Tag Archives: cooking with kids

Baby eating food in a high chair

The Do’s and Don’ts of Talking to Your Kids About Food

If you’re a parent, you’ve probably gone through a food stage or two. Maybe you’re tackling a picky eater right now, or you might be starting solids for your baby and have no idea which food groups to try first. For me, as a newish mom (my son turned 3 this past summer), we’ve had only a few challenges with food. My son’s palate is adventurous and we encourage getting messy at mealtime – meaning if he doesn’t like something, he can just spit it out. This approach has helped him try a varied group of foods: currently some of his favourites include prosciutto sandwiches with pickles, vegetarian sushi with lots of tangy dips and Hungarian stews.

Baby eating a pizza in a high chair

My challenge? It’s convincing the people around me (and admittedly, myself at times) that foods often deemed by diet culture as “bad” or “not as healthy” should not be thought of as such and that yes, even a cookie can sometimes be part of the main course on a child’s dinner plate. I’m not suggesting overloading a child on sugar, but I believe moderation is key – at any age. And there are a group of nutritional experts that agree. They advocate parents to approach mealtime using intuitive eating and speaking about foods in a more positive way. They say this helps kids build a healthier relationship with food overall, rather than only focusing on what types of healthy foods are available. And yes, they say this means sometimes adding a cookie, a square of chocolate, a piece of cake or a more favoured food with the child’s main meal, instead of after.

Related: Kid-Friendly Recipes Even the Pickiest Eaters Will Love

Intuitive eating history and what it means for kids

The concept of intuitive eating for adults was created by two dietitians, Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch in 1995. The main idea behind this approach is to reject diet culture in its entirety. Diet culture tends to focus on eating foods for weight loss, often grouping foods into “bad” and “good” categories  and even extending this to moralizing food decisions such as getting a “cheat-day” or eating something because you were “good” all week. When it comes to kids, intuitive eating takes on a slightly different meaning.

“[What we mean by intuitive eating for kids] is that they stop eating when they’re full and to follow their bodies’ cues,” says Thalia Prum, a dietician who is currently based in Australia. I came across Thalia’s Instagram posts about mealtime tips for toddlers last summer when popsicles and ice cream were overflowing in my household and admittedly, I started to feel a little bad about it. Thalia’s philosophy about serving sweets like fruit and desserts with regular meals – and not after – or not glorifying sweets at all, really spoke to me, but also made me question my own issues around food and the diet culture I’ve subscribed to my entire adult life.

How could a little cone of ice cream have so much power? Maybe it didn’t have to. Megan McNamee, who is a registered dietitian nutritionist who specializes in maternal and child nutrition, food sensitivities and eating disorder prevention says as parents, we’re constantly being challenged to break past our own cycles that may not have been the most positive – and eating is on the top of that list.

Megan is the co-founder of Feeding Littles, a business that she runs with Judy Delaware, an occupational therapist and feeding specialist. They offer courses for parents from newborns to older kids with a methodology rooted in intuitive eating. Their Instagram community is comprised of more than a million people – possibly a sign that parents need more help in this area then they let on.

 

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“The way we’ve been teaching kids about eating is not working,” says Megan. “What we’re trying to do is allow kids to grow up with a healthy relationship with food, not just focusing on healthy foods. We want them to not feel the pressure of ‘eat this and not that’.”

Related: Kid-Friendly Dinner Recipes

What intuitive eating for kids is not, Megan stresses –  a free-for-all. It’s not a rejection of eating healthy foods, which she says is often the most misunderstood part.

“What we teach is not like, just give them all the food all the time and let them decide, because kids still need structure and they need to understand what to expect, Megan says. “It’s flexible structure, and it’s allowing kids the opportunity to say no to something that they don’t want to eat or to eat more of something if that’s all they’re eating.”

Food labels and positive food language

While I’m working on being more aware of my negative thoughts around certain food groups (think: carbs, sweets and anything not deemed to promote weight loss), I realized I had a tendency to describe foods as “bad” or call them “good for you” when inherently that’s just not true (I mean, a cookie isn’t “bad” or “good” – it’s just a cookie!). Instead of putting the focus on the benefits of eating these foods, what I was doing was actually moralizing foods with these labels. The joy in my son’s face when he eats foods he likes is indescribable. He is so in the moment, truly loving every bite that he even makes a little humming, sing-songy sound as he chews. I don’t want to take that away. And using these words at times, some experts say, can weigh heavily on not only our own psyche, but a child’s as well.

“Kids can kind of internalize those labels,” says Megan. “Like this is healthy or this is good. This is bad. They don’t have the understanding to know the nuance there. It doesn’t mean you’re bad for eating it, but because we’re labelling foods in that way, especially in how we teach kids about food, it’s confusing for them, especially if their parents are providing those foods.”

Dr. Dina Kulik’s take

Surely, untangling ourselves from decades of diet culture beliefs won’t be as easy as adding a cookie to our child’s dinner plate (and trying not to feel bad about it). But what we can do instead is to create a safe, happy and social family meal environment where the pressure is off everyone, says one Toronto-based pediatrician.

“I don’t think you can convince most children that they want to eat the salad instead of the cookie,” Dr. Dina Kulik says. “By and large, that’s what most kids and truly most humans tend to gravitate toward. Carbohydrates get a deep immune response and make you happy to make you feel good.”

Dina, who is also a mom of four and the founder and director of KidCrew, a multidisciplinary kids health clinic, agrees that we shouldn’t be putting certain foods on a pedestal. However, she doesn’t believe calling a cookie a treat is giving it more power, saying “kids just know that it tastes better than asparagus.”

Related: We’ve Actually Tried These Kid-Friendly Recipes – Our Honest Opinion

What she says instead works for most kids is to help them “eat the rainbow,” eat in-season and try different foods in a social, family environment. She says giving picky eaters the autonomy to decide what and how much to eat might not be the best approach. While it works for some kids, the children that struggle at mealtime won’t do well with intuitive eating, she says.

“They’re at the risk of deficiencies, particularly iron deficiency and that’s not good for their brain and growth,” she says. “As long as they’re eating iron-containing foods like legumes, beans, animal proteins, tofu and eggs,” she says “there’s a place for sweets in our diet and we can enjoy those things, sometimes even daily to some small degree,” making sure we’re mindful of doing so in moderation. Making mealtime stress-free is also key to building a healthy approach to food.

“The big trick is that we’re not fighting, there’s no negotiating,” she says. There is no, ‘if you eat this properly, you’ll get a cookie’. There’s none of that.”

So where do we go from here? Even though the task of undoing our own bad food habits and creating more positive ones for ourselves and our children can feel daunting, it doesn’t have to. Read on for Prum’s very best tips for creating a healthy eating environment for your child.

Struggling with a picky eater? Here are some tips from Thalia Prum

  1. Parents have positive power: Thalia says she wants parents to know that they have the power to make changes when it comes to their language around food, the foods they choose and how they approach mealtime.
  2. Make a mealtime and snack schedule and stay consistent
  3. Make mealtime fun and enjoyable (play with your food!): Thalia says instead of putting the focus on making sure the kids eat, make it your job to have fun. “You want to make meals enjoyable with your child.”
  4. Don’t leave this phase for too long: Thalia recommends not leaving picky eating phases for more than a month as it could lead to long-term nutritional problems.

Photo courtesy of Victoria Revay.

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.

Lynn Crawford headshot with her Chinese Veggie Stirfry With Black Bean Sauce

3 Classic Sauces From Lynn Crawford That Will Be Instant Staples (Plus Recipes!)

The secret to elevating any meal from meh to memorable is all in the sauce. A delicious sauce is a sure-fire way to boost flavour and add texture and dimension to any dish. These three classic sauces from Junior Chef Showdown judge and mentor Lynn Crawford are super versatile and can elevate any weeknight dinner from just delicious to simply divine. From a creamy, cheesy Mornay sauce (daughter sauce to the French béchamel) to a simple and fresh Sofrito (a Latin American staple) to a Chinese black bean sauce that’s bursting with salty umami flavour, you’ll be making these staple sauces again and again.

Related: Lynn Crawford’s Comforting Bacon and Egg Ramen Soup

Chinese Veggie Stir Fry With Quick and Easy Black Bean Sauce

Total Time: 35 minutes
Yields: 4 servings + 1 cup of sauce

A healthy veggie stir fry with easy black bean sauce on a bed of rice.

Ingredients:

Black Bean Sauce
2 Tbsp canola oil
2 Tbsp minced garlic
2 Tbsp minced ginger
1 green onion, minced
3 Tbsp fermented beans, soaked in water for one hour, drained and mashed with a fork
½ cup mirin
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp rice vinegar
1 tsp sugar
½ tsp pepper
1 Tbsp water
1-½ tsp cornstarch

Chinese Veggie Stir-Fry
2 heaping Tbsp of Black Bean Sauce
2 Tbsp canola oil, divided
2 cups sliced or torn shiitake mushrooms
½ cup Vidalia onion, cut into 1-inch chunks
1 carrot, thinly sliced
1 red pepper, sliced into ½ inch strips
2 Tbsp julienned ginger
6 baby bok choy, cut in half lengthwise
6 stems gai lan (Chinese broccoli), stems cut in half lengthwise, cut into 1-inch sections
1 cup sugar snap peas
4 cups cooked jasmine rice
2 green onions, thinly sliced
2 Tbsp toasted sesame seeds
1 finger chili, thinly sliced

Related: Blind Sauce Taste Test With the Junior Chefs

Directions:

1. For the Black Bean Sauce, heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic and ginger; cook until translucent, about 2 minutes. Add green onion; cook for 1 minute. Add beans and cook for 1 minute.

2. Add mirin, soy sauce, rice vinegar, sugar and pepper to pan and  bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low.

3. Mix together water and cornstarch in a small bowl. Add to bean mixture and cook until thickened slightly, about 2 to 3 minutes.

4. Spoon onto a serving platter and sprinkle with pine nuts and cheese.

5. For the stir-fry, heat up 1 tablespoon oil over medium-high heat in a wok or large non-stick skillet.

6. Place the mushrooms and cook until beginning to brown, 4 to 6 minutes.

7. Then, add the remaining oil, onion and carrots and cook for 2 minutes. Add red pepper and ginger into the wok and continue to cook for another minute.

8. Add bok choy and gai lan; cook until the gai lan is tender crisp, about 2 to 3 minutes.

9. Stir in sauce to combine (add up to two tablespoons of water if needed to help the sauce coat the vegetables).

10. Serve hot over rice sprinkled with green onions, sesame seeds and chilies.

See More: Jordan Andino’s Perfect Burger Recipe

Creamy Mac and Cheese With Classic Mornay Sauce

Total Time: 55 minutes
Yields: 4-6 servings + 3 cups of sauce

Lynn Crawford's creamy mac and cheese with Mornay sauce in a cast iron skillet

Ingredients:

Creamy Mornay Sauce
1 bay leaf
1 clove
1/4 white onion, peeled, root attached
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp flour
⅛ tsp nutmeg
⅛ tsp white pepper
2 cups whole milk
½ cup grated Gruyere cheese
¼ cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano
Salt, to taste

Mac and Cheese
Classic Mornay Sauce
½ cup diced pancetta
⅓ cup breadcrumbs (seasoned or plain)
8 cups cooked short pasta, such as macaroni or rigatoni
¼ cup grated parmesan cheese

Related: Macaroni Recipes That Will Satisfy All Your Pasta Cravings 

Directions:

1. For the Creamy Mornay Sauce, first, pin bay leaf to onion with the clove.

2. Then, melt butter in the medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Add flour, nutmeg and pepper; whisk until the mixture is bubbling; cook, whisking constantly for 1 minute.

3. Gradually whisk in milk, add onion and increase heat to medium-high. Bring mixture to a simmer and continue to whisk until thickened, 5 to 7 minutes.

4.  Strain out the onion, bay leaf and clove, reduce heat to medium-low and return mixture to saucepan.

5. Stir in the cheese until melted. Season with salt, to taste.

6. For the mac and cheese, heat oven to 375°F.

7. Cook pancetta in a medium non-stick skillet over medium heat until the fat has rendered and the pancetta is crispy, about 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate and set aside.

8. Drain all but 1 tablespoon of fat from the pan and add breadcrumbs. Cook until toasted, stirring occasionally, about 4 minutes.

9. Toss pasta with mornay sauce and transfer to a lightly greased 2L casserole dish.

10. Sprinkle with breadcrumbs and parmesan cheese.

11. Bake for 30 minutes until the mixture is bubbling at the sides.

Related: How to Perfectly Crack Eggs With the Junior Chefs

Refreshing Grain Salad With Authentic Sofrito Sauce 

Total Rime: 35 minutes
Yields: 4 servings + 1 cup of sauce

Lynn Crawford's grain salad with refreshing Sofrito sauce on a platter

Ingredients:

Sofrito Sauce
2 cloves garlic,  finely minced
½ tsp salt
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 small onion, minced
½ tsp dried thyme
½ tsp dried rosemary
1 small bay leaf
1 cup canned whole tomatoes, drained, seeded and chopped
¼ tsp pepper

Grain Salad
3 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1-1/2 cups cooked farro
1-1/2 cups cooked barley
1-1/2 cups cooked wild rice
1 small bunch watercress
1 cup breakfast radishes, quartered lengthwise
1 cup chopped fresh herbs such as parsley, chives, mint and cilantro
Salt and pepper to taste
¼ cup toasted pine nuts
½ cup crumbled feta cheese

Related: Fresh, Flavourful Salads to Celebrate Spring 

Directions

1. For the Sofrito sauce, pulverize garlic with salt into a paste using the side of a chef’s knife on a cutting board.

2. Heat oil in a small saucepan over medium heat; add the garlic puree and cook for 1 minute. Add onion and herbs, cook until onion is translucent, for approximately 5 minutes.

3. Add tomatoes to the pan and cook until broken down and sauce has thickened slightly for approximately 4 minutes.

4. For the grain salad, mix together Sofrito, olive oil and lemon juice in a large bowl.

5. Add grains, watercress, radishes and herbs. Toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper.

6. Spoon onto a serving platter and sprinkle with pine nuts and cheese.

Watch Junior Chef Showdown Sundays at 9ep and stream Live and On Demand on the new Global TV App, and on STACKTV. Food Network Canada is also available through all major TV service providers.

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.

pink beet pancakes with fruit on top

These Easy Pink Beet Pancakes Are the Perfect Valentine’s Day Breakfast

With Valentine’s Day falling on a Sunday this year and everyone cozied up at home, waking up to a fresh stack of pancakes is a must. These pretty in pink pancakes use a roasted beet puree to give them a naturally vibrant hue, meaning no artificial colouring whatsoever. The beets add a touch of sweetness as well, so the kids will love them too. OK — maybe just don’t tell them breakfast has vegetables!

pink beet pancakes with fruit on top

Pink Beet Pancakes

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes
Servings: 4

Ingredients:

⅓ cup pureed roasted beets (2 beets)
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 pinch fine salt
3 Tbsp granulated sugar
1 large egg, whisked
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 cup whole milk (can substitute oat or soy milk)
Butter or oil, for cooking
Fresh berries, for serving
Maple syrup, for serving

pink beet pancake ingredients

Directions:

1. To prepare the beets for the pancakes, simply wrap 2 beets tightly in foil and roast them at 400°F for 50 to 60 minutes. Once cooled, peel and puree until smooth! Add a touch of water to the blender or food processor if necessary. This step can be done in advance.

pink beet pancake puree in food processor

2. In a large mixing bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Create a well in the centre.

3. Add the egg, pureed beets, vanilla, melted butter and milk. Whisk until the batter just comes together, a few lumps are okay.

pink beet pancake batter

4. Heat a non-stick skillet over medium heat and add a touch of butter. Swirl it around the pan to evenly coat the whole surface. Pour in a scoop (about ⅓ cup) of batter. Cook until the top begins to bubble, about 2 to 3 minutes. Flip and cook for an additional minute, until both sides are golden brown.

Related: Valentine’s Day Cookies That’ll Make Your Heart Skip a Beat

5. Repeat until no batter remains, coating the pan with a touch of butter each time. Stack cooked pancakes onto a serving plate. Garnish with fresh berries and a drizzle of maple syrup!

Like Marcella’s pink beet pancakes? Try her cinnamon streusel muffins or s’mores butter tarts.

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!

You Can Make These Mixed Berry Galettes With Easy Pantry and Fridge Staples

Galettes were my introduction to the world of pastry and are still one of my favourite things to make. These single-crust pies are so easy that most kids can make them with very little supervision — and the fact that they are supposed to look rustic is a bonus for those who don’t feel confident making a pie crust. The possibilities for filling a fruit galette are endless, but I’ve chosen mixed berries because they bake up so well and are so pretty. Added bonus? You can bake these galettes with fridge and pantry staples you likely already have on hand: frozen berries are great and the pastry just uses a few items. Once you’ve made one galette, you’ll be hooked!

Mixed Berry Galettes

Prep Time: 50 minutes
Chill Time: 1 hour
Bake Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours, 20 minutes
Servings: 8 galettes

Ingredients:

Pastry
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
¼ tsp fine sea salt
¼ cup granulated sugar
½ cup cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2 Tbsp heavy (35%) cream

Filling
2 cups mixed berries (fresh or frozen) such as raspberries, blackberries and blueberries
2 Tbsp granulated sugar
1 Tbsp cornstarch
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice (not needed if you use frozen berries)
1 Tbsp lemon zest (1 lemon)

Assembly
1 large egg, lightly beaten for egg wash
Granulated sugar, for sprinkling

To Serve
Vanilla ice cream or Chantilly cream (optional)

Related: The Pioneer Woman’s Most Popular Cake and Pie Recipes

Directions:

1. Whisk the flour, salt and sugar together in a large bowl. Add the cubed butter and using your fingertips, lightly rub the butter into the flour until it resembles large breadcrumbs with some pieces the size of small peas. You can also use a pastry blender for this job. Make a well in the middle of the flour mix and add the egg. Using a wooden spoon, mix the egg into the flour until they are completely combined.

2. Add the cream and mix until the dough is firm enough to form a ball when you press the mixture together with your fingers. It might be a little crumbly, but form the dough into a ball and wrap it tightly in plastic wrap.

3. Refrigerate for a minimum of 1 hour or up to 3 days, in the fridge. You can also freeze the dough, tightly wrapped in plastic, for up to 3 months. Thaw it overnight in the fridge before you roll and bake.

Related: How to Make The Perfect Banana Bread Every Time (Plus Freezing Tips and a Recipe!)

4. Combine the berries, sugar, cornstarch, lemon juice (if using) and zest in a small bowl. Stir to coat the berries thoroughly and set aside.

Tip: If your berries are quite large, you can cut them in half. If you do that, you might not need as much of the lemon juice, since cut berries may give off more juice.

5. Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Line two baking trays with parchment paper.

6. Divide the pastry into eight pieces and roll each piece out to a rough circle about 6 inches (15 cm) in diameter. If necessary, trim the rolled-out shapes with a pizza cutter so they are more or less round. Place the circles of dough on the parchment-lined baking trays. They should not be touching.

Related: Can I Freeze This? How to Freeze Fruit, Cheese, Leftovers and More

7. Use a ¼ cup measure to divide the berry mixture evenly between the dough circles. Place the berries in the centre of the dough and use the bottom of the measuring cup to flatten them slightly. You should leave a border of about 1 ½ inches around the edge.

8. Working with one circle at a time, fold the uncovered edges of dough up and around the filling, working your way around the circle. You’ll end up with pleated edges that are a little rough and you might need to trim some uneven parts to ensure you don’t end up with a thick area of just crust.

9. Brush the edges of each galette with a little egg wash and sprinkle the pastry with sugar.

10. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the pastry is golden and the berries are cooked. Remove from the oven and place the galettes on wire racks to cool slightly. Serve warm or at room temperature with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or Chantilly cream.

This is an excellent entry-level dessert for novice bakers. Since the dough circles won’t be perfect and the berries will leak some juice out onto the baking  trays, they will all look a little mismatched, but they are meant to be “rustic” (this is what I call anything I make that doesn’t turn out perfectly!). Whenever I make these with my boys’ cooking club, nobody cares how they look — the boys think they are delicious and the parents are impressed their child made pastry from scratch!

Excerpted from In the French Kitchen with Kids by Mardi Michels. Copyright © 2018 Mardi Michels. Published by Appetite by Random House®, a division of Penguin Random House Canada Limited. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved. Photographs Copyright © Kyla Zanardi.

Bento Lunch Boxes: How to Make Colourful Back-to-School Meals Your Kids Will Devour

Packing healthy school lunches that your kids won’t challenge can be just a little stressful, especially if you have a picky eater on your hands. The foods you prep need to energize, nourish and keep your child focused throughout the school day. Luckily, gone are the days of the sad brown bag and that same soggy ham and cheese sandwich. That’s partly thanks to the bento lunch box, which has changed the game, giving parents a far easier method for meal prepping, and kids a way more enjoyable way to eat. Read on for eight genius tips on packing the ultimate back-to-school lunch, plus three bento box ideas you’ll be quick to replicate.

1. Pack the Rainbow

Pack as much colour as you can into your kid’s lunch box. This means lots of vibrant fruits and veggies, so they can get the vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytonutrients they need to grow healthy and strong. Everyone eats with their eyes first, so when something looks colourful and appetizing, the process of digestion begins. Kids also take eating cues from how food looks, rather than from how it tastes.

Main: Chicken salad sandwich with cucumber, carrots, spinach (or stuffed in a pita or tortilla)
Side: Roasted sweet potato cubes
Snack 1: Blueberries with strawberries sliced into hearts or stars
Snack 2: Edamame beans or green peas
Dessert: Mini chocolate chips with pumpkin seeds

2. Get Creative

Many kids like what’s familiar to them, and if they enjoy eating the same thing every day, one way to change it up is to get creative with how the food is displayed. If your youngster love strawberries, cucumbers or melons, try slicing them into stars one day, cubes the next and hearts the following week. Thread their favourite fruit through a stick to transform them into skewers. Take their sandwich ingredients and roll them into wraps, stuff them into mini pitas or thread them through to make sandwich kebabs.

Related: Healthy After-School Snacks Kids Will Love

3. Cover Your Macro and Micronutrients

Ensure your little ones remain fueled throughout the day by sending foods packed with fibre, protein, fat, vitamins and minerals. If you’re already filling lunch boxes with fruits, veggies, seeds, beans/legumes or animal protein and a whole grain, you’re covered. Packing a sweet treat is also a must, so think of more nutritious options like homemade granola bars, better-for-you cookies or healthier muffins. Remember to limit the refined sugar, which can impact your child’s behaviour, energy, focus and mood.

Main: Pesto pasta noodles with sliced cherry tomatoes
Side: Steamed green beans with sesame seeds on top or raw snap peas
Snack 1: Skewered mango and grapes
Snack 2: Cubes of cheese or crispy chickpeas
Dessert: Mini cookies or strawberries with chocolate chips

4. Repurpose Leftovers

Packing school lunches can be a lot of work, so if you can, repurpose dinner leftovers from the night before. If you have leftover chicken, make the lunch box Mexican themed and pack the chicken with avocado, corn and salsa. If you have extra lasagna, cut a square and pack that. You don’t need to start from scratch if you have foods to work with. Also, do your best to pack the night before, and avoid adding another stressful task to an already busy morning!

5. Be School Safe

Nut allergies are quite common these days, and most schools are now nut-free. Keep this in mind when you’re packing back-to-school lunches, and replace classics with nut-free alternatives. For example, if you were going to pack a peanut butter and jam sandwich, swap the PB for sunflower butter. For something like trail mix, ensure it’s made with seeds. If you’re buying snacks, there are loads of allergen-free options out there.

6. Get Your Kids Involved

Studies show that if kids have a hand in helping grow, prep or cook food, they’re more likely to eat it. So involve your children in the packing process. Have them decide what they want to eat – you can even ask them to come up with a meal plan schedule to paste on the fridge. If possible, ask them to help with the prep: maybe they can skewer fruit, or slice strawberries with a kid-safe knife.

Main: Protein pancakes
Side: Heirloom carrots, sliced + dollop of hummus to dip
Snack 1: Crispy chickpeas or raisins
Snack 2: Raspberries and kiwi
Dessert: Orange slices dipped in chocolate or with chocolate chips

7. Keep it Clean

Don’t pack foods that have a strong, offensive smell, or something that’s going to leak all over the rest of the meal. This will pretty much guarantee that your kid will pass on eating his or her lunch!

8. Lunch as an Afternoon Snack

There may be times when you open your child’s lunch box after school, only to discover the meal you lovingly prepared is still sitting there. When your kids come home, they’re usually starving and desperate for a snack. This is the perfect time to offer up these lunch leftovers to ensure the food you spent time making isn’t wasted.

Here, a nutritionist reveals meal prep tips to avoid a sad desk lunch (plus two 10-minute recipes) – because parents deserve inspiring lunches, too!

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.