Sunday, September 30, 2012

Pairing Picture Books With Food

Don't your kids just love picture books!? There are so many good ones! We love pairing picture books with food. Above, we paired our Sausage and Pea Pasta with Strega Nona by Tomie DePaola, it's a big hit with the kiddos. Pairing books and food make for a great Saturday afternoon activity and offers plenty of opportunities to create fun childhood memories.

We also love these books about food...

Yummy Yucky by Leslie Patricelli is a fun book for your little tots! It's silly and fun, perfect for older infants and toddlers who are just being introduced to the world of food.

How do Dinosaurs Eat Their Food by Jane Yolen. This book is all about table manners and food etiquette. It's never too early to start!

The Sandwich Swap by Queen Rania of Jordan Al Abdullah is a fantastic book for picky eaters who are fearful to try something new. This is a cute tale with a powerful story.

12 Golden Rules for Tackling Picky Eaters

Ok, so these are our 12 Golden Rules. The things we know work, absolutely and without a doubt. It takes time and effort, that is for sure, and it may seem extensive (it kind of is) but it's easier to apply these rules than it is to have a picky eater for the next 18 years.
You are probably naturally implementing a bunch of these rules in your home as it is. And sometimes you won't be able to apply all 12 ALL THE TIME. Totally cool. Just knowing where to begin is all you need. Start by starting!

1. Model good behavior. Kids are more likely to eat the type of foods you are eating. If you are adventurous with food, they are more likely to mimic that behavior.

2. "No thank you bite," you don't have to eat it but you have to try it. It pays in the long run to be focused on the effort made in trying something new. Give them incentive to try again later. It can take a child 7-12 times before they acquire the taste, but once they do it will feel like you won the super bowl.

3. Keep meals fun and free of anxiety. This can be a really difficult one for us parents. Tell stories, ask them about their day, sing songs, create meal time traditions and most of all be present with your little ones. This will create a lifetime of childhood memories and a real love of food. When a power struggle is created around meal times a negative association with food can develop.

4. Repetition is KEY. This is one of the most important rules. If you want your child to acquire the taste of a new food, try, try, try again! (In small, unthreatening portions, free of anxiety); persistence and patience is vital and pays off, often just when you think of giving up.

5. Talk about the food, how it tastes, smells, feels. Use all five senses. Create a curious and joyous sensory experience.

6. Try the same ingredients in different preparations. Broil, sauté, grill, bake, steam, mash, puree, dice, you get the idea. Changing the preparation transforms the texture and flavor. A chewy, sweet oven roasted tomato tastes different than a juicy, seedy raw tomato. Which textures do your kids like? In order to find out there often has to be culinary exploration.

7. Teach your kids to fill up on healthy stuff. Avoid the habit of serving unhealthy snacks after an unfinished meal (or before).

8. Teach them to listen to their bodies. Urging little ones to clean their plates is so tempting. We want them to have full bellies and panic often ensues if we think they haven't had enough. This is normal for us parents. But by letting them stop when they're done we teach them to listen to their bodies which prevents over eating in the long run.

9. Water and milk are the best options for kids - everything else in moderation. Juice is full of sugar and for picky eaters this often satisfies their appetite before meals and derails your attempts to keep them well nourished.

10. Cook together! Dub your child 'Kitchen Helper.' Children are more likely to try foods that they've had a hand in making.

11. Fresh non-processed ingredients are best. Junk food and processed foods have preservatives that are highly addictive and cause type 2 diabetes. Even if your child is picky and thin, it can be easy to assume that these processed foods won't have a long term affect. Food preferences begin early in life. Breaking this processed food addiction can be very difficult. It's not enough to have their bodies filled with food, these bodies need to be filled with nourishment. We know that fresh ingredients aren't as inexpensive and that being on a budget is tough. Use frozen foods and buy in bulk when possible. All processed and junk foods should be limited and used in moderation.

12. Not a punishment nor a prize. "If you eat all your broccoli, I'll give you ice cream." We've ALL used this trick. It's a hard one to pass up. Recent scientific studies have shown that rewarding children this way will zap their motivation to maintain those healthy choices in the long run. Plus, this method teaches kids that some foods are good (ice cream) and some foods are bad (broccoli). We're not saying to not give your kids ice cream, we're saying avoid the bribes.

Genius Mom Idea

You know when you are out and you just see some really put together mom with a great idea? Saw some genius mom slice open an avocado and start to spoon it out to her toddler at a park bench. It looked GOOD! But the genius was in the way she sliced the avocado, just the top so that she could hold it like a cup. Totally stealing that idea.

Do you guys have any genius mom ideas to share? We can't wait to hear!

Sudden Change in Appetite?

It's a knee jerk reaction to panic when your child suddenly stops eating as much as they used to. Our first thought; they need to be force fed! (Yeah, that one always works out). Truth is, your child's body might be telling you something. Often a sudden change in appetite can signal an oncoming cold or virus before other symptoms begin to show. Start filling up on fluids and offer plenty of fruit to help with hydration. In our experience, children are more open to eating fruit when feeling ill. Think jarred peaches, kiwis, mango, watermelon- sweet, succulent and juicy.

Juice and Soda Detox


Gave your kid a bit of juice everyday and now it's all they want to drink? It's a problem for lots of people! You are not alone. The trick is watering it down. Now we know what you are thinking, yeah yeah, but my kid can taste the difference. Start gradually and water it down more and more every few days. You can start with as little as 2 tablespoons of water and slowly graduate to half the serving. The goal is to get your child to actually drink water on it's own. We know right now they seem like crack addicts. This method WILL work for you. You just need patience, consistency and a bit of sneakiness.


Soda detox is hard, but not impossible. It doesn't help that everywhere you go there is a Coke ad. First things first, you have to clear your fridge of soda completely. Or hide it, REALLY, REALLY well (if they see you drinking it, game over). Then, wean kids off sugary high calorie sodas by making healthy 'sodas' at home. Just a very small amount of 100% natural fruit juice with sparkling water. This is a great alternative to soda yet it still gives that bubbly experience that we all love. Eventually you can get your kids to drink sparkling water with a squeeze of fresh fruit juice such as grapefruit, orange or lime.

Do you have great detox ideas? If so please share!

Quick Gluten Free Snack Ideas

We've been getting some questions about gluten free snack suggestions. Here are some of our favorites for your kiddies. Freeze dried strawberries from Trader Joes, traditional apples and bananas with peanut butter, rice crackers with hummus. All healthy, quick and delicious! Go to town!

Low Iron? Great Food Fixes Here!

After your child turns 1, they become increasingly susceptible to anemia. This can carry on into Elementary years and on up. Even if your child is not anemic, they often don't get enough iron. Here are some great sources of iron:

Dark meat chicken
Dark, leafy greens (think shakes if you can't get them to eat the cooked stuff, we've got some on the blog!)
Raisins and prunes (whole wheat raisin bread, raisin bran, prunes make a great snack...)
Egg yolks
Iron-enriched cereals
Chickpeas, beans, lentils, soybeans

Fruit Sculptures


Looking for something fun and creative to do? How about making some of these! Time in the kitchen together doesn't have to mean cooking. This may even get your kiddos to not only eat fruit but to try new varieties they've never tasted. Get creative with after school snacks!

5 Tips for Cooking With Kids

1. Mentally prepare yourself and reduce your expectations. You will not be able to cook as efficiently as you normally do. There WILL be a mess. Boundaries will have to be set, i.e., "Mommy uses the big knife." There will be spills and missteps. Reminding yourself of this before you start prepares you to just enjoy the process of cooking vs. the end game. Mentally preparing yourself will keep the mood light and fun.

2. Chose a recipe that has a lot of kid friendly steps, like most baking recipes. OR give them a kid friendly task. For example, if you are making baked chicken fingers, have them make the BBQ sauce or ketchup. We've got great healthy recipes for condiments (that exclude all the sugar and preservatives) and have them make those! Kids love to mix and pour. Dub them your little mad scientist.

3. Give them a rundown of rules and boundaries BEFORE you begin to cook. Nothing ruins a good parent/child activity more than being told 'no' a thousand times while in the midst of things. Before getting started, have a 'chefs meeting' and tell them the plan. Tell them what they are in charge of and what is off limits. "Mommy will do the chopping and you will do the mixing." Safety first!

4. Have them taste as you prepare the food. We all know that kids who help prepare meals are more likely to try the meal. Have your child taste components as they are being made, talk about how the food's texture changes as it's cooked. Ask lots of questions, "How is it different now that it's cooked? Does it feel softer?"

5. Choose recipes on the shorter side. Making something with an hour worth of prep may be too long for your little one. Stick to time limits you know your child can manage. We love making homemade pizzas because they don't take too long and they're fun to assemble. Choose your recipe wisely!

Happy Cooking!

5 Ways to Make Meal Time Easy

1. Plan ahead, know what you are going to make in advance. Always have pantry staples on hand for a quick fix.

2. Start with healthy meals early in life and keep them simple. Frozen veggies, healthy grains and a lean protein can be made simply, easily and FAST.

3. Eat as a family. We know schedules are complicated. Shoot for family meals on weekends if they aren't possible on the weekdays.

4. Maintain a routine as much as humanly possible. Children thrive on routine. Having their body clocks set to eat at specific times of the day makes it easier on them. They like predictability.

5. Use ingredients your family loves in a new way, branch out so that it doesn't get boring. There are so many variations on the same ingredients. Change up your cooking methods, grill, sauté, puree, steam, mash, you get the idea.

Are they Not a Fan of Breakfast? Smoothies!

Lots of kids (and adults for that matter) aren't fans of breakfast. Yet, we all know that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, blah, blah, blah. Point is, we're all scared of our kids starting their day without full little bellies. The answer is SMOOTHIES.

Here are a couple recipes to try, go ahead and just eyeball measurements.

Cinnamon Almond Smoothie
almond milk
almond butter (we like the raw Trader Joe's almond butter)

Tropical Island Smoothie
coconut milk, unsweetened
frozen pineapple
frozen banana
frozen mango

Green Smoothie (call it something fun like Monster's Inc. smoothie or Incredible Hulk...)

Super Hero Shake

Our Top 5 Super Market Shortcuts

1. Frozen Peas and Broccoli
2. Precooked Roasted Chicken
3. Canned Beans (you can find BPA free now)
4. Whole Wheat Pre-made Pizza Dough
5. Cut and Cubed Butternut Squash

We use these ingredients to get fast healthy meals on the table, because who has time to make things from scratch everyday with kids running around the house. What are your favorites?

Texture or Flavor?

Ok, lets talk about texture and flavor for a minute because getting a handle on what flavors and textures your kids like is a game changer when it comes to acquiring tastes.

It's NEVER as simple as "I Don't Like It."

It's either a texture or a flavor problem.

How do we solve the flavor and texture mystery? Ask your kids why they don't like the food, OR in turn, why they like those foods that they love. We once heard a boy with special needs we were nannying say that he didn't like peas because they were too juicy. Interesting that he would experience peas that way. It made us realize that by transforming the pea, into a split pea soup for example, would change the texture completely.

So get all Nancy Drew about it tonight at dinner, see what kind of culinary mysteries you can solve!

Homemade Pretzels

At a loss for a fun activity with your kids in the kitchen? This is a fantastic snack and a great rainy day activity. You can buy the dough pre made or make it yourself. The fun part is coming up with the pretzel shapes. Bet your kids can come up with some other fun shapes!

(Makes 8 small, 4 medium, or 2 large pretzels)

1 pound (approximately) ready-made whole wheat dough
Water for boiling
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 teaspoons kosher salt (optional)

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.

2. Bring a pot of water to a boil.

3. Meanwhile, separate the dough into even size balls (depending on the size pretzel you want).

4. Roll each ball of dough out into a long even tube.

5. Cross one end of the tube over the other (making the tube into a circle with its ends making an x shape).

6. Twist the ends again, making the x shape into a twist.

7. Flip the twisted ends into the center of the circle and press the ends onto the circle’s sides.

8. Boil the pretzels for 30 seconds then transfer them with a slotted spoon onto a non-stick baking sheet.

9. Brush with oil and sprinkle with salt (if desired). Bake in the middle rack of the oven for 10 minutes (depending on the size of the pretzels), or until golden brown.

Goldilocks Grits

Putting a new and delicious twist on an old classic. Grits are a great meal for kids, heck, for the whole family! Add some pureed butternut squash and now we're talking. Maybe add a bit of cheese? Mmmhmmm. Pair with a baked chicken and you've got dinner made. This also makes for a great breakfast!

(Makes about two small servings)

1/2 cup corn grits (regular, not instant)
1 1/2 cups water
1/4 cup squash baby food (about 2.5 ounces) or freshly roasted and pureed *
1/4 cup cheddar cheese
Salt & pepper to taste 

1. Bring water to a boil.

2. Slowly stir in the grits and turn the heat down. 

3. Cook, stirring continuously for at least 5 minutes. 

4. Stir in the cheese, squash, salt and pepper to taste.

* Want to make your own puree? It's easy. Cut butternut squash into cubes and put on a pan in a 350°degree oven for 20-30 minutes or until fork tender. Add to a food processor using a tablespoon of water. Add salt and pepper.

Veggie Burger

In our house, veggie burgers are a pantry staple. Sometimes you just need to eat something healthy, easy and pre made. Throw together one of these babies with some greek yogurt spread and your kids will be happily eating away. Little ones will love mixing the yogurt spread together while you slice the cucumbers.

One word on veggie burgers, they are not all made equal. In fact MANY of them are not so good for you. Read the ingredients list carefully.

(Makes one large serving)

1 whole wheat English muffin
1 tofu veggie burger
Sliced cucumbers or radishes (optional)
Greek yogurt Spread (recipe below)

For the Greek yogurt Spread:

1 cup nonfat plain yogurt
1 tablespoon dried dill
1 teaspoon of lemon pepper
Dash of salt
Sprinkle of lemon juice (optional)

1. Mix all ingredients together in a small bowl until smooth. Set aside.

For the burger:

1. Toast the English muffin.

2. Meanwhile, bring a small frying pan to medium heat. Pan sauté the burger patty.

3. Spread the yogurt mixture onto the English muffin, add the patty and sliced cucumber.

Cheese Broils

This meal came to us out of sheer laziness. Yes, you read that right. After a long day, sometimes the last thing you want to do is spend more than five minutes in the kitchen. Between homework and housework, weeknights can be a killer. This is the best hot, healthy, quick fix when you just can't muster the energy. The most time consuming part will be preheating the broiler. Can we talk about the broiler for a minute? The broiler just doesn't get enough praise. In the broiler you can make something in minutes. MINUTES! This meal takes three. We might just have to do a series of posts on the broiler because it is truly the most underutilized and fastest tool in your kitchen.

By the way, we added tomato paste to this recipe because it is an amazing source of nutrients for your little one. It's an antioxidant-rich concoction that can help improve the function of your blood vessels. Spoon it on everything people!

(Serves 1 kid)

1 whole wheat English muffin
2 slices deli ham (or your favorite deli meat)
2 slices Monterey Jack cheese
3 tablespoons tomato paste spread (recipe below)

For the tomato paste spread:

2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon olive oil

1. In a small bowl, mix together the tomato paste and olive oil. Set aside.

For the broil:

1. Toast the English muffin.

2. Place the toasted English muffin slices face up on a foil lined baking sheet. Spread each side with the tomato paste mixture then top with the bacon and cheese.

3. Broil on the top rack for approximately 1-3 minutes or until the cheese melts. Keep checking on it, broiling happens super fast!

Healthy 'Baked' Beans

Do your kiddos love baked beans? Canned baked beans are notoriously unhealthy, with loads of sugar and fat, no wonder they taste amazing. This recipe is packed full of flavor, simple to make, and above all, healthy. Beans are packed full of fiber and protein. This is a dish that you will want to make again and again. (Or just make a big 'ol batch and freeze and reheat). Comforting and delicious!

(Serves 2 kids)

1 can of Cannellini beans rinsed and drained
1 nitrate free bacon slice, diced
1/2 cup orange juice
1/4 cup onion, minced
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons tomato paste

1. In a small saucepan heat the diced bacon at medium heat until it begins to sweat.

2. Add onion and cook until translucent.

3. Add the orange juice, tomato paste and brown sugar, stir until smooth. 

4. Once the mixture is smooth, add the beans. Heat until cooked through and serve.

Cinnamon and Peanut Butter Sandwich

Sick of old pb and j? This is what we threw together today. Always working on new lunchbox ideas, simple and familiar is often best. Slightly different but still hits the spot.

(Makes about one serving)

2 slices whole wheat bread
2 tablespoons organic peanut butter
1 teaspoon agave (or honey)
Dash of cinnamon 

1. Spread the peanut butter on one side of the bread.

2. Drizzle the agave over the peanut butter and sprinkle with cinnamon. Top with second slice of bread.

Spooky Squash Soup

We love a hearty fall soup, don't you? Butternut squash is one of those versatile veggies that bring so much richness to a dish. This soup is perfect for kids, it's packed full of flavor with a thick and creamy consistency. Make your own topping design with toothpicks or squeeze bottles. We spooned Greek yogurt on top of the soup and used a toothpick to fill in the jack-o-lantern with orange eyes, nose and mouth. Pretty spooky, right? Wonder what kind of cool designs your kids come up with-let us know!

Tips on getting your kids to actually EAT this:
Try putting this delicious, thick soup in a cute tea cup or other special cup. Maybe even an espresso cup and then fill it up repeatedly. Make a game of the refills, "Please Sir, may I have some more?" "MOOOORE????????" You get the idea.

(Serves two kids)

12 ounces butternut squash (bought peeled and diced)
1 cup chicken stock
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt & pepper to taste

1. Heat the olive oil in a small pot on medium heat.

2. Add the garlic and brown for 1-2 minutes.

3. Once the garlic is slightly starting to brown add the butternut squash.

4. Stir and gently cook for three to four minutes.

5. Add the chicken stock.

6. Season and cover. Turn the heat down and let simmer until the squash is fork tender (about 15 minutes).

7. Puree in a blender or in the pot with a stick blender until completely smooth.

Cheese and Bean Quesadilla

You want your kids to eat healthy food? This recipe is a winner because it's simple, healthy and so familiar. Subbing with whole wheat tortillas adds protein. This is one of those quick throw together comfort foods that packs in the protein and fiber.
(Makes about one large serving)

2 whole wheat tortillas
1/4 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
1/3 cup Cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
Salt to taste
Barbecue sauce for dipping (recipe follows)

For the barbecue sauce:

3 tablespoons ketchup
2 teaspoons Worchester sauce
1/2 teaspoon prune baby food
1/2 teaspoon orange juice
Dash of cinnamon 

1. Mix all of the ingredients together. Keeps well in the refrigerator.

For the quesadilla: 

1. Place one of the tortillas on a work surface and cover with the beans. 

2. Lightly mash the beans and spread them to the edges of the tortilla. 

3. Sprinkle with salt (if desired) and cheese.  

4. Heat a large frying pan to medium heat. Spray with cooking spray and place the tortilla in the skillet (tortilla side down). Top with remaining tortilla. 

5. Cook on each side for 2-3 minutes (spraying the second side with cooking spray before you flip it).  

6. Slice into wedges and serve with barbecue sauce as a dip.

Cucumber Sandwiches

This recipe is just delightful. DELIGHTFUL. 1. Because it's fast and simple 2. Because it just tastes awesome. Whether it's tea time or a lunchbox sandwich, this is a winner! Use cookie cutters and have your kids help!  

Peeled cucumber slices
100% whole wheat bread
Fat free Greek yogurt*
Dried dill
Pepper to taste

1. Peel and thinly slice cucumbers.

2. Mix greek yogurt with seasonings, have the kids help!

3. Spread yogurt on bread, place slices on top add bread and serve.

* For younger children, we recommend using whole Greek Yogurt.

Egg Sandwich

What can we say about an egg sandwich. We love egg mcmuffins? Ok, well we do. Who doesn't? We all know hitting the drive through is not the healthy option even though the kids beg for it (and it seems so darn tempting). Making it at home really isn't bad. Switch up the bread for whole wheat and you are halfway to deliciousness. Now, we know some kids aren't into whole wheat. Well, their taste buds do adjust as long as they are eating it consistently. We like to buy only whole wheat for home and then enjoy white bread when we're out and about. Starting kids on healthy food early is best, they adapt much quicker.

By the way, we added tomato paste to this recipe because it makes it taste GREAT aaaaaaand it's rich in antioxidants. Important for growing little ones.

(Makes one serving)

1 egg
1 cheddar cheese slice
1 Canadian bacon slice
whole wheat English muffin
tomato paste spread (recipe below)

For the tomato paste spread:

2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil

1. In a small bowl, mix together the tomato paste and olive oil. Set aside.

For the sandwich:

1. Toast the English muffin.

2. Meanwhile, panfry the egg and Canadian bacon in a large fry pan.

3. Spread tomato mixture on English muffin. Top with Canadian bacon, cheese slice, and fried egg.

Turkey Wrap

Another lunchbox idea for ya. This one is super delicious. You can get creative with the way you cut the wrap; here we cut it to look like a tree trunk. What truly makes this wrap great is the condiments. Healthy condiments are really hard to come by, so just make your own. It's super simple and will give your kids something to do (stir) in the kitchen.

(Makes one serving)

1 whole wheat tortilla
2-3 turkey slices
1 provolone cheese slice
1 small bunch of alfalfa sprouts (optional)
1 tablespoon yogurt spread (recipe follows)

For the yogurt spread:

1 cup nonfat plain yogurt            
1 tablespoon dried dill                                 
1 teaspoon of lemon pepper
Dash of salt
Sprinkle of lemon juice (optional)

1. Mix all ingredients together in a small bowl until smooth.

For the wrap:

1. Place the tortilla on a work surface and spread with yogurt spread, leaving the edges bare.

2. Top with turkey, cheese, and alfalfa sprouts.

3. Starting at one end, tuck and roll the tortilla tightly into a wrap.

Black Bean Dip

Ok, so by now you've realized that we love black beans! And what's not to love? It's super healthy, packed full of protein, vitamins and fiber. Plus it keeps bellies full longer. Now we've done black beans and rice, black bean soup, and here's the dip. Kids love dip. Let's face it, dips make life just a little bit better. This dip is really simple and super easy. Encourage your kids to create a design on top with chips. Plating is everything. You eat with your eyes first! This is a great dish for kids in the kitchen who can help add spices and seasonings.

(Serves two kiddos)

1 can of black beans
4 tbsp Greek yogurt
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp salsa
Garlic powder to taste
Salt to taste

1. In a small blender or food processor, blend all ingredients until smooth or until desired consistency.

Dracula's Blood Smoothie

Do you struggle getting enough food into your child's belly? Sometimes they just don't want to eat. It can be infuriating and filled with anxiety. Smoothies are a great way to pack in the nutrients. We gave this one a fancy name because hey, why the heck not! Halloween is approaching!

(Serves two kiddos)

1 ripe banana
1/4 cup frozen blueberries
1/4 cup frozen raspberries
1/2 cup red fruit juice (such as cranberry or cherry)
1 teaspoon agave or honey
1 tablespoon of cocoa
6 ice cubes

1. Add all ingredients into a blender.

2. Blend until smooth and enjoy!

'Kettle Corn' Pumpkin Seeds

WE LOVE THE FALL!!! Have you all gone to the pumpkin patch yet?? Do your kids like to get a big pumpkin or a little one? Carving pumpkins is one of those traditions that stay with you for life. Baking pumpkin seeds is just the icing on the cake. Try this recipe to change up an old classic.

(Serves two kiddos)

1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
2 teaspoons agave
kosher salt to taste

1. Stir the pumpkin seeds and agave together. Spread evenly onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.

2. Sprinkle with salt.

3. Bake at 350°F for 10 minutes. Let cool slightly before eating.


You may have never heard of this Cuban dish, but it will quickly become a family favorite. This delicious ground beef dish served over rice is fast, healthy and makes for great leftovers. We like to use brown rice because it packs that extra fiber. This meal would also be exceptional on our cauliflower mash. If your kids love ground beef, this is a great meal to try!

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, diced

3 large cloves of garlic, minced
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 pound ground beef
3 tablespoons tomato paste
½ teaspoon oregano
½ teaspoon cumin
¼ cup green olives stuffed with pimentos, sliced
2 cups beef or chicken stock
2 tablespoons raisins
2 tablespoons capers
Salt & pepper to taste 

1. In a large pan, heat the olive oil on medium heat. Add the onions, garlic, and bell pepper then sauté until softened.

2. Add the ground beef to the pan; break into small pieces while browning the meat.

3. Stir in the tomato paste and olives then add the stock.

4. Bring to a simmer then add the oregano, cumin, salt and pepper.

Serve with brown rice.

Superhero Shake

Ok, this recipe is a winner. It is super successful in the kid crowd. First off, the color is gorgeous and this shake has spinach which you can't even taste! We're betting that you are going to love this shake just as much as your kids. It's packed with protein, calcium, iron, and vitamins. It can be hard to get those fresh leafy greens into your little one's diet, and yet the nutrients carried by leafy greens are vital to your child's health. Unless your kid is down for a salad (and YAY if they are!) then shakes are the way to go. Give this shake a rocking name and you will get far.

But if your kid doesn't like anything green, we recommend making this shake when they aren't looking. Every mom and dad has got to have their secret weapon, the opaque cup. After they drink it up, tell them what's in it! Tell them how strong their body is going to be with all that spinach!

(Serves 2-3 kiddos)

3/4 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
1/4 cup milk
5 ice cubes
2 tablespoons agave or honey (or to taste)
1 cup fresh spinach
2 ripe bananas

1. In a blender, combine the yogurt, milk, ice, and agave until smooth.

2. Add in the spinach and banana.

3. Puree until completely smooth.

Wacky Watermelon Cooler

Ever had agua fresco? It's basically delicious fruit water. Perfectly hydrating for those kiddies on a hot summer day without the added sugar and calories. This is a fun one to make, takes a bit of elbow grease but will be a big hit for everyone in the family. We recommend making a big batch for a fun summer party or get together. It's also a great activity to do in the kitchen with your kiddos.

(Serves 5 kiddos)

3 cups cubed watermelon
3 cups cold filtered water
Squeeze of lemon

1. Blend all ingredients together.

2. Use a strainer to seperate pulp from liquid.

3. Chill in the fridge, stir and serve!

Cinnamon Tortilla Dippers

This is a fun, quick, easy recipe when you need a healthy, sweet snack. Again, dipping is not only super fun for kids but keeps them busy for a while ;) Healthy and sweet, it's a perfect sub for a processed treat.

(Serves 1 kiddo)

1 whole wheat tortilla
1 teaspoon agave or honey
1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon (or to taste)
Applesauce for dipping (recipe below)

For the applesauce:

4 apples, peeled, cored and diced
1 cup water
1 teaspoon cinnamon

1. Put all of the ingredients in a small saucepan over medium heat.

2. Cover and let simmer for 10 minutes - 15 minutes, until the apples are very tender.

3. Remove from heat and smash the apples with a fork until the desired consistency is achieved.

For the dippers:

1. Preheat the oven to 375°F.

2. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper (or foil sprayed with cooking spray).

3. Lay the tortilla on the sheet and spray both sides with cooking spray.

4. Drizzle agave over the tortilla and spread evenly with a spoon. Sprinkle with the cinnamon.

5. Bake for 5-10 minutes, until golden brown and crispy.

6. Let cool for five minutes then cut or break the tortilla into chips.

Monster Muffins

Baking with kids is one of the best activities in the kitchen. Lots of pouring, measuring and stirring. These muffins are hearty, healthy and sweet. We love piping on cool designs with greek yogurt, like this scull and crossbones for halloween. 

(Serves 6 kiddos)

1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1 egg
1/4 cup agave
1/4 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup zucchini, grated coarsely
1 ripe banana, mashed
1/4 cup walnuts, chopped (optional)

1. In a large bowl, combine the flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and cloves. Set aside.

2. In a separate bowl, mix together the egg, agave, oil and vanilla. Add to the dry ingredients, stir just to combine.

3. Mix in the zucchini, banana, and walnuts. Pour evenly six ways into a muffin tin lined with paper cupcake holders.

4. Bake at 325°F for 20-25 minutes. Let cool before eating.

Toast with Olive Oil

Something has to be said for the snack you don't have to cook. 100% whole wheat bread with olive oil is the magic combination and a healthy alternative to butter. It's super tasty and keeps those little bellies full for a long time. This is great for breakfast as well as snack and a big hit amongst the little kid crowd.  

(Serves 1 kiddo)

1 slice whole wheat bread
1-2 teaspoons olive oil

1. Toast the bread.

2. Drizzle while warm with olive oil.

Greek Yogurt Pops

Store bought popsicles are full of sugar, artificial color, flavoring and maybe a shot of fruit juice, if you're lucky.  Why not give your kids a delicious frozen treat that has protein and potassium without the high fructose?  Kids will love helping making these, too.  There are many popsicle shapes and molds available in stores or online that are lots of fun to use.

Measurements will depend on the size of your popsicle molds, so here are the basics:

Greek yogurt
Skim milk
Banana (and any other fruit you have around the house)
Agave, if extra sweetness is needed

1. Blend ingredients until they make a nice smoothie-like consistency. Add agave last (only if more sweetness is needed).

2. Pour into popsicle molds, freeze and enjoy!

Black Beans and Rice

This meal is a must in any house. The black bean is one of nature's super foods and is perfect for filling those little bellies with protein and fiber. It is fast, easy, healthy and has a ton of versatility. Make with brown rice and you've got a great side to any meal. Throw it in a whole wheat tortilla to make a burrito. 

Now a word on textures... The texture of a bean can often be difficult for a child. We suspect it's the skin of the bean that can throw little ones off. If your child doesn't seem to like the texture, check out our pureed soup and our bean dip for a smoother consistency. Enjoy!

(Makes about 4 servings)

2 cans of black beans
2 large cloves of garlic
1/2 chopped onion
1/2 chopped green bell pepper
1 bay leaf
1 tsp cumin
2 tsp oregano
4 tbsp of balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Add minced garlic, chopped onion and chopped green pepper to medium sized pot on medium heat.

2. When garlic, onions and peppers have cooked down, add remaining ingredients and let simmer for 10 minutes. 

3. Before plating stir in the 4 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar.

4. Remove bay leaf and serve with brown or white rice. Enjoy!

Savory Greek Yogurt Dip

What is not to love about this dip? Seriously?! Greek yogurt is one of those amazing foods that pack a ton of protein in a small helping. Perfect for our kids right? Although lots of kids aren't too big on fruit yogurt. This is healthy dip! Do you know what that means? It means you'll be saying phrases like, did you finish all your dip? It doesn't get any better than that.

1 cup nonfat plain yogurt
1 tablespoon dried dill
1 teaspoon of lemon pepper
Dash of salt
1 teaspoon garlic powder
Sprinkle of lemon juice  

1. Mix all ingredients together in a small bowl until smooth. Serve and enjoy!

Tofu Noodle Stir Fry

This is a pantry staple dish for us. Why, because it's fast, healthy, kid approved and EASY. Did you know that soba noodles are packed with protein? Yep you heard. This is really one of those awesome dishes that hit the spot on a weeknight. We're talking 15-20 minutes in the kitchen. It's also got plenty of room for flexibility. Your kids like mushrooms? Add mushrooms, your kids like peas, add peas! Your kids like... you get the idea. Anyway, since this is one of those real fast meals, we like to hand out veggies while cooking. Carrot sticks are a great choice while making fun conversation with the little guys.

(Serves about four people)

1 pound package extra firm tofu (previously marinated in soy sauce and refrigerated)
1/4 cup soy sauce1 tablespoon sesame oil
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1/2 pound soba noodles (or whole wheat spaghetti)
2 teaspoons sesame oil (or to taste)

1. Cube tofu and put in a zip top bag or sealed container with soy sauce. Marinate for at least 15 minutes or overnight.

2. Put a large covered pot of water on high heat. Follow steps below and add the noodles to the water once the water comes to a full boil. Cook the noodles for the amount of time indicated on the box instructions.

3. Bring the olive oil to medium heat in a large sauté pan, and then add the tofu (reserving the marinade).

4. Sauté the tofu until brown on all sides then add the reserved marinade. Add in the onion and garlic powder.

5. After soba noodles have boiled, drain and add to the pan with the tofu. Add sesame oil as a finishing touch.

Loaded Mac and Cheese

Ah yes, mac and cheese. One of the very best dishes of all time. When you say 'Mac and Cheese' you just think kids don't you? Is there any kid who doesn't like mac and cheese? Oh there are, but for the most part this is THE dish of children all across America. Making your own mac and cheese is pretty simple, and many people make excellent versions. Ours is super healthy and delicious.

(Serves about four people)

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup hot milk
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1 cup various grated cheeses (havarti and cheddar recommended)
1/2 pound short cut whole wheat pasta, cooked and drained
1 pound cauliflower, cut into florets
1 pound cooked chicken

1. Put a pot of water on high heat. Follow steps below and add the pasta once the water comes to a full boil. Cook the pasta according to the box instructions.

2. In a large skillet with tall sides, heat the olive oil on medium heat. Once hot, add the cauliflower and cook until tender.

3. Remove the cauliflower and set aside. Add the butter to the pan and let it melt.

4. Add in the flour and stir with a wooden spoon briskly, allowing the flour to absorb the butter and cook.

5. Slowly add the milk while gently stirring. Mix in the cheese a little at a time allowing it to melt gently.

6. Once all the cheese is melted, turn off the heat. Add the cauliflower and drained pasta and stir to incorporate.

Cauliflower and Potato Mash

If your child is a fan of mashed potatoes then this is the recipe for you. Some kids don't care for the texture of cauliflower so we've mashed it and combined it with a traditional favorite, the mashed potato. Did you know that cauliflower is a great source for protein? And if your kids are anything like most, it's hard to get that protein in. Your child will not taste the cauliflower in this dish but that doesn't mean we think that you should keep them in the dark. Tell them all about it! (For some folks, they prefer to tell them AFTER their kids taste it, whatever works) If you kids dig this dish, start adding more cauliflower than potato.

(Makes about 4 large servings)

1 pound potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 pound cauliflower florets
5-6 tablespoons low sodium chicken stock
salt & pepper
onion powder
garlic powder
Suggested seasonings and extras:olive oildried dillfat free Feta cheesehot sauce

1. Boil the potatoes and cauliflower until tender, drain and mash by hand.

2. Slowly add chicken stock, 2 tablespoons at a time until desired consistency is reached.

3. Season to taste with some of our suggested seasonings and extras.

Sausage and Pea Pasta

Over here at Food Fit for Kids we like to talk about ways to get your kids interested in healthy food. We are big advocates for pairing great children's books with healthy meals. Inspired by the children's book Stregga Nona by Tomie Depaola, (pasta floods the city after a magical mishap, totally awesome), we came up with this simple throw together meal. Simple is what we do because as much as we love to get all 'suzy homemaker,' when it comes to cooking for kids we rarely have the time. This dish is hearty, healthy, and fast.

(Serves about four people)

4 chicken sausages
2 cups frozen peas
1/2 pound short whole wheat pasta
4 tablespoons low fat cream cheese
1 tablespoon olive oil

1. Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook according to the box instructions.

2. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet on medium. Push the meat out of the sausage casings into the pan. Throw away the casings.

3. Break up the meat into small bite size pieces with a wooden spoon. Cook thoroughly.

4. Once the meat is cooked add the frozen peas to the pan and stir. Once the peas are cooked, turn off the heat.

5. Add the pasta and cream cheese into the skillet and stir until incorporated.

BBQ Chicken

This is our healthy spin on this delicious comfort food. The key to making this dish healthy is using our homemade BBQ sauce. It's super easy to make. Jarred BBQ sauce is notoriously unhealthy and loaded with sugar. Ours is actually good for your kids. You'll probably be saying "Did you finish all your BBQ sauce?" As with all our other sauces, it's the perfect activity for your kids in the kitchen. Tons of mixing and stirring. This is a no-cook sauce, so give them a space on the counter and let them at it! 

One note about chicken, although white meat is touted as the healthiest, go ahead and use dark meat if your kids prefer it. It contains more iron. Iron deficiency is one of the most common problems in children today and dark meat chicken is a great source. Just go skinless and you're good!

(Serves approximately four people)

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs or breasts
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
BBQ sauce (recipe follows)

For the sauce:
6 tablespoons ketchup
4 teaspoons Worchester sauce
1 teaspoon prune baby food
1 teaspoon orange juice
Dash of cinnamon
Salt and Pepper

1. Mix all of the ingredients together. Set aside.

For the chicken:

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.

2. Place the chicken in an oven safe dish. Drizzle with the olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper.

3. Bake for 35-40 minutes until cooked through and the juices run clear.

4. Slather with barbecue sauce and serve.

Homemade BBQ Sauce

Much like it's friend ketchup, BBQ sauce is a pretty unhealthy condiment. Since kids eat this sauce like it's a side, we went ahead and made a healthy version. For grownups, we like to add some hot sauce and red chili flakes. Your kids may even like a bit of a kick, so go ahead and add some heat. They might surprise you!

3 tablespoons homemade ketchup (recipe below)
2 teaspoons Worchester sauce
1 teaspoon prune baby food
1 teaspoon orange juice
Dash of cinnamon
Salt and Pepper

1. Mix all of the ingredients together. Keeps well in the refrigerator.

Hungry Ghoulash

There's something about the fall that makes us think crockpot. Yeah, random. It must be the back to schoolness of it all. Suddenly the idea of putting something into a slow cooker in the morning and having it ready at night entices us. This recipe is perfect for the whole family and a big winner amongst the kiddies. Sweet potatoes are high in calcium, potassium, fiber, beta carotene, truly one of the most nutritious vegetables. There is something to be said for a one pot wonder that the whole family will enjoy. 

(Serves about four people)

1 1/2 pounds of lean stew beef
1 pound of sweet potatoes
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 onion, diced
1/8 cup of flour
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon oregano
2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon kosher salt
28 ounces of diced tomatoes
1 1/2 cups chicken stock 

1. Cut the beef and potatoes into 2 inch pieces. 

2. Add all ingredients into a crock pot (except for the tomatoes and chicken stock) and stir together until the beef is coated with the flour and spices. 

3. Stir in the tomatoes and stock. 

4. Cook for 4-6 hours on high or 8-10 hours on low.