Posts tagged under Kids. Show all posts.
When it comes to feeding our families, it can be remarkably difficult to make a meal that is universally appealing to all the hungry mouths at the table. As a somewhat picky eater myself, I understand and accept this concept, but as chief-cook-in-residence it can be a challenging one to navigate.
After years of feeding a family, I’ve learned that I don’t believe in forcing anyone to eat something that elicits gags and groaning, but I am a firm believer in the one bite rule. In other words, at least one bite must be taken from each item on the plate. As Karen Le Billon states in her book, “You don’t have to like it, but you do have to taste it.” In my experience, what starts off as one bite eventually ends up as three or four before you know it.
Another thing I’ve learned is that if one of my kids detests something, like a burger for example, and I serve it in a new and inventive way, the previously offensive food is now one of interest. It doesn’t matter that I was only creative out of necessity (no buns in the house, only four pickles in the jar and barely enough cheese to feed a mouse), the bottom line is that being inventive made me realize that while my kids won’t always happily nosh on what’s before them, they are more interested in trying something if a food can be seen in a new light.
How are you dealing with your picky eaters these days?
My children have many friends who suffer from a variety of food allergies, most of which are anaphylactic. They occasionally come to our house for lunch and dinner, and I’ve been known to feed those kids classroom and after-school snacks. I’m very cautious when feeding them, as anyone would be.
Last week, the annual Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences was held in Windsor, Ontario, and academics gathered to discuss everything from book censorship to brand power. For the first time, a small study was done—and shared—on the social implications of children who live with food allergies. Researchers presented that these young people often suffer from loneliness and social isolation.
The kids that were interviewed for the research (all ages 8 to 16) shared tales of the barriers that make them feel ‘different’: being invited to birthday parties and not being able to eat the food served; having to sit far away from kids who are eating possible contaminated items; needing to take the time to read ingredient labels before eating something; having to avoid most restaurants, fast food outlets and variety stores that their friends are frequenting; walking around with an EpiPen at all times; and generally feeling nervous, anxious and embarrassed over their situation.
I was saddened to learn that young kids are feeling this way but it makes sense to me. Because some of those who were interviewed are now in their early teens, I’m wondering if things have gotten better for the younger kids who suffer, due to more social awareness surrounding the allergies. Experts seem to think so, now that Ontario has passed the Sabrina Law (schools need to be trained in anaphylaxis care and have an action plan in place).
I’m curious though, if your child is anaphylactic, or suffering from any kind of food allergies, is it any better for them socially than the kids who were interviewed for the study? Is there anything that other parents and friends can do to help them feel less isolated?
Some of this season’s best desserts—cobblers, pies and big bowls of fresh berries—need nothing more than a little whipped cream to jazz them up. Ice cream is nice too, but in the summer heat it melts so quickly, leaving nothing more than a sweet mess on your plate.
I’ve been putting my kids in charge of our whipped cream production these days, and instead of hauling out the heavy-duty mixer, we use a mason jar and some cold cream to make our favourite dessert garnish.
The process is rather simple: place the cream and a tablespoon of powdered sugar (granulated doesn’t dissolve easily in cold liquid) in a clean mason jar and secure the lid tightly. Have the kids take turns shaking the jar repeatedly until the liquid has thickened and stops moving around. This takes about five minutes or so, and it’s a great science experiment, not to mention boredom buster. Just be careful they don’t shake it too much, otherwise you’ll end up with a jar of sweetened butter to top your pies.
What are some of your favourite summer desserts?
Find the full printable recipe here: Whipped Cream in a Jar
If you’re anything like me, this summer you’ve been lugging a large watermelon home from the grocery store or farmers’ market only to wonder how you’re going to go about storing the massive gourd.
A few weeks ago, I decided I would use a portion of each one and turn it into a cool and refreshing drink. It helps me with the storage issue and gives the kids something different to quench their thirst with.
Loaded with antioxidants, vitamin C and K and anti-inflammatory properties, watermelon is not only sweet and juicy but also really good for you. I’ve managed to pare the sugar down to just half a cup and I’m thinking it might even be easily replaced with honey, although I’ve yet to try that.
What are you drinking to keep cool these days?
Find the full printable recipe here: Watermelon Lemonade
Although we recently published a list of ideas and recipes for back-to-school lunches, it’s nice to know what other moms are packing for their kids, too. Which is why we took to Facebook to ask the question, “What is your go-to lunch to pack for school?” Thankfully we received some really great answers that included tips for hiding brown spots on apples, unique dessert ideas and character sandwiches that transform the midday meal into something out of this world.
Star wars cookie cutter deli meat sandwiches with fruit, cucumbers and some homemade banana bread as a treat and water to drink!! He always comes home and tells me it was the BEST lunch ever! – Laura Lindsay
Turkey wrap, apple slices sprinkled with cinnamon (tastes yummy and hides the ‘browning’ by lunch), a thermos of water and a treat (cookie, granola bar, etc.) – Elizabeth Barone Russell
Leftovers in a thermos. Chocolate milk in a thermos. I make mini pumpkin pies for his dessert. – Abby Allthatmakesyou
My daughter has been enjoying cold cheese quesadillas with a small Tupperware of sour cream. – Elizabeth N. Harvey
She LOVES tuna sandwiches with dill pickle minced in. Must have something chocolate like a brownie and juice boxes, with grapes on the side. – Sharon Marie Cosby
Dinosaur shaped butter & jam sandwiches with cucumbers, marble cheese, yogurt and apple sauce. Water to drink. – Jennifer Fabian Gibbs
If you didn’t get the chance to share your answer, please do tell us what packed lunches your kids like best and which ones are the easiest for you to make—just comment below.
Somewhere in the culinary dictionary, about halfway between pancakes and cookies, you will find these little gems. Cooked on the stovetop in a skillet, then finished in the oven, it’s hard to know how we should classify this sweet treats, but it really doesn’t even matter because the kids will love them regardless of their moniker.
I was drawn to this recipe simply because it screamed ‘Halloween,’ yet managed to avoid the colourful appearance and cloying taste of most of the treats available at this time of year. I think it makes a fun afterschool snack, and the squeeze bottle/piping bag that you use to make the web shape is perfect for little hands, giving the kids the chance to make their own creepy creations.
Find the full printable recipe here: Skillet Spider and Web Cookies
Putting a fun spin on an already favourite food is a great way to get the kids in the kitchen, and recently I did exactly that when I asked my 10 year old to make grilled cheese sandwiches in our waffle maker.
The genius of using the waffle iron to cook a grilled cheese is that the stove top isn’t required, making it safer for smaller children to start working in the kitchen. The sandwich is cooked evenly on both sides, not only saving you time, but also the hassle of flipping the bread over—not always an easy task for small hands.
I’m not going to lie—I was completely charmed by these myself, mostly thanks to the perfectly golden and crispy bread filled with oozy melted cheese. Served alongside a bowl of soup, it just might be possible to get the kids to make your dinner tonight.
Find the full printable recipe here: Waffle Grilled Cheese
When I came across the original version of this recipe, I knew it would be one worth sharing. It comes together quickly (less than 30 minutes), is made with humble ingredients you’re likely to have on hand and it’s pretty kid friendly, or so my picky eater tells me.
It’s also flexible. Feel free to replace the carrots and celery with something else (leeks, onions, peas) if you don’t have those vegetables on hand. The aged cheddar can be swapped with your family’s favourite cheese and if you don’t have smoke paprika on hand, chili powder can work in a pinch, or just leave the extra spice out altogether. If you want to boost the protein content, leftover chopped chicken would taste fantastic here, as would cooked shrimp or slices of sausage.
Does your family enjoy soup? What is your favourite variety?
Find the full printable recipe here: Cheesy Chowder
Here’s a story I thought you might be interested in:
Earls, a restaurant chain located in B.C. and other parts of Canada, recently came under fire after a customer—a local mom who was out for dinner with her husband, 9-month-old son and friends—posted the following comment on the establishment’s Facebook page:
“… We figured Earls would be a good choice as it’s always had a great atmosphere and great food. I was quite disappointed when we asked our hostess for a high chair and were told that the restaurant didn’t have any. Our hostess offered us a booster seat, but as any parent knows—a booster seat is completely useless with a baby. I was also unhappy to find there was no change table in the restroom (most restaurants will have them discreetly installed on the wheelchair stall wall). I understand that Earls isn’t a Kinder Cafe but people who enjoy your restaurant also have babies and we should be comfortable bringing them to your restaurants. I urge your management to consider providing these inexpensive conveniences for your customers. Thank you.”
The post quickly collected a number of likes (517 to date) and comments (283) and sparked a flurry of follow-up posts (43 at the time of writing this article) that support both Earls and the customer. Clearly this topic resonated with a lot of people.
Earls quickly responded by clarifying their position on families:
“Although we at Earls love and welcome families, we would not classify ourselves as a family restaurant. Our restaurants do not, as a rule, offer high chairs & booster chairs or changing stations. I know this may not be the response you are looking for, but I hope you can understand that we have an obligation to our customers…”
The spokesperson also made a point of mentioning that the restaurant hasn’t had high chairs (for the most part) for over 10 years and there are very few requests for them.
I’m curious, though—what do you think? As parents, do you care if restaurants have high chairs, booster seats and change tables? Do you want to frequent the same places you went before you had kids and hope your favourite restaurants will accommodate your growing family?
Interestingly, last year I wrote about a similar dining out dilemma. It was a popular post with our SavvyMom readers, and if you’re interested, check out what my brother-in-law has to say about the issue: he’s a restaurateur and father, and I think you might be surprised by his answer.
I came across an article in the New York Post stating that home cooked meals rank pretty high on the list of things that make us happy. It turns out we are most content when we experience the simple things in life—and managing to fit in time for a family meal is considered to be more exhilarating than cash.
Do you think this is also true for the maker of the family meal? I remember many a dinner when I wanted to pull all of the hair from my head from the sheer stress caused by dining with my family, and in particular, my picky eater. It didn’t matter which foods I fed him, he was determined to eat what he wanted and nothing else. And what he wanted was the ubiquitous chicken nugget.
At the time I didn’t consider making homemade versions of their favourite ‘kid food,’ but boy, do I ever wish I had. Luckily, it didn’t take me long to discover a little trick known as ‘yogurt marinade’ and in no time, my homemade chicken strip making days began. They still continue today and this recipe has appeared on the table more times than I can count. I now boost the topping with a healthy dose of chia seeds. They add a subtle crunch to the coating—not to mention a little extra protein, fibre, omega-3s and antioxidants.
And that, along with dining with my family, makes me really happy.
Find the full printable recipe here: Chia Chicken Strips
Hot on the heels of our discussion about the lack of high chairs in a restaurant cooking up a food fight comes another dining out drama I thought you might be interest in.
An American restaurant recently offered a family a discount on their receipt for having well-behaved kids. The photo was posted by a Reddit user who received four dollars off of the pre-tax bill because her children were presumably well mannered and quiet. Generating over 1580 comments, the photo has earned some cheers—and jeers—from the Internet for its unconventional reward system.
The Huffington Post asked a few great questions on the topic, like how much colouring was done before the meal? Were there iPhones at the table? Did they get all-you-can-eat buttered pasta from the first moment of the meal? Was there any food on the floor at the end at all? In essence, which behaviours are deemed discount worthy?
One commenter on the original post wondered what happens to the families who don’t get the discount? Do they dispute it? Do they care? And is there a surcharge for loud kids or those who don’t finish their dinner? Or, ultimately, is this just an act of kindness extended to random families who’ve earned?
I’m curious, though, what do you think about this? Would you be more willing to eat somewhere that offered a deal based on table etiquette? Or is this just plain silly and it would never influence your decisions to dine at such an establishment?
If you’ve been thinking about getting into the kitchen to cook with your kids, this homemade soda bread recipe is a pretty fantastic place to start.
Not only is it perfect to serve with your St. Patrick’s Day dinner on Sunday, but the short ingredient list (only five!) and absence of sharp knives and heavy-duty appliances makes this even more appealing for little chefs.
Soda bread is made without yeast or a lengthy rising time. In fact, it’s one of the only breads that can be made, baked and served in about 30 minutes flat. This basic recipe can be made sweet by adding some chocolate chips or raisins, or savoury with the addition of cheddar cheese and herbs. And because the dough is so forgiving, you can bake one large loaf or divide it into six individual portions so it more resembles a hearty scone—perfect for serving alongside a bowl of chili, stew or favourite soup.
Are you cooking with your kids these days? What are some of your favourite recipes to make?
Find the full printable recipe here: Soda Bread
Bite-size biscuits made with whole-wheat flour, mashed sweet potatoes and creamy buttermilk sounds like the ideal toddler food, don’t you think?
What started out as one of my favourite recipes for entertaining—make a few trays of fresh biscuits and serve them paired with a sweet glazed ham and assorted grainy mustards for a DIY food station—quickly became one of my go-to snacks for my boys when they were little. Now that they’re grown, they still request these in the school lunch box, and my 2-year-old niece can’t get enough of them when she comes for a visit.
Unlike traditional biscuits, these don’t have a crunchy exterior, but rather they are soft and tender throughout, making them ideal for little mouths. I like to serve them with some chopped ham or scrambled eggs and fresh fruit for a meal, or paired with a glass of icy cold milk for an afternoon snack.
I shared the recipe on my own blog in 2010 and shortly after that it was published in The Whole Family Cookbook, an excellent resource for parents looking to make fresh and healthy family-friendly recipes using seasonal ingredients. I hope you like it as much as we do.
Find the full printable recipe here: Sweet Potato Biscuits
Megan Ogilvie is the health reporter for the Toronto Star, and she recently penned the fascinating read Menu Confidential. Essentially, it’s a guide to conquering the calories, sodium and fats that are hiding in the foods you love to eat outside of the home, and my family is finding it completely fascinating.
Divided into categories like Breakfast, Snacks, Fast Food, Dining Out, Grab and Go at the Grocery Store, and Canadian Classics, this book will tell you just how many calories are in your favourite movie theatre popcorn, Tim Horton’s muffin or chain restaurant chocolate milkshake.
Loaded with the detailed analysis of more than 150 foods, the book is packed with practical advice on navigating kids menus, best bets for eating at the food court and the low-down on which store-bought muffin has the best nutritional value.
My kids have spent a few hours perusing the pages of the book. Filled with colourful pictures and punchy pockets of text, it’s very reader-friendly and is an excellent resource for the family library, especially when you have older kids who are eating on their own—away from home—a little more often.
We were very surprised to learn that an Ikea cinnamon bun with frosting only has 276 calories—I certainly thought it would be more—and 6 grams of fat, and that your average diner breakfast typically packs close to a whopping 1,000 calories with more than 50 grams of fat.
Now I turn it over to you—do you know how many calories and grams of fat are in a medium-size bag of movie theatre popcorn? Share your guesses and I’ll come back to reveal the answer.