Make-A-Meal Mondays: Child-Friendly Veggie-Loaded English Muffin Pizza

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Some things just go together.

Peanut butter and jelly.

Children and buckets of sand to make sand castles.

A good movie and a bowl of popcorn.

A good book and a comfy corner.

When it comes to finding things that children like to eat, you can’t go wrong with PIZZA.

I remember when my children were young, English Muffin Pizza was a hand’s down favorite and it was so simple to make, they were able to help me with the preparation.

Here is a really HEALTHY version of this family favorite.

CHILD-FRIENDLY VEGGIE-LOADED ENGLISH MUFFIN PIZZA

You will need for each serving: 1 English Muffin, 2 Tb fresh diced tomato, 2 Tb fresh diced green pepper, 1 Tb fresh diced onion, 1 Tb small broccoli florets, 1 tsp grated Parmesan cheese, 1 Tb shredded mozzarella cheese and 1 cookie sheet.

1.     Split the muffin and top each half with the veggies and cheeses.

2.     Place the muffins on the cookie sheet and bake about 10 minutes at 350 degrees, until the cheese is melted and the veggies are soft, but not mushy.

3.     Let the muffins cool before serving to young children…be CAREFUL because the veggies under the cheese can be VERY HOT!!!

4.     You can add or substitute other veggies or fruits such as sliced mushrooms, diced zucchini, small cauliflower florets, diced pineapple…use your imagination!!!

This is only one of 100 child-friendly healthful recipes you will find in my book, SHOW ME HOW! BUILD YOUR CHILD’S SELF-ESTEEM THROUGH READING, CRAFTING AND COOKING.  Saturday was the last day of the half-price sale and giveaway of the collection of craft supplies.  The winner is Baxter at http://thebaxterbunny.com/  CONGRATULATIONS!!!

If you visit my website, you can check out this valuable resource that just WON the KIDLUTIONS PREFERRED PRODUCT AWARD.  Hurray!!!!!

I’m also thrilled that I’ll be interviewed on May 24th at 10am by Lisa Hein, Radio Talk Show Host of Everyday Parenting.  Hurray!!!!!

And, last, but certainly not least, tomorrow I will be hosting Max the Dog and Anthony, his partner who are on a 36-day book blog tour.  You can check them out at http://www.readwithmax.blogspot.com  Please stop by here tomorrow and find out all about Leader Dogs for the Blind and an awesome new children’s book!

Make-A-Meal Mondays: CHILD-FRIENDLY NUT BUTTERS

I’m a little sad…my son was visiting from Chicago and I just dropped him off at the airport. What an awesome weekend we had…filled with fly-fishing on a picture-perfect stream, gourmet dinners and lunches…some enjoyed at local eateries and others made with the help of my son who loves to cook (and is pretty darn good at it), long walks and important talks.

Building a healthy relationship with an adult child is an on-going process.  It helps if you begin in early childhood by spending positive time with your young child and providing unconditional love.  The process continues throughout adolescence and early adulthood when you provide emotional support and friendship…but no advice unless it is specifically requested. 🙂

One of the foods my children loved when they were young was peanut butter.  On crackers, with jam or jelly on bread, spread on apple slices or celery sticks…it provides high quality nutrition and a taste most children love. 

 

Why purchase processed peanut butter (or other nut butters like almond or cashew) when you can easily make your own, without adding sugar, salt or preservatives?

You will need: A food processor or blender that can chop nuts, ½ lb peanuts (or other nuts such as almonds, cashews or pecans).

1.     Put the nuts in the food processor or blender.  Cover and process until the nuts are finely ground. 

2.     Add a few drops of canola oil if you want it to spread a little more easily.

3.     Spoon out your nut butter and store in an airtight container.

4.     Spread on bread, crackers, apple slices…be creative!

Looking for other simple child-friendly recipes?  Young children love to help in the kitchen.  When you participate positively with your children…whether you are reading, crafting or cooking…you build their self-esteem, develop pre-literacy skills and create a life-long parent-child bond.  If you visit my website, you can check out my parenting book that contains 100 simple healthful child-friendly cooking activities.

I hope you’ll keep in mind the Book Fair Event at the Covered Treasures Bookstore in Monument, CO on Sunday, April 10th from 12-4pm.  I’ll be there, signing copies of SHOW ME HOW! BUILD YOUR CHILD’S SELF-ESTEEM THROUGH READING, CRAFTING AND COOKING, along with two other local authors.  A portion of the proceeds will benefit the Tri-Lakes Community Preschool Tuition Assistance Program.  If you are in the Denver or Colorado Springs area, please stop by.

Also, please remember the book blog tour for Read with Max the Dog…you can visit the other blogs that are hosting: http://readwithmax.com/blogbooktour.html.  My site will be hosting on April 12th and I hope you will all stop by here for that!

Make-A-Meal Mondays: President’s Day Special

A pair of cherries from the same stalk. Prunus...

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Every four years, the citizens of the United States have the opportunity to choose a new president who will hopefully lead the country on an upward path of economic and social reform, while staying within the budget.

Every day, three times each day, moms (and sometimes dads) have the opportunity to choose a new dish to serve to their families that will hopefully provide good nutrition and good taste, while staying within the budget.

Hmmm…have you also seen the similarity between running the country and running a household? 🙂

It is true, though, that the responsibility of putting high quality, highly nutritious¸ good-tasting, affordable meals on the table is a heavy one.  I thought that since today is President’s Day, I should offer up a recipe that includes CHERRIES as one of the ingredients.

Why cherries you might ask? 

I’m sure most of you know the story of our first president, George Washington, and the incident with the cherry tree.  As it was told when I was in school, young George went out into the garden with a new hatchet and chopped down a young cherry tree.   When questioned by his father as to whether or not he did it, George replied, “I cannot tell a lie.  It was I who chopped down the cherry tree.”   His father, impressed with his young son’s honesty, did not punish him, but praised him for telling the truth.

Of course, the moral of the little tale is that we should always tell the truth…no matter what we have done or what the consequences of our actions might be.  I know this is what we teach our children…and this week I’ll be examining the topic of honesty in many of my posts.  And, if you are looking for any information or resources about President’s Day, hop over to Mirth and Motivation.  The author of that blog is the consummate researcher…a great writer and funny to boot!  And she is having a Mega-Blog Hop…if you join, you will meet a bunch of awesome bloggers!

But for now, I’d like to provide you with a recipe for lovely child-friendly fruit crisp…full of super foods…and with the option of using cherries (sometimes they are available only in season and can be quite expensive) or substituting other fruits.

CHILD-FRIENDLY COLORFUL FRUIT CRISP

You will need: 5 cups mixed fruit, washed and then sliced if necessary (peaches, plums, apricots, strawberries, blueberries, cherries, apples), ¼ cup white sugar, ¼ cup orange juice, 1 tsp lemon juice, 3 Tb flour (for the fruit), ¼ cup flour (for the topping), 2 cups rolled oats, ¼ cup brown sugar, 1 tsp cinnamon, ¼ cup healthy margarine softened, a greased 9×13 inch pan, and 2 large bowls.

1.     In a large bowl, gently toss fruit with white sugar, orange juice and lemon juice.

2.     Sprinkle with 3 Tb flour, toss gently again and spread in the greased pan.

3.     In another bowl, mix oats, brown sugar, cinnamon and the remaining flour. 

4.     Add the margarine and mix till crumbly.

5.     Sprinkle crumbly mixture over fruit.

6.     Bake 20-25 minutes at 375 degrees until fruit is tender and topping is golden brown.

7.     Serve warm or at room temperature.

8.     Store leftovers in a covered container in the fridge.

9.     Serves about 12.

This recipe has so many super foods: oats, orange juice, lemon juice, cinnamon and all of the fruits…even though it is a dessert, you can rest easy giving it to your family because it is so high in nutrition and fiber while being fairly low in added sugar and fat.  Plus, it is really simple to prepare…your young children will love to help with the measuring and mixing.  It’s only one of the 100 easy-to-make child-friendly healthful recipes you’ll find in my new parenting book, on sale now for a limited time on my website for half price!  Check it out…I think you’ll be glad you did…it takes the hassle out of planning activities with preschoolers.

I hope you’ll stop by tomorrow for Quotable Timeless Tuesdays…for an honest look at honesty.

Make-A-Meal Mondays: Valentine’s Day Special

Esther Howland Valentine, circa 1850: "We...

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Do you remember your first Valentine’s Day card?   Was it from a relative or a best-friend?  How about your first “love interest” Valentine?  Do you remember crafting Valentines when you were a child…cutting the red construction paper into heart shapes and gluing bits of ribbon or lace onto the handmade card?

The history of Valentine’s Day is clouded by various legends, but its roots are in the ancient Roman festival of Lupercalia, a fertility celebration.  Pope Gelasius I made this pagan festival into a Christian feast day in 496 and he declared February 14 to be Saint Valentine’s Day.

However, it wasn’t until the 14th Century that Chaucer linked St. Valentine’s Day with romance.  In 1381, he composed a poem in honor of the engagement of Richard II of England and Anne of Bohemia.  “The Parliament of Fowls” spoke of the royal engagement, the mating of fowls and St. Valentine’s Day.

By the 18th Century, gift-giving and the exchange of handmade cards had become a tradition in England.  However, it wasn’t until the 1850’s that the tradition of Valentine’s cards became widespread in the United States when Esther Howland, a native of Worcester, Massachusetts and a graduate of Mt. Holyoke, began to mass produce Valentine’s Day cards.

Do you still make your Valentine’s Day cards by hand? 

A lot of people do try to make something special to celebrate this day of love.  If you pass a bakery or candy shop, you will, no doubt, see windows and shelves filled with cakes, cookies, cupcakes and elegant confections in the shape of hearts, bows, and cupids.

For a healthier take on Valentine’s Day food, why not try this lovely HEARTS OF MOZZARELLA SALAD.  This recipe is from the SHOW ME HOW! book, which provides 100 child-friendly healthful cooking activities.  You can try it for lunch today or as a side salad for dinner.

HEARTS OF MOZZARELLA SALAD

You will need: 1 chunk of mozzarella cheese (about 1 lb), 2 Roma tomatoes, 1 Tb basis (dry or fresh), several leaves of romaine lettuce, 1 Tb balsamic vinegar, 1 Tb olive oil and 1 Tb Parmesan cheese.

1.  Cut mozzarella into 8 slices, each about ¼ inch thick.  Use a heart-shaped cookie cutter or a knife to cut each slice into a heart shape.  Put the excess cheese in a plastic bag in the fridge to save for topping on pizza, etc.

2.  Slice each tomato into 4 slices and place a tomato slice on top of each cheese heart.

3.  Arrange on a platter of lettuce leaves and sprinkle each serving with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, basil and Parmesan cheese.

I hope you’ll stop by tomorrow for a bunch of wonderful love quotations in Quotable Timeless Tuesday.

May you all have a wonderful Valentine’s Day…filled with Sunshine (even if it is raining) and Love.

IBS, GERD and CHILD-FRIENDLY CARROT CAKE

Carrot cake in pan

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Have you had to give up many of the foods you LOVE because of medical conditions like GERD or IBS?

Did you resolve to start the New Year eating in a healthier manner?

Are you looking for a nutritious and delicious dessert to serve to your family?

If any of the above applies to you, here is the PERFECT CARROT CAKE recipe.  Easy to prepare and easy on the stomach, this child-friendly recipe is so yummy, you will want to serve it to company…and so high in nutrition, you will not hesitate to serve it to your family.  Check out the ingredients and you will find 4 of the SUPER FOODS recommended by health experts. (I’ve underlined them in the ingredient list)  And, as if that isn’t enough to get you started on this recipe, the preparation is easy-peasy and your kids will enjoy helping you measure and mix.

So, what are you waiting for?

 

PERFECT CARROT CAKE FOR 2011

You will need: 1½ cups unbleached white flour, 1½ tsp baking powder, ¾ tsp baking soda, ¾ cup white sugar, 1 tsp cinnamon, 1 egg lightly beaten, ½ cup canola oil, 1 tsp vanilla, zest of one orange, ¼ cup brown sugar, 2 cups grated carrots (I use a pound package of peeled baby carrots). ¾ cup pineapple chunks with ¼ – ½ cup of the juice (I use pineapple canned in its own juice – no added sugar). 2 large bowls, blender to chop carrots and pineapple, Bundt pan sprayed with canola oil.

  1. Mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar and cinnamon in a large bowl (a whisk works great) and set aside. 
  2. Mix 1 lightly beaten egg (I substitute egg beaters), canola oil, zest of an orange (you can use a fine hand grater to grate the zest from the orange…and this is one of those items that SHOULD be organic if at all possible as you are using the outer peel), vanilla and brown sugar in another large bowl…I use a wooden spoon.
  3. Chop or grate carrots (I use a blender…you could use a food processor or do it with a hand grater).
  4. If you are using a blender or food processor, add the pineapple chunks and the juice from the can.  If you don’t have a food processor or blender, you could purchase crushed pineapple in a can instead of the chunks.  You can blend or food process to a fairly smooth consistency or you can leave the carrots and pineapple in a more chopped state…your choice.
  5. Add the carrot/pineapple to the bowl with the egg mixture and mix well.
  6. Add this mixture to the bowl with the dry ingredients and mix gently until well-mixed.
  7. Pour into the lightly greased Bundt pan.
  8. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour.
  9. Remove from oven and cool on a rack.

10. When cool, turn over onto a dinner-sized plate.

11. I cover the cake with plastic wrap and keep it in the fridge.  It can keep for about a week…but it won’t last that long. J

The great thing about this recipe is that it is very forgiving…a little more or a little less of any of the ingredients and the cake still turns out GREAT.  In fact, I once realized I didn’t have any pineapple AFTER I had started making the cake.  I substituted applesauce and it was delicious.  Another time I found that I had run out of baking powder…I added a little more baking soda and the cake still looked and tasted wonderful.  I’d love to know if you try this recipe…let me know how it turned out!

Super Foods for a Super You in 2011

This image shows a display of healthy foods on...

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Next time you are shopping in your local supermarket, think about putting some of these super foods in your cart.  Each one on the list provides important health benefits for you and your family. 

  1. Apples
  2. Avocado
  3. Beans
  4. Broccoli
  5. Carrots
  6. Cinnamon
  7. Dark Chocolate
  8. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  9. Garlic
  10. Honey
  11. Kiwi Fruit
  12. Low Fat Yogurt
  13. Oats
  14. Onions
  15. Oranges
  16. Pineapple
  17. Pomegranates
  18. Pumpkin
  19. Soy
  20. Spinach
  21. Tea
  22. Tomatoes
  23. Turkey
  24. Walnuts
  25. Wild Salmon

If some of these foods are unfamiliar, why not resolve to try a new food every week.  There are many online recipe sites you can go to: http://allrecipes.com/Recipes/Main.aspx and http://www.foodnetwork.com/ are two excellent sites to start at.  Your local library probably has a wonderful selection of cookbooks that you can borrow for free.  Of course, there are some people who just LOVE cookbooks (like me and my sister) and enjoy collecting them because we love seeing how many ways there are to make a particular dish.   If reading this makes you smile in recognition, a trip to new and used bookstores, as well as garage or tag sales can result in finding a cookbook treasure.

How about a dinner menu that’s beautiful to look at, delicious to taste, and contains several of the super foods…so you know it will be bursting with health benefits for you and your family.  Let your children help you prepare the meal and you will reap several other benefits: fussy eaters often eat what they have helped prepare and children gain confidence and develop competence when they master kitchen tasks and skills.

 GRILLED SALMON WITH ORANGE SLICES

You will need: 1 lb salmon fillet, 1 Tb olive oil, 1 Tb dried dill (you can substitute basil or thyme), 1 Tb honey, 1 orange

  • Wash the salmon fillet and pat dry with paper towel.
  • Mix the olive oil, honey and dill in small bowl and brush some on the salmon, reserving the rest for basting.
  • Heat the grill and place the fillet, skin side up, on the grill.
  • Grill on low for 5 minutes, turn and baste with the oil/honey/dill sauce.
  • Grill an additional 10 minutes or until the fish is cooked through.
  • Slice the orange and use it to garnish each serving of salmon.

This should feed 4 people…add some steamed broccoli and multigrain rolls for a Super Food Extravaganza!

Tomorrow…some more reasons to serve your family Super Foods…and the best Carrot Cake recipe ever!