Sunday, April 27, 2014

How to Cook Healthy Food for Kids : How to Make Eating Fun For Kids


Lately, Colin has developed a bad habit of leaving the dinner table after only eating a few bites of his meal.   Once he goes off to play, it is tough to reel him in and get him interested in completing his meal.  Perhaps I only have myself to blame.  As a kid, I used to take off in the middle of dinner and play indoor basketball.  Maybe its genetic.

However, even when Colin does goes off to play, I have noticed that he will still eat his meal if I chase him down and spoon-feed it to him.  So, he isn't leaving the dinner table due to disinterest in eating.  He simply finds other things more interesting.  After all, he is a busy kid.  So many toys and so little time.

One way of drawing kids back to the dinner table is to make it more fun to dine than to play.  The other day, we all had a fun meal at a hibachi style grill.  Colin and Caiyla were thoroughly entertained by the deft tricks displayed by our hibachi chef.  The visual entertainment combined with seeing and smelling our food being cooked made the whole dining experience very enjoyable.   Who doesn't like dinner and a show?  Thus inspired, i decided to put on my own hibachi show for the kids:

I based my hibachi meal loosely off of the following recipe:

Saturday, April 19, 2014

How to Cook Healthy Food for Kids : Help My Kids Eat Healthy Asparagus Fries!

Sometimes while my kids are crying and screaming, I like to fantasize about having superhuman parent powers.  Perhaps I might have the power to grow eyes in the back of my head.  Or maybe I could magically grow another pair of arms.  Even better still would be the ability to be in two places at once.  That way I could simultaneously catch Cailya before she falls and help Colin with a project before he reaches the frustration point of no return.

When it comes to cooking, there are times I wish someone would just magically appear with a deliciously nutritious meal for my kids that they would gobble up.  Wouldn't it be nice if there was a "Captain Healthy America" that would swoop in and save the day?

In a way, all parents are superheroes to their kids.  Although it may not feel like it, our kids idolize us and look up to us.  Sometimes I forget this, but then I pick up Colin from daycare and I see his face suddenly brighten up as he excitedly comes running towards me.  Because your kids already look up to you, you can get them to eat healthy just by eating healthy yourself.  In fact, studies indicate that the biggest predictor of a child's eating habits is their parents' eating habits.

Here's a simple recipe for asparagus fries that can save the day for both parents and kids alike:

Asparagus Fries

  • 1 Bunch Asparagus                                                                     
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • Red pepper flakes to taste
  • 1 Tablespoon Canola Oil 
  1. Wash asparagus and trim stems
  2. Cut into thirds
  3. Mix ingredients in plastic bag
  4. Spread on foil lined baking sheet
  5. Bake in oven at 400 degrees for 30 minutes
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What superhuman parent powers would you like to have?  Tell me in the comments section.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

How to Cook Healthy Food for Kids : Eggplant Dip Recipe From Your Home Vegetable Garden


After a fairly harsh winter with multiple snowstorms, I am glad to finally see that Spring has arrived.  In addition to taking the kids to the park, the arrival of spring means its time to start tending to the herb and vegetable garden.

As a child, my dad helped my grandfather plant vegetables in their home garden.  Naturally, he developed a love and respect for nature and the outdoors.  As a kid, whenever I couldn't find my dad, I would ask my mom where he was and she would respond, "He's outside".

So, when it came time for Cassie and me to try planting our own vegetable garden, she naturally pointed her finger at me and said, "Well, your family has the green thumb".

Despite some reluctance, I eventually attempted to plant my own herb and vegetable garden and I was surprised to find that it was actually pretty easy.  I even taught my niece.  I confidently explained, "All you need is water and sunlight."  To which, she promptly corrected, "And soil."  Nothing gets by kids.

There are a lot of advantages to planting your own vegetable garden.  Fresh vegetables are convenient, easily accessible, free of pesticides, and absolutely delicious.  In addition, planting your own garden with your kids is a great way for them to develop an early appreciation for vegetables and nature.

I show you how easy it is to build your own raised vegetable garden in the following movie trailer, entitled, "Vegetable Field of Dreams":

Eggplants are particularly easy to grow and great vegetables for novice home gardeners.  Try making this tasty dip out of the eggplants from your own garden!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

How to Cook Healthy Food for Kids : Green Beans in Anchovy Sauce Recipe by Mr. Green Bean

While I was attending Northwestern University, I majored in psychology and developed a keen interest in the study of human behavior.  One of my psychology classes was called, "Perception".  Although I don't remember much from the class, I do remember one specific lecture.  Our professor started by showing us a picture of the letter "A", colored red.  Then he went on to question us about how we can simultaneously perceive the "redness" of the "A" and the "A-ness" of the "A".  He then explained that in one context, the "redness" might dominate our perception, while in another context the "A-ness" might dominate our perception.

Fine.  The only problem was that every time he said "A-ness", our class heard the word, "anus".  I remember stealing looks from one classmate to another and desperately trying to suppress my laughter.  All the while, our professor continued on in his learned manner, describing the "A-ness" of the letter "A".  Not very perceptive professor!

In order to encourage kids to try new foods, its important to understand how they perceive food.  For instance, when I ask kids why they don't like fish, they usually respond, "Because its fishy."  And then I give them a blank stare.  So the trick to get fish haters to eat fish is to make the fish less fishy.  I see.  Read about the importance of fish in my previous post:

I was thinking about this problem the other day while going through some educational cards with Colin called Brain Quest.  These are fun cards with pictures that are designed to engage kids in active thinking.  Some of the cards are designed to help kids pick out patterns such as picking out all the vegetables.  Other cards show a familiar object with some part missing.  Kids are then supposed to figure out what is wrong with the picture.  I have found that Colin is much better at identifying when something is present than he is at identifying when something is absent or presented in an unfamiliar form.  

Kids who refuse fish when presented in a fishy form might be open to eating a dish that presents fish in a non-fishy form.  One of my favorite ways to prepare green beans is to use mashed up canned anchovies as a savory sauce mixed with the green beans.  It is a great way to serve fish in a non-fishy form.  It is also so easy to prepare that even the not so perceptive, "Mr. Green Bean" can do it:

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Here's a link to the recipe I used in the above video:

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