Macaroni and Cheese
In your next batch of mac 'n cheese, add cooked fresh or frozen pureed winter squash--think butternut or acorn squash. The texture and color resemble that of the cheesy dish while adding a serving of veggies. The possibilities are endless!
Aside from adding winter squash--or even cooked carrots--to macaroni, there are plenty of other ways to amp up this dish and make it more nutritious. To begin, making it from scratch with your children is a better alternative to the boxed variety. When cooking at home instead of getting takeout, you can use whole-wheat or brown-rice pasta and control the amount of cheese and sodium added. After cooking the noodles and adding your choice of cheese, top the dish with your child's favorite lean protein. Grilled sliced chicken, ground turkey or flavored tofu make great combinations. Experiment with finely chopped spinach, stewed tomatoes or chopped broccoli. If your little one is reluctant to try the new variation, make it into a game! It's amazing what a child will eat when it's the last food available on a deserted tropical island and resources are running out. The imagination can be a wonderful tool!
Instead of processed chicken nuggets, patties and tenders, cut skinless chicken breasts into chunks then dip them in flour, egg whites and breadcrumbs. Bake at 400 degrees for 10-12 minutes, until chicken is cooked through. Flavor your breadcrumbs to suit your mood. Add oregano, thyme, paprika, cumin or rosemary, for example. Introducing herbs to children helps them expand their palates early on.
French fries are a commonly requested food among young people. Slicing and baking your own potatoes is a very good alternative to the deep-fried option. Experiment with different spices and varieties of potatoes: russet, redskin, and sweet potatoes will all produce a different taste. Drizzle olive or canola oil over your potato slices once they're spread over a baking sheet and top with any combination of garlic, oregano, dill, rosemary, and pepper. For added vitamins and variety, choose sweet potatoes, butternut squash, even parsnips, turnips and other root vegetables. Roasting adds a sweetness that will make almost any vegetable appealing to kids. Offer ketchup for the kids to dip, and mix in some sweet chili paste or curry powder for some uniquely grown-up ketchup. Continued ›