serve lean proteins every day, such as beef, pork, chicken, fish, beans, tofu, or eggs. When preparing any protein-rich food, opt to serve it steamed, baked or grilled, not fried.
Dairy: Serve lean sources of dairy, such as low-fat milk (check with your doctor to determine whether your child should have whole or reduced-fat milk), low-fat yogurt, ricotta, or cheese.
Oils: Use healthy oils, such as olive—preferably extra-virgin—safflower and vegetable oils. They provide vitamin E for healthy skin.
Fats and sweets: Limit intake of butter, cream, sugary cereals, soda, candy, and the like as much as possible.
• 1 small fresh jalapeño pepper, stemmed, seeded and minced
• 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
• 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
• 1 28-oz can whole peeled tomatoes, drained
• 1 quart store-bought low-sodium stock
• 1/2 cup light sour cream, plus 2 tablespoons, for garnish
• 2 tbsp fresh lime juice
• 2 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro, for garnish
Grilled cheese croutons
• 2 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
• 4 slices white bread or potato bread
• 4 oz sharp white cheddar, cut into slices
For the soup: Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat; add the onion, garlic, jalapeño, salt and pepper and cook, stirring, until translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes and stock and bring to a simmer. Simmer until the tomatoes are soft, 15 to 20 minutes. Whisk in the sour cream and the lime juice and turn off the heat. Blend the soup until smooth with an immersion blender or a regular blender (if using a regular blender, wait for the soup to cool a bit, then hold the blender lid on with a kitchen towel while you puree). Return the soup to the heat on low; don’t let the soup boil, or it will curdle.
For the croutons: Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Butter 2 of the bread slices on one side and place 1 slice in the pan, buttered side down. Add enough slices of cheese to cover the bread evenly, then top with the second slice of bread, buttered side up. Brown until golden, 2 to 3 minutes, then flip over to brown the other side. Remove the sandwich from the pan and let it cool. Repeat with the remaining 2 bread slices and the cheese. Cut the cheese sandwiches into quarters and cut each quarter into quarters again to make cubes 1- to 2-inches wide. Pile all the croutons onto a serving platter.
Ladle the soup into serving bowls and garnish each bowl with a dollop of sour cream and sprinkle with chopped cilantro. Set the platter of croutons where everyone can reach.
Cilantro croutons: Sprinkle a few whole cilantro leaves — no stems — on top of the cheese before you cover it with the second slice of bread. When you cut the croutons, you’ll see a subtle ribbon of green running through the centre.
I’ve been on the hunt for healthier breakfast options, ones that will fill the kiddo up and keep him warm for a spell too. He’s recently accepted pancakes and waffles (at long last - hallelujah!) so these are definitely coming up soon on the menu.
These waffles can be made ahead of time and frozen - perfect for those necessitated, hurried mornings.
1 stick butter
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup fine cornmeal
1/2 cup quinoa flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 tbsp ground ginger
2 ripe bananas (plus more for garnish)
3 eggs, separated
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/4 cup milk
Preheat your waffle iron. In a small saucepan, melt the stick of butter over medium-low heat and set aside.
Place the egg whites in the bowl of your mixer and beat on high, until the egg whites form stiff peaks. Gently scoop the egg whites out into another bowl. In a small bowl, mash the bananas with a fork, and then whisk in the sugar, eggs yolks, melted butter and milk. Set aside. Next, combine the remaining dry ingredients, flour, cornmeal, quinoa flour, baking powder, salt, and ginger in the bowl of your mixer. When the dry ingredients are combined, fold in the wet, mixing just until combined. Finally, gently fold in the egg whites with a spoon.
Heat the oven to 200 degrees and place a large platter inside. Spoon 1/3 cup per waffle onto your iron, and cook until the waffle is golden brown. Remove the finished waffles to the oven to warm. Continue until all of the waffles are cooked.
Serve with soft butter, banana slices and warm maple syrup.
I’ve been compiling my Christmas baking list and came across these adorable mice cookies, perfect for the little ones to help with and devour.
3/4 cup (175 mL) unsalted butter
1 cup (250 mL) packed brown sugar
1 tsp (5 mL) vanilla
2-1/2 cups (625 mL) all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp (2 mL) baking powder
1/2 tsp (2 mL) cinnamon
1/4 tsp (1 mL) ground allspice
1 pinch ground cardamom
1 pinch salt
80 sliced almonds, (about 1/4 cup/50 mL)
40 currants, halved (about 1 tbsp/15 mL)
40 dried chow mein noodles, (about 1/4 cup/50 mL)
Line 2 rimless baking sheets with parchment paper; set aside.
In large bowl, beat butter with brown sugar until fluffy; beat in egg and vanilla. In separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, allspice, cardamom and salt ; stir into butter mixture in 3 additions.
Form by scant 1 tbsp (15 mL) into egg shapes. Place, 2 inches (5 cm) apart, on prepared pans. Insert 2 almond slices for ears and 2 currant halves for eyes at narrow end. Insert 1 chow mein noodle for tail at wide end. Refrigerate until firm, about 15 minutes.
Bake in centre of 350°F (180°C) oven until light golden and firm, 15 to 18 minutes. Let cool on pans on racks for 5 minutes. Reinsert almond ears if necessary. Transfer to racks; let cool completely. (Make-ahead: Store in single layers in airtight containers for up to 1 week.)
Dates add an incredibly luscious sweetness when added to smoothies. The sweetest of fruits, they taste sort of like toffee and are loaded with fibre. Be sure to blend well as it takes a slight bit more effort to properly puree/disguise them.
1 banana 1/2 cup blueberries 1/2 cup plain yogort 1/4 cup vanilla or regular soy milk 8-10 dates, halved
Add ingredients to blender or magic bullet, then puree finely.
This must be the healthiest Mac & Cheese I’ve ever made! Over the weekend I whipped up a batch of white beans with kale using a recipe from Epicurious. The bean dish did double-duty when I turned the leftovers into a delicious soup, which I then used to coat the pasta in this dish before disguising it with milk and cheese. The little guy didn’t know any better and gobbled it up! I love easy meals like this where you can pretty much provide all the food groups in one dish and add an insane amount of flavour too.
Alternately, you can swirl in some hummus if you don’t have a homemade soup on hand - I normally keep hummus in the fridge and add to pasta, eggs, grilled cheese sandwiches, and other kid favourites for a protein/fibre kick. My son wouldn’t normally eat hummus or bean soup on its own, but when it’s hidden, he always comments on how yummy the food is.
I’m simmering a pot of this heavenly-smelling soup right now. The munchkin helped me prepare it and is eagerly awaiting lunchtime! Bursting with flavour and vitamin C, this soup makes a lovely accompaniment or can be served as a main meal with whole grain bread.
4 cups low-sodium vegetable or chicken broth 2 sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped ½ cup red lentils, rinsed well 1 onion, chopped 1 kale leaf, chopped 1 clove garlic, chopped 2 tsp ground cumin 1½ tsp ground coriander 1½ tsp chopped fresh gingerroot 1 can (14 oz/398 mL) coconut milk 1 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
1. Combine broth, sweet potatoes, lentils, onion, kale, garlic, cumin, coriander, and gingerroot in a large saucepan and bring to a boil.
2. Turn down heat and simmer, uncovered, until sweet potato is tender, about 20 minutes.
3. Stir in coconut milk and cilantro and purée until smooth.
1 lb pizza dough (white or whole wheat) 1 cup olive tapenade 1 cup mozzarella cheese, grated or shredded
1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. 2. If using prepared dough, leave the dough on the counter until at room temperature. 3. Cut the dough into four equal pieces and using your hands, shape into individual pizza circles. 4. Place on a parchment or Silpat-lined baking sheet and cover each pizza with black olive tapenade. 5. Using the mozzarella cheese, create a “web” on top of the pizza (see picture above). 6. Bake for 15-18 minutes. 7. Serve.
The boy and I made these adorable Rice Krispy pumpkins for his class Halloween party tomorrow. Oddly enough, I’ve never made Rice Krispy squares before but I imagine the recipe is similar to that. The unique part is to dye the marshmallow mixture with orange jell-o (seems a tad better than food colouring, no? Although admittedly, I added a couple squirts of orange food colouring to enhance the pumpkin colour) and roll into pumpkin-shaped balls.
A Tootsie Roll was used for the stem, and then in a moment of panicked confusion, I rushed out to the store to grab some of those candy spearmint leaves. Of course my husband questioned the green leaves and now I’m more confused … pumpkins don’t actually have green leaves, do they? Although I suppose they might on the vine. Oh whatever, they still look super cute and I’m sure the preschool kids will appreciate the extra candy.
6 cups Rice Krispies 1 pkg. large marshmallows 3 tbsp butter 1 small pkg. orange Jell-o powder 15 small Tootsie Rolls, halved 15 candy spearmint leaves, halved (optional) Baking spray or 1 tbsp oil Wax paper Orange food coloring (optional)
Place marshmallows and butter in large microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on high for 2 minutes. Stir and microwave for an additional minute. Remove from microwave and stir in jell-o powder. If desired, you can add a few drops of orange food coloring to make the pumpkins brighter. Add Rice Krispies and stir well. Spray hands with baking spray or dip in small bowl with 1 tbsp oil and roll mixture into balls (a little larger than a golf ball) and drop on wax paper.
After balls have set for a few minutes, use your thumb to press into the top to make an indent. Add a halved Tootsie Roll “stem” and halved spearmint leaf, if using.
My son and I finished a double batch of these lollipops yesterday for him to hand out at his nursery school for Halloween, and for the neighbourhood kids. I must say, I’m very impressed with the results - although some mishaps did occur (burnt fingers, tummy aches from too much candy-sneaking, making 1/3 of the lollipops far too big to fit in the 2 oz bags). It was loads of fun though, and a great way to get into the Halloween spirit! Plus the house smelled like sugar for the rest of the day, which is a very fine smell indeed.
2 cups sugar
2/3 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup water
30 lollipop sticks
Assorted candies and seeds (candy corn, rockets, red and black licorice whips, and pepitas), for decorating
30 cellophane treat bags (I used 2 oz-sized bags) and ribbon to tie
Line three baking sheets with Silpats (non-stick baking mats) or waxed paper. Prepare an ice-water bath. Combine sugar, corn syrup, and 1/4 cup water in a small saucepan, and place over medium-high heat. Stir continuously to dissolve sugar. When the syrup comes to a boil, stop stirring and clip on a candy thermometer. Continue to cook, without stirring, until the mixture turns golden and reaches 300 degrees to 310 degrees (hard-crack stage) on the thermometer, 5 to 7 minutes. Occasionally wash the sides of the pan using a clean brush dipped in cold water to prevent crystals from forming.
Remove the pot from the heat. Immediately set pan into ice-water bath to stop the cooking (it will steam like crazy); let sit about 20 seconds. Swirl pan 2 more minutes to cool.
Working quickly, pour syrup onto baking sheets, forming circles (3 to 3.5 inches in diameter and spacing pours 3-4 inches apart. Press in lollipop sticks and candy (watch your fingers! It will burn!). Let stand until completely hardened and cooled. Slip into treat bags and tie with a ribbon or twine.
We’re always worried about what we’re feeding our kids. SweetMama asked nutritionist Lianne Phillipson-Webb what foods we should really be avoiding.
The last thing you probably feel like hearing is what not to feed your kids (on top of what to feed your kids). It’s hard to manage it all, but below are some substitutes you really should consider. You may not be able to keep all of these out of your child’s diet, but even just one is better than none.
Genetically Modified Organisms or GMO’s
Genetically modified (GM) foods have been changed from their natural state by manually altering their DNA, and our bodies don’t know what to do with their new state. Research on eating GM food is limited, but what has been found isn’t looking good. It’s best to stay away from GM crops and remember that although you may not eat these foods, they’re fed to livestock, and manufactured in cotton fabrics and many packaged foods—even chocolate bars.
What to buy instead:
Buy as much organic as possible (including organic clothing for babies and children).
Get to know your local butcher or farmer. If you can get to the source of your meat and poultry, you’ll know what you’re buying.
Food Colours and Dyes
Food colouring is such a big part of food manufacturing that it’s really hard to avoid. There is literature linking food colouring with ADD and ADHD, allergies, asthma and cancer. Candy has more obvious food dye in it, but it’s also in many cheeses, crackers, breads, prepared foods, lunch meats and salmon.
What to buy instead:
Speak with your pharmacist before buying medicines to see if you can get a dye-free product.
Start to read labels of the foods in your home..
Look out for natural colouring – beets for instance can be used for red colouring without the harmful side effects.
High Fructose Corn Syrup
You are probably thinking that sugar is impossible to avoid. It may be a tall order, but I really believe that it’s an important ingredient to try to minimize. High-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is a processed product, manufactured from surplus corn, yielding a cheap replacement to table sugar. HFCS has been associated with an increase in obesity, as it’s in just about every processed food including sushi, pop, candy, chocolate, and more.
Effects of sugar on the body:
Suppresses the immune system’s strength.
Raises energy levels quickly, with a crash soon after.
Tough on the pancreas and its insulin production, leading to increased rates of diabetes later in life.
Fills you up without nutrients. Sugar has little, if any, nutritional value.
Finds places to hide in the mouth, between teeth and then creates an environment that favours bacteria and plaque buildup.
Feeds bad bacteria in the digestive system. We all have a certain level of bad bacteria living in our intestines. Sugar is what that bacteria lives on.
What to buy instead:
Look for fruit-juice-sweetened foods. Read the ingredient label and if sugar is listed within the first four ingredients, leave it. Try to make more sweet treats at home and try sugar alternatives such as brown rice syrup, agave syrup, maple syrup and honey. At least there are some nutrients in these sweeteners.
Although following the guidelines above could be completely overwhelming, pick one and see what you can do with it. Any change is a good thing.
What a wicked, creative idea to get your kids to eat! Apparently it’s not just adorable, but designed rather well too - lightweight and durable with easy-to-grip handles. It’s gotten rave reviews from parents too. $14.95 for the plates, $17.49 for the utensils. To order, visit UncommonGoods.com.
Cover the chicken with buttermilk. Let it sit in the fridge for at least an hour or overnight. It helps tenderize the chicken. If you do not want to do this, you can dredge them in flour and egg.
Put the other ingredients in a bowl and mix it up.
Drain the buttermilk from the chicken and drop into the crumb mixture. Coat well.
Line a cookie sheet with foil and put a cooling rack on top it the foil. Spray the rack with cooking spray. At this point, you can put these in the freezer. Just add an extra 5-10 minutes to the cooking time. Bake the nuggets in a 375 degree oven for about 15 to 20 minutes.
Show your little ones that pumpkins aren’t just for pies and jack-o’-lanterns with this quick, easy and healthy snack.
Pumpkin seeds saved from carving your pumpkin
4 tbsp vegetable oil or melted butter
When carving your pumpkin separate the seeds from pumpkin flesh – a great job for those too small to carve their own pumpkin! Wash seeds in a sink or big bowl of water, making sure you remove the pumpkin flesh by rubbing them between your hands. Drain in a strainer and dry with paper towel.
Preheat your oven to 275 degrees.
Spread the dry seeds out on a cookie tray and lightly baste with vegetable oil or melted butter, just enough so that seeds are coated but are not swimming in oil.
Time to season your seeds! There are so many ways to do it – here are just a few. Mix flavourings together in a bowl and sprinkle or drizzle over oiled seeds.
Fall flavours: 1 tsp cinnamon, ½ tsp ground ginger, ½ tsp salt and ½ tsp ground allspice
Spicy: 1 tsp cayenne pepper, ½ tsp thyme, ½ tsp salt and ½ tsp pepper
Savoury: ½ tsp garlic salt and 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
Natural: 1 tsp salt
Lemony: 2 tsp lemon pepper seasoning
Cook seeds in a 275 degree oven for 10 – 20 minutes until golden brown. Oven temperatures will vary and they burn quickly, so keep an eye on them and give them a stir every 5 minutes or so. Allow seeds to cool when they come out of the oven for 10 minutes. These are delish served warm or cold.
OK, so my kid won’t do anything but lick the spoon (again, the texture thing), but maybe your kids will like this homey, creamy vanilla-banana flavoured rice pudding.
This recipe has been a long-standing favourite with me and my husband. It’s adapted from a recipe designed for IBS sufferers and I’ve probably been making it at least twice a year since 2003 or so (when hubs was diagnosed). Even though he no longer displays symtoms, this recipe (and this cookbook) remain one of my faves.
My dad is, hands-down, the best rice pudding maker in the family (strictly a milk and long-grain rice type) so I don’t feel like I’m cheating since this recipe is so different from his version. We eat this one for breakfast, snacks and desserts in our house.
1 cup uncooked rose rice 1 tbsp vanilla OR 1 vanilla bean 1/2 tsp cinnamon OR 1/4 tsp cinnamon + 1 short cinnamon stick 1/2 tsp nutmeg 1/2 cup brown sugar 4 cups vanilla soy milk 2 firm-ripe bananas, diced 1/4 cup pecans, toasted, finely chopped (optional)
Soak rice in cold water for 30 minutes and drain. Rinse and drain again. In a large stockpot, add rice and all other ingredients except bananas and pecans, stirring well. Bring to a simmer over medium-low heat, uncovered, and continue to simmer gently, stirring until rice is tender and begins to disintegrate, about 30 minutes. If pudding becomes too thick, add more soy milk as necessary.
Cool pudding and fold in bananas and pecans (if you can wait that long).
This healthy dip is great served alongside veggies or crackers (or sneak in a thin spread on grilled cheese). Famed pediatrician Dr. Alan Greene calls nuts anti-junk food; they are also widely considered a super food. This quick and easy dip is chock-full of good-for-you walnuts.
1 large clove garlic 2/3 c walnuts 1 12-oz jar roasted sweet peppers 1/2 tsp smoked paprika OR 1 tsp regular paprika 1 c breadcrumbs 2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice 2 tbsp sherry vinegar (you can substitute balsamic or double the lemon juice) 4 tbsp olive oil salt and pepper, to taste
1. Add garlic and walnuts to a food processor and pulse until fine crumbs form.
2. Add peppers, paprika, breadcrumbs, lemon juice, and vinegar. Begin pureeing and slowly drizzle in the olive oil. Puree until smooth. Add salt and pepper to older kid and adult portions, if you like. We like the hummus-like consistency that this recipe yields, but you can adjust with a little bit of water.
Note: There is a lot of disagreement about when it’s safest to introduce tree nuts. Some pediatricians believe that it is safe to feed them to children without a personal or family history of food allergies as early as 6 months. Others encourage parents to wait until 24 or 36 months. Talk to your pediatrician about what’s right for your child.
I’ve gone through my share of traditional peanut butter cookie recipes. I can honestly declare that these are the best (my son does not disagree)! Soft, somewhat chewy, and chock full of peanuts -thanks to the 1.5 cups of chopped peanuts! I made it with smooth peanut butter, but next time, I think I’ll try crunchy.
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour 1 tsp baking soda 1/2 tsp baking powder 1/4 tsp salt Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg 2 sticks (8 oz) unsalted butter, at room temperature 1 cup peanut butter – crunchy or smooth (not natural) 1 cup (packed) light brown sugar 3/4 cup sugar 2 large eggs 1 1/2 cups chopped salted peanuts About 1/2 cup sugar, for rolling
Position the rack to divide the oven into thirds and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment or silicone mats.
Whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and nutmeg.
Working with a stand mixer (fitted with paddle attachment) or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter on medium speed for a minute or two until smooth and creamy. Add peanut butter and beat for another minute. Add the sugars and beat for three minutes more. Add the eggs one at a time, beating for 1 minute after each addition. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl and, on low speed, add the dry ingredients, mixing only until they just disappear. Mix in the chopped peanuts. You’ll have a soft, pliable dough.
Pour the 1/2 cup of sugar into a small bowl. Working with a level tablespoonful of dough for each cookie, roll the dough between your palms into balls and drop the balls, a couple at a time, into the sugar. Roll the balls around in the sugar to coat them, then place on the baking sheets, leaving two inches between them. Dip the tines of a fork in the sugar and press the tines against each ball first in one direction and then in a perpendicular direction – you should have a flattened round of dough with criscross indentations.
Bake for about 12 minutes, rotating the sheets from top to bottom and front to back at the midway point. When done, the cookies will be lightly colored and still a little soft. Let the cookies sit on the sheets for a minute before transferring them to cooling racks with a wide metal spatula. Cool to room temperature.
Repeat with remaining dough, making sure to cool the baking sheets between batches.
Here’s a guide to help you prepare a balanced ‘Back to School Snack Pack’. Choose a few items from the no-cook snacks list below, or add an item or two to a homemade snack (I’ve scoured the web for some of the best recipes, available throughout this blog). Although not essential, a popular idea these days is packing your kid’s foods in bento boxes (aibento.net or laptoplunches.com). It’s an attractive way to lay out a wide range of foods — and who doesn’t love the stylish, reusable packaging. With a little creativity, you can do the same with regular Tupperware containers (see photo below).
• Handful of: Pretzels, tortilla chips, rice cakes, apple fruit chips, nuts (almonds, cashews, pistachios, soy nuts) + seeds (sunflower/pumpkin), dried fruit (apricot, cranberry, mango, raisins), trail mix • Fruit: Cut-up apples, oranges, clementines, grapes, cherries, berries, cantaloupe, melon, bananas, chopped mango - Served with fruit dip or cool whip • Veggies: carrots, peppers, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, celery – Served with ready-made dips like hummus, tzatki, baba ghanoush, low-fat ranch dressing • Yogurt with granola/muesli sprinkled on top • Cottage cheese with cut-up apples • Unsweetened applesauce • Whole-grain crackers (Triscuits, etc), rye crisps, pumpernickel bread with cream cheese • String cheese or Laughing Cow wedges, in moderation, with crackers or whole wheat bread • Corn on the cob • Beef jerky (low in fat and high in protein), turkey kolbasa, summer sausage • Leftover cold pasta (my son’s favourite is rice-shaped orzo tossed with anything) • Hard-boiled eggs • Drinks: Vegetable juice (available in small cans), drinkable yogurt (Yop, etc)
Sweets for your sweets: • Handful of: Chocolate covered almonds or raisins, gummy bears, animal crackers, Praeventia dark chocolate chip cookies (70% cocoa), ShaSha Co. cocoa snacks • Low-fat granola bar, low-fat pudding, rice pudding, Nutella on graham crackers or whole-wheat bread
These days it’s a major chore trying to get my 3-year-old son to eat a healthy, balanced diet, and he’s not even that bad from what I hear. He’ll eat most vegetables (he prefers them raw) and fruits, meats and dairy products. And with a little inventiveness (i.e. sneak in some hummus or blended tuna into a pasta dish), he’s unknowingly and quite happily eating a decent meal that I can feel comfortable about.
Snacks are a great time to get the non-adventurous to try eat a variety of foods; food is typically served in smaller quantities than mealtime so there’s no commitment issues, and it’s usually in a less formal environment (i.e. give them a plate of apples and cheese and nuts during playtime and they’ll mindlessly much until it’s all gone!). And if they only end up eating half a grilled cheese sandwich for dinner, you can relax a bit, knowing they’ve gotten the majority of their nutrients from their snacks throughout the day.
Tips: • The blender/food processor is your greatest ally! The biggest challenge to getting my son to eat properly is the food’s texture, and certain ones can quickly turn a young child off foods. For instance, my son will eat soup as long as it’s pureed and there’s absolutely nothing obtrusive in it (i.e. noodles, vegetable chunks, etc). I’ve been using my Magic Bullet (great for pureeing small amounts of foods like baby food and sauces for kids) since my son started eating solids at 6 months.
• Keep and eat a variety of foods at home (make fruits accessible at all times by keeping on the counter within reach).
• Snacking in between meals is healthy – it keeps energy and blood sugar levels up (and parents will be less likely to overindulge at mealtimes). Moderation is key! A handful of a decent range of foods (i.e. nuts, crackers, dried fruits) is what you should be packing in a back-to-school snack pack or serving at home.
• To get kids interested in the foods they eat, have them help you prepare their meals and snacks. They’ll be much more likely to eat food they’ve had a hand in putting together. Living proof: my son ate scrambled eggs last night after a year-imposed hiatus because I let him crack the eggs and guided his hand stirring in the frying pan.
No one does it better than Disney, and Hallowe’en is no exception. Disney pastry chefs have a super-fun job of coming up with boo-ti-ful treats for guests at Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party in the Magic Kingdom (on select dates through Nov. 1) at Walt Disney World Resort and Mickey’s Halloween Party at Disneyland Park (on select dates through Oct. 31).
Take a look at some of the treats that you’ll find in the Main Street Bakery in the Magic Kingdom and throughout Disneyland Park. Apparently bakers start the day at 4 a.m. and bake until an hour after the Magic Kingdom closes each day. That’s a lot of cupcakes and cookies!
Place all ingredients into a saucepan and cook over medium heat until they begin to come together and become very hard to stir. Divide into 4 pieces and colour each piece differently with food colouring. Knead colour into dough until thoroughly mixed and brightly coloured. Store in airtight containers.
I’ve bookmarked this recipe to make the next time my little one has a special event at his nursery school. Super adorable and full of kid appeal, this should be a hit at any gathering. For full directions and recipe, head over to Gourmet Mom on-the-Go
I wouldn’t have thought to describe my kids as good eaters, but I hear this comment repeatedly. The thing is, while they would prefer chicken nuggets, my kids do eat asparagus and — with varying levels of enthusiasm, complaint, or plain indifference — avocado, edamame, sweet potato, spinach, cauliflower, black bean soup, and all kinds of fish and meat. I don’t have a magic pot, but I have made a valuable discovery that helps make this happen: Getting kids to eat well starts with their brains. Their reluctance to try certain foods is mostly a matter of perceptions, not tastes. (After all, they often refuse something before even tasting it.) Therefore, it’s the preparation of their thoughts, and not my preparation of the meal, that makes a difference.
You say potato, I say big, round mother of French fries.
Language shapes our thoughts. I found that attitudes toward dinner changed when I renamed leftovers night, choices night. The contents of the various containers in the fridge were the same, but — with a simple name change — the perception of them improved. With the help of words, mouths open more eagerly when I serve magic soup, Super Guy spinach, and pineapple power. The possibilities are endless. The word “power” fits well with most foods, and it’s a concept which appeals to kids. In a restaurant recently, I told my kids they’d be sharing a meal called pizza chicken, which was prepared with red sauce and melted cheese. Once they were happily eating it, I told them that most people called this chicken parmesan. And sometimes, when my children ask what’s for dinner, I pepper my answer with a few adjectives: “We’re having juicy pork tenderloin; cold, sweet apple slices; and warm buttery rice.” I try to get them enjoying the meal before it’s even prepared.
Keeping up with the Joneses — specifically Janey and Johnny.
When my four-year-old son is busy rolling up the side of his placemat instead of eating dinner, I tell him that his good friend next door is doing a nice job eating, which will make him grow. (At this age, he doesn’t question my claims; I’m his mother. I’m all-knowing.) Well, heaven forbid John get a leg up on growing tall! I see the thought register in my son’s eyes, and he instantly puts a bite of chicken in his mouth. Competition can be a good motivator.
Hannah Montana likes bananas.
Telling my seven-year-old daughter that her friend Julian likes to eat raw peppers convinced her to try one. She didn’t like it, but the important thing is that she gave it a chance. Hearing an endorsement of a food sets an expectation: If a friend likes it, it might not be half-bad. When I don’t have a “friend and food fact” handy, I occasionally say, “Some kids love this.” (How do I know? I heard it from other moms — it doesn’t matter whether it was in the school yard or in a magazine.) My kids naturally want to experience what other kids are experiencing. And somewhere in the world, I bet there are at least nine kids who like this food. For a younger picky eater, create an endorsement using a character they like. I believe I heard that Batman loves scrambled eggs…
I don’t like it when “I don’t like it” slips from the lips of my children as they’re staring down at a meal that I spent good minutes of my waning middle-age-energy preparing.
So I usually require they eat a certain number of bites of it, which is a cue for drama to begin: “Oh, the horror!” “Warm, nutritious food.” “The injustice!” But I’ve uncovered a few ways to quell the performances at our private dinner theater. First, validate the fact that your child doesn’t like something. I’ll say, “That’s normal. You won’t like everything to the same degree. Sometimes tastes change. We’ll see with this one.” You might tell her that when you were a kid, you didn’t like particular foods either. Work out a strategy to get those four bites of corn eaten: Suggest she mix a spoonful of the corn with something she likes, so the taste is less noticeable. Eat it first and get it out of the way. Eat every bite followed by a sip of milk. Just eat as much of it as you can!
With the thigh bone connected to the hip bone, and the hip bone connected to the back bone…
When Saul Junior is having a stand-off with a strip steak that you want him to eat, say something beyond “It’s good for you.” This worn-out phrase is vague and unconvincing. Instead, be specific in highlighting the food’s benefitsand make the explanation relevant to him: This steak will strengthen your arm muscles so you could swing across the monkey bars. Carrots will boost your vision so that you can spot far-away planes. When I explain the value of food in a concrete and relevant way, my kids are motivated to eat. With little ones, you can just wing it, referring to bone strength, muscle power, and the like, but for older kids, you may need to do a little Internet research to back your claims. This strategy becomes more effective when you reinforce the importance of good eating throughout the day. As your child climbs up the slide or solves a math problem, you might say, “Looks like eating that fish last night helped.” Making links such as this bolsters your efforts at the dinner table.
And the back bone connected to the neck bone, and the neck bone connected to the head bone…
Here’s a spin-off of the above strategy for a younger, more reluctant eater: Right before your child sits down to eat, measure her against the wall. A rough estimate with your hand is good enough. Remind her that the meal on her plate will help her grow and that you’re going to measure her again when she’s done to see if it worked. This trick provides incentive galore for eating, not to mention giddy anticipation of the follow-up measurement. Naturally, if the child eats well, discover that she’s a smidgeon taller and if she doesn’t eat, tell her she’ll have a chance at the next meal. Don’t feel too guilty about fibbing. After all, the food is working for their bodies and helping them grow. You and your children can enjoy hard proof of their growth when they try on clothing from the previous year. When we realize that a shirt is snug going over my son’s head or that my daughter’s pants are short, I remind them that they’re doing a good job eating. Feeling responsible for their development brings them great satisfaction.
The rule of the plate-ground: Cucumbers and couscous take turns.
“After all, you’re pushing peas, not drugs.”
On a play date, in preschool, at the playground, taking turns is fair, and you can transfer the concept to your kid’s plate. She shouldn’t keep shoveling the sausage and rice if broccoli has not yet had a turn. That’s not fair to the broccoli, which needs a chance to nourish her body, too. I floated this concept once with my son and was amazed at how receptive he was. I think it’s because he understood the value of giving everyone a turn. Also, he was suddenly put in the position of presiding over something — his plate — which made him feel important. We still use this model with him regularly. To make the concept more fun and reflective of play, I’ve told him that the bites of food he consumes go down a slide into his belly. Have fun, broccoli! The rice and sausage will meet you at the bottom.
Grab your backpacks! Vamanos! You can lead the way!
The ever-enthusiastic Dora goes on adventures, and when my daughter was preschool aged and in a difficult eating phase, I told her that she would be an adventurer, too — at the dinner table. Following a basic principle I picked up in a book — that trying new foods should be valued over clearing your plate — I dubbed our program “adventure eating.”For every new food my daughter braved, I would put a little smiley face sticker on the calendar for that day, naming and numbering the foods, one through five. Once she had sampled five new things, she earned her reward: a trip to the store to buy a strip of stickers. My daughter was proud to be dubbed an adventure eater. In taking inventory of how close she was to earning the next prize, she liked to look back at the smiley faces on the calendar, asking me to remind her of what new foods she had eaten. In doing so, the sense of accomplishment returned and propelled her toward the next dinner adventure.
Bruno, my sugar cube, don’t eat anything on this plate. Just watch it for me.
Reverse psychology. When my son was between two and three, I realized that [telling him not to eat anything on his plate] was hugely entertaining for him and successful in getting him to eat by himself. I would turn around to unload some items from the dishwasher and then check back on the plate of food he was supposed to be guarding. When I saw that he had eaten a bit, I would feign shock and anger, looking around for the culprit who had stolen bites of my lunch. I’d charge him with the duty of plate watch again, and we repeated the skit. Knowing I had a good reaction in store — sometimes more exaggerated and comical the second or third round — he would continue eating “my” food.Having to play act can be exhausting, but it beats pleading with your child to eat and being frustrated when he doesn’t.
Why did the chicken nugget cross the road? To meet the mysterious chicken paprikash on the other side.
When your children hesitate to taste new food, remind them that they were once reluctant to try something that they now enjoy. The example I use with my daughter is avocado sushi rolls. Being that these are her absolute favorite food, she can’t believe that it took a little coaxing before she tried her first one. With that in mind, I suggest that the foreign food on her plate right now may become a new favorite; she might be missing out if she doesn’t give it a chance. Even if your child never looked quizzically at her first chunk of watermelon, give yourself permission to adjust history in the re-telling of it. I think the end justifies the means. After all, you’re pushing peas, not drugs.
Finally, think of these tips as you would kitchen utensils: What works with some meals may be futile for others. Use them alone or in combination, and when something fails, stick it in a drawer, forget about it, but pull it out down the road for a second try. And if Artie agrees to try the artichoke dip, please share the good news below.
My son refuses to eat any kid of potatoes except fries (I’m not a big potato fan myself). These sweet-potato fries are his favourite - way healthier than regular potatoes, plus they’re baked, not fried. Amazing for the grown-ups too with a lil wasabi mayo.
This is guaranteed to blow your kids mind! The secret to glowing food is tonic water apparently. When exposed to black light, quinine, which is tonic water’s main ingredient, will make food that’s mixed with it glow in the dark!
You can make juice but I think the most fun is making jello - mix it 50-50 tonic water/plain water and your clan will soon be eating this fun treat in absolute awe.
Check out the site’s other fun suggestions: Magic Milk Colours, Giant Bubbles, and more! I’ve bookmarked this site for future inspiration.
Who can resist freshly baked pretzels? These are easy to make using a shortcut - store-bought frozen bread dough. The flavour variations are endless: garlic powder, parmesan cheese, pickled jalapenos (press into the dough after boiling but before baking), sesame seeds, melted butter, cinnamon and sugar (after baking), and - my fave - plain old kosher salt.
1 lb. loaf frozen bread dough
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup baking soda
1 large egg
1 tbsp kosher salt
Let the bread dough thaw in the refrigerator for about 6-8 hours. You can thaw it on your counter top but you need to make sure to begin making the pretzels as soon as the loaf is soft all the way through but has not began to rise. If the dough rises before you form the pretzels, they will not rise as much later.
Cut the thawed dough into 8 equal parts (about 2 oz. each). Using a small amount of flour, roll the dough pieces out into 24 inch ropes. Remember making clay snakes when you were a child? Use the same technique here. I found that if the dough was too coated in flour, it wouldn’t roll on the counter, it would just slide back and forth and get flat. Form each rope into a pretzel shape by making a “U” with the rope then twisting the two loose ends around each other once.
Bring 5 cups of water and 1/3 cup of baking soda to a boil in a deep skillet. Once it reaches a rolling boil, drop the pretzels in and boil on each side for 30 seconds. I did this in a three pretzel rotation (3 pretzels in the pan at once). When you remove the pretzels from the water, place them on a cooling rack so the excess water can drain away. Preheat your oven to 450 degrees as the pretzels drain. A wide spatula with slats is the perfect tool for transferring the raw pretzels to and from the boiling water.
Once the pretzel bottoms are no longer soggy, transfer them to a baking sheet with either parchment paper or tin foil coated with non-stick spray. Mix one egg yolk with 1 tbsp of water and brush onto the pretzels. Sprinkle salt or whatever other toppings you want onto your pretzels at this time (the yolk glaze helps the toppings stick and makes the nice shiny brown color).
Bake the pretzels for 15 minutes, turning once during the cooking process. Let the pretzels cool enough to handle before adding your preferred seasonings.
Here’s a unique twist on everyone’s favourite, kids and adults alike! This no-bake treat is perfect for small mouths and hands, and nutritionally sound too - it’s loaded with whole grains, protein and fruit, and has a perfect amount of sweetness too.
(Makes about 30 balls)
1/2 cup almond butter
1/2 cup rice syrup
1 cup rice krispies
1 1/2 cups granola
1/4 cup dried cranberries, cherries, blueberries and/or raisins, chopped
Place the almond butter and rice syrup in a small saucepan over low to medium heat and warm for 2 minutes or until it becomes smooth and combined.
Place the remaining ingredients in a bowl and stir to combine.
Pour the warm almond butter mixture into the bowl with the granola mixture and stir to combine.
Please, forgive me for this one. But it’s guaranteed to put a smile on your child’s face (and (s)he’ll definitely have the most unique lunch or snack at school)! You could definitely start a trend with these!
If peanut butter is off limits at your child’s school, use cream cheese as a spread instead.
Ingredients: • 1 hot dog bun (whole wheat is preferable) • 1 tbsp peanut butter (or cream cheese) • 1 tbsp strawberry or other jam (or honey, if preferred) • 1 whole banana • raisins, shredded coconut or chopped peanuts
Spread one inner surface of a split hot dog bun with peanut butter or cream cheese. Spread the other side with jam or honey. Wrap in plastic wrap and place in your child’s lunch bag. Also, pack a whole banana (in the peel) and a small container of toppings, such as raisins, coconut, peanuts or whatever else you can think of.
At lunchtime/snacktime, your child can peel the banana and place it in the bun, sprinkle on the toppings and eat.
How kids can help:
Spread peanut butter and jam on bun.
Pack everything into lunch bag and assemble at lunchtime.
One hardly needs a recipe for such a simple concept as this - but take a look anyway. This very well could be your child’s next favourite snack food. This is simple enough for kids to help you prepare, and fun too.
In case of peanut allergies or if your child can’t take peanut butter to school, omit it - the cream cheese-jam mixture is also a delight!
1/4 cup regular or whipped cream cheese
2 tbsp jam, jelly or preserves
1/3 cup peanut butter, divided
Lavash or tortilla wraps, preferably whole wheat (can be found in the bread section at your grocery)
Place the cream cheese and jam in a bowl and combine until smooth.
Spread 1/2 of the peanut butter on a piece of lavash/wrap and top with 1/2 of the cream cheese/jam mixture.
Roll the lavash/wraps lengthwise into a roll and slice into bite-size wheels, about 1 inch each.
Continue to make the second pinwheel sandwich and slice. Serve.
There are few things more satisfying (and tasty!) than making homemade versions of bland supermarket staples. Applesauce is one of them - I’ve been making it since the little guy started eating solids, and this recipe is one of our faves.
Ingredients: • 2 pounds apples • 1 vanilla bean, halved lengthwise, or 1/2 tsp vanilla extract • Juice from 1 lemon (about 3 tbsp) • 2/3 cup sugar • 1/2 cup water
Directions: 1. Wash, peel, and core the apples. Cut each apple into quarters; cut each quarter in half. Let your child put the apples in a pot. 2. Into the same pot, scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean with the tip of a knife, then toss the pod in too (or add the vanilla extract). Stir in the other ingredients and cover. Cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the apples are softened, about 15 minutes. 3. Remove the vanilla bean pod. If you prefer a smoother sauce, mash the apples lightly with a potato masher.
Tips & Tricks When you’re done, save the vanilla pod for vanilla sugar. Just rinse it, dry it with a paper towel, and put it in a cup of sugar in a sealed container. Store in the refrigerator.
What a healthful, filling and delicious snack or dinner. It’s also a great way to use up leftover brown rice, something I always make too much of, and typical pantry staples. My little one gobbles these up every time.
(Makes 14-16 cakes)
1 cup cooked brown rice
1/2 cup whole wheat bread crumbs
1/2 cup cheddar cheese, grated
3/4 cup frozen corn, defrosted
2 tbsp cilantro, chopped (I tend to sub parsley)
1/2 tsp salt
2 eggs, whisked
2 tbsp canola or grapeseed oil for cooking
1. Combine the first 6 ingredients in a bowl and mix to combine. 2. In a separate bowl, whisk eggs. 3. Add eggs to the rice mixture and mix to combine. 4. Using about a 1/4 cup of the mixture, shape mixture into patties. 5. Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat and add patties, cooking 2 minutes on each side until golden brown. 6. Serve alone or with salsa.
Shape into patties, place on a cookie sheet and freeze for 30 minutes then place in a ziploc bag and freeze up to 4 months. When ready, allow to thaw, then follow step 5.
These might be the coolest snacks around! They’re also easy to transport to school for a mid-day snack - just remove the straw once the chocolate has hardened and wrap or store in a re-usable container.
Ingredients: • 1-2 bananas • 4 oz (110 g) chocolate – milk or plain • dried coconut • sprinkles
Directions: 1. Peel the banana and trim off the ends. Chop the flesh into 6 pieces.
2. Break the chocolate into a heatproof bowl. Put the bowl over a pan of hot water to melt the chocolate, stirring occasionally. Leave to cool slightly.
3. Push a straw through the banana, then drizzle melted chocolate over each piece. (Don’t worry if it’s not perfect – it will still taste delicious!)
4. Roll the chocolate covered banana in the coconut or sprinkles. Let the chocolate harden, then serve.
For a variation on this savoury popcorn: Toss popcorn with melted butter, 1 tsp. of ground sumac and 3 tbsp of Parmesan cheese. If you are feeling like a sweet snack: Toss popcorn with melted butter and sprinkle with some cinnamon sugar (3 tbsp. granulated sugar and ¼ tsp. ground cinnamon).
1/3 cup popcorn kernels (or about 8 cups/2 litres popped popcorn)
2 tbsp butter
1/2 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp dried Greek oregano
3 tbsp finely grated Parmesan cheese, or to taste
Coarse salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
Pop popcorn kernels in an air popcorn machine according to manufactures directions.
In a small saucepan melt butter over medium-low heat (or alternatively melt butter in microwave). Stir in garlic powder and oregano. Remove from heat. In a large bowl toss the popcorn with the butter mixture to evenly coat. Season with the Parmesan cheese and salt and pepper to taste and toss to evenly coat. Alternatively toss the popcorn with the flavourings in smaller batches if easier to work with.
1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees. 2. Remove the stems from the strawberries and rinse. 3. Place the strawberries and honey in a blender and puree until smooth. 4. Pour the mixture on to a parchment paper-lined baking sheet and spread with the back of a spoon or spatula in a large rectangle (11 x 15 inches or so), making sure that the mixture is completely even. 5. Bake for 2-3 hours (or until it’s dry and not sticky to the touch). Remember, cooking times will vary depending on how thick you spread your mixture and how much water (juice) is naturally in the fruit. *Every oven is different, so the cooking time maybe less then 2 hours if your oven tends to be hot. 6. Allow to sit and cool at room temperature. It takes several hours for the fruit to soften up (when you first take the leather out of the oven the edges will be a bit dry and crispy, but if you allow it to sit overnight, it softens up nicely). 7. Cut with a knife or pizza cutter into strips or use scissors, keeping the paper on, and then roll the leather into “roll ups”. 8. Serve.
Aww - how sweet are these lunchbox notes, available via free download from Just Living the Wee Life, with sayings like ‘Miss you’ and ‘Super star’. While your big kid might cringe, the little ones always seem to appreciate it. There’s also a page where you can fill in the blank spots with your own cutesy sayings.
A nutritious and tasty accompaniment to veggies, pita chips, or scrambled eggs, as my son discovered this evening.
2 large garlic cloves, chopped
1 15-oz. can garbanzo beans (chick-peas), drained
1/3 cup tahini (sesame seed paste)
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup chopped drained roasted red peppers from jar
Directions: With processor running, drop garlic through feed tube and mince. Scrape down sides of work bowl. Add chick-peas, tahini and lemon juice; process until mixture is smooth. Add roasted peppers; process until peppers are finely chopped. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer hummus to small bowl. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill. Bring to room temperature before serving.)
If the idea of salmon baby food sounds unappealing, consider this: salmon and similar fish are high in omega-3 fatty acids, which are critical for brain, eye, and nerve development. What if you could give your child this essential nutrient in a convenient baby food form?
Both breast milk and formula are a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, but when children begin to eat solid foods, they typically do not get enough of the fatty acid because it is not found in many items. At least one diet expert would like to make sure young children get the omega-3s they need.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
The brain is approximately 60 percent fat by dry weight, and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), the most plentiful omega-3 in the brain, is crucial to brain health and infant development. In fact, a newborn’s brain is 50 percent DHA, higher than seen in older children and adults. The fatty acid passes through the placenta to the fetus during pregnancy and to nursing infants through breast milk.
Given the importance of DHA in brain development, the World Health Organization recommended that DHA be added to infant formulas at levels similar to those found in mothers’ milk. Once children stop nursing, however, their source of omega-3 largely disappears as well. Food sources of the fatty acid, and especially DHA, is primarily fatty fish such as salmon, herring, and tuna, and lesser amounts in flaxseed and walnuts. These are not typical baby foods.
Salmon Baby Food That is why registered dietitian Susan Brewer, who is also a food science professor at the University of Illinois, believes it is time to introduce salmon baby food to young children. She also would like to see young children accept fish baby food for another reason. “Children’s food preferences are largely developed by the time they’re five,” she says, “so I urge parents to help their kids develop a taste for seafood early.”
Although some parents in the United States may be wrinkling up their noses, Brewer has the support of the American Heart Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics
for her idea. Fish-based baby food is not new to some parents, as it is available in Asia, the United Kingdom, and Italy.
Brewer has experimented and found that red salmon withstands the baby food production process better than the pink variety. She has tried adding different ingredients to the baby food, including pureed salmon eggs and bone meal, which enhance nutrition.
One advantage of salmon is that it is mild-tasting fish, and when it is added to toddler dinners, “they remind me of that salmon and cream cheese dip you have during the holidays,” says Brewer.
In a panel of parents who taste-tested the salmon baby food, Brewer found that 81 percent of the participants said they would offer the salmon baby food to their children, and this included parents who do not eat salmon themselves. Parents who are concerned about the amount of omega-3s their children need may find themselves shopping for salmon baby food in the near future.
Peas, thin slices of carrot or snow peas, 1 black olive (pitted and halved), a few fresh chives, and scallion, to garnish
Preheat the broiler to high. Put the cheese, egg yolk, cream, and Worcestershire sauce into a bowl and mash together. Season to taste with pepper. Spread the cheese mixture on the cut sides of the toasted muffin, spreading right to the edges. Place the cheese-topped muffin halves about 3 inches away from the heat source (one rack down from normal broiling position) — don’t have them too close, as the egg in the mixture can make them brown very quickly. Broil for 3 to 4 minutes, until the cheese has melted and is golden and bubbling. Decorate the cooked muffin halves with peas for eyes and strips of carrot or snow peas for ears, half an olive for a nose, chives for whiskers, and scallion for teeth. Serve immediately.