Sunday, August 14, 2016

How to Make Healthy Indian Fish Curry For Kids

What's better-Chinese leftovers or Indian leftovers? I posed this question on facebook, and although there was some debate, the resounding winner was Indian leftovers. I tend to agree. Although Chinese and Indian cuisine are both quite tasty, the flavor, heat, and creaminess of Indian food make for delicious leftovers.

One of the reasons Indian food tastes so good and also holds up the next day, is Indian food is chock full of spices. There are so many spices in Indian cooking that it can be quite intimidating to attempt to prepare Indian food yourself. In fact, the sheer number of ingredients in Indian food can be overwhelming.  

However, once I became familiar with why certain ingredients were used, I was able to group certain ingredients together conceptually, which simplified things for me. For instance, I just group all the spices like curry, tumeric, cumin, coriander, and garam masala together in my mind as "Indian spices." Furthermore, I group all the ingredients like tomatoes, onions, ginger, and fat into my mind as "Indian sauce."  

I found this recipe for Indian fish curry that was simple and approachable, yet packed with authentic Indian flavors. I thought the use of onion, garlic, ginger, and cashews ground into a paste was a great idea for making a simple sauce. Try making it for your kids. Not only will everyone like it, they will like it even more as leftovers the next day!

Sunday, August 7, 2016

How to Make Healthy Grilled Caesar Salad For Kids

My mom didn't do a lot of cooking when we were growing up. She was too busy saving lives…literally. She practiced as an Emergency Medicine doctor before switching over to Internal Medicine. As such, she is much more accustomed to putting out fires than I am..figuratively. Once I asked her how she was able to deal with acute life or death situations, and she responded, "It's fun!" 

My mom never cooked anything fancy or overly complicated, but I have always loved my mother's home cooking. She made sure to do a quick stir fry so that we would always have some vegetables on our plate. One surprising vegetable that she used to stir fry often was lettuce. And I liked it. In fact, I didn't realize I was eating cooked lettuce until well into adulthood. 

Cooked lettuce is not only surprisingly good, it is one of my most favorite ways to ironically eat salad. The other day, we had some people over for a barbecue, and as usual, I figured it would be a great opportunity to experiment with live subjects. I looked up this recipe for Grilled Caesar Salad. This recipe has all the flavors of a traditional Caesar salad, with the unique aspect of grilled romaine lettuce. It was a hit at our party and could just make your kids fans of salad!

Sunday, July 31, 2016

How to Make a Healthy Cherry Sundae For Kids With Ricotta Cheese

When I was growing up, we never ate dessert. It wasn't that my parents intentionally deprived me. We simply rarely went out to eat. And when we did go out, it was typically at a Chinese or Taiwanese restaurant, where dessert is rarely served. After dinner, instead of dessert, we typically had fruit.  

Because we didn't eat many sweets in the Ko household, fruit was the star. The great thing about fruit, is it is juicy, colorful, and deliciously sweet just the way it is. Its sad to see so many dessert recipes bathe fruit in a bunch of added sugar. Doing so masks the true sweetness of fruit and alters the perception of normal sweetness.

Instead of giving your kids desserts with a ton of added sugar, try adding protein to their desserts. Protein complements fruit, lowers glycemic index, and provides contrast to make fruit taste even sweeter. Try giving your kids cheese, nuts, yogurt, or peanut butter with their fruit. For instance, try making this healthy cherry sundae with ricotta cheese. The ricotta cheese gives this dessert an interesting creamy texture, but the cherry on top is the cherry on top!

Sunday, July 24, 2016

How to Make Homemade Sauerkraut with Grilled Bratwurst for Kids

My brother and I used to get into insane fights. In our epic battles, we would always play the same roles. Being the younger brother, I would be the instigator. As the elder statesman, he would take it upon himself to point out any injustices to my parents. But because my parents treated us equally, any time my brother would cry foul, we would both get punished. My brother would always shriek, "why me? I didn't do anything!" He never seemed to get that his tattle telling would inevitably lead to self inflicted punishment rather than retribution.

Now that I am a parent myself, I have a more profound appreciation for what my parents went through. Recently, with the hot weather, Colin and Cailya have spent more time together indoors. Oh, did I say spending time together? I meant, fighting with one another. But the only people who seem to get punished by all their fighting is Cassie and me.

There is the occasional blissful moment when the seemingly incessant whining and yelling quiets down. Time slows, I hear the birds chirping outside, and I can actually pause for a moment of quiet reflection. And for a brief and exquisitely pleasant moment, I hear the beautiful sound of children's laughter in the background. I look over and see my two darling children actually playing together in perfect harmony. Then they start fighting again and my utopia comes crashing down.

When it comes to food, there are pairings that seem to fight with one another. On the other hand, sometimes contrasting flavors go surprisingly well together. The other day, a friend of ours gave me a fermentation kit. I took some green cabbage, placed it into the kit, and let natural fermentation work its magic. In a few days, I had made my own homemade sauerkraut, a deliciously tangy side dish that was low in glycemic index as well. I paired my sauerkraut with grilled bratwurst, and I found the flavors married very well together. I think I even heard some birds chirping their approval.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

How to Grill Healthy Peaches with Basil Prosciutto and Balsamic Vinegar for Kids

I  have a very vivid memory of the first time Colin tasted a peach. Cassie had given birth to Colin just seven months before, and we had decided to pack the family up and move back in with my folks in Maryland. Like all new parents, Cassie and I were enjoying giving Colin his first tastes of various foods. Sometimes he would react to new foods with disdain, and other times he would react with unabashed enthusiasm. Regardless, he reacted. 

It was the middle of summer and my mom had recently purchased a case of peaches. We opened up the case to discover some of the largest, juiciest peaches we had ever seen. The peaches were like overfilled water balloons and their skins were soft and paper thin. Up until this moment, we had spoon-fed Colin all of his food. Cassie decided to give Colin a whole peach and see what he would do. 

Immediately, he clutched the round object, opened his mouth widely, and dove head in. Once he got a taste of the sweet, sweet nectar, his eyes grew wide and he tightened his grasp further. No one was going to take his fruit away from him! He alternated between gumming, sucking, and gripping the peach until he wore that peach down to the seed. 

I will never forget the image of Colin and his first peach. Now, whenever I see a big, fat, juicy peach, I cannot help but think of Colin. I think about how hard it was learning how to take care of a baby. I think of what it meant for us to pick up and move. I think of how my parents received us with open arms, helping to take care of Colin in those formative months. I think of all these memories and it makes me smile. 

You can make new memories for your kids by trying new recipes and new flavor combinations. Recently, I came across this recipe for grilled peaches, basil, and prosciutto. Combining peaches with prosciutto not only creates an interesting flavor profile, but it naturally lowers the glycemic index as well. I topped my peaches off with balsamic vinegar pearls to lower the glycemic index even further. Also, I skipped the honey; caramelizing the peaches over the grill was enough to bring out their natural sweetness. Enjoy!

Sunday, July 10, 2016

How to Cook Healthy "Don't Be Scared of Broccoli" Pesto For Kids

Since Finding Dory just came out, I decided to watch Finding Nemo with the kids. On the surface, Finding Nemo is about a father's search for his son. But on a deeper level, it is a story about fear. Both father and son alike learn to overcome their fears--Nemo learns to overcome his disability and Marlin learns to trust his son's abilities. 

A lot of bad things can be born out of fear. People discriminate, commit hate crimes, give up, or fail to show up due to fear. But fear is also an opportunity. Just as fear can be a powerful negative motivator, overcoming that fear can be a really powerful incentive. 

Colin used to have a fear of water. His fear stemmed as much from Cassie and myself as it did from himself. Neither Cassie nor myself are that comfortable in the water. Last summer, we enrolled Colin in his first set of independent swim classes. Like Marlin, I felt nervous for my little Nemo. At first, Colin was so scared, he wouldn't even blow bubbles. Eventually, by the end of the summer, he learned to overcome his fear of water. 

This summer, we once again signed him up for swim lessons. At first, I was sort of dreading the nightly trips to the pool. But then, I witnessed an incredible transformation in Colin. He actually liked going and looked forward to getting into the water. As I let go of my own uneasiness, I saw my Nemo swim down, swim forward, dunk his head, and even happily jump into the pool. 

When kids reject new foods, they are often acting out of a fear of the unknown. Colin tends to reject green foods. However, early on, he accepted broccoli, and now it is one of his favorite vegetables. Once a child accepts a vegetable in one form, they are much more likely to accept it in various forms. To build on Colin's acceptance of new foods, I introduced him to a this tilapia dish topped with a pesto sauce made from broccoli. It turned out to be a surprisingly tasty dish, and I recommend you try it. I mean, what do you have to be afraid of?

Sunday, July 3, 2016

How to Make a Healthy Chicken Avocado Burger For Kids

Recently, the FDA announced plans to change regulations for food labeling on packaged foods. One of the most important changes will be the requirement for all packaged foods to indicate how much added sugar are contained in their products. This change has garnered a lot of media attention, and deservedly so. Coincident with the announcement to enforce labeling for added sugar was a quieter paradigm shift that deemphasizes the importance of tracking total fat intake. 

While continuing to require “Total Fat,” “Saturated Fat,” and “Trans Fat” on the label, “Calories from Fat” is being removed because research shows the type of fat is more important than the amount. When it comes to fat, I try to purposely give my kids fish oils from seafood, nuts, and seeds. I also look for recipes where saturated fats from animals are replaced with unsaturated fats from plants.

For this fourth of July, try grilling up these chicken avocado burgers. Using a leaner meat like chicken can help minimize saturated fats from meats. Stuffing the burgers with chunks of avocado not only adds healthier plant based fats, but also keeps these burgers tender and juicy. Place your avocado burgers in between two slabs of cloud bread and enjoy!  Happy fourth of July!

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