Archive for the ‘cooking with kids’ Category

Back-to-School Lunch Box Taste Test

Monday, August 18th, 2014

We’re fortunate here in Virginia that we don’t go back to school until after Labor Day, so there’s still time to check the last few things (and favorite summertime treats) off our to-do list. My niece starts school this week though, and I know others are already back in school — having grown up with an August birthday, and having a child with one as well, the thought of starting back to school in August will probably always seem strange to me. Regardless, whether you’ve already started back or are still getting ready, I thought I’d dust off my old school lunch tips now that we’ve had a few more years of experience.

back to school | foodietots.com

The first, though, is still my biggest one: plan lunches together. One way we do this ahead of time is to do a sandwich taste test, where I let the kids put together whatever they can imagine to see how they like it. Last year they came up with a peanut butter & salame (his) and pb & pickle (hers). Butter, prosciutto and peach was another favorite the boy came up with while we still had a few local peaches on hand.

pb & pickle | foodietot creation

Even if your kids love sandwiches, it helps to have some non-sandwich alternatives in your pocket to keep the lunches from becoming too monotonous. Rice cakes with nut butter or hummus, mini bagels with chévre or cream cheese, and the occasional waffle sandwich can be found in our lunch box rotation. For the preschooler, a scoop of hummus with several things that can be dipped in it (pretzel chips or pita, cucumbers and tomatoes are her usual) is often requested.

lunch box taste testing | foodietots.com

If your kids are particular about their fruits and vegetables, ask them for a list of ones they’d like to eat, and then encourage them to try one new one each week. If they normally go for carrots, do half carrots and half celery (or peppers or green beans) so that there’s still something familiar in the lunch box. When they’re caught up in conversation with friends around the lunch table, they just might drop that stubbornness they display at home. (Check out the Today I Ate A Rainbow kit if your child needs a little extra encouragement.)

Working with kids to let them feel in control of what they’re eating can go a long way to ensuring they actually eat what you pack. As they get older, they can do more of the packing themselves — even better!

cheddar cheese crackers | foodietots.com

Here are a few other healthy, homemade treats the kids have helped me make to pack in the lunch box too:

Do your kids have any lunch box favorites?

Fennel Slaw {#PicnicGame}

Wednesday, June 18th, 2014

With an unusual stretch of pleasant weekends here in DC, we’ve been getting really good use out of our picnic blanket. (Even laying it out to watch the USA match on the big screen at Mosaic District Monday night — so fun!)

Today we are celebrating International Picnic Day by bringing you a basket packed with goodies from A to Z, in the style of the picnic game! Drop by the Sunday Supper Movement to see the whole picnic spread out on our virtual blanket.

I’m going on a picnic and I’m bringing…
Asian Chicken Salad from Try Anything Once Culinary
Beautiful Beet Salad from Small Wallet, Big Appetite
Chicken Muffuletta from Marlene Baird
Double Chocolate Chip Cookie Cups from The Dinner-Mom
Elote from Peaceful Cooking

and

Fennel Slaw!

fennel and grape slaw | foodietots.com

This tangy, cool salad is a perfect complement to grilled fish or chicken. The foodie tot joined me in the kitchen to whisk together the yogurt dressing and assemble the salad. While she’s no fan of yogurt on its own, she agreed that the finished dressing was tasty and even took a few bites of the salad at dinner. More proof that kids who cook are more likely to try something new. And serving up new foods in a fun and laid back setting, like a picnic, is even better!

foodie tot makes fennel slaw

Recipe: Fennel Slaw

Makes 4-6 servings

Ingredients:

  • 2 bulbs fennel, core removed and thinly sliced
  • 1 small white onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup red grapes, halved
  • 1/2 cup Greek-style yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt

Instructions:

1. Place sliced onion in a bowl of water and let soak for 10 minutes, while preparing salad. (This helps take the bite off.)
2. In a small bowl, whisk together yogurt, vinegar, honey and salt. Set aside.
3. Drain onions and pat dry. Gently toss fennel, onion and dressing in a separate bowl. Fold in cut grapes. Chill until ready to serve.

What’s your favorite salad for a picnic?

Red, White & Blueberry Pizzas {#FoodieTotsWorldCup}

Monday, June 16th, 2014

While strawberry season is sadly winding down, there were plenty of new berries at the farmers market this weekend — namely blueberries, raspberries and both sour and sweet cherries. As we get ready to cheer on the US in the World Cup, these red, white and blueberry sweet pizzas are a perfect project for the kids in the kitchen.

red white and blueberry pizzas | foodietots.com
Recipe: Red, White & Blueberry Pizzas
Makes 4

Ingredients:
4 whole wheat tortillas
1/2 cup whole milk ricotta
1/2 cup blueberries
1/2 cup raspberries
2 tablespoons olive oil
cinnamon-sugar

Instructions:
1. Preheat oven to 425. Place 2 tortillas on each of 2 baking sheets. Brush to coat with olive oil.
2. Spread ricotta over each tortilla and arrange berries on top. Sprinkle generously with cinnamon-sugar.
3. Bake about 10 minutes, until berries begin to burst and ooze juices. Let cool and slice into wedges with a sharp knife or pizza cutter.

Stay tuned — our goal is to cook one dish from each country Team USA plays. And of course the host country, Brazil! Care to join us? Post a picture of your global dish on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook with the hashtag #FoodieTotsWorldCup.

In the Kitchen at Cava Grill

Thursday, June 5th, 2014

We recently went into the kitchen at one of our favorite local eateries to learn how to make falafel. The foodie tot and I frequently lunch at Cava Grill on her days off from preschool. When I was explaining to her recently that both hummus and falafel start out from the same ingredient, chick peas, it seemed like a cooking lesson was in order. Fortunately, the kind folks at Cava Grill welcomed us into the kitchen to learn their secrets.

foodietot loves cava

Cava Grill makes their falafel and most other ingredients fresh in house each day. They work with a number of local farms to source their ingredients, including naturally-raised lamb, beef and chicken, and are working to ensure every item is GMO-free by the end of the year. Later this year, they’ll transition to baking pita in-house as well. Cava’s hummus and spreads are made in a central commissary and delivered to the restaurants three times a week; you can also find them at local Whole Foods, MOMs Organic Market and other natural grocers to enjoy at home.

But back to the falafel. It turns out their recipe is the result of a miscommunication when they started testing recipes. A cook didn’t mash the chick peas first and when the falafel were mixed, whole beans remained in the balls. This happy accident results in falafel that isn’t as dense as many others, and tastes fresh and flavorful.

fresh-made falafel at cava | foodietots.com

The foodie tot was eager to get into the kitchen and mix things up. There’s just seven ingredients: chick peas, salt, cumin, parsley, cilantro, onion and flour. The Mosaic District location, where we were cooking, goes through 100 pounds of chick peas each day — just making falafel!

Take a look at the video to see the foodie tot — and Cava’s director of operations, Rob Gresham — in action.

FoodieTot Loves Cava from Colleen | GlassBottle on Vimeo.

While I couldn’t entice her to write this blog post herself, the foodie tot did consent to a post-visit interview.

Q.  What did you enjoy about making falafel?

A.  Putting everything in!

Q.  Were there any surprises in the kitchen?

A.  How big the cans of beans were. (6 pounds each!)

Q.  What’s your favorite thing to eat at Cava?

A.  Fawaffle! (i.e., falafel ;) )

In addition the the tasty falafel, we love Cava for its healthy and customizable kids meal. The meal comes with a mini pita, choice of brown or white rice, choice of proteins, carrot sticks and hummus. The girl gets her falafel, while the foodie boy prefers the lamb meatballs. Kids can choose fresh toppings too — the foodie tot gets either the cucumber or cucumber-tomato salad and kalamata olives. I love the “super greens” salad blend, myself, which includes kale and brussels sprouts; I get it fully loaded with toppings and usually go for the spicy harissa or sriracha greek yogurt dressing. Perfection. Drink-wise, kids can get organic milk or choose the freshly-made juice. It’s strawberry season right now, which means strawberry mint lime juice is our beverage of choice.

cava grill healthy kids meal | foodietots.com

Just look at that colorful, fresh, veggie-loaded meal!

A casual spin-off of the original Cava Mezze restaurants, there are currently 5 Cava Grill locations in the metro DC area, with five more on the way within the next year. The newest location, Chinatown, will open early this fall. Visit their website to find the location nearest you. They have a fun Tumblr, too.

Disclosure: This is not a sponsored review, but we did receive a free lunch. As always, all opinions are our own, and we really, really love Cava! Many thanks to Nikki, Liz and Rob at Cava Grill for welcoming us into the restaurant.

Mango Chia Pudding {and Whole Foods #Giveaway!}

Friday, April 11th, 2014

Move over March Madness, it’s Mango Madness right now at Whole Foods Market — aka #MuchosMangos — and they asked us to cook something up to celebrate.

Ataulfo mangos | foodietots.com

I asked the foodie tots what they wanted to make first, and the boy suggested smoothies. But when we blended it up with chia seeds — for an extra boost of fiber — it was so thick we decided to call it dessert. Of course, it’s really just yogurt and fruit so it’s equally suitable for breakfast, but I know I can always use another healthy fruit-based dessert in my repertoire. I’m also thinking these would be great frozen in push-pops this summer!

Mango Chia Puddings by FoodieTots

The Ataulfo mango, on sale right now at Whole Foods Markets, is a sweet, creamy mango perfect for a quick snack, or to use in a salad or salsa. Mango salsa is definitely in order for our next taco night, and I know my kids would love this Mango Miso Tofu Salad.

Back to this pudding. I used plain greek-style yogurt, two mangos, a little honey to sweeten it, and scoop of chia seeds. Most recipes for chia pudding use the chia seeds as the thickener, so they use a lot more. Because the mango and yogurt mixture is pretty thick already, you don’t need to use as many seeds, which is great if you’re just introducing chia seeds to your kids. Also, the seeds soften while the pudding sits, so do let it chill in the refrigerator for 15 minutes or more before eating.

mango yogurt and chia seeds | foodietots.com

Recipe: Mango Chia Pudding

Makes 2 servings

Ingredients:

  • 2 Ataulfo mangos, peeled and cubed
  • 1/2 cup organic Greek-style yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon chia seeds

Instructions:

  1. Place all ingredients in blender and blend until smooth.
  2. Pour into glass ramekins or serving bowls and chill until ready to serve.

Note: If making these for children under 1 year, omit the honey.

FoodieTots Tip: Mangos are great for knife skills practice for little ones. The foodie tot helped peel these mangos (using a veggie peeler), and then carefully sliced them.

practicing knife skills

Ever wonder how to tell when a mango is ripe? Here are helpful tips from Whole Foods Market….

How to select and store mangos:

  • Give it a (gentle!) squeeze. A ripe mango will have a slight give, much like a peach or an avocado.
  • Don’t judge a mango by its color! Fully ripe mangos may have red, golden yellow or green skin.
  • Check the cheeks and shoulders. The sides of a mango are called “cheeks.” A mature mango should have full cheeks and “shoulders” that rise above the beginning of the stem.
  • Ripen at room temperature. If you need to speed the ripening process, place the mango in a paper bag.
  • Move ripe fruit to the fridge, which can help slow down ripening, if needed.

GIVEAWAY: Whole Foods Market is generously providing a $75 gift card to one lucky reader! Tell us your favorite use for mangos below, and follow the widget prompts for additional ways to enter. Contest closes at 11:59pm EDT next Friday, April 18.

kid-friendly mango chia pudding | foodietots.com

Disclosure: This post and giveaway is sponsored by Whole Foods Market. All opinions, as always, are our own.

* shared with BeckyCharms & Co. WOW It’s Wednesday link-up. *