Mouthwatering Cooking Secrets

When I was a little girl, I had no choice but to eat what my mother cooked. Normally it would be a traditional Latin dish, like rice and beans. However getting my toddler, Hudson, to eat a single grain of arroz has become world war tres in my casa.

Hudson runs around the house the minute he sees me put a bowl of rice and beans on the table. He starts yelling, "No rice and beans! No rice and beans!" Because we're trying to raise bi-cultural kids, we serve up a big variety of foods in our house. But Hudson has already gravitated toward the non-Latino dishes, like macaroni and cheese, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, grilled cheese sandwiches, and pasta.

To introduce some variety into his diet, I've had to become more stealth in how I sneak traditional Latino flavors nto his plate. My two recent successes involve plantains and rice and beans. Here's how I did it:

  • Mangu: For this traditional Dominican dish of mashed plantains with fried eggs, the key is to make it look more like mashed potatoes, which are Hudson's favorite! Instead of using boiling water to soften the plantains, I use warm milk, and add some shredded mozzarella cheese on top for a tastier flavor and a more kid-friendly consistency. Then, I chop the fried egg into such little pieces, Hudson barely knows it's in there!
  • Rice and beans: Getting Hudson to eat this took me several tries, but now I have a fool-proof strategy. First, I cook the rice until it's really soft and fluffy, since Hudson prefers foods of softer textures. Then, I mix a lot of crema (broth) with a small amount of beans and rice until it's a perfect, soupy consistency. When I serve it up, Hudson says, "Yummy sopita," and slurps it all up!

Do you want to hear more from Latina mom, Yesenia Almonte? Find out her secret for handling her baby's common cold symptoms.

Photo via Yesenia Almonte

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