CARTHAGE, Mo. —
It's confession time: Kids don't like my food. My kid likes my cooking, but she'll eat anything.
I have what we in the parenting world refer to as a "good eater." She makes my clean cooking seem delicious most of the time. We live in a bubble where scrambled eggs always contain bits of broccoli, and apples with homemade almond butter are a snack staple. But when she has her little friends over, reality rears its ugly head.
I proudly offered Popsicles to the neighborhood kids playing in our backyard, to which they squealed with delight. I gave them my standard homemade yogurt, honey and fruit frozen treats. My kid was the only one who ate hers -- I found the others melting in the grass. I picked the blueberries myself and made the yogurt in my own kitchen, and it hurt to see them wasted. The kids wanted the frozen artificial colors and flavors on a stick that they're used to. I was so naive.
My kid loves all food: the good, the bad and the artificially colored. I try to feed her good food at home because I know I'm powerless when she's not with me. One recent Sunday morning, I suggested we make waffles for breakfast. She nearly melted down because she wanted her waffles to be yellow like the ones from her friend's freezer. It's a constant struggle, but I believe in real food. I will continue my battle.
I like to cook, and I like to keep food as close to its natural state as possible. Try explaining that to a gaggle of 5-year-olds. I recently had the idea to serve hot dogs to young dinner guests, but after looking at the ingredients I couldn't bring myself to buy real hot dogs. I tried to pass off vegetarian hot dogs on whole-wheat buns to some kids who turned out to be a couple of hot dog aficionados, and they refused my wieners. Color me humiliated.
The next time this particular pair of kids came to visit, I made macaroni and cheese in muffin cups. I thought I had a definite kid-pleasing winner. After their mother told them what they were having, the kids wanted to know what color the mac and cheese was. Once they saw that it wasn't neon orange, like the stuff from the box, they wouldn't touch it. I was so disappointed. But I haven't given up on this duo. Next time, we will have homemade pizza. They will add their own toppings, so it will be their fault if they don't like it. I can't take much more rejection.
Try these recipes that every kid is sure to enjoy.
Clean-eating cinnamon almond butter
2 cups raw almonds
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, to taste
1/4 teaspoon salt, to taste
Apple slices for dipping
Add nuts to food processor and blend until the nut butter reaches the ball stage. Add the rest of your ingredients and blend further until you have a nice, creamy almond butter. You can adjust the salt and cinnamon at the end if you prefer.
A better Monte Cristo sandwich
1 pound turkey breast, thinly sliced and cut into 4-ounce pieces
2 teaspoons olive oil, divided
11/2 teaspoons dried oregano
Sea salt and ground black pepper, to taste
1/2 cup egg whites
2 tablespoons skim milk
Ground cayenne pepper, to taste
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
8 slices whole-grain bread
1 cup baby spinach leaves
1 pear, thinly sliced
4 one-ounce slices of low-fat Swiss cheese
In a small bowl, season turkey with 1 teaspoon oil, oregano, salt and black pepper.
Heat a nonstick sautŽ pan over medium-high heat. Add turkey and sautŽ until light golden at edges and fully cooked throughout, about 2 to 3 minutes per side. Remove from heat and set aside.
In a shallow dish, whisk together egg whites and milk. Season with salt, black pepper and cayenne. Set aside.
Spread about 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard on one side of each bread slice and place, Dijon side up, on a flat work surface. Layer equal parts spinach, pear and turkey onto 4 slices of bread. Top each stack with 1 slice cheese and another slice of bread, Dijon side down, pressing gently.
In a medium nonstick sautŽ pan, heat remaining teaspoon of oil over medium heat.
Using a spatula, carefully dip 1 side of sandwich into egg mixture (egg mixture should go about halfway up the bread slice when immersed). With your hand on the top of the sandwich and spatula underneath, carefully flip to immerse the other side in egg, then gently transfer to hot pan. SautŽ sandwich, turning once, until golden brown and crisp, about 5 minutes total. Remove from pan. Repeat with remaining sandwiches. Cut sandwiches in half and serve immediately.
Zucchini oven chips
1/4 cup dry bread crumbs
1/4 cup (1 ounce) grated fresh Parmesan cheese
1/4 teaspoon seasoned salt
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons milk
2 1/2 cups (1/4-inch-thick) sliced zucchini (about 2 small)
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Combine first 5 ingredients in a medium bowl; stir with a whisk. Place milk in a shallow bowl. Dip zucchini slices in milk, and dredge in bread crumb mixture. Place coated slices on an ovenproof wire rack coated with cooking spray; place rack on a baking sheet. Bake at 425 degrees for 30 minutes or until browned and crisp. Serve immediately.
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