Friday, November 29, 2013

Keep Mealtimes Stress Free and Fun

Making a healthy super fast meal is one way to keep mealtimes stress free, like this protein packed Turkey Wrap.

Here are our five tips to keeping mealtimes stress free and fun, for your own sanity and theirs.

1. Mentally prepare yourself because they may not eat what you prepared.  You need to act nonchalantly when this happens. Mental preparation is key.  When they don't eat much of what's on their plate, that's okay.  Don't make them another meal, just offer it to them again later if they're hungry. They won't die of hunger, but you will want to have yourself committed if you keep letting it get to you.

2. Play music - it is scientifically proven that music can change your mood.  It will make your kids happy and it will put you in a good place and take away temptation to have the T.V. on.

3. Speaking of T.V....turn the T.V. off.

4. Tell stories together, sing songs (this is a good trick for toddlers) engage with each other.  Kids love attention from their parents.  This is the perfect time to give plenty of that!

5. Realize that how much your kids eat, is out of your control. But what they eat totally is.  As long as you keep to a food schedule, offer balanced meals and do not make a second 'kids meal,' they will learn to eat when they're hungry.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Children's Books About Thanksgiving

We love pairing books with food and Thanksgiving is the perfect day to do just that.  Here are two fun books that we really enjoy. Thanksgiving is also a wonderful time to expose children to a wide variety of new foods and traditions.  What are some of the unique family traditions that you enjoy with your kids?

Thanks for Thanksgiving by Julie Markes, illustrated by Dorris Barrette.  This book was recommended to us by a friend, and boy did it deliver.  With its gorgeous illustrations and its beautiful message of finding appreciation and gratitude in all things, it is a heartwarming tale that will keep you and your children enthralled.  The best part is at the end where you have a page to write out your child's thankful thought, year after year.  Love that idea! This book is an absolute must.

The Night Before Thanksgiving is a really fun, inexpensive little book by Natasha Wing and illustrated by Tammie Lyon.  This amusing poem, which takes its cues from The Night Before Christmas, is a great way to get your kids excited for the big day. We love the illustrations of the kids cooking with their mom.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Sautéed Red Cabbage

Stuck in a rut with the usual sides? This sautéed cabbage recipe is warm and comforting, just in time for fall.  It's a simple dish that makes for great leftovers, too. If you're worried that your child won't try it, have them help you cook it!  Kids are always more willing to try dishes they've had a hand in making.

1 large onion, diced
1 large red cabbage, diced
3 tablespoons coconut oil
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons brown or Dijon mustard
Salt to taste

1. In a large pot, heat coconut oil then sauté onions over medium heat until translucent, add a dash of salt.

2. Add diced cabbage and apple cider vinegar, stir and cover over medium heat. Stirring every few minutes.

3. Once cabbage has begun to soften, drizzle honey and mustard, stir well until everything is thoroughly mixed. Season with a bit more salt to taste.

4. Lower to medium low heat and cover, stirring on occasion. Ready in 45 minutes from start to finish. Cook a few minutes longer if you would like your cabbage a little softer.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Pumpkin Spice Overnight Oats

We love love love overnight oats! Mix ingredients, refrigerate and breakfast is waiting for you the next morning.  Make a big batch and you have breakfast for the WHOLE week.  Since we can't get enough pumpkin this time of year, we had to make a seasonal version.  Its deliciousness is not to be denied! Plus it's super healthy and the kids can help you make it, what's better than that?

Serves 2 young kids

1 cup yogurt
3/4 cup of milk
3/4 cup of oats
1/2 cup unsweetened pumpkin puree
1 teaspoon pumpkin spice
Drizzle all natural maple syrup or honey to taste
Add raisins, fruit or chopped nuts for extra texture and deliciousness
Mix all ingredients together, cover and refrigerate overnight. Eat cold. 

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Fall at the Farm- Creating Lil Foodies

Even if you have to travel a great distance to get to your nearest farm – we promise that a trip this fall will not disappoint.  Whether your little ones are into picking apples, getting lost in a corn maze, or guessing the pumpkin’s weight - your family will have a blast!  Let your kids explore, get a little dirty and pick out a vegetable or two to bring home and taste. We're always looking for opportunities to remind kids that food doesn't come from a store or factory. And let's face it, nothing beats farm life in the fall!

These are some pics from this weekend that are from our local farm which hosted a fantastic harvest festival and really got us in the 'October' spirit. All the produce looked amazing and we can't wait to start celebrating the fall season with our new pumpkins!

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Vegetarian Lasagna

Here at Food Fit For Kids we don't believe in hiding vegetables. That being said, if you are going to throw a ton of vegetables at a child, there is no better vehicle than the lasagna. It's something about the sheets of pasta, sauce and cheese that make everything taste like they were born to be together.

If your child has a hard time with veggies, chop them into smaller pieces and reduce the amount in the recipe. If they end up liking the recipe, the next time you make it add more veggies, slowly increasing the amount of veggies. By giving your child smaller, less threatening portions you take a bit of the pressure off. As frustrating as mealtimes can be, it's about the end game. Getting your child to really want to eat vegetables for life. Think big picture.

(Serves approximately four people)

1/2 a butternut squash peeled and cubed (can buy them cut and peeled, get 12 oz bag)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1 jar organic pasta sauce
2 small zucchini squash (about 12 oz) grated                      
1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste                                                    
3 carrots (about 6 ounces), grated          
6 lasagna sheets, 'no bake' noodles                                        
1 cup vegan mozzarella cheese

1. Preheat oven to 400 F.

2. In a bowl, coat cubed squash a tablespoon of olive oil and dashes of salt and pepper. Spread squash evenly on cookie sheet and roast in the oven for 20 minutes.*

3. In a bowl combine the pasta sauce, zucchini, carrots, and tomato paste until smooth.

4. Remove the squash from the oven. Chane the oven temp to 350 F.

5. In the bottom of an 8x8 inch casserole dish, first layer the dish with a fourth of the sauce mixture, then a layer of noodles.

6. For the second layer, ladle another fourth of the sauce on top, then half of the squash, then a third of the cheese.

7. For the third layer, repeat the same steps as the second layer.

8. For the final layer, spoon the remaining sauce and top with the remaining cheese.

9. Cover with foil (tent the foil to prevent sticking to cheese or use parchment paper between lasagna and foil) and bake in the over for 30-40 minutes. Check lasagna after 30 min as ovens can different in temp.

10. Remove the foil and allow to bake for another 10 minutes or until brown on top.

11. Remove and let cool at least 10 minutes before serving.

*Chef's note: If pressed for time, the squash can be covered and cooked in the microwave with just a little bit of water and the salt and pepper (no oil needed) for about 6 minutes or until fork tender.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Roasted Sweet Potatoes!

We love roasting fall veggies! It brings out the sweetness kids crave while adding nutrients and filling those little bellies. This delicious side takes 35 minutes to make and will quickly become a staple in your home the way it is in our homes. By the way, it reheats well after a few days, so make plenty!

Serves 4

6 small sweet potatoes (peeled and cubed)
2 tablespoons coconut oil
Salt & cinnamon to taste

Preheat oven to 350.  Toss ingredients together in a large bowl.  Lay in an even layer on a baking sheet and roast for 35 minutes.  Flip them once halfway through the cooking process.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Local Farms Create Little Foodies

Going to a local farm to pick produce is a fantastic way to get your kids interested in fresh produce. Children are more likely to eat food that they have a hand in making or prepping, so picking food will help your kids get excited to try ingredients that may be unfamiliar. Talk about how fruits and veggies grow, whether on trees or in the ground. Do they taste sweet? Crunchy? Crispy? Juicy? How do they feel? Smooth? Waxy? Squishy? What color are they? Encourage your little ones to use all their senses to get the full experience. Oh and take lots of pics and have a blast!

Friday, August 16, 2013

Kale Pesto for the Whole Family!

An online friend asked us for a kale pesto recipe, and we said, why not?  Now that we've been testing out this recipe, we just can't get enough!  A big batch of pesto can be a great time saver.  It keeps really well in the refrigerator and can be reheated with pasta or spread right onto a sandwich.  This recipe is an even healthier version than a traditional pesto and uses kale as the main ingredient instead of just basil.  No offense to basil, basil is great, but so is kale - it's loaded with vitamins, iron, and tastes great!

4 cups kale, stemmed
1 small bunch fresh basil 
1/2 cup pine nuts 
1/2 cup vegan Parmesan
1/4 cup olive oil, or more
Juice and zest from half a lemon
1 large garlic clove
Salt and pepper to taste

1.  In a large food processor, puree all ingredients, except the olive oil, until blended. 
2.  Slowly add in the olive oil until the desired consistency is reached.  Serve immediately or store in the refrigerator for about a week.

Friday, July 26, 2013

White Bean and Avocado Wrap

A fresh and simple throw together wrap that takes less than five minutes to assemble. What's not to love!? Perfect for school lunches, camp lunch boxes or a quick meal at home. Fast food doesn't have to be bad for you, plus this is quicker than a drive through! Add a couple slices of ham or chicken with a side of fruit and your kiddo will have the fuel they need for all that running, climbing and fort building!

1 whole wheat tortilla
2 tablespoons shredded carrot
2 tablespoons feta cheese crumbles
Cucumber slices (optional)
Monster Butter (recipe below)

For the Monster Butter:
4 ounces cannellini beans (white kidney beans)
1/2 avocado
1 teaspoons lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon olive oil

1. Drain and rinse the beans, put into a bowl.
2. Halve and scoop avocado, add to beans.
3. Smash the beans and avocado together with a potato masher or fork until smooth.
4. Stir in spices and lemon juice.

To assemble the wrap:

1. Spread the monster butter on the center of a tortilla.
2. Sprinkle with carrots, feta, and cucumber.
3. Fold and roll the tortilla so that you have a convenient wrap to go!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Botanical Gardens- Creative Ways to Create Little Foodies

There are hundreds of Botanical Gardens across North America, and if you are lucky enough to live near one, you've most likely already experienced this dreamlike escape into nature. Aside from their exotic flowers, majestic trees and whimsical canopied pathways, many of these botanical gardens have herb and vegetable gardens. This makes for the perfect trip for your budding little foodies! Encourage your kids to talk about the vegetables, how they grow and what they smell like. Allow for lots of gentle touching and observing. If real food is what your kids know, it'll be what they love!

These photos were taken in the veggie and herb garden at the Descanso Gardens in Southern California. 

We'd love to hear about your botanical garden experience!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Farmers Market + Kid= Little Foodie

Want to encourage your kids to be adventurous eaters?  Farmers markets are the perfect family outing for just that!  With loads of free samples and gorgeous displays of colorful fruits and veggies, your kids will be tempted to touch, smell and taste.  Encourage them to use all their senses and find something new.

This little guy picked out some bok choy to try for the first time.

Little foodie tips for the farmers market:

-Go with a recipe in mind that you can make later with your child.

-Have your child help choose the produce, encourage them to smell and hold it.  Talk about the colors and the texture.

-Encourage kids to ask the vendors questions about their produce.   Find out where the produce is from, how it grows, what are recommended ways to prepare it, etc.

-Take advantage of free samples that are offered.   Set a good example by being willing to try something new.

-Make the recipe together as a family.  Kids love to help out in the kitchen, it gives them purpose and confidence. Plus they are more likely to eat what they've had a hand in making.

He LOVED IT!  Couldn't stop smelling and tasting while saying "Yummy!"

For Roasted Bok Choy Recipe, click here.
We'd love to hear about your family trips to the farmer's market!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Roasted Bok Choy

Bok choy is in season and boy are we glad! Making roasted bok choy is easy, quick (12 min) and the perfect recipe to make with kids.  Have them wash, dry and prep.  Kids are more likely to try new ingredients that they've had a hand in making.

Delicious side for summer.

Encourage your kids to use all their senses, the more familiar they are, the more eager they'll be to eat it.

Fresh bok choy (2-3 bunches, separated)
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 tablespoon of lemon juice
Garlic powder
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Preheat oven to 450.
2. Wash and dry the bok choy.
3. Toss with olive oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper and garlic powder and add to baking dish.
4. Roast for 12 minutes, stirring twice.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Overnight Oats

We love coming up with fast and healthy breakfast ideas, because we know firsthand how hectic mornings with kiddos can get!  Just combine these ingredients the night before and leave in the fridge over night.  Prep takes about 5 minutes, that's all!  We can't get enough of this recipe because it has all the benefits of oatmeal without the messy pan cleanup.  Oats, milk, yogurt and fruit in one bowl will set your kids up for a productive day.

 This recipe makes one large serving.

1/2 cup oats
1/2 cup almond yogurt
1/4 cup almond milk
1/4 cup fruit
1 teaspoon honey

1.  Mix all ingredients together, cover and refrigerate overnight.  A super easy and delicious breakfast will be ready for you in the morning!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Carrot Juice an Alternative to Fruit Juice

So your kids like juice... REALLY like juice.  The sweetness is hard to deny. Unfortunately fruit juice is one of the unhealthiest things we can give our kids.  We often forget that fruit juice is high in calories and therefore it can pack on the pounds and more importantly destroy appetites.  One glass of orange juice can have more sugar than a cookie!  So we're here to suggest a fresh and delicious alternative to fruit juices; carrot juice.  It's got the sweetness kids love with the added nutrients that they need, vitamins A, B, and E.  It's great for your eyes, teeth, nails and bones. Pick up fresh carrot juice next time you're at the store and let us know if it works for your little ones.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Super Healthy Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

These are inspired by our childhood love of chewy chocolate chip oatmeal raisin bars, remember those?!  What we've done is created a cookie with no butter, no flour, no junk, just goodness.  The result is soft, warm, chocolately deliciousness. Kids love desserts, and this is the perfect guilt free treat. This recipe has chocolate chips in it but dried cranberries, raisins or chopped nuts would work well, too.  Sometimes you just need a cookie.

2 ripe bananas, mashed
1 1/2 cups of quick cook oats
1/4 cup almond milk
1/4 cup chocolate chips
1 tablespoon water
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease cookie sheet or line with parchment paper, set aside.
2. Mix all ingredients together.
3. Scoop heaping spoonfuls of mix onto cookie sheet.  Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Crock Pot- The Weeknight Dinner Life Saver

Our Hungry Ghoulash recipe makes for a scrumptious meal!

We may have the best of intentions in the earlier part of the day, but let's face it, by the time six o'clock rolls around the last thing most of us want to do is cook a big meal. Even those of us who love cooking. That's where take out and delivery come in to save the day! Except it's expensive, unhealthy and filled with post pizza, fried chicken, or [insert greasy food of choice here], guilt.

The one guarantee for an effortless and healthy home cooked meal is to have it already made.  Enter, our all too often forgotten best friend, the slow cooker.  There are lots of healthy quick-prep recipes that can be cooking away while you are off doing other things or just taking some time to relax.  Some recipes can even be quickly prepped the night before, so all you have to do in the morning is toss the ingredients into the slow cooker, set it, and go about your day.  Serve with a quick side dish like couscous or a salad and dinner is ready without breaking a sweat.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Roasted Veggies, Sweet and Delicious

Before Roasting

One of our favorite things to make is a large root vegetable roast; it's rustic, comforting and super healthy.  This is a fantastic recipe for kids because roasting brings out the natural sweetness in veggies that children are drawn to.  It's also a great recipe to make together since there is so much prep away from the oven and lots of opportunity for getting those little hands delightfully dirty. Oh and be prepared for your house to smell AMAZING!

Serves 6

Preheat oven at 375
3 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
8 multicolored potatoes, cubed
1 large onion, peeled and cut into 6ths
1 head of garlic, separated into cloves but with skin left on
1 lemon- just the juice
1 lemon- sliced and arranged with veggies
1/4 cup olive oil
2 stems of fresh rosemary
3 tablespoons dried oregano
Salt and fresh pepper to taste

1. Add all prepped veggies into a large baking dish.

2. Add lemon juice, lemons, olive oil, oregano, rosemary, salt, pepper, mixing well with your hands. Get those kids involved!

3. Allow veggies to roast slowly for 1 1/2 hours, stirring and flipping veggies twice during it's cooking time.

This recipe would be perfect with all sorts of veggies your kids might love.  Mix it up a little and let us know what they think!

After Roasting

Thursday, March 21, 2013

How to Get Your Kids To Try New Foods

You don't have to eat it, but you do have to try it.  

This has got to be our favorite tip of all time!  How do you get your kids to be adventurous eaters?   How do we get them to try new foods?  It's not as hard as you think.

1. Start when they are infants. Encourage them to smell and play with their food. Talk to them about how the food tastes, looks, and feels. They won't understand what you are saying but their interests will be peaked by your encouraging and soothing voice.

2. Serve new foods in small unthreatening portions. It can be as small as one or two pieces at a time. Also, try serving new foods alongside healthy food that they already enjoy. A meal made up of entirely new foods is a daunting task for anyone!

3. Act casual, relaxed and lighthearted when serving new ingredients.  This non-challant attitude with lead to success. Without the pressure, everyone wins.  Food is an enjoyable experience, make sure to set the tone regardless of how your child reacts.

4. One meal, eaten together as a family leads to success and less stress for the home cook. No short order cooking. If they don't want to eat, no prob.  Don't force them, don't be angry or passive aggressive and DON'T then turn around and make them another meal or snack. This teaches them to listen to their bodies. (We moms just hate the thought of seeing our littles uncomfortable, the'y don't like being uncomfortable either so don't worry!)

5. The No Thank you bite. You don't have to eat it, but you do have to try it.  This is a great rule for children who are old enough to be reasoned with. If you are consistently maintaining a stress free environment (see #3) this rule is easily accepted. They absolutely do not need to eat the whole portion, just taste it. You can then talk about why they didn't care for it (if that's the case), was it the texture, the flavor? And avoid using the words, "didn't like," instead try "don't care for it yet," "that tastes different," and "haven't acquired the taste." These conversations will bring out the little foodie in your kids!

A word: Some children (such as those with Autism) have a relationship with food that may be very complicated. These tips may be helpful but having the advice of professionals is always helpful.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Little Helper Shopping Lists

The more they help the more likely they are to try new foods.

Most of us experience the super market as a chaotic and stressful trip, often with children in tow.  On those glorious days where there's a bit of extra time and life seems to slow down just a tad, why not have your little kitchen helpers give you a hand?  In other words, time for a quick art project!

Have your little ones create a list in picture form that they can use to check off items as you shop.  While creating the list you can ask them thought pondering questions like where do tomatoes come from?  Do they grow in the ground or on trees?  Is this bread whole wheat? Where does wheat come from?  What does spinach do for your body?  Makes you strong, of course!

Obviously this can't happen on every trip, but it sure is a fun activity for every once in a while and will remind your children to think a bit more about the food they eat. Just like with cooking, children are more prone to trying food that they've had a hand in selecting.  

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Small Kitchen Gadget Essentials

Our top picks.

Cooking fresh ingredients every night for your little ones is vital to keeping them strong and healthy, yet sometimes this can feel like an unbelievably daunting task. These inexpensive kitchen gadgets make weeknight dinners quick and easy.  Here are the 3 kitchen 'must-haves' that we just can't live without:

1. A good peeler for whipping up a delicious sweet potato mash or making an adorable cucumber sandwich.

A good peeler makes dinner ten times faster.

2. When it comes to pulling out short pastas, potatoes or vegetables from boiling water, this hand held strainer keeps you from having to drag the pot all the way to the sink.

Short pasta, no problem.

3. Want to insure that you and your family actually eat the berries and grapes you buy? Get one of these strainer/serving bowl combos.  Makes washing and serving fruit SO much easier!  The kids will love washing fruit for their snack. (This one is totally our favorite!)

This makes washing fruit painless.

We found all of these products from Sur La Table although we recommend looking on sites like Amazon to find these types of products at the best price.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Supermarket Budget Tips

Staying on a budget at the supermarket is not easy, but it's certainly do-able and often necessary.  Don't let it get you down! Here are some of our favorite tips for sticking to your budget while still making weekday meals feel fun and exciting.

1.  Plan meals in advance.  This one is HARD for us 'go with the flow' type folks who like to see what strikes our fancy when arriving at the store.  Often this is the biggest money sucker of all.  Getting only the things you need means less waste. Plan meals you know you and your family like but also contain nutritional value like our chicken enchiladas or cuban picadillo.

2.  Have a couple of those meals be vegetarian. Vegetarian often equals cheap.  And healthy! Check out our simple and delicious tofu noodle stir fry.  Less meat means less money spent but also more nutrition.

3.  Have breakfast for dinner one night a week.  This is a fun and easy way to save money!  We bet your kids will enjoy whimsical breakfast night themes. If your kids like eggs you may want to try our cute crustless quiches.

4.  Don't get sucked into the coupon trap.  Use coupons when you can for things you need, but watch out for the unhealthy trap.  Often coupons are for unhealthy processed products that we never wanted in the first place.  Look at circulars for what produce is on sale instead.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Inspire Your Older Kids to Become Foodies

We are always looking for fun and out of the box ideas to encourage and inspire kids to try new foods. Here's our latest- watch family friendly cooking competition shows with your older kids and recreate those challenges in your kitchen. We are big fans of shows such as Top Chef, Chopped and Iron Chef which showcase a variety of foods and cooking techniques.  You will not only be exposing your kids to food which they have never seen (piquing their interests) but also to new cuisines and interesting people.

Top Chef challenge idea- Have a quick-fire!  Give your kids 30 min and a specific set of instructions.  For example, 30 minutes to make breakfast for dinner using eggs!

Chopped challenge idea- Put together the infamous Chopped mystery basket including 4 or 5 ingredients and give your kids 30 minutes to put something together using ALL the components in the basket.

Iron Chef idea- Pick a secret ingredient, give your kids a time limit and let them come up with something spectacular!

If you have more than one child, have them work as a team. You and your spouse can stand back and watch without interfering (on safety patrol), or get involved and team up with your kiddos!  No matter what your kids make, give them lots of praise and remind them that it's just for fun and to not get frustrated if it doesn't work out. Even the best chefs get flustered and make mistakes!  Take plenty of pictures and let us know how it goes. We'd love to hear from you.

Friday, January 25, 2013

5 Tips to Get Your Kids to Drink More Water

Want to encourage your kids to drink more water? Here are our top 5 tips on how to do just that:

1.  Cut back on the other unhealthy options such as juice and soda.

2.  Have them pick out a special water bottle that will be used only for water.  It doesn't have to be pricey, just something they are really excited about using.

3.  Try garnishing with fresh citrus to add flavor- such as lime, lemon, orange and add ice!

4.  Make sure that water is easily accessible.

5.  Set a good example and drink plenty of water yourself.

If you have tips to share, we'd love to hear them!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Chia Seeds For Kids? Yep!

We all remember the commercials for chia pets in the '80s, well chia seeds, (consumed by the Aztecs for their nutrients), are making their way in mainstream supermarkets as the new superfood and we're here to tell you what all the fuss is about.  Richer in omega-3 fatty acids than salmon, chia seeds are filled with antioxidants, protein, calcium and fiber.  One tablespoon packs a big nutritional punch and we are always on the look out for that!

So what do chia seeds taste like and will kids eat them?  Think flavorless poppyseed, which is pretty awesome because they add a fantastic texture without altering the flavor.  When wet, and soaked for some time the seed takes on a gelatinous texture, reminisant of tapioca. And yes, totally kid approved! They were a big hit when tossed into a smoothie or mixed into yogurt.  In the smoothie it becomes untraceable, but in the yogurt it brings a divine texture!  Try it with your kids and let us know what they think.  So far, big thumbs up over here.