www.eating-made-easy.com is finally here! In a few months, this blog will be extinct. But Eating Made Easy has all the same info but in a more user-friendly format, and with even more great tips. Check it out!
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If you're a busy mom (or busy anyone!) who feels like the only snack you can ever think of is apple slices with peanut butter, you're not alone. It's hard to think of new snacks, and the old staples (that you already know your kid likes) are so easy to reach for. Though I'm not a mom, I get in snack ruts all the time, so it's time for some new ideas. Below are some snacks to try. You may initially think "Nice idea, but MY kid isn't going to like that." Before you dismiss an idea (which sometimes happens when you yourself don't like a certain food, right?), I encourage you to give it a whirl. Thinking outside the box of "kid foods" opens up a whole new set of taste preferences for kids, and you never know what your kid will like. Also keep in mind that kids may not like something the first time they see it or try it, but that doesn't mean you can't try again; it can take up to 10 introductions for a kid to feel comfortable with a new food (I know that might mean 10 times of fighting then having to make something else, so don't feel bad if you're not up for it :) ).
These can of course be adjusted to fit your kid's taste buds:
For Toddlers (older kids will love too)
Corn Quesadillas -- 1 corn tortilla with shredded cheddar cheese & a sprinkling of corn kernels, microwaved then folded over, or cooked until crisp in a skillet.
Honey wheat pretzels sticks with dips -- For the dips, try: mustard + honey or maple syrup (you can make it spicy or sweet), shredded cheddar whisked into warm milk for cheese sauce, peanut butter + honey, refried black beans + light cream cheese + lime juice.
Smoothies -- Use milk as the base rather than juice, then add plain yogurt and frozen fruit of any kind. (Tip: make your own frozen fruit in the summertime. And anytime, buy a bunch of bananas and let them get really ripe, then peel, break into pieces and freeze in a Ziploc for quick smoothies, shakes, or even banana bread). My favorite combos: strawberries + blueberries + vanilla soymilk + plain yogurt; mango + pineapple + banana + plain Kefir or low-fat buttermilk.
Tortilla Roll-Ups -- Start with a whole wheat tortilla, then go to town with the endless possibilities! Try one of these combos: peanut butter + apple slices + raisins; Italian cheese blend + prosciutto or ham + dollop of marinara sauce; cream cheese + turkey slices + chopped tomato; cheddar cheese + steamed egg (beat an egg w/ fork in a mug, microwave 1 min or until fluffy & cooked); refried beans + mild salsa + avocado.
Yogurt "Blend"-- simply mix plain yogurt with mashed fruit of any kind. Kids this age would of course love the overly-sweet commercial yogurts if you gave it to them, but there's no need, because to a toddler, plain yogurt even tastes sweet -- capitalize on this! Mashed bananas are easy, but you can also thaw any frozen berries, mango, pineapple, melons, etc in the microwave until very soft, then mash with a fork and add yogurt or Kefir (Kefir is cultured milk, very similar to yogurt but it is drinkable -- look for it near the yogurt in the grocery store). Other items to mix with yogurt: canned pumpkin, baby food sweet potatoes, baby food prunes, or applesauce.
Mini Rice Cakes/Soy Crisps with toppings -- Top little rice cakes or soy crisps with peanut butter + banana slices + raisins; cream cheese + strawberry slices + honey; hummus + cucumber slices; avocado + olive oil drizzle; cream cheese + sliced black olives/olive tapenade.
For Older Kids (with lots of teeth) & Adults
Dip Contest-- Kids will try anything if they get to vote or play a game. Put out 3 different kinds of dip (hummus, ranch made with Greek yogurt & seasoning packet, fruity salsa, cheese sauce, honey mustard dressing, etc.) and a tray of cut veggies. Say something like this: "Today, you guys are judges, and your job is to decide which of these dips is the best! I need you to try each one, then tell me which is #1, #2, and #3, and then we'll figure out which is the winner." Watch this table of kids gobble down broccoli florets like you've never seen.
Homemade Flavored Popcorn -- microwave (Light or Unbuttered) or stove popped (super easy, just heat 1 Tbsp oil in a large pot for 2-3 min then add 3 Tbsp of popcorn kernels and cover with a lid: you'll have popcorn in a few short minutes). Then try one of these combos: nonstick cooking spray + grated Parmesan cheese, lime juice + few splashes Tapatio or Tabasco + salt, 1 Tbsp melted butter + brown sugar, nonstick cooking spray + cinnamon + sugar.
Fruit Parfaits -- Set out cottage cheese or plain yogurt, 2-3 bowls of chopped fruit or berries, a small bowl of chopped nuts or granola, and small clear glasses or plastic cups. Have kids build their own parfaits by layering the ingredients, then top with a drizzle of honey.
Homemade Trail Mix -- Place bowls of different nuts, dried fruits, cereals, and a few chocolate covered raisins (if your kids can handle that!) then give each kid a small plastic cup where they can make their own trail mix. Trader Joe's is a great place to find well-priced and unique dried fruits, nuts, and cereals, to keep everyone's interest.
Tropical Fruit Tray -- so often we only think of apples, bananas, and oranges, but there are so many wonderful fruits in every season that kids love. Make trays with a variety of colors to increase appeal, and let kids go to town (give them skewers to make their own "kabobs"). In the summer it's easy: watermelon, cantaloupe, honeydew, nectarines, golden plums, apricots, tons of berries, grapes, fresh figs. In the fall, try persimmons, different kinds & colors of apples, and pears. In the winter, try kiwis, star fruit, satsumas, pink grapefruit. Keep your eye out for new or exotic fruits at the grocery store or farmer's market...and if you're not sure what to do with something, ask the farmer or produce guys -- they'll happily tell you how to cut it, which parts to eat, and how to tell if it's ripe.
Fruit Dip -- Just like with veggies, dips can make fruit more exciting. Make your own fruit dip by mixing 1) 6 oz fruit yogurt + 1/4 cup whipped topping or whipped cream + lemon or lime zest; 2)6 oz plain yogurt + 2 Tbsp peanut butter + 1 Tbsp honey + pinch of cinnamon;3)cup of Ricotta cheese + 2 Tbsp caramel or chocolate sauce + pinch of cinnamon or cocoa powder; 4)cup of Greek yogurt + chopped fresh mint + lemon zest + 2 Tbsp Maple Syrup.
Sweet Potato Treat -- turn baked or microwaved sweet potatoes into a "dessert" kids will love. Give each kid half a sweet potato (halved lengthwise), top with a little butter, then help them add a drizzle of honey, maple syrup, sweetened condensed milk, or brown sugar + pinch of cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice + dollop of plain or vanilla yogurt. Let them mash it all in and enjoy.
Every home cook needs some tricks up his or her sleeve. A handy list of healthy and natural (as opposed to potentially hazardous) "kitchen hacks" was brought to my attention, and I can't wait to put some of them to use starting today! Below are some ways to recover from common cooking mishaps. For more great food storage, cleaning, and other random but awesome tips, click here.
We’ve all goofed up when it comes to cooking. Here are some simple tips that will help you in a pinch.
31. If you’ve burned your gravy, pour it into a new pan and sprinkle a dash of sugar in it. - The sugar will counteract the bitterness from the burned gravy, but won’t leave it with a sweet taste. 32. Did you add too much salt? Throw in a peeled potato. - Throw in a peeled potato while your dish is still cooking. 33. When boiling eggs, add a pinch of salt to keep the shells from cracking. - This is great right around Easter time. No one wants cracked Easter eggs. 34. Is your rice a bit brown on the bottom of the pot? - Place a piece of white bread on top of the rice for approximately 5-10 minutes. This will take away that burnt flavor. Remember to take off the burnt part when you serve it! 35. When your casseroles or other dishes end up to greasy, add a piece of ice. - The ice cube will attract the fat, which you can then spoon out. 36. No need to buy expensive mixing bowls with rubber bottoms. - Set you’re bowl on top of a damp cloth. You’ll never have to worry about it sliding around while you’re mixing something. 37. Burnt food smells can removed from the air by placing a shallow bowl about ¾ of the way full with white or apple cider vinegar . - The odor should disappear in less than a day or if it’s a really strong odor it might take 1 to 2 days. 38. Soak stove burner grates in 1 gallon warm water and 1/2 cup baking soda. - them Leave them in there for 30 minutes. Rinse and dry them and they will be looking shiny and new. 39. To get rid of those stuck on food splatters in the microwave, place a water-soaked sponge inside and cook in on high for two minutes. - Leave the microwave door closed for another five minutes to let the sponge cool off. The steam will loosen up the food and you can easily wipe it all off without the use of chemical cleaners. 40. Spills in the oven - If that dish your cooking starts to cook over, take it out of the oven and pour salt on the spill. This will soak it right up. When the oven is cool, wipe with down with a damp sponge. **tips from http://www.mritechnicianschools.org/56-healthy-natural-hacks-you-should-be-using-in-the-kitchen/
I know, sounds weird. And hard. But it's neither. It's easy and delicious, and a great way to use fresh, beautiful produce like this:
even in the middle of winter. Click here for the Carrot Souffle Recipe. In my slightly more low-cal version:
I use 1% milk instead of whole, and only 1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar. Still SO good. If you were having company or wanted to eat this over a few days, you could make individual little souffles like this:
Meels is my nickname and meals are my passion, so my friends call me Healthy Meels. In Spring 2010, the Healthy Meels blog will become Eating Made Easy, a site that will remove confusion & add joy to your eating routine. Stay tuned!!