Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Summer Cooking 101 Part II, Big Ideas for Little Tummies

Flag Pizza
See the bottom of this post for a link on a how-to for this cute veggie-packed and kid-friendly pizza!

Feeding kids isn't easy. Anyone who is a parent or caregiver of children knows this one. Their tastes can change from day-to-day and much of the grown-up fare that the rest of us adore just doesn't do it for them.

My kids are not exempt just because I can cook. One of them has changed her tastes over the past year at a truly maddening rate. One week she loves the tuna cakes I've made for years, and the next she's telling me she hates them. I've already warned her that this is not a fast-food joint and she can't just order ala carte here. I think at this point she would rather go hungry than eat something she just doesn't like. I also know from experience with several of the other kids that she will outgrow it.

Some of what I make for the kids is flat out for fun, some of what I make is for hidden nutritional value, some of it is just because they like it.

Here are a few ideas and recipes to get your own imagination going. Almost all of these are great for Summertime too. This is just the very tip of the recipe and idea iceberg, I just don't have room for all of it!

  • When it comes to making hoagies, the amount of bread in a normal hoagie roll is just too much for little ones and I often found rolls emptied of their contents and lying on a plate. So, to avoid having this happen I started using hot dog rolls for the smaller kids. Not only do they think kid-sized rolls are "cool" but they can also finish the whole thing. Whole wheat hot dog rolls are not yet the easiest to find but they are out there and are far better than the white flour type.
  • We love pita bread here for all manner of things (mini's are great for kid sandwiches) including pizza. It's about the simplest pizza "dough" going. Just lay out pitas and let the kids top them with their favorites and about 15 minutes in a 400° oven or a few seconds in the microwave is all you need.
  • What kid doesn't like ranch dressing? Well, actually I do have one that doesn't like it. My oldest son defies logic. Any kid eats a veggie disguised in cheese sauce or ranch dressing, right? Not Declan. But the good news is that most kids love the stuff and will eat any manner of cut-up veggie if there's enough dip to go with it.
  • Another way to get the kids to eat fruits and veggies is to make kabobs. Shish Kabob sticks (bamboo skewers) are very cheap and the kids love almost anything on them! Try varied fruits with a healthy dip like:

Honey Lime Yogurt Dressing

2c. plain yogurt
1/2 c. sour cream
1T. lime juice
1/2c. honey
1/4c. heavy cream
1t. parsely finely chopped

Mix together and allow flavors
to blend several hours or overnight.
(I used to serve this at my cafe and it was a big hit there!)

Chicken nuggets, hot dogs, turkey or ham cubes and cheese cubes are all great ideas for kabobs too.

  • Smoothies are a huge favorite here and they are so easy to make. I have quite a few recipes and if you would like them just email me (link above and in my profile) and I'll be more than happy to send them along. Basically any yogurt or ice cream (or even tofu!) with a fruit, fresh or frozen, and a touch of fruit juice will do it. Blend away and watch the kids consume them with lightning speed.

  • Yesterday I pulled a big no-no, nutritionally speaking; I bought freeze-pops. We all know they aren't more than colored sugar water but the kids love them and on a hot day I really don't mind them having one. There are healthier alternatives though and one of them is yogurt tubes. I never buy yogurt tubes that don't go directly to the freezer. The kids love yogurt (I buy plenty in cups) but they don't like the tubes in the "squishy" form as they call it. There are also recipes for fruit pops that you can make yourself with nothing more than popsicle forms (found several for $1 at Dollar Tree and Family Dollar both) and 100% fruit juice.

Another idea is these:

Easy Fudgesicles

1 12-oz. can evaporated milk (NOT condensed)
2 cups whole milk
1/4 to 1/3 cup chocolate syrup
3 level scoops (3/4 cup) hot chocolate mix powder
2 level scoops (1/2 cup) Nestle Quik
Popsicle molds - 8 to 12, depending on mold size

Pour evaporated milk, whole milk, and chocolate syrup
into a bowl and stir until blended. Heat until hot but
not boiling (microwave for about 4 minutes). Stir in
hot chocolate mix powder and Nestle Quik powder (a
wire whisk works best). Pour into popsicle molds and

Snacks are a big thing here and if I let my kids do it, they would eat every 5 minutes throughout  the day. So, since I know they'll be asking alot I try to have healthier versions of things on hand. Many times that just means making it myself since the store bought type generally has more salt, sugar and preservatives than what I make. Apples with pb and honey dip go over big here and is a simple thing to prepare.

Also try:

Cheerio Bars
Servings: 6

1/2 c peanut butter
1/2 c sugar
1/2 c honey
3 c Cheerios
peanuts or chocolate chips

Bring sugar and honey to a boil in a saucepan. Remove from heat, stir in
peanut butter until well blended. Pour in cheerios and mix until well coated.
Spread in buttered 9 x 13 pan and let cool. cut in squares.

Cinnamon-Apple Fruit Rolls
Servings: 8

24 oz jar apple sauce
2 t cinnamon

Heat oven to 250. Line jelly roll pan with plastic wrap, securing ends.
In a bowl, combine all ingredients. Pour into prepared pan and spread evenly.
Bake at 250 for 1 1/4 hours. Turn off the oven and let stand in oven
2 to 3 hours until dry.
Cut into 8 squares and remove plastic wrap.
Roll up jelly roll fashion.

  • Two easy ways to make ice cream are in bags and cans. The kids think both ways are really neat and they can be involved in making the ice cream with no mess! Ice cream sandwiches are super easy with store bought cookies. They are also a little smaller that way and easier to handle for little ones.

Zip Lock Bag Ice Cream

2 Tbsp. Sugar
1 cup milk or half and half
1/2 tsp. Vanilla
6 Tblsp. rock salt
1 pint sized plastic zip bag
1 gallon-sized plastic zip bag

Fill the gallon zip bag half full of ice. Add rock salt and seal well (I've used duct tape before to be sure it's sealed!). Pour sugar, milk/half and half, and vanilla into the pint sized plastic bag and seal. Place the pint
sized bag into the gallon bag and seal. Shake the bag for 5-7 minutes.

I've never gotten it to work that fast but it may work differently for you. I use the 5 minutes as a checking time. If it isn't done then, we just keep going.

Tin Can Ice Cream

1 Cup Milk
1 Cup Whipping Cream
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Nuts or fruit as desired

Put all ingredients in a 1-pound coffee can with a tight fitting plastic
lid. Place lid on can. Place can with ingredients inside a #10 can (larger
coffee can) with a tight fitting lid. Pack larger can with crushed ice
around smaller can. Pour at least 3/4 cup of rock salt evenly over ice.
Place lid on #10 can. Roll back and forth on a table or cement slab for 10
minutes. Open outer can. Remove inner can with ingredients. Remove lid.
Use a rubber spatula to stir up mixture. Scrape sides of can. Replace lid.
Drain ice water from larger can. Insert smaller can: pack with more ice and
rock salt. Roll back and forth for 5 more minutes. Makes about 3 cups. You
can also put a few clean marbles in the can to help stir the ingredients.
Just be sure to remove them before eating to avoid a choking hazard.
Tape this all up with duct tape and the kids can even (gently) kick it around!

Adding in this new and very valuable resource: Claire Crespo's A Very Veggie World cookbook. This link is a FREE download and the book is chock full of terrific kid-friendly veggie ideas, many perfect for the summer. See my post about it here and follow the first link for your own copy!  ~Anne, June 6, 2012


Annie said...

Wow so many great ideas I don't know where to start.
The cheerios sound the easiest for me since I always have them around as well as peanut butter.

Ian said...

Fantastic! Love the Cheerio bars. I'm also going to try the yogurt dip.

Anonymous said...

Tuna cakes? Sounds great. Is the recipe posted on your blog somewhere, and if it is, can you tell me where?

I love your snack ideas. Unfortunately I don't have any little ones around any more. They managed to grow up right before my eyes!

Anne Coleman said...

Cassie-GASP! I checked my family favorites page and I can't believe they weren't there. I added them under Main Dishes and the link is to your right-> Coleman Family Favorite Recipes :o)

kbabe1968 said...

Declan, your oldest? You mean your oldest at home, right? LOL :) Love the ideas!!! We freeze yogurt tubes here, too. Only way I can get Gumby to eat yogurt of any kind. The other two suck it up like it's going out of style, any form....Leah won't touch the stuff unless disguised as a frozen summer treat or smoothie! LOL :) My other trick is to use greek yogurt instead of sour cream when I make the powdered/packet ranch dip. No one even fact I get more compliments on it! :)

Anne Coleman said...

Nope - my oldest son ;) The oldest at home is still the oldest - 22!