Thursday, October 4th, 2012
Kids (and parents!) need whole grains all year round, and autumn is the perfect time to incorporate these nourishing ingredients into your family meal plan. The most recent Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that children consume at least 2 to 3 servings of whole grain daily. In addition to lowering the risk of many chronic diseases, fiber-rich whole grains have been proven to keep you feeling full for longer, so you’ll eat less and feel energized all day long. There are plenty of fun ways to get kids eating nutritious and tasty meals, so what are you waiting for?
We spoke with Karen Mansur, program manager of the Whole Grains Council about how to help your family make the switch to whole grains. Here are a few of her tips:
1. Host a family taste test
Make three different whole grain pastas (brown rice, whole wheat and quinoa are some popular possibilities) and vote on the family favorite. Next time you make pasta, use the newly crowned whole grain favorite. Do the same with breads, cereals, pancakes mixes, etc. until you’ve switched out all of the classic meal components with whole grain options. And if your picky eater just does not like one particular grain, don’t worry—there are plenty of others to choose from.
2. Cook whole grains together
“Studies show that cooking with children encourages them to be more adventurous with flavors and textures,” Mansur says. Little ones can help out with simple tasks like measuring and stirring. “Getting their help in the kitchen also creates a bonding opportunity and best of all, teaches an appreciation for the effort required to put together a meal,” Mansur adds.
Here are some easy recipes that incorporate whole grains:
You can also adapt your current recipes by simple substitutions like switching from white to brown rice, or by replacing half the white flour with whole wheat flour for foods like cookies and quick breads.
3. Pack healthy lunches for school (or work)
Switch out potato chips for popcorn, make trail mix by combining whole grain cereal with dried fruit or nuts, or select an oatmeal cookie for dessert. Best of all, the whole grains will help kids stay full and focused for the rest of the school day.
4. Look for the Whole Grain Stamp
If you’re having trouble locating whole grains at the grocery store, just look for the Whole Grain Stamp. Food packages with more than a half serving of whole grains are eligible for the black and gold seal, making it easy for shoppers to identify nutritious options.
Image: Various rye bread via Shutterstock.
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Wednesday, February 8th, 2012
Cooking with your kids is a great way to teach them about the importance of healthy eating, but we know it’s not always easy to find the time and energy to do so.
Which is exactly why you and your child should enter Loukoumi’s Secret Ingredient Recipe Contest! The contest is part of the release of Nick Katsoris’s latest book, Loukoumi’s Celebrity Cookbook (which we’ve already raved about). Children between the ages of 4 and 12 simply submit their favorite recipe and why they love it in 10 words or less. One child will win a private cooking lesson with celebrity chef Cat Cora.
The contest is accepting submissions until March 1. Download the contest entry form and enter today!
Read more about Cat Cora on Parents.com:
Image of Cat Cora courtesy of Nick Katsoris
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Thursday, October 6th, 2011
True story: The other night I was on the phone with a friend at 11 p.m. when she had to put me on hold to answer the door. Her late night visitor? A deliveryman dropping off cookies for a bake sale at her child’s school the next day.
My friend is a busy working mom and didn’t have time to bake something herself (and is lucky enough to live in a city that delivers any type of food at any time of day). But what if there was no magical late-night deliveryman? What could she have whipped up with little effort in such a short period of time?
It’s a perfect question for Chef Britt Kurent. Trained at The Institute of Culinary Education, Kurent is founder and owner of Kurent Events, a catering company in New York City. She and her team cater everything from backyard BBQs to sophisticated weddings. Kurent was even a contestant on the hit Bravo show, Rocco’s Dinner Party.
And now she’s ready to help you! Kurent wants to answer your questions about food, cooking, and party planning. Hosting a party for kids and adults and clueless on what to serve to make everyone happy? Dying to learn how to stop burning every batch of cookies you make? Got an upcoming bake sale? Kurent has tips and suggestions for all of these questions and more.
Leave a question for Kurent in the comments section!
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Monday, October 3rd, 2011
I’m finding it hard to focus at the moment. Not just because it’s Monday morning but because I’ve just spent some time on Nicole Friday’s site, The Cupcake Craze, and all I can think right now is Must…have…chocolate souffle cupcake…)
Like me, Nicole is a mom of two children, ages 6 and 3, who lives in New Jersey. (Those are her boys, Ellis and Edison, at right.) But unlike me, she’s a fabulous baker with her own catering business–just check out the slideshow of scrumptious desserts she’s created. I asked her to share some of her best baking-with-kids tips, and she happily obliged:
1. What’s a home-run flavor combo for kids?
Oreo Cookies & Cream is definitely a hit! Anything chocolate works with kids, especially a supersize cupcake—chocolate cake with cookies & cream frosting and topped with an Oreo cookie. Simply irresistible!
2. How old were your boys when you started baking with them?
Ellis was 2 (he’s now 3 ½) ; Edison was 3 (now 6).
3. Any fun kitchen missteps you can share?
Oh yeah. Edison added a bowl of eggs–including the shells–to the batter and turned on the mixer. There was no picking out those shells—another batch into the garbage! Another time, I had cupcakes for an event resting on the counter and Ellis, who was 2 at the time, stuck his fingers in all the cupcakes. (Luckily I made it to the event with a new batch of “hole-less” cupcakes.)
4. What’s the best task for little ones brand-new to the kitchen?
The key is to start off small, doing pretty much anything that doesn’t involve fire or hot or sharp things. So you can try beating eggs, adding and mixing pre-measured ingredients, licking the bowls clean. That’s a popular one.
5. Do you have favorite gadgets for kids?
Use a mini ice-cream scooper to fill the liners and a plastic spoon to spread the frosting (though fingers work too!). The picture above shows my boys doing just that.
6. Is there any such thing as a “healthy cupcake” that kids will love?
Yes. It’s all about the ingredients and the size: I choose mini-cupcakes and sneak veggies and “good stuff” into my cupcakes all the time, especially when my kids are on a veggie strike. Some ideas and healthier choices include: applesauce, carrots, sweet potatoes, zucchini, raisins, cranberries, apples, blueberries, strawberries, bananas. Instead of butter, use canola oil; opt for white-whole wheat flour or whole-wheat flour; use non-fat ingredients such as sour cream, buttermilk, and cream cheese. You can even skip the frosting and dust with powdered sugar.
7. Care to share a recipe?
Here you go!
Candied-Yamberry Cupcakes by Nicole Friday
Yield: 24 mini cupcakes
1 pound (2 medium) sweet potatoes
1 cup whole-wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon coarse salt
1 teaspoons ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
¾ cup canola oil
¼ cup sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
¼ cup applesauce
¼ cup dried cranberries
½ teaspoon orange zest
- Boil sweet potatoes over medium-high heat until the center is soft and the skin begins to peel. Remove from water, set aside and let cool. When cool enough to handle, scrape skin from the potatoes and mash until smooth.
- Preheat oven 350°F. Line muffin pans with paper liners. Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices. Set aside.
- With an electric mixer on medium speed, beat together oil, sugar, eggs, vanilla extract, applesauce and sweet potatoes. Reduce speed: add flour mixture. Stir in cranberries by hand, until combined.
- Divide batter evenly among lined cups filling three-quarters full. Bake approximately 25-30 minutes, rotating pans halfway through and a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Transfer pans to rack or counter to cool before removing cupcakes.
- To finish, top cupcakes with mini-marshmallows mounds. Using a small kitchen torch, brown marshmallows all over and enjoy!
(Note from Nicole: If you don’t have a torch, use the broiler. Works magically–just keep a close watch, otherwise you’ll have super-toasted marshmallows. Or take the no-frosting route and just dust the cupcakes with powdered sugar. Still yummy!)
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