Category Archives: Cooking with Kids

Smiling Chef Nazaree in an orange apron and floral blouse

5 Steps to a Better School Lunch With Junior Chef Showdown Winner Nazaree

Kids will be back in school  before you know it, so now would be  a good time to start brainstorming about your family’s September routine. Why not make this the year that you start incorporating kids into the lunch planning process? After all, learning how to make school lunches is a great way to encourage kids of all ages to become more comfortable and confident in the kitchen.

With this in mind, we turned to one of Canada’s most talented young chefs and this season’s Junior Chef Showdown winner, Nazaree, to give us some of her tips and tricks for packing better school lunches. 

Related: The Winning Dish From Junior Chef Showdown Will Become a Family-Favourite Meal in No Time

A boy eating lunch while watching his mom slice a cantaloupe

1. Get Kids Involved

Inspire kids to get excited about eating lunch at school by offering them a variety of options, making different recipes or taking them grocery shopping. As most parents can agree, just because their child likes a particular type of food or recipe at home does not always mean they’ll enjoy eating it at school. 

“I love eating pizza, but not if it’s cold,” Nazaree says, explaining that her microwave in the cafeteria isn’t always the best. “Instead, I like to bring a pizza-inspired sandwich to school,” to which she adds marinara sauce, shredded cheese and her favourite pizza toppings.

A sandwich in a child's bento box with cherries and carrots and celery

Related: Kitchen Skills Parents Should Teach Their Kids By Age 10

2. Pack Better Sandwiches 

There are many reasons why people love packing sandwiches for lunch: they’re portable, budget-friendly and the variety of ingredients that you can pack inside are endless. But there’s one aspect about sandwiches in your lunch box that’s hard to love they can get soggy quickly.

“Soggy sandwiches are worse than soggy pizzas,” Nazaree says with a laugh. Keep lunch box sandwiches from getting too soggy by packing the ingredients in individual containers and assembling the sandwich once it’s time to eat, she says. 

Another way to keep lunchbox sandwiches interesting is by rotating from your go-to sliced bread to bagels, pitas or baguettes. Kids with a more adventurous palate can taste test different cheeses or experiment with various sandwich toppings like mustards and dressings. If you or your little one isn’t a fan of sandwiches, check out these portable lunch ideas.Mango salad with tomatoes and onions

3. Switch Things Up

Busy families know that it’s all too easy to get into a rut when packing lunches for school. Add more excitement to your lunchbox by thinking how different ingredients can be incorporated into multiple meals and snacks. “I love bringing sliced mangoes to school,” Nazaree says. But to add more variety to her lunchbox, she eats them plain some days and uses them in her fruit salad on others. 

School age girl filling up reuseable water bottle

4. Buy Proper Supplies  

Stocking up on proper lunch supplies like reusable snack containers, thermal food jars and reusable water bottles makes packing lunches for school much easier. 

For many students, bento boxes are the must-have accessory in the cafeteria table. “Bento boxes are really popular for kids in the first or second grade,” she explains. For middle school students like herself, Nazaree recommends using bento boxes for more exciting lunches like build-your-own tacos. 

Apple Pie granola bars

5. Bring Shareable Snacks 

After many students experienced virtual learning during the past year or so, eating lunch together in person will feel even more special for kids that are returning to in-person learning. Nazaree says that nut-free desserts like donuts or ice cream sandwiches are always a big hit, if parents want to bring in treats for special occasions such as birthdays.

“My friends and I like to swap juice boxes, and we always like to share cookies and chips,” she adds.  So the next time you’re packing a special snack like homemade granola bars, ask kids if they want to pack a few extras to share with their friends at the lunch table. 

Watch Junior Chef Showdown and stream all your favourite Food Network Canada shows through STACKTV with Amazon Prime Video Channels, or with the new Global TV app, live and on-demand when you sign-in with your cable subscription.

Cross-section of pretty sandwiches made of white bread with whipped cream and sliced fruits

This Japanese Fruit Sando is the Sandwich of the Summer

Fresh fruit and sweetened whipped cream sandwiched inside fluffy white bread is a fun and easy no-bake treat to make. Called a fruit sando in Japan, it is made with Japanese milk bread (shokupan) which is wonderfully light and springy with a little bit of chew. Most East Asian grocery stores or bakeries will have them. If you can’t get a hold of it, the closest substitution is thickly-cut Texas toast or any thickly-cut, fluffy soft bread you can find. Use your favourite seasonal fresh fruit such as strawberries, kiwis, mangos, blueberries, etc. in this Kindred Kitchen recipe. Whatever you choose, arrange the fruit strategically along the cut line for an oh-so beautiful reveal.

pretty Japanese-inspired sandwiches with whipped cream and sliced fruit

Japanese Fruit Sando

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Rest Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Servings: 3 sandwiches

Ingredients:

7 large strawberries, stems trimmed off
3 kiwis, ends trimmed and halved lengthwise
1 mango, peeled and pitted and fleshy sides cut into long thick slices
1 passionfruit (optional)
1 cup whipping cream
6 Tbsp powdered sugar
6 slices of Japanese milk bread or other fluffy white bread

Three Japanese fruit sandos with strawberries, mango and kiwis ingredients on countertop

Directions:

1. Wash and pat the fruit with paper towels to remove excess moisture. Trim, peel, pit and cut as required (see above).

2. Pour whipping cream and sugar into a chilled bowl and whisk until stiff peaks. You’ll want the cream to be on thicker side, but also be careful not to overwhip. With a stand mixer, this takes 60 seconds.

Related: Bucket List Burgers and Sandwiches You Need to Try

3. Lay out bread slices and spoon ⅓  cup of whipped cream on each of the six slices. If you have a little bit of whipped cream remaining, hang onto that for the moment. Spread the cream evenly, leaving a small border around the edges which will be trimmed off later.

4. On three of the bread slices, arrange your fruit (in this case: strawberries, mango slices with passionfruit pulp dribbled on top and kiwi halves). Pay attention to how you place the fruit along the intended diagonal cut line since that’s what will be shown when the sandos are cut in half. Fill in larger gaps between fruits with any remaining whipped cream. Place the other bread slices on top.

Three Japanese fruit sandos with strawberries, mango and kiwis

5. Without changing the orientation of the sando, wrap each one tightly in a piece of plastic food wrap while pressing gently, but firmly down on it. Use a marker to draw a line on the plastic wrap where the intended cut will be so you know where to cut it later.

Three Japanese fruit sandos with strawberries, mango and kiwis wrapped in plastic wrap

6. Chill in refrigerator 30-60 minutes. When the rest time is over, make note of the marker line and unwrap each sando. Make a clean, firm cut along the line using a long, sharp knife. Trim off the four crusts (my kids snack on these). Wipe knife clean between every cut. Separate the sando halves to reveal your beautiful fruit design.

Like Sonia’s fruit sando recipe? Try her three-ingredient kimchi chicken patties or sweet and sour shrimp and tofu recipe.

Sweet and sour shrimp and tofu in two bowls

This Sweet and Sour Shrimp and Tofu Recipe is Better Than Takeout

I love home-cooked meals, but believe me when I say I don’t love spending all my time in the kitchen! Efficient cooking is key and nothing is more easy than a “one and done” meal where all the protein and veggies are cooked in one vessel. In this Kindred Kitchen sweet and sour shrimp and tofu recipe, most of the work is upfront prepping the ingredients — and then everything gets cooked in very quick succession all in one wok or pan. It’s one of my back pocket weeknight meals and so delicious served over rice or noodles.

Sweet and sour shrimp and tofu in two bowls

Sweet and Sour Shrimp and Tofu

Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Servings: 4-6

Ingredients:

1 lb jumbo shrimp, shells removed and deveined
¾ tsp kosher salt
1 tsp roasted sesame oil
3-4 dashes white pepper powder
3 scallions, cut into 1 ½” segments + 1 scallion chopped for garnish
2 slices fresh ginger
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 sweet bell pepper, cut into ¾” pieces
1 large or 2 small mangoes, cut into ¾” pieces (or pineapple)
1 package extra-firm tofu, cut into ¾” cubes
1 cup chicken or vegetable broth
2 Tbsp arrowroot starch (or cornstarch)
1 Tbsp Chinese cooking rice wine (or dry cooking sherry or Japanese mirin)
3 Tbsp Japanese rice vinegar (or apple cider vinegar)
3 Tbsp honey
4 Tbsp tamari or soy sauce
High-heat neutral oil for stir-frying
Toasted cashews for garnish

Sweet and sour shrimp and tofu ingredients on countertop

Directions:

1. In a bowl, toss shrimp with the salt, sesame oil and white pepper power. Set aside to marinade while you prep and cut the scallions, ginger, garlic, pepper, mangoes and tofu according to directions above.

2. In a separate bowl or large jar, whisk together broth, arrowroot starch, Chinese cooking wine, Japanese rice vinegar, honey and tamari. Set aside, keeping the whisk to give it a quick stir just before using.

Related: These Simple Stir-Fry Recipes Will Convince You to Cook More

3. Heat wok or large pan over medium-high heat. Add a drizzle of oil and the shrimp. Saute until shrimp just turn fully pink, ensuring not to overcook. They get reheated again at the end. Scoop them out and set aside.

Sweet and sour shrimp and tofu being cooked in wok

4. To the same wok or pan, add another drizzle of oil and the ginger slices, moving them around with your spatula for 5 seconds. Add scallions and cook 10 seconds. Add minced garlic and cook another 10 seconds.

5. Add bell peppers to the wok, sauteing briefly until tender, but still crisp. Add tofu and saute until heated through. Sprinkle kosher salt all over.

6. Whisk prepared sauce and pour in, bring it to a gentle simmer to thicken.

Sweet and sour shrimp and tofu being cooked in wok

7. Once visibly thickened, add mangoes as well as the cooked shrimp. Cook briefly only to heat them through. You’ll want the mangoes to retain their shape and most of the texture, and the shrimp to still be juicy. Taste and do a final seasoning with salt as needed.

8. Serve over steamed rice or noodles, with a sprinkle of scallions and/or toasted cashews to garnish.

Sweet and sour shrimp and tofu in one bowl

Like Sonia’s sweet and sour shrimp and tofu recipe? Try her hot dog fried rice or her three-ingredient kimchi chicken patties.

kimchi chicken patties on plate

30-Minute, 3-Ingredient Kimchi Chicken Patties Your Kids Will Love

Kimchi is the MVP in this Kindred Kitchen recipe. It’s a clever shortcut to maximum flavour in this easy 3-ingredient dish (we don’t count salt and oil as ingredients here). If you’re familiar with kimchi, you’ll know it’s loaded with garlic (a lot of it!), scallions, white onion and ginger. It has kick from Korean red chili pepper flakes and that signature tang from the fermentation process which perks everything up. Even if you or your children don’t eat kimchi straight up, its punchiness mellows out during cooking and imbues a subtler version of its complex flavour. Serve the patties inside a slider bun, pita bread or lettuce wrap. Or enjoy them as they are, alongside your favourite side for a wholesome meal. Scale up this recipe as needed. I make a double batch for my family of four with a few left over.

kimchi chicken patties on plate

30-Minute Kimchi Chicken Patties

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 10 patties

Ingredients:

1 lb ground chicken
½ cup finely-chopped kimchi that has been gently squeezed of excess brine
1 tsp tamari or light soy sauce
Kosher salt, to taste
Oil for pan frying
Chopped scallions for garnish (optional)

kimchi chicken patty ingredients on countertop

Directions:

1. Place ground chicken, kimchi, tamari or light soy sauce and salt in a large bowl and mix well. Seasoning tip: start with a little less salt than you think you need, approximately ½ tsp. Mix well and scoop 1 tsp of meat mixture onto a small plate and microwave 20 seconds to cook. Taste and add more kosher salt and/or tamari as needed. Once ready, heat a skillet over a medium to medium-high heat.

kimchi chicken patty ingredients being mixed together

2. While the skillet is heating up, form the patties and place them on a tray. To do so, scoop out ¼ cup of mixture per patty, shaping them into slightly flattened circles about 2 ½ inches in diameter and just under ¾ inches thick. Use your fingertips or back of a spoon to indent them slightly in the center. This encourages even cooking and minimizes shrinking as they cook.

Related: Easy 3-Ingredient Dishes From The Pioneer Woman

3. Add a drizzle of oil to the pan and cook the patties in batches, leaving a little bit of space around them. Cook for about 3-4 minutes on the first side and 2 minutes on the other side or until patties are golden brown and cooked all the way through. If you have a meat thermometer, the internal temperature at the center of the patty should be 165°F for fully cooked chicken. Garnish with chopped scallions, if desired. Enjoy!

kimchi chicken patties in frying pan

Like Sonia’s kimchi chicken patties? Try her hot dog fried rice or check out her expert food photo tips to show off your baked goods.

hot dog fried rice in black wok

Your Kiddos Will Not Stop Asking You to Cook This Hot Dog Fried Rice Recipe

It’s pretty much a fact that all kids (and many of us adults) love hot dogs. It’s also a fact that they are devoid of any meaningful nutrition. But alas, they find redemption in this hot dog fried rice recipe, alongside eggs, green beans and tofu. Tofu skeptics: this might just be your gateway tofu dish! This has long since been a family favourite at my house and I think it could be at yours too. (This dish can be enjoyed by everyone from age 3 and up). Be sure to cut hot dogs into small ⅛-inch slices so they’re not choking hazards for very young children. For a gluten-free version of this Kindred Kitchen recipe, opt for gluten-free hot dogs and tamari in place of soy sauce.

hot dog fried rice in skillet with wooden spoon

Hot Dog Fried Rice

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Servings: 4-5

Ingredients:

6 cups cooked rice (2½ cups uncooked rice), cooled and refrigerated 1-2 days
4 large eggs
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
Kosher salt to taste
High-heat neutral oil
4 hot dogs, thinly sliced to ⅛-inch pieces
1 package (400 g) extra-firm tofu, drained and patted dry, cut into ⅓-inch cubes
1 ½ tsp soy sauce (or tamari for gluten-free), divided
½ lb green beans, stem trimmed and cut into ⅓-inch pieces
2 tsp finely minced ginger
3 tsp finely minced garlic (from 4-5 medium cloves)
3 scallions, finely chopped (reserve a little bit for garnish)

hot dog fried rice ingredients on kitchen counter

Directions:

1. Take cooked rice out from the fridge and break up any clumps of rice thoroughly with your hands. Set aside. Then whisk eggs with sesame oil and a pinch of salt in a small mixing bowl. Set aside.

person fluffing rice in black bowl

2. Prepare all other ingredients. The key to any stir-fry is to not crowd the pan, cooking and seasoning every ingredient separately.

3. Preheat a wok or large heavy-bottomed sauté pan over medium heat. Drizzle oil and add whisked seasoned eggs, moving it around constantly with a spatula until eggs are starting to set. but still quite runny. (They will cook more at the end). Scoop out and set aside.

Related: Easy and Tasty Ways to Use Leftover Rice

4. Turn heat up to medium-high. Drizzle a tiny bit of oil and add sliced hot dogs. Stir-fry until heated through and edges are just starting to brown and even crisp up if you like. Scoop out and set aside, leaving behind any oil that came out of the hot dogs.

5. If needed, drizzle a bit more oil and add the tofu cubes. Stir-fry gently so as not to break them. Let the tofu heat through and get a little brown on the edges. Season with ¾ tsp soy sauce (or tamari) and salt to taste. Cook for 30 seconds, scoop out and set aside.

cooking cubes of tofu in black wok

6. Next, drizzle a bit of oil and stir-fry the cut green beans until tender, but still crisp, about 3 minutes. Season to taste with salt and ¾ tsp soy sauce (or tamari). Again, scoop out and set aside.

7. Heat 2-3 Tbsp of oil and add the minced ginger. Move it around and cook for 5-10 seconds. Add the minced garlic and cook for 5-10 seconds or until the garlic is just turning golden, being careful not to let it burn. Stir in most of the chopped scallions, remembering to reserve some for garnish. Add 1 Tbsp more oil and make sure the oil is heated and quite hot at this point (but before smoking) before adding the chilled cooked rice. Stir everything to distribute everything evenly. Cook until rice is fully heated through.

Related: How to Cook a Perfect Pot of Rice on the Stove

8. Add back the hot dogs, tofu and green beans. Mix well and allow to heat back through for a minute. Finally, add the runny eggs and stir to distribute. Stir-fry another minute to cook eggs fully. Turn heat off and taste. Add salt if needed. Garnish with scallions. Enjoy!

hot dog fried rice in black wok

Like this hot dog fried rice recipe? Try this vegetarian mujadara!

13 Baked Alternatives to Your Favourite Fried Foods

Chicken fingers and fries, spring rolls, calamari, tempura… The list is endless when it comes to your favourite deep-fried dishes. Even though it would be great to indulge on a regular basis, it’s really not wise (for your health, at least) to be consuming these types of greasy foods that often.

So, we decided to find the most delicious and healthy baked versions of your deep-fried favourites that are sure to leave you feeling guilt-free but completely satisfied!

baked-alternatives-fried-foods

1. Mouthwatering Baked Buffalo Chicken
2. Nancy Fuller’s Sweet Potato Steak Fries
3. Baked Samosas with Tamarind Chutney 
4. Crunchy Cheesy Oven-Baked Chicken Wings
5. Panko Crusted Baked Shrimp 
6. Chuck’s Crab Cakes
7. Baked Falafel Sliders with Tabbouleh
8. Baked Turkey and Jack Cheese Chimichangas
9. 15-Minute Churros with Caramel Sauce
10. Anna Olson’s Baked Chocolate Almond Doughnuts
11. The Pioneer Woman’s Jalapeno Poppers
12. Valerie Bertinelli’s Southwestern Egg Rolls

13. Almond-Crusted Baked Eggplant

10 Quick Breakfasts for Busy Mornings

Don’t skip the most important meal of the day because you’re in a time crunch. Start your day off right with one of these quick breakfast options that are heavy on the nutrition and light on the ingredient list.

888_caramelized_onion_and_bacon_strata_cups

1. Caramelized Onion & Bacon Strata Cups
These savoury bread pudding cups are filled with the golden breakfast foursome: bacon, eggs, bread and cheese. Batch-make a bunch on the weekend and simply warm them up throughout the week for a no-fuss brekkie.

2. Banana Dog Bites
A quick, mess-free, portable breakfast you can eat while rushing out the door.

3. Overnight Mango Chia Breakfast Pudding
Mix up a Mason jar filled with chia seeds, frozen chopped mango, coconut milk and almond milk and a little splash of honey or maple syrup and leave it in the fridge overnight: you’ll wake up to a healthy breakfast pudding the kids will love.

4. Strawberry-Beet Smoothie
Popping a bright red beet into your morning smoothie gives it an intense colour and packs some serious nutritional punch. Don’t think you like beets? Once it’s whizzed with strawberries, banana and a little milk and honey, no one will ever believe you snuck one in.

5. 3 Ingredient Energy Bites
Whirl a handful of unsalted peanuts, chocolate chips and unsweetened shredded coconut in the food processor or blender, roll tablespoon-sized portions into a ball and breakfast is sorted.

6. Mini Ham and Cheese Quinoa Cups
Like a mini frittata, these muffin-size breakfast bites are full of good-for-you ingredients like cooked quinoa, eggs, egg whites, shredded zucchini, cheddar cheese and diced ham.

7. Avocado Coconut Banana Pops
These cool breakfast pops are jammed with more than just flavour. Made with creamy avocado, banana, frozen pineapple chunks and a mix of coconut yogurt and milk, these sweet morning treats are brimming with vitamins, Omega-3 and potassium.

8. Peanut Butter Banana Oat Smoothie
Frozen bananas, protein-packed peanut butter and Greek yogurt, and fibre-filled oats are blended together to create a thick and creamy peanut butter banana oat smoothie that will keep everyone full until recess.

9. 5 Ingredient Chia Coconut Energy Bites
Combine dates, shredded coconut, chia seeds and chopped nuts with pure honey in a bowl, roll them out and you’re done. Make a bunch in advance and keep in an air-tight container.

10. Nut Butter Crunch Toast with Granola and Honey
This quickie breakfast gets a crunchy boost from a sprinkling of granola, while the nut butter and banana make it substantial enough to keep you feeling full.

brunch ideas for kids

10 Ideas for a Kid-Friendly Brunch

Make weekend mornings more fun with these 10 scrumptious brunch ideas that kids will adore.

Pancake Snowman

1. Snowmen Pancakes
When making pancakes drop three small circles of batter in your pan so each one touches. When you flip it over you will have a snowman pancake ready to be decorated. Serve with bacon strips (to use as a scarf), berries for decorating the face, chocolate chips for the jacket and marshmallows to look like snow.

2. Egg in a Star Toast
Toast a few slices of bread. Use a cookie cutter to cut out star shapes from the bread. Place the bread in a large frying pan with butter. Fry eggs in star holes. Serve with ketchup!

3. Christmas Morning Fruit Bowl
In a large bowl mix together a selection of green and red fruit – try strawberries, raspberries, pomegranate seeds, cherries, sliced kiwis, grapes, apples and pears. Mix orange and lime juice with citrus zest and toss with fruit.

4. Reindeer Waffles
Take a round waffle that has been toasted and cut a triangle into one end (this will be the chin of the reindeer). Use scrap pieces to place at the top of the waffle to look like antlers. Use blueberries for the reindeer eyes, strawberries for a Rudolph nose and maple syrup to serve!

5. Red & Green Fruit Muffins
Make your favourite muffin recipe and mix in ¼ cup Christmas sprinkles as well as a big handful of pomegranate seeds and one mashed banana. Once you scoop your muffin batter into the tins, top with a mixture of red and green sprinkles.

6. Festive Fruit Parfaits
In tall glasses layer up yogurt, berries and granola to create a healthy, festive breakfast. Start by adding a layer of vanilla yogurt, topped with a layer of granola, sprinkle in some raspberries and blueberries and top with a small handful of yogurt. Continue layering until the glasses are full.

7. Santa Claus Strawberry Hats
Use strawberries and whipped cream to make mini Santa Claus hats. Clean and hull your strawberries. Dip the hulled end of the strawberry in cream and place on a plate or on top of brownies, muffins or pancakes. Place another dollop of cream on the pointed end of the strawberry to complete the Santa hat.

8. Cookie Cutter Pancakes
Use your favourite cookie cutter to make pancakes. Simply butter your pan and place the cookie cutter in the melted butter. Pour batter into the cookie cutter and wait until one side has set. Push the pancake out of the cutter to flip. Continue with a variety of shapes and sizes. Serve with maple syrup and sprinkles!

9. Christmas Fruit Tree
Use a large platter or cutting board to spread out chopped fruit in the shape of a large Christmas tree. Use sliced kiwis, green grapes and apples to look like the tree. Use red berries like raspberries or strawberries to string across the tree like lights. Top with a pineapple star! Sprinkle with pomegranate seeds.

10. Red & Green Christmas Morning Smoothie
Make a layered smoothie by first making a red berry smoothie using milk, yogurt, raspberries, strawberries and a banana. Set aside and mix your green smoothie using milk, yogurt, celery, spinach and apples. Layer your red and green smoothies in tall glasses and serve with straws.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brussels Sprouts Even The Pickiest Eaters Will Love

Brussels sprouts have always been one of the most feared vegetables among kids and it’s usually because they’ve only tried one version at home: boiled to a miserable soggy, mushy mess, with no flavour at all. Thankfully in recent years chefs have been doing this vegetable justice, browning the leaves to give them a crispy crunch, adding accoutrements like nuts and maple syrup, and pairing the otherwise bland vegetable with a bit of fat from umami bombs like bacon and cheese.

Here’s an easy way to serve up this cruciferous vegetable that’s loaded with vitamins K and C. Yes, it uses a bit of pancetta and butter, so it’ll never be as healthy as just steaming them, but then again, would you rather eat them without any flavour?

If you have a bit more time on your hands, you can also roast Brussels sprouts for 30-40 minutes at 400°F after tossing them in a light coat of olive oil. But below is the quicker version perfect for a weeknight dinner.

BrusselsSproutsPlate

Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta and Parmesan

Ingredients:
(serves 4 as a side dish or 2 as a main)

1 pound (4 cups) Brussels sprouts, washed, trimmed, and halved
1/3 cups pancetta cubes
1 1/2 tsp unsalted butter
2 tsp maple syrup
Salt and pepper, to taste
Parmesan cheese, for garnish

BrusselsSprouts

Directions:
1. In a pot of salted boiling water, blanch the Brussels sprouts for 2-3 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water.
2. In a pan over medium heat, melt the butter. When it starts to brown, add the Brussels sprouts and stir occasionally. Continue cooking until the sprouts start to brown, 6-8 minutes.
3. Add the pancetta and cook until they start to brown and crisp up, 3-4 minutes. Pour in the maple syrup and gently toss. Season with salt and pepper.
4. Pour into a serving dish and grate a bit of parmesan cheese on top. Serve immediately.

734863_10151322355189438_2070375187_n Karon Liu is a freelance food writer based in Toronto who is slightly lactose intolerant but will otherwise eat and cook anything.

8 Surprising Lunch Ideas Your Kids Will Love

School is back in session which means that it is time to break out the lunch boxes, bags and thermoses and get back into a lunch packing routine. Many of these recipes can be made for dinner then sent as leftovers the next day. You can also make a bigger batch and portion some for future use. Here are some great ideas for delicious, vegetable and fruit-filled meals to set your child up for a day of success at school.

gluten-free-pancakes-with-berry-compote-recipe

1. Veggie Quiches and Frittatas
Baked egg dishes are terrific for busy weeknights and for lunch boxes: they come together quickly and pack protein and vegetables into every single bite. Leftovers are delicious warmed up or at room temperature the next day. This Roasted Vegetable Frittata recipe features bell peppers and zucchini which are all at their peak this season which will make lunch even tastier. Or try making these Mini Spinach and Cheese Vegetable Quiches that are cooked in muffin cups. Not only are they a quick and easy option, but also make a great freezer item to be reheated later for a quick snack.

2. Pancakes and French Toast cups
Opening up a lunchbox to find pancakes or French toast cups is a nice surprise and an unexpected break from regular lunch fare. Kids will get their fill of fruit with these delicious recipes. This recipe for Gluten-Free Pancakes with Berry Compote will bring a smile to your kids face and have them gobble up every single bite. Just make sure to pack the compote separately from the pancakes. And don’t hesitate to throw in this Kids’ Smoothie in an insulated bottle to go along with this lunch.

French toast cups also make a fun alternative to traditional lunch. Pack the ricotta and berries on the side so that the French toast cups don’t get soggy by the time the lunch bell rings. This recipe calls for almonds — but you can swap it out for some roasted pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds instead to make it nut-free.

3. Waffle Pizzas
Pizza is always a hit with kids and is a terrific way to get them to eat some veggies. Instead of a regular crust made of dough, this Waffle Pizza recipe makes savoury sundried tomato waffles as a base and tops them with a selection of tasty vegetables. If you are short on time, don’t hesitate to swap in a pre-made frozen waffle and then top it with tomato sauce, your child’s favourite veggies and a sprinkle of cheese.

4. Chicken and Rice Vermicelli Salad
Rice vermicelli is available in the Asian section of large supermarkets and at Asian grocery stores. These fine rice noodles cook in moments immersed in hot water which makes them a terrific option for a lunchbox and any quick meal. This Chicken and Rice Vermicelli Salad recipe combines some carrots, peppers and fresh herbs along with some chicken — leftover roast chicken from dinner would be perfect here — and some dressing that you can pack on the side to be poured over at lunchtime. Note: This recipe calls for red chili and chili paste to add some heat, but you may want to omit for little ones.

5. Vegetable and Chicken Dumplings
Dumplings are a delicious lunch option and a terrific vehicle for protein and vegetables. They are especially useful for using up odds and ends, like a lone celery stalk or carrot, or a half of a chicken breast that you have hanging around in your fridge. You can send these Vegetable and Chicken Dumplings to school hot in a thermos or at room temperature in a lunch box. Kids can also get in on the action and help to fold up the little bundles in conventional or not-so-conventional ways! Dumpling wrappers are available in the produce or deli section of the supermarket.

6. Chicken Noodle Miso Soup
As the weather cools, soup is a perfect lunch to warm up your child before they head outdoors to play. Soup can be warmed up in the morning and sent in a thermos. It is also easily frozen in portions that can be pulled out of the freezer on demand. Chicken Noodle Miso Soup is a tasty twist on traditional chicken soup and uses miso to add depth of flavour without hours of cooking time. It includes no fewer than 6 vegetables, chicken breast and pasta — all of which combine to make a delicious and nourishing whole meal.

7. Pizza Soup
Seems like a genius idea, right? Transforming all of the deliciousness of pizza into a bowl of soup. Your kids are going to be thrilled when they open their thermos to this warming meal. The simple Pizza Soup recipe is written so that you can customize it with your child’s favourite pizza toppings.

8. Chicken Meatballs with Roasted Vegetable Sauce
Chicken meatballs in a red sauce made of puréed roasted carrots, peppers, zucchini, squash, onions and tomatoes are a fantastic dinner for a cool night and an even better lunch the next day. Rolling out meatballs can be a little time consuming but are a terrific task for little hands so invite any aspiring chefs in your house to roll up their sleeves and help out. They are even more likely to gobble up this delicious meal if they had a hand in preparing it.

Aviva Wittenberg is the founder of 196lunches.com, a blog that documents a year of making healthy and delicious school lunches for her kids. Follow her on Instagram at @avivawittenberg.

10 Ways to Eat Peanut Butter and Jelly

There’s no flavour combo more classic than peanut butter and jelly. This tried, tested and true marriage of salty and sweet is here to stay, so you might as well make it a little more interesting. Sure, there’s nothing wrong with a delicious PB&J sandwich, but if you’re looking to explore some new options, you’ve come to the right place. Check out our picks for the seven most creative ways to snack on peanut butter and jelly.

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1. Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars

2. Peanut Butter and Jelly Doughnuts

3. Peanut Butter and Jelly Foie Gras

4. PB&J French Toast

5. Peanut Butter and Jelly Cookies

6. Peanut Butter and Jam Bread Pudding

7. Moroccan PB&J

8. PB&J Burger

9. Healthy Peanut Butter & Jam Squares

10. PB&J Treats

Ice Cream Tacos

A fun summer treat that is great for the whole family, these crunchy ice cream tacos will be a guaranteed hit with kids! Get creative with this recipe and add in your garnish of choice.

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes

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Ingredients:
Smallest tortilla shells you can find (white or whole wheat)
1 Tbsp cinnamon
¼ cup white sugar
3 Tbsp melted butter
Tinfoil (create small tubes to use as spacers when baking tortillas)
Any flavour ice cream or frozen yogurt
2 cups chocolate melting wafers (or chocolate chips)
1 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp corn syrup
Decorating items (nuts, sprinkles, smarties, etc.)

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Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. Brush the melted butter onto one side of the tortilla shells.
3. Combine cinnamon and sugar together and generously sprinkle over the buttered tortilla shell.
4. Using the tinfoil tubes, fold the tortillas in half, with the cinnamon sugar side to be on the inside, creating the taco shell.
5. Place in oven for 10-15 minutes until golden brown and stiff to touch.
6. Allow your taco shells to cool.
7. Melt chocolate, butter and corn syrup until a nice dipping consistency has been achieved.
8. Take taco shell, pack full with ice cream and smooth around the edges with a spoon or knife.
9. Quickly dip in chocolate and sprinkle with choice of decorations.
10. Place in freezer for 15-20 minutes to allow the ice cream to set.

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8 Healthy Grab-and-Go Snacks Kids Will Love

An action-packed schedule can mean big gaps between meals. Resist the lure of the fast food drive-through and fuel after school practice with these belly-filling, good-for-you snacks that are packed with fresh ingredients and loads of nutrition.

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1. Kid-Friendly Sammies on a Stick
Just one of these protein-packed sticks is enough to satiate a hungry belly. Get your kids to help make them ahead of time by letting them pick and choose which ingredients they like from the items of your choosing. Nothing beats a homemade snack that they’ve helped make themselves!

2. Rolled Turkey and Apple Quesadillas
Turkey roll-ups get a bit of crunch when thinly-sliced apples are tossed in the mix. These protein-rich, nutritious snacks will keep energy levels up and little tummies satisfied.

3. Veggies with Creamy Chick Pea Onion Dip
Sliced peppers, carrots and celery get an added dose of nutrition with this creamy chickpea dipper you can pack in a container.

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4. Cocoa Banana Bran Muffins
Bake a large batch of these on Sunday and use as breakfast on the move or as a brown-bag snack the whole week. Stuffed with banana, fibre-rich bran and a hint of chocolate, these yummy muffins will be a hit with kids.

5. Grape and Cheese Bites
These fruit and cheese snacks make the perfect on-the-go munchable kids can eat anywhere — whether they’re in the car, at the park or on the bench before practice.

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6. Easy Quesadillas

Quesadillas are so easy to whip up and can be ready to eat in under 10 minutes. Try different variations from week to week. Some combos that kids love, include almond butter and bananas, tuna and cheddar cheese, and chicken and salsa.

7. Warm Banana Roll-Ups
For breakfast or dessert, sweet banana rolls have the built-in bonus of keeping little fingers clean during the chaos of the weekday rush. Just spread cream cheese on to a warm tortilla, place a whole banana on top then roll it up and grill until golden brown. The result? Crispy and warm on the outside and gooey and sweet on the inside.

8. Apple, Carrot and Flax Muffins with Streusel Topping
Kick up the nutritional value of carrot muffins by adding apple and a whack of flax seeds for a hearty and portable snack.