Posts Tagged ‘ recipes ’

Whole Grains for the Whole Family

Thursday, October 4th, 2012

Rye BreadKids (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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An Easy Way to Fight Child Hunger

Thursday, September 13th, 2012

No Kid HungryWe’ve all seen the heartbreaking images of children in third world countries who are barely surviving due to a lack of food. We all know that this tragic reality exists, but did you know that there are 16 million children living here in America who are battling hunger?

We at Parents take this issue very seriously. We recently ran a report on what hunger looks like in America and interviewed a mom who experienced it firsthand.

Romano’s Macaroni Grill is teaming up with Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign to bring 1 million meals to children in need. They invited us and other bloggers to write about their favorite Italian recipe and for every post they will donate $50 to No Kid Hungry, which will provide up to 500 meals for children in need.

Here’s what you can do to help.

Throughout the entire month of September, Macaroni Grill diners can donate $2 to No Kid Hungry and receive $5 off their next visit. A $2 donation could provide up to 20 meals.

Every time a fan shares a photo from the Mac Grill Facebook Gallery, Macaroni Grill will help No Kid Hungry provide a child with a meal.

Tweet or Instagram a photo of your Macaroni Grill experience with the tag #macgrillgive and Macaroni Grill will provide a child with a meal.

Here’s one of our favorite Italian dishes, the mega-simple Crockpot Lasagna:


  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 1 26 ounce jar pasta sauce
  • ¾ cup water
  • 1 15 ounce carton light ricotta cheese
  • 6 lasagna noodles
  • 1 ½ cups shredded mozzarella cheese (6oz.)

Make It
1. Coat a 4-quart slow cooker with cooking spray. In a large microwave-safe bowl stir together pasta sauce and water. Cover bowl with waxed paper and microwave on high for 3 minutes. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl stir together ricotta cheese and carrot; set aside.

2. Spoon 1/2 cup of the sauce mixture in the bottom of prepared slow cooker. Break half of the noodles to fit the bottom of the slow cooker and arrange over the sauce in the slow cooker. Spoon mounds of half of the ricotta mixture over the noodles. Top with 1/2 cup of the mozzarella. Spoon half of the remaining sauce over the layers. Top with remaining noodles, breaking to fit, remaining ricotta mixture, and 1/2 cup mozzarella. Spoon remaining sauce over and top with remaining mozzarella.

3. Cover; cook on low heat setting for 3 hours (noodles should be tender). Remove crockpot from liner and let stand covered for 20 minutes. Makes 6 servings.

Stovetop Method:  Prepare as above, except increase noodles to 8 and layer ingredients in a large deep skillet. Bring to boiling over medium heat. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 35 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand for 20 minutes.

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Fresh Takes On Family-Friendly Food

Tuesday, September 4th, 2012

We know that it’s sometimes a struggle to find time (and energy!) to prepare nutritious food. We’ve got your back with lightning-fast recipes and our series of helpful kitchen hints and tricks. Disney hears you, too–that’s why they’re launching a new series called “That’s Fresh,” hosted by chef Helen Cavallo. The show premieres tonight during the new Disney Junior Night Light programming block on the 24-hour Disney Junior channel. Each episode of this mom-friendly show focuses on taking one simple main ingredient to create healthy recipes that both kids and adults will enjoy.
Helen also shared her top tips for whipping up nutritious meals and snacks for your family:

  • Plan ahead. Get your food shopping out of the way over the weekend, so you’re not scrambling to buy groceries during the week. Make lunches at the same time that you’re making dinner (that way, you’ll only have to clean up the kitchen once!). It’s easy to store sandwiches or whole fruits, and you can even stash some dinner leftovers to pack for lunch.
  • Master quick-and-easy shortcuts. For a healthy side in a snap, roast vegetables in a pan with olive oil and a pinch of salt. It’s also simple to steam veggies: you can make a whole meal’s worth at once, and cleanup is a cinch.
  • Scissor solution: Instead of cutting your kid’s food with a knife and fork, snip it into bite-sized chunks using kitchen scissors. This can save a lot of time!
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Cookbook Giveaway: Parents Quick & Easy, Kid-Friendly Meals

Monday, April 16th, 2012

Parents CookbookIf the question “what’s for dinner?” sends shivers down your spine, you’ve come to the right place. We’re giving away 10 copies of the new Parents Quick & Easy, Kid Friendly Meals cookbook.

The book is packed full of 125 dishes your whole family will love. From shortcut focaccia bread that’s great as an appetizer, to adorable monkey cupcakes perfect for a party, the Parents cookbook has a recipe for every occasion.

Just leave us a comment telling us your family’s favorite quick-fix meal for a chance to win.

Official Giveaway Rules

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National Grilled Cheese Month

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012

Attention cheeseoholics: April is National Grilled Cheese Month. You probably don’t need another excuse to bite into some ooey-gooey goodness, but here’s some food for thought. (Try not to drool on your keyboard.)


How about a grilled cheese on a stick? This kiddie sandwich kabob would be great birthday party finger food.

On our High Chair Times blog, mama and foodie Heather Morgan Shott dishes on serving up healthy, organic finger foods for her little cutie, Mason. The one-year-old loves to nosh on this bite-sized version of the classic.

For older kids, dress up the sandwich with healthful additions, like tomato and basil. This whole grain version boasts fiber and flavor.

No matter which one you choose, any of these sammies are perfect for dipping. Dunk ‘em in bowls of bacon-topped tomato soup.

Is it lunchtime yet?

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Skip the Sodium

Wednesday, March 28th, 2012

For many of us, it’s almost a reflex: we add a dash of salt to our food before we take the first bite. But according to the Center for Disease Control, we shouldn’t be so quick to grab for the shaker. In recognition of World Salt Awareness Week, we shook up some facts on sodium.

A diet that’s heavy in salt can contribute to life-threatening conditions like heart attacks or strokes. The CDC estimates that 9 out of 10 Americans consume too much sodium, 95% of which comes from restaurant or processed foods.

Here are some simple ways to cut back on sodium without scrimping on flavor:

Eat more fresh fruits and veggies (or frozen varieties without added ingredients). Try a blueberry-zucchini loaf for breakfast, or serve this vitamin-C packed fruit-and-pasta salad for dinner. For a quick meal, thaw a bag of frozen mixed vegetables to make an easy lasagna.

Ask restaurants for low-sodium options, or request that they don’t add salt to your food.

At home, read nutrition labels and choose lower-sodium options. Stock the pantry with staples like low-sodium teriyaki sauce. (Try it in this flavorful shrimp stir-fry.) With recipes this tasty, you’ll never miss the salt.

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A Kid-Friendly Recipe…by Kids

Friday, March 16th, 2012

Nancy O’Dell, our entertainment correspondent and cohost of Entertainment Tonight, recently teamed up with the 10-year-old “Twin Chefs” Audrey and Lilly Andrews (Yes, they’re 10! And they cook!) to teach big and little viewers a recipe for sweet Mandarin chicken lettuce cups. If you think it’s difficult to get your picky eater to try new foods–let alone help you cook them–click here to watch this cute video of Nancy and the dynamic kitchen duo for some tips. And visit for more yummy ideas.




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Heart-Healthy Recipes

Wednesday, February 15th, 2012

Cupid, don’t put away your arrows just yet. Valentine’s Day is over, but it’s still American Heart Month. According to the Center for Disease Control, cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S., so it’s a good idea to brush up on heart smarts. To combat cardiovascular problems, the CDC recommends physical activity, maintaining healthy blood pressure and cholesterol, and eating sensible portions of heart-friendly foods. We’ve rounded up some delicious recipes that are loaded with whole grains and low in sodium and fat.

These fluffy flapjacks are chock-full of wholesome oats.

Heart-Healthy Flapjacks

Grilled chicken sliders are a healthier take on the beefy classic.

Grilled Chicken Sliders

Sweet-and-savory whole-wheat pizzas are dressed up with arugula and pear.

Whole-Wheat Pizzas

These simple recipes make it easy to whip up heart-healthy fare. Now that’s something to love.

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