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!

Sunday, June 26, 2016

How to Make Healthy Asian Cauliflower Fried Rice for Kids

Growing up, our family rarely ate out. Instead, we would eat Chinese or Taiwanese food at home. On the occasions we did go out, we would eat Chinese or Taiwanese food at a Chinese or Taiwanese restaurant. Once a year, as a special treat for my birthday, we would go out to Red Lobster and I would order popcorn shrimp. 

Oddly enough, now that I can choose whatever I care to eat, I often choose Asian cuisine. Perhaps Asian flavors are comforting to me because they remind me of my childhood.  Or perhaps Asian food is just simply some of the best food out there. Although I hate to admit it, perhaps my parents were right all along. 

One of my favorite childhood dishes was Asian fried rice. I used to shovel spoonfuls of the stuff into my mouth. Now that I make an effort to lead a relatively low glycemic lifestyle, I no longer eat rice regularly. One great low carb substitute for rice is cauliflower rice. Recently, I tried an Asian style cauliflower rice. Pulsed in a food processor, the cauliflower "rice grains" soaked up the soy sauce, making for a very fine substitute for Asian fried rice. The kids loved this dish, happily shoveling spoonfuls of the stuff into their mouths. 

Saturday, June 18, 2016

How to Get Kids to Eat Healthy Blanched Vegetables : Crudité Dip

My first born just graduated from preschool. We attended his graduation ceremony, which was complete with cap and gowns, celebratory necklaces, and diplomas. Never mind that Colin went back to the same preschool the very next day, or that he will continue to attend preschool for the next three months before Kindergarten actually starts. That's besides the point.

The point is that my first born graduated from preschool! This is the same kid that would greet me in the mornings with a fresh bowel movement in his diaper. This is the same kid that couldn't even hold the weight of his own head up. This is the same kid that I would hold with one arm like a football. This is the same kid who would call out for me in the middle of the night due to night terrors. And now he's graduating preschool?!?

Over the years, I have seen my son evolve from an infant, to a toddler, to an adolescent. I am proud of many things, but I am most proud of his emotional growth. He used to pout when he went to piano or tennis lessons, and now he goes happily. He used to throw colossal tantrums on a regular basis and now he throws them on a semi-regular basis. He used to stubbornly demand his way all the time. Now, when he doesn't get his way, he has the emotional maturity to self talk his way into believing he got his way. 

I've noticed how his emotional growth has translated into being a more adventurous eater as well. He used to absolutely refuse to try new foods. Now, he knows that we expect him to just try things at least once. Often, he surprises himself when he learns that new foods aren't all that bad. 

Recently, I made a crudité with a roasted garlic aioli dip. Thanks to our friend Kris, for introducing me to crudité!  Typically, Colin doesn't like bell peppers. But I found some sweet mini peppers and I made him try them. I saw him process the taste of the peppers and determine they weren't bad after all. I didn't push him further because I knew we had accomplished what we needed to. I am sure that the next time he sees the mini bell peppers, he won't refuse them. These are the small victories that make me a proud papa. Happy Father's Day!

Sunday, June 12, 2016

How to Make the Perfect Healthy Bite For Kids : Best Meatball Ever

We took the kids to see a free concert by Rachel Platten at Tysons Corner this Friday. Rachel Platten became famous for her hit, the Fight Song. I didn't know what to expect but I figured it was worth going since it was a free concert, the weather was gorgeous, and did I mention it was a free concert?

Despite being a free concert, I was really impressed with Rachel Platten. She was ebullient and energetic on stage and she seemed genuinely happy to be there. She was an excellent stage performer and she sang with control and power. You can tell how good an artist is when you listen to them live since their pitch is exposed. She sang completely in tune and she sang completely within herself.

The most poignant part of the concert came at the end, when she shared how much The Fight Song meant to her. Up until the Fight Song, it was clear she had led the life of a struggling artist. She shared her struggles with self doubt and what she called, "the demons inside her head." Clearly very talented, the Fight Song was not just a symbolic fight, but emblematic of her own fight to succeed. Ironically, the song that was all about her own fight to succeed was also the song that ultimately brought her success.

I can relate to Rachel Platten, as I have had my own struggles. I have been on a long and seemingly endless pursuit for the perfect bite. My road has been frustrating and arduous. There have been dead ends and blind alleys. But all the while, I kept fighting, until, until, I came across this recipe for meatballs. This Asian meatball combines protein, vegetable, fat, herbs, salt, and umami all into one bite.  And not just any bite…the perfect bite.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

How to Make Healthy Gluten Free Grain Free Cheesy Cauliflower Bread Sticks for Kids

Last weekend, we took the kids to feed the birds at Roer's Zoofari in Vienna. Some people might protest about the price of admission at Roer's Zoofari (formerly the Reston Zoo), particularly when the National Zoo is free. Those people would be me. However, Roer's Zoofari has a lot of advantages, making the price admission totally worth it. It is less crowded than the National Zoo, parking is free, there are plenty of shady respites, and it is on flat, level ground. 

But the most unique aspect of Roer's Zoofari is the up close and personal interaction with the animals. Ordinarily, I would have been too cheap to purchase animal feed, but thanks to Groupon, I purchased discounted tickets that included animal feed and feeding sticks. It's a good thing too, because it turns out that animals, much like humans, are drawn to food.

Colin loved having the goats literally eat out of the palm of his hand. Budgie stick in hand, he squealed in delight as the birds would flock to him and land on his shoulder. Cailya had a slightly more traumatizing experience, as you'll see in the video for this week. Although she found the birds overwhelming, she really enjoyed the wagon ride. More like a safari, the wagon ride was a truly memorable and unexpected experience for a zoo located in the middle of the suburbs. 

Although it may not seem like it, feeding your kids can be as fun as feeding the birds. But leave the breadcrumbs to the birds and try this recipe for cheesy cauliflower "breadsticks". Your kids will love pulling these cheesy breadsticks apart and gobbling them down. 

Saturday, May 28, 2016

How to Make Healthy Strawberry Pineapple Paletas With No Added Sugar For Kids

I've decided to give it all up. I'm going to close up my clinic and start an infinitely more lucrative business. That's right, I'm going to open up a popsicle stand! The other day, we were out on a walk with our kids and we came across a cart selling Mexican popsicles called paletas. Oh, excuse me, not just any popsicle, GOURMET popsicles! Do you know what the difference is between regular popsicles and gourmet popsicles? About three dollars. These gourmet pops sold for four dollars a pop!

Another important distinction about paletas that does justify the four dollar price tag is they typically contain real fruit, rather than refined sugar water. You do have to be careful though, because often these fruit popsicles are made up of a combination of fruit and added sugar.

Recently, the efforts of multiple obesity organizations have paid off with the announcement that the FDA plans to update requirements for nutrition labels. One major breakthrough is they will be requiring food manufacturers to note how many added sugars their products contain. This is a tremendous development that will undoubtedly have a significant impact on the health and well-being of Americans. The additional line noting "added sugars" helps distinguish healthful natural sugars that are low in glycemic index like fruit and dairy sugars, from added refined sugars that are high in glycemic index like table sugar and high-fructose corn syrup.

I scoured the internet for healthy recipes for paletas. Many recipes do add sugar, which is a shame. I found that you can easily make your own paletas with just two ingredients: whole fruit and lime juice. Pineapple works very well and is naturally sweet without added sugars. I made strawberry lime pineapple paletas and strawberry coconut lime paletas for the kids and they loved them. In order to sweeten the strawberries a little, I added a few figs. Now I just need to take my paletas on the road and charge an unconscionable markup. Palteas! Get your ice cold paletas!

Saturday, May 21, 2016

How to Make Healthy Baked Apple Oatmeal for Kids

Cassie took Colin on a dream trip to LEGOLAND this past week. That left Cailya with dear old dad. Every now and again, we split the kids up like this. It's an arrangement that works out for everybody. The kids have no one to argue with, plus they get the exclusive attention of one parent all to themselves. In fact, taking care of just one kid is so comparatively easy, I would even go so far as to say it is delightful.

So, while Colin was off meeting LEGO batman, I painted Cailya's nails, baked her apple oatmeal, and took her to the mall. As we walked through the mall, I noticed people looked at us with warmth and admiration. This is in stark contrast to the fear and disdain we usually receive as a family of four with two screaming toddlers. For some reason, people really seem to respond to the image of a father taking care of his daughter. I don't know if it's simply endearing to watch a grown man clumsily attempt to tie his daughter's hair into a ponytail, but there is something special about the relationship between a father and his daughter.

In many ways, raising a daughter is like a budding romance. There's the thrill when she reaches her hand out to grasp mine. There's the pride of taking her out and taking care of her. There's the inevitable emotional outbursts when I fail to meet her every expectation. I remember what friends said when they learned Cassie was pregnant with Cailya. "Oh you are going to adore having a little girl!" Daddy daughter weeks like these remind me that those friends were absolutely right.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

How to Make Healthy Low Carb Chicken Nachos for Kids

Sometimes I feel sorry for Colin because his primary role model of virility and masculinity is, well, me. I'm not exactly a macho, macho man. I prefer musicals to bars. I would rather talk about cuisine than about cars. And I have no interest in partaking in a pissing contest with other guys over cigars. 

Still, I'd like to think that Colin will appreciate having this male figure in his life. I'd like him to observe that the man of the house takes out the trash. I'd like him to appreciate the honest sweat that comes from mowing your own lawn. Hopefully he'll be observant when I make an effort to take care of his mom, and maybe that will translate into him taking care of his sister or significant other some day. 

So while I'm not so macho, I am the kind of male role model for Colin that I know how to be. I'm a not so macho nacho man who loves making and eating these low carb chicken nachos. And that's good enough for me. 

Sunday, May 8, 2016

How to Make a Grain Free Gluten Free Bagel for Kids and Mommy on Mother's Day

'Twas the morning of Mother's Day, and all through the house
not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
 Mama was nestled all snug in her bed,
while daddy arose with his sleep sleepy head.

He woke the kids up; their hairs he did brush,
Then quietly they went in a hush and a rush.

Down to the Kitchen, with a sneak and a creep
"Quiet!" dad said, "Mommy's trying to sleep!" 

When out from the kitchen arose such a clatter,
The mixer, the bowls, the batter, the splatter!

Now Crying, Now Yelling, Now Colin, now Cailya!

She pinched me, he hit me, Now what's the mattah?

 We made up our dough then formed into rings

Then sprinkled them with everything.

Into the oven we popped them one by one.

After 20 minutes our bagels were done!

We sliced them and then, cheese and lox we did spread,
then hurried mom's breakfast up to her bed.

Mom's favorite, lox and bagels, of course gluten free!
A mother's day breakfast fit for our favorite Mommy!

Sunday, May 1, 2016

How to Make Healthy Mexican Quinoa For Kids - The Power of Sour Cream

I've discovered sour cream. Yeah, I know I'm late to the party. I was also late to the cheese party. I used to go to Chipotle and turn my nose up at the sour cream and cheese. I've always had a relatively simple palate, perhaps because I grew up in a household with simple flavors. It never occurred to me that something like sour cream would add so much flavor to a dish. Now, I realize that sour cream adds fattiness, moisture, and flavor, bringing a seemingly disparate array of ingredients together into a cohesive dish.

As I discover new ingredients and new flavors, so do my children. On a whim, I decided to make this recipe for Mexican quinoa. This bowl has all the classic Mexican flavors without the carbs from taco shells or burritos. Whole corn kernels add sweetness without adding refined sugar. Beans are a good source of protein and fiber for fullness and satiety.

But the star that pulls all the flavors together is the sour cream. I let Colin add a dollop of sour cream and mix it in himself. Giving Colin control over healthy condiments is a great way to keep him interested in what he is eating and practice autonomy. He loved this dish so much, he didn't even mind the diced tomatoes interspersed throughout his bowl. Not only did Colin discover sour cream, but so did I. Adding a dollop of sour cream can go a long way towards increasing acceptance of foods for your kids as well. If you're late to the sour cream party, I recommend you give it a try too. Better late than never!

Sunday, April 24, 2016

How to Make Healthy Low Carb Gluten Free Cloud Bread for Kids

One of the first things people do when they attempt to lose weight is to cut out bread. The idea that bread is fattening is not just an old wive's tale. As I have learned and observed many times over, cutting out bread is a very effective strategy for weight loss. Bread is fattening not simply because it is a source of calories, but because it is very high in glycemic index. It is the most common source of wheat flour in the typical American diet and the most prevalent source of fattening carbohydrates.

Oftentimes, weight conscious individuals switch from breads to wraps. Have you ever eaten a wrap and felt somewhat cheated? Wraps simply do not give us the pleasure that bread does. The reason is wraps take out the best part of bread--air. If you are worried about calories, switching from leavened bread to flat bread doesn't really help. That just takes out the air from your food, and air doesn't have any calories. Also, switching to wraps doesn't take out the offending high glycemic processed flour that causes all the weight gain in the first place.

Taking out the air also takes away a lot of the taste. Air is a very important part of the pleasurable experience of eating. Air adds volume to our food, which is important because bigger food is visually more appealing than smaller food. Air also confers a lightness and softness to food, which can be texturally pleasing.

And while you can't see air, you certainly can taste it. As Michael Pollan points out, air pockets in food transport the flavors from the food as gas into the back of our mouths and sinus cavities. Because nearly eighty percent of the pleasure of food comes from our olfactory senses, air is a significant contributor to the pleasurable sensations we get from eating food.

I have been searching for a decent low carb, gluten free, low glycemic index bread substitute for a long time. Thanks to my patient, Meredith, I have finally found one. This recipe for cloud bread is a game-changing bread substitute. In contrast to my previous failed attempts to mimic bread, cloud bread gets the most important factor right--air. Infusing air into eggs and cream cheese results in a light and fluffy bread substitute that you can use for sandwiches such as a gluten free egg salad sandwich

For my cloud bread, I skipped sweeteners like sugar and honey and went completely savory, adding salt, garlic powder, and rosemary. I split my batter into six bun halves and baked the buns at 350 degrees. But watch your cloud bread closely during baking and subsequent broiling, as it can burn easily! 


Pollan, Michael. 2013. Cooked: a natural history of transformation.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

How to Sneak Greens into Healthy Gluten Free Zucchini Bread For Kids

The theater was eerily silent. You could hear a pin drop. The main character had just shared a poignant and heartbreaking story about two lovers. The story had just reached a climax. The entire audience was waiting with baited breath to hear what would happen next. What happened next was the very distinct and articulate voice of my three year old asking, "Daddy, why did she say that?" 

If I am guilty of anything when it comes to my children, it is sneaking them into museums and restaurants stating that they are younger than they actually are. I look young. And so do my children. No one ever questions me and no one seems to mind. 

However, on this particular trip to New York, I had actually snuck Cailya in to see Matilda even though she was younger than the minimum age of four. The last time we went to New York, I took Colin to see Finding Neverland. I specifically instructed him not to tell Cailya about the show. Of course, he couldn't help but tell her how much he enjoyed the show. I spent the rest of the afternoon hearing her moan, "I want to see a showwwwww!"

So I decided to take my chances and sneak Cailya in. I put her in a nice dress, did her hair up a, and even prepared a whole back story. Then I casually handed the usher four tickets and made as if all was natural. For a brief moment the usher paused. But then, after seeing that we had four tickets, he let us pass. It was that simple. Aside from a few embarrassing moments, we had a great time watching a broadway musical together. 

You can sneak in some good stuff into your kids' diet as well. Try making this gluten free coconut flour zucchini bread. My kids enjoyed munching on this throughout our trip to New York. 

Sunday, April 10, 2016

How to Make Healthy Slow Cooker Hawaiian Pork For Kids

My first time was in college. I was scared and nervous. I didn't know what to expect, but everyone around me was doing it. So, I closed my eyes and tried pork butt. I was at my first Hawaiian luau, sponsored by the Northwestern University Hawaii club. After Hawaii and California, Northwestern is a popular college destination for Hawaiians. After all, we had enough Hawaiians to form a club!

One of my college roommates was from Hawaii. Trenton is a Hawaiian through and through. He has that quintessential aloha smile and is always thinking of others. He gave me a positive impression of the people and culture of Hawaii right from the start. Now, whenever I think of Hawaii, I think of warm sun, playful personalities, and open hearted people. 

When people think about Hawaiian food, they may think "Hawaiian" is synonymous with pineapple. Throw on some pineapple slices onto that pizza and call it Hawaiian! The same sweet transition takes place when Chinese food crosses over to Chinese American food in the likes of such dishes as sweet and sour pork.

Hawaiian food is much more than pineapples and coconuts. Hawaiians also love shaved ice and SPAM! When I think of Hawaiian food, I think of luaus and Kālua pig. Kālua literally means "to cook in an underground oven." Traditionally, a whole pig is salted, wrapped in banana leaves, and cooked in a pit underground over heated rocks.

However, you can make an easy version of slow cooked pig by using your slow cooker. Try this recipe for Slow Cooker Kalua Pig by Nom Nom Paleo. To punch up your pork, you can try adding some spices and acid from citrus fruits.


Sunday, April 3, 2016

How to Make Healthy Peanut Butter and Jelly Snack Balls For Kids

This past week, I went to the happiest place on earth. But while Disney World may be the happiest place on earth, it isn't necessary the most relaxing place on earth. Fortunately, with a little planning, we were able to enjoy our day at Animal Kingdom. 

The key to our day was getting to Africa first and early. We arrived at the parking lot about 830 am. Even though the park didn't officially open until 9am, we were able to go through ticketing and get halfway into the park, past Oasis and deep into Discovery Island well before 9 o'clock. We then waited in a crowd at the giant tree in the center of the park, roped off like the Disney cattle we were.

When the clock struck nine, we raced off like marathon runners into the heartland of Africa. Our number one priority was getting to the Safari ride before 920 am, when wait times significantly increase. Going on the Safari ride while the morning was still relatively cooler also helped keep the kids in their happy place. The safari was a lot of fun, and definitely a highlight of the park.  I enjoyed the jeep like feel of the ride and the open fields. However, I wish we saw some more exotic animals that I don't already see routinely at zoos. Also, there wasn't a lot of opportunity to stop for pictures. 

After the Safari ride, we headed right into the first show of The Festival of the Lion King at ten o'clock. This show was spectacular, filled with songs from the Lion King, costumes, circus performers, and fire. My kids said it was their favorite part of the park. After the show, we went to the Tusker House for an African buffet. This was the best food I have ever eaten at a Theme park. My kids enjoyed taking pictures with Mickey, Donald, Daisy, and Goofy. Unfortunately, my kids enjoyed taking the pictures much more than the actual characters did, who seemed to be in a rush to move onto the next table. 

Getting one solid meal was a key strategy to keeping the kids happy. Another important factor that helped keep the kids from going to their unhappy place was having a reliable portable snack in the ready. For this trip, I made PB&J balls. This no bake snack is simple to make ahead of time and ideal for packing on trips.  

After lunch, we made our way across Asia. We used our fast pass to bypass the eighty minute line for Kali River Rapids, and I'm glad we did. The ride was fun, but quite short. It was still worth it in the end, because my brother got absolutely soaked. We got in line at Finding Nemo a half an hour before showtime, which turned out great since they quickly let us into the air-conditioned theatre. This was a visually stunning show featuring amazing puppetry. After Nemo, we hit dinosaur land. We also used our fast pass for the Dinosaur ride. I thought this was a fun ride, but it was a bit too scary for the five year old and seven year old kids in our party. 

We finished up our day visiting Discovery Island and seeing some more animals. All in all, we had a great family vacation at Animal Kingdom. My kids literally were skipping as they left the park. Indeed, both myself and my kids reached our happy place. 

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