Welcome to the first installment of Kids in the Kitchen (KITK).
Inspired by the last 3 weeks of cooking with my children, I have decided to start a regular post featuring meals planned, prepared, served and, (hopefully!), eaten by my 2 budding sous chefs, who will from here on out be referred to as SiSi and Big Tex.
As a mom and a dietitian, I think one of the best ways we can help our children become lifelong healthy eaters, is to teach them to cook. And, I am also a firm believer in teaching our children what constitutes a healthy diet, while at the same time, respecting their individual food choices, and NEVER forcing them to eat something they don’t like. For those of you who are parents, you probably realize that your children are more likely to do something when they have taken ownership of it. When I let my children help plan and cook a meal, I have noticed that they are more likely to try (and hopefully even ENJOY) new foods. So with that in mind, here is how KITK works…
Each week, SiSi and Big Tex take turns planning a meal and helping to cook it. I let them choose recipes from cookbooks, cooking magazines, and other websites and blogs. I try and encourage them to choose recipes that are fairly simple, and I also have them choose side dishes, veggies, and fruit to round out the meal. To make it fun, I ask them to decorate a menu that we post in the kitchen. It is my hope that one day, my young sous chefs will be creating their own delicious recipes! And, it is also my hope that this will inspire you to start cooking with your own kids at home if you’re not doing so already!
Before I present you with this weeks menu, let me introduce you to your sous chefs…
SiSi is 9, going on 19. She is a happy, fun-loving girl who is a friend to everyone. In fact, SiSi and one of her friends have already made plans to open a restaurant when they are older. It will be called The Friendship Cafe. From what I hear, desserts feature very heavily on the menu! SiSi has a voracious appetite and is often asking, “What is there to eat?” Her favorite foods include mac and cheese, tangerines, and anything with butter!
Big Tex is 7 1/2. He is a sweet young man who, as of late, has become obsessed with sports, both playing them and watching them. Just like his Dad…He is called Big Tex because, unlike the rest of our family who were born in San Diego, Big Tex was born in Texas. Plano, Texas to be exact. For some reason, he is very proud of this fact, and, much to his dad’s dismay, Big Tex has become a fan of the Dallas Cowboys. Big Tex’s favorite foods include corn dogs, fresh raspberries, and most any kind of meat.
So, without further adieu, here is SiSi’s KITK meal for the week. Recipes are provided for items in orange.
- Hearty Cornmeal Apple Pancakes . The original recipe comes from one of my favorite family friendly cookbooks, The Moms’ Guide to Meal Makeovers. If you haven’t done so already, I highly recommend you check out The Mom’s cookbooks as well as their website for more family friendly cooking inspiration. Because I always provide gluten free versions for recipes on this website, my gluten free substitutions are also highlighted in orange.
- Apple slices
- Chicken and apple sausage
- Fruit Juice Sparklers
Hearty Cornmeal Apple Pancakes
- 2 large eggs
- 1 3/4 cups 1% lowfat milk
- 2/3 cup all-purpose flour + 2/3 cup whole wheat flour (Gluten free sub: 2/3 cup sorghum flour + 2/3 cup tapioca flour + 1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum)
- 2/3 cup cornmeal
- 1/3 cup wheat germ (or 1/3 cup ground flax meal )
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1 Tablespoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 large apple, peeled, cored, and finely chopped
- 4 teaspoons canola oil
- 1/4 cup pecans, chopped, optional
- 1/4 cup mini chocolate chips, optional
Whisk together eggs and milk in a medium bowl and set aside. Whisk together flours, cornmeal, wheat germ or flax meal, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl until well combined. Pour the liquid ingredients over the dry ingredients and stir until blended. Add the apple and stir to combine. Heat 1 teaspoon of oil in a large, nonstick skillet or griddle over medium-high heat. Pour the pancake batter on to the hot skillet or griddle, using a 1/4-cup measuring cup, forming 4-inch cakes. Top with the optional ingredients if desired. Adjust the heat if the skillet gets too hot. Cook until bubbles begin to appear on the surface of the pancakes and the bottoms turn golden brown, 2 to 43 minutes. Flip and cook until golden brown, an additional 2 minute. Repeat with the remaining oil, batter, and optional ingredients.
Fruit Juice Sparkler
- Orange Juice
- Pineapple Juice
- Tart Cherry Juice
- Sparkling Water
For each glass, pour approximately 1/4 to 1/3 cup of each of the juices. Top off with sparkling water.
We all enjoyed the pancakes and the meal. Chef SiSi declared that she would definitely make the pancakes again. Both children enjoyed their pancakes with chocolate chips, while my husband and I enjoyed ours with pecans and a little maple syrup.
Do you cook with your kids in the kitchen? If so, have you noticed that they are more likely to try new things when they help cook them? What are your favorite resources for simple recipes?
I would love to hear from you! Please click here to leave a comment, ask a nutrition question, or leave a suggestion for The Spicy RD. Or, share the post below.
Also, if you are in the San Diego area, I would love to visit you and your children in your home for a family cooking/meal planning consultation! Please contact me here for further information or to schedule an appointment.