Saturday, March 5, 2011

Family Eating - Take One

I know family-friendly eating tips are a dime-a-dozen these days, but I feel inclined to offer mine too. I can never seem to find tips and recipes that are quick enough for me and yet still well-rounded. I don't want to wash a bunch of pans...and I don't want to have to make a salad every night...I want the veggies in the meal too! I'm cooking for a 3-year old, who is a pretty adventurous eater (he likes seaweed salad), but won't eat potatoes or most meats. And I'm cooking for a 10-month old who has been on table foods for months...primarily because they're great entertainment for him and allow me 10 minutes to eat (although like most moms I can inhale a days worth of calories in 15 seconds standing in front of the fridge). I certainly don't want to be a short-order cook, but I can't expect kids with palates like the grown-ups. As much as I like macaroni and cheese, I want to enjoy more sophisticated food on occasion too. So here is how my family eats.

  • Chili: I'm a big fan of vegetarian chili. In addition to beans, pureed pumpkin (a good thickener), peppers, and corn are all easy additions. But my 3-year old doesn't like soup. So I'll pull out the veggies and use them as "toppings" for some whole-grain baked tortilla chips (or some other type of relatively healthy chip). With a little cheese melted on top, he thinks he is getting a treat, but he is eating loads of veggies. The baby gets the same veggies, pulled out of the chili, and some sliced avocado. And my husband and I enjoy ours with sour cream, avocado, and a little extra chili powder sprinkled on top.
  • Rotisserie or Roasted Chicken: A mom's best friend. You can roast your own or buy one in the store. I'm sure they're pumped full of all kids of stuff I don't want to know about, but I'm addicted to the rotisserie chickens at Coscto. I'll serve slices over a salad or serve with some roasted veggies. My oldest likes the legs (pretty much the only meat he'll eat) and the dark meat is soft enough it slides down the throat of my youngest. Leftovers get thrown into soup, tossed with barbecue sauce for sandwiches, or served over egg noodles with soft cooked carrots, peas, and celery.
  • Big Salads: One night a week, I'm actually willing to do the chopping required for a big salad. My oldest will eat a bit of salad with bottled Italian dressing, but he won't eat with stuff in it. So when my husband and I are having a greek salad, I'll reserve some cucumbers, tomatoes, and protein and serve them separately for the boys. The youngest gets big wedges of cucumber and the oldest likes his in rounds. My husband and I also love a chopped salad with tomato, green beans, hard boiled egg, artichokes, white beans, and blue cheese. On those nights, the boys get the green beans, hard boiled egg, and white beans. Everyone gets a chunk of bread as well. Tonight we had salads with chicken, grapes, goat cheese and almonds. The boys got the chicken, grapes, and a bit of bread with goat cheese.
  • Fish: On Sunday we usually have fish, since I shop on the weekends and can have it fresh. I typically serve a white fish (Barefoot Contessa's Mustard Roasted Fish is my go to) or teriyaki salmon. I let my oldest dip white fish in ketchup and salmon in barbecue sauce. Yeah, he eats a lot of sauce, but at least he gets the fish! On nights we have fish, I'll typically serve other things I know the boys like, in case the fish isn't a big hit.
  • Frittatas: I know everyone suggests breakfast for dinner, but I never really want breakfast for dinner. But a frittata seems a bit more palatable. I like the Everyday Food method - 8 or 9 eggs, 1/2 cup of cheese, mix-ins of your choice. Cook on stove top till the edges pull away from a non-stick skillet. Then bake in the over (425 degrees) until the top is set. I like mine with some sauteed leeks and a handful or two of cherry tomatoes (don't cut them, just let them blister a bit in the pan). Kids seem to love eggs and this is no exception. I typically serve this with sliced cantaloupe - don't know why, just feels like it goes.
  • Grilled Cheese: This hint isn't terribly ground-breaking. But grilled cheese is quick and easy and pretty flexible. My husband and I can have ours with artichokes, roasted red pepper, or any number of things and then we call it "panini" becuase that sounds more grown-up. If I let my oldest make his, he'll often put some veggies in too. I serve this at the end of week, as we always have the ingredients on hand and they don't really go "bad." I'll make a slaw with shredded cabbage and apples (boys just get the apples) and a all those ingredients can sit in your fridge for a while too.
  • Smoothies: On days when I feel like the boys need a vitamin boost (or they're having peanut and butter and jelly while we have steak or something they won't touch), I'll make a big smoothie. I'm not picky on the ingredients, but if I throw in some frozen blueberries and a handful of spinach, I feel like they've got their vitamins for the week. Once again, not ground breaking, but it's always a good thing to remember that veggies can go in smoothies too.
More hints later this week...

1 comment:

  1. These are all great ideas - and despite the many tips out there these days, these are all new to me!