Posts tagged under Kids. Show all posts.
I have two lunches to pack each day, one for me to eat at work, and the other for my nine year old son to eat at school. I usually prepare extra food at dinner the night before and then use it to make the lunch-packing-process a little less daunting. The variety prevents me from getting sucked into the same old “cheese sandwich” rut. (Snacks are a whole other posting….) This morning I packed myself a couscous salad from leftovers with crumbled feta cheese, grape tomatoes, kalamata olives, and a piece of leftover trout. I also included a bowl of orange segments, strawberries, and a small container of my favourite yogourt from Activia. Cameron (my nine year old) enjoys eating a hot lunch, so at least once a week I send him with a thermos of soup (occasionally homemade, but not always). I heat it on the stove just before we leave, then put it in his thermos at the last minute (he assures me that it stays hot until lunch). Today I packed him Campbell’s Chunky Chicken & Vegetable, a small container of whole grain Wheat Thins, a handful of cherry tomatoes, 100% fruit orange juice, and a homemade chocolate brownie. Cameron is an active kid, so I try to pack a snack with some protein for the afternoon—today he had a Turkey Bite pepperoni stick and shiny red BabyBel cheese ball.
That was it for me today…what did you pack for lunch, anything interesting?
We don’t always have dessert with dinner, but it was Sunday and I was experiencing one of my daily chocolate cravings. Something sweet was definitely in order! Fortunately for me, I had just received a simple chocolate dessert idea from Holly Sisson, our EatSavvy photographer and head of production at SavvyMom—it’s called the Five Minute Chocolate Mug Cake. Her daughter came across this recipe online and we received an email submission from a reader about it the next day so it is clearly going viral. No stove is required, so it is a perfect cooking activity for kids. And, all of the ingredients are pantry staples, so I had everything I needed on hand. I placed the ingredients and measuring cups on the counter and let my son mix up personal-size chocolate cakes for each of us. Dessert doesn’t get much easier than this. Total prep and cooking time—10 minutes.
4 tablespoons flour
4 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons cocoa
3 tablespoons milk
3 tablespoons oil
3 tablespoons chocolate chips (optional)
a small splash of vanilla extract
1 large coffee mug
And why is this the most dangerous cake recipe in the world?
Because now we are all only five minutes away from chocolate cake at any time of the day or night!
There are a lot of cookbooks out there these days. We’re glad because we love new food ideas, but it’s exhausting deciding which one we’ll use. Luckily, we have the advantage of hearing about all the attest and greatest ones published and thought you might want to hear about them too.
So if you are cooking for kids and looking for healthy and fun meals, we recommend Annabel Karmel’s new Canadian edition of More First Meals. It has over 80 recipes to choose from and there are even a few practical suggestions for moms. Annabel reminds us that eating well while pregnant and breastfeeding is important for staying healthy (and we know it’s just as important when the kids get older so we can keep up with them). We particularly like the space on each recipe page left for making notes and the addition of nutritional information with each recipe as well. This is a great book for inspiration, information and organizing your meals. Available online at Indigo and Amazon
What’s your favourite cookbook?
I try to limit the number of children for a play date to four—my two and two friends. But earlier in the week, my older son asked me if he could have three friends over for a play date. Those three friends just happened to be girls. I reluctantly agreed. Fortunately, it was a lovely afternoon and the five of them were able to spend most of the time outside. I didn’t want to seem too overbearing, but I also wanted to give the play date some structure. I know what boys like to do at play dates, but I wasn’t sure I knew what the girls would want to do.
I decided I would play it safe and organize a cooking activity—make your own ice-cream sundae. This proved to be a great after school activity and snack idea. I brought all the ingredients and bowls outside, helped them serve their ice-cream and yogurt and then they built their own delicious creations. Having the kids prepare their snack outside left my kitchen free of sprinkles, sticky fingers, and ice-cream drips. Needless to say, everyone was happy!
Inspired by an article I researched last fall on age-appropriate chores, we drew up a family chore chart last fall and assigned each of the kids a few chores they could be responsible for. But I must confess to not being so diligent in insisting the kids complete their chores and I certainly fell victim to the ‘It will be faster if I just do it myself’ trap. But recently, a number of changes on the homefront required everyone to pitch in a little more and help, and I was amazed by what my children actually could do in the kitchen (and quite enjoyed doing) very well.
My 5 year old can competently set the table and then clear it and load the dishwasher. My 7 year old showed off his skills at putting the groceries away on more than one occasion. And imagine my delight the morning last week I came down to get the breakfast started for everyone, and my 8 year old had already made her bed, emptied the dishwasher and set the table, and was just patiently waiting for someone to show up to make her something to eat.
Apparently 4 – 5 year olds can unload the utensils from the dishwasher and wash plastic dishes in the sink; 6 – 7 year olds can set the table, help make and pack their lunch, clean up with a handheld vacuum and pour drinks; and 8 – 9 year olds can do all this and make snacks for everyone, peel vegetables, cook simple foods such as toast and wipe down tables after meals. My new mantra? Don’t do anything for your kids they can do themselves. And I have never been prouder of them.
Seriously, what will they think of next? I was amazed when dripless candles hit the market but now dripless popsicles? Now that is what we call a game changer at SavvyMom HQ.
It’s true, Popsicle, the original brand of popsicles has added a touch of gelatin to their range of products (including minis, swirlwinds and regular ice pops) and now they drip a lot less. We can’t promise you they don’t drip at all but since they are called ‘Slow Melt’ they really just delay the dripping all over your face and hands process so thet your kids have a chance to taste the frozen desert. Very civilized, indeed. Now you have an answer to the questions about ‘why do we have to learn science, anyway?’…it took them long enough, didn’t it?
As the school year winds down, so does my lunchbox packing creativity and my son’s enthusiasm for eating it. Fortunately, the grocery stores and markets are brimming with fresh food options in June, so in lieu of sandwiches and soups I have decided to switch to a Bento Box-style packed lunch for the duration of the school year. On many occasions, my son has come home from school with food left in his sandwich container or lunch bag. When I ask why, his usual response is “there wasn’t enough time to eat it”. I know that my son is very social, especially at lunchtime, and will talk himself through an entire meal.
So, I figured one solution for this would be to provide him with a lunch that he could eat in pieces, thereby allowing him a natural break in between courses to continue a conversation. The tricky part of packing a Bento Box-style lunch is finding the correct sized container for the size of the lunch bag. There are a few eco-friendly and safe plastic and stainless steel alternatives out there, but many of them were too big for our lunch bags. But you can always just use a plastic food storage box and if you want to keep the food separate, put the different bits in muffin cup liners (or the reusable silicone ones), and tuck them in the container. When packing a Bento Box, cut up any kind of meat (ham, tuna, turkey kielbasa, chicken etc.) and/or cheese (BabyBel, marble cheddar, provolone) into chunks, strips or slices, a handful of fruit (cherries, grapes, strawberries) and vegetables (carrots, cucumbers, fresh peas, beans). Include a mini bun or crackers and you have a well-balanced, litter-free lunch that took very little effort to prepare.
What are you packing for lunch?
Clearly, Dads were the inspiration behind EatSavvy this month—with the menu laid out for a Father’s Day Feast. We made things simple, savoury and sweet, just like our Dads but we want to be clear that this menu is not just for that one day of the summer—it’s a perfect summertime feast for any night. We chose recipes that not only Dad would like (and that paired well with beer) but items that the kids could get involved with preparing. We know that if the children are more involved in the preparation of the food, they are more likely to eat it and enjoy it. So lemonade and ice cream cake are obvious choices for the kids, but why shouldn’t they also help with the seasonal green salad and yummy strawbana kebabs. Get them excited about fresh produce at an early age—there is always chocolate to dip in if necessary! Enjoy your dinner.
What did you make for Father’s Day dinner?
I must confess that as much as I love cooking (and food!), most food sites don’t really appeal to me. They always seem like they are trying too hard or they end up making me feel inadequate in the kitchen. But recently Mixing Bowl Mama (aka Jan Scott, mom of two boys aged 7 and 9) from MixingBowlKids.ca paid us a visit over here at the EatSavvy blog and introduced me to her wonderful site. I must confess I am hooked. Her conversational posts are full of great and easy recipes for any family. Fresh ingredients are a major theme, as is getting the kids to help with the food prep, something I am working on. In fact, I love this site so much I’ve taken to making most of the recipes on the site in lockstep to them being published! It’s nice having someone else help me with great ideas in the kitchen now for healthy, yummy food for my family. Try the Banana Bites and the Pasta a la Mama to get started, and jump on board the MixingBowl Kids bandwagon with me!
What are your favourite food sites?
Photo courtesy of MixingBowlKids.ca
Do you want your kids to think you’re magic? Pop some corn on the stove—in a pot! If you have a pot with a clear lid use that so they can see what is popping inside the pot. Then just watch their jaws drop and their eyes pop out of their faces. Our microwave in the bag/movie going toddler set (and anyone under thirty, frankly) is likely never to have seen popcorn popped in a pot, on the stove, with melted butter dripping on top. Poor things.
All you need is a bag of kernels, some butter, salt and about 2 Tbsp of oil. Pour the oil and some butter (butter at this stage is optional but I like to include it for taste—about a tbsp) in the pot until melted and hot. Add enough kernels to cover the bottom of the pot and more, and turn the heat to medium. Wait for the first pop, then the second and then the tenth…keep the lid on and keep moving the pot back and forth so the kernels move around and the popped ones don’t stick to the bottom.
Pour the popped corn into a bowl. Melt more butter in the same pot immediately after. Pour melted butter on top and add salt (to taste) and mix well. It will bring you back to your childhood…just remember to share some with your kids.
We’ve got a new Sunday night tradition in our house and I am very excited about it. Each week one of my three kids is appointed the Executive Chef and is responsible to plan the menu, help me shop and help me prep and cook the meal for the rest of the family on Sunday. While the cooking is going on, the other two kids play board games with Daddy.
This new routine has come with many wonderful benefits (which is what I was hoping it would when I devised the tradition). First of all, and perhaps most importantly, it’s giving my kids a chance to be exposed to hands-on cooking and for me to be able to teach them some basics about the kitchen and getting meals on the table. Secondly, it’s giving them pride in what they choose for dinner and how the table is set and this ‘ownership’ means they’re interested in helping out more with getting meals on the table. And lastly, we’re all together at Sunday dinner prep time so I don’t feel like I am slaving away in the kitchen solo while everyone else is relaxing (to tell the truth, usually at this time they were all watching TV and that used to drive me crazy. No TV in the kitchen so no TV anymore.) And of course that one on one time with the chef of the week is wonderful too.
Do you have any cooking traditions in your family?
As I wrote here a few weeks ago, my family has a new Sunday night dinner tradition where the kids take turns choosing the menu and then helping me with the meal prep. Bit by bit, they are picking up some kitchen skills and I have learned a little bit about cooking with kids too—there are some safety issues to be aware of and then there are some ‘patience and enthusiasm’ issues. But it’s definitely an investment in their (our) future so I am trying my best to impart in them some good cooking knowledge.
On the safety front, there is a lot to learn about food contamination, fire hazards and knives, and it can be a bit overwhelming. So I’ve started with a few key safety lessons:
As to keeping them enthusiastic, I’ve found a few key principles go a long way:
What have been your lessons learned from cooking with your kids?
My husband and I are complete foodies—we love to cook and create a multitude of recipes from the everyday (pizza) to the exotic (foul mudammas). When our little girl was born, we weren’t sure how our unusual diet would work for her young palate, but she constantly surprised us by being intrigued by sophisticated flavours—forget the carrots and ham, she wanted the lamb Harira soup.
Now that she’s getting close to two years of age, she’s becoming interested in how we prepare the food. She wanders into the kitchen and raises her arms, insisting on seeing what is on the counter and learning the ingredients. As a consequence, I’ve begun my ‘Kiddie Culinary Training’.
First we started with cookie cutters and play dough (before graduating to real dough). Then, we tried dressing a pita pizza together with the prepared ingredients of cheese, pepperoni and mushroom slices (we haven’t graduated to the sauce part yet). My attempts at getting her to mix up a liquid mixture with a wooden spoon ended up a bit messy, but she waved it around with great flourish! But my favourite moments in the kitchen with Ally include making her fruit smoothies. She puts the fruit into the little magic bullet blender container, then I add the juice and yogurt and together, we do the blender dance (not unlike a full body wiggle—see below) to make that sound less scary and event lots of fun.
How did you introduce your kids to cooking?
“I was too busy at recess to eat my snack. There wasn’t enough time to eat my snack today. I set my container down on the ground while I was playing and forgot to pick it up again. Why can’t I bring candy for my snack? Dessert means chocolate, not fruit. Can you please pack me a non-healthy snack today?”
Seven years as a parent of school-aged children and two children later, I have discovered that packing snacks can be just as challenging as packing lunches. Having nutritious snacks throughout the day is especially important for school-aged children because they help to keep their energy levels up and their minds alert.
Here are a few of our favourite lunchbox or recess snack ideas.
What kinds of snacks do your children like to take to school?
There’s always a lot on my to-do list the week leading up to Easter, but one activity that my family looks forward to helping me check off my list is colouring eggs. I always have the best intentions of incorporating some of Martha’s beautiful egg decorating ideas, but in the end I fall back on the PAAS Easter Egg Decorating Kits. They are inexpensive, simple to use and available everywhere. Once the eggs are coloured and/or decorated, we display them in a basket or on an Easter plate as the centerpiece.
It occurred to me as we were colouring our eggs last night, that even though it seems so simple, there are a few tips and tricks that can make the difference between a successful egg colouring activity, and a disaster.
Here are a few simple tried-and-true tips:
Did I mention how much fun you’ll have trying to scrub the dye off of your fingers once you’re done?
Do you have any egg colouring ideas or tips?