Like most parents, I am always on a mission to get my kids to eat healthy food. And like most kids, my children would rather have chips and candy over fruits and veggies any day of the week. I think one of the most vital keys to getting kids to eat healthy is being a parent who takes the time to provide them with delicious options.
Yes, I know it’s time consuming. Yes, I know it’s a lot of trial and error. But teaching our kids to appreciate the taste of real food, as opposed to disgusting overly-processed, chemical-laden imitations, is well worth it. It won’t be long, and they will be making their own food decisions. I want to arm my kids with the tools they need to make healthy choices, don’t you?
Enter, the Cooper Kid-Friendly Menu
Here are three new recipes that are a hit in my house with my kids ages 11, 9 and 3.
Remember: my kids are just like yours. If I offered them the choice between a Happy Meal or this, they’d choose the Happy Meal. That’s why I don’t offer the Happy Meal. They get this:
Before we begin, I must apologize for the lack of pictures. I don’t even look at cook books without pictures. So, if you exit my blog right now, I understand. But, my camera fell into the bottom of Lake Michigan on vacation a few weeks ago and we have yet to find a replacement. Tip of the day? Cameras and water don’t mix. When I get a camera, I will make all these yummy recipes again and update the post with pictures, I promise.
Last week when the heat wave finally broke and our daily temperatures plummeted into the high 80’s, I got a hankerin’ for a pot of chili. The problem with my favorite chili is that my kids won’t eat it, cuz it’s all full of chunky veggies, which I, personally, adore. But my kids? They are funny about texture. So I had the bright idea to eliminate the texture of all things they might pick out (i.e. vegetables) without actually eliminating the vegetables, and Voila: kid-friendly.
Note: I use nearly all organic ingredients when I cook. I recommend you do the same. And each of these recipes will easily convert to vegetarian or vegan (no animal products) if you wish. I’ll show you how, if you care.
- 1 Medium onion, chopped coarsely
- 2 Stalks celery, chopped coarsely
- 2 Cloves garlic, chopped coarsely
- (those ingredients are all going into the blender in a minute, so no worries here)
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- I Large can (28 oz) diced tomatoes
- 1 Pound ground turkey (or soy crumbles, if you want to omit the meat)
- Salt and pepper to season
- 2 Cups chicken broth (or vegetable broth or the water from the cans of beans you will use*)
- *3 cans (15 oz each) beans of your choice, drained. I like black beans and kidney beans in chili
- 2 cups frozen or fresh corn
- 1 Tbsp cumin, or to taste
- 4 Tbsp chili powder, or to taste
- Additional salt and pepper to taste
1. In a large pot, heat oil and cook onion, celery and garlic until soft, about 5 minutes.
2. Remove from pot and put into a blender. Add can of tomatoes, and pulse until smooth or until your kids won’t think the chunks are gross.
3. Meanwhile, in the same pot you used for the veggies, brown meat seasoned with salt and pepper. Add small amounts of broth throughout process to keep meat moist. This won’t take long at all if you use the soy crumbles.
4. To the meat, add beans, corn and mixture from the blender and stir.
5. Add seasonings and remaining liquid, if any. Stir.
6. Bring to boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
Makes about 8 servings. I served this with spaghetti and a tossed salad. YUM!
Economical Chewy Chocolate Chip Granola Bars
I’ve been buying organic packaged granola bars for ages, and my kids love ‘em.
They love ‘em so much, in fact, that they will sometimes eat 2 or 3 a day. The problem is, they cost anywhere from $3 to $6 for a package of 6. Since I stink at math, just trust me when I say, that is expensive. So this recipe is my answer to Cascadia Farms Chewy Chocolate Chip Granola Bars, at half the price. And, FYI, they are delicious!
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup butter (one stick), softened
1 cup honey
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup ground flax seed
I teaspoon salt
3 1/2 cups quick oats
1 Cup Rice Crispies (Whole Foods 365 Brand has a brown rice cereal that I used)
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Lightly grease a jelly roll pan or a cookie sheet.
2. In a large mixing bowl combine the butter and honey and mix until smooth.
3. Add vanilla and brown sugar and mix well.
4. In a separate bowl, combine oats, flour, baking soda, salt and flax seed. At this point, you can blend the dry ingredients in a blender or food processor to make them more like flour. This will make a soft and cake-like granola bar. Or you can just let this remain as is.
5. Mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients in batches.
6. Add the cereal, and mix again.
7. Add the chocolate chips. Mix some more. (you can also skip this step and instead sprinkle the chocolate chips on top of the granola bars after you press the mixture into the pan.)
8. Lightly press mixture into the prepared pan.
9. Bake at 325 degrees F (165 degrees C) for 18 to 22 minutes or until golden brown.
10. Let cool for 10 minutes then cut into bars. Let bars cool completely in pan before removing or serving.
I store these in an air-tight container, or individually wrap in plastic wrap and stick them in a large bowl in the pantry for easy on-the-go snacking.
Better-Than-Dessert Banana-Almond-Cherry Smoothie
Nothing says “sneaky way to pack in the nutrition” like a smoothie. It’s a mother’s secret weapon, really. As long as it tastes good, the kids don’t care what’s in it. And because it’s in a big frosty glass with a straw, it feels like a treat. We drink smoothies daily at our house. But this one in particular was super yum.
- I Cup Frozen Cherries ( I just found these at Costco. Use fresh, if frozen is not available…Isn’t that funny? Usually, it’s the other way around. Either way, use cherries.)
- I Frozen Banana (I buy two bunches of bananas, eat one bunch and let one ripen on the counter, then freeze for smoothies)
- ½ Cup plain organic yogurt (If you don’t want the dairy in there, omit)
- I Cup almond milk
- 1 heaping spoonful of finely ground flax seed
- 2 Tbsp almond butter
- A drizzle of agave nectar (you can find agave nectar in the health food section of your grocery store and at Costco).
- 1 scoop banana flavored Spiru-tein energy supplement (you can find this at health food stores)
Plop it all in a blender and let the blender do it’s thing. This will make 1 big adult smoothie or 2 or 3 kid-sized, depending upon the kid.
Gotta a healthy recipe to share? Post it on your blog and let me know. I’ll link up to you!