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Growing Up Gourmet: January 2008

Friday, January 25, 2008

Me-Oh-MY Minestrone

This quick minestrone is a perfect Saturday afternoon kitchen adventure. Even the youngest chefs can exercise ownership and make choices about what they are eating -- a very powerful concept indeed!

On the stove, heat 4 cups of chicken or vegetable broth with a can of diced tomatoes. Season with herbs like rosemary or oregano, if desired. On the counter, place heaping bowls of delicious "toppings" like frozen corn, kidney beans, alphabet pasta or orzo, shredded carrots, green peas, tofu cubes, spinach leaves, and Parmesan cheese. Invite your tot-chef to top their bowl of broth with the yummy vegetables. Children will help themselves to their favorites, and may even be motivated to try something new. With a little encouragement, I've seen the most hesitant bean-eater be enthusiastic about stirring in at least 1 bean! Top with a little Parmesan and a touch of olive oil to make the soup sophisticated enough for mom and dad. Make floating “croutons” by cutting-out fun shapes of whole-grain bread with cookie cutters. Brush the bread with olive oil and bake until crispy.

Your kids will love this simple cooking adventure, perfect for a winter's day. You’ll love knowing their bellies are full of healthy nutrients. And the whole family will love spending time together in the kitchen!

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Sunday, January 20, 2008

Healthy New Year!

The New Year is the perfect time to bring your family together and enjoy healthy and delicious meals together! Everyone wants to start 2008 on the right foot… and there’s no better way to do it then by cooking with your kids. For many parents, dinnertime is a full-fledged battle, and the only winner is the family dog. Thought Caitlin liked carrots? She did, on Friday. But today’s Tuesday, and she’d rather injest poision before chewing one more bite of the vitamin rich vegetable. Thrilled that Jake finally loves peas? Got so excited you made fresh pasta with peas and a delicate parmesan cream sauce? No doubt you were devestated by your wasted efforts upon discovering that Jake only loves peas when they are piled up plainly, all alone on his plate. And ‘brushing off’ the sauce just isn’t possible.

If these dinnertime battles have turned you into a desperate short-order cook with little regard for nutritional balance, and defrosting dino nuggets Monday thru Friday, try the only sure-fire way to encourage your kids to become more fearless eaters. Invite your kids on a delicious kitchen adventure; cook with your kids

Children who participate in preparing a meal are much more likely to enjoy the final product than those who don’t help out in the kitchen. Every chef wants to taste their creation, and yours will be no different. Even a child who helps make “icky” veggies or “stinky” fish will feel a sense of pride and success when dinner appears on the table. Encourage your kids to taste throughout the cooking process, introducing them to new textures and ingredients in small quantities along the way. When you give kids lots of heatlhy options, you empower them to make good decisions about what to eat.

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