Cookbook author and co-founder of the website Weelicious.com Catherine McCord encourages the use of the healthiest ingredients possible and the involvement of children in meal preparation.
Here are some of her tips:
‰Shop with your little one. Whether headed to the local farmers market or grocery store, bringing your children along will make them feel more involved in the experience. If available, allow them to try samples of various fruits, veggies and other treats. The more they feel a part of the process, the more likely they will be to enjoy it.
‰Play dress up. It’s no secret kids love to use their imaginations and don different outfits and with them, new personas. A little chef’s hat or mini apron can spark their creativity and get them excited to dig in and help prepare a meal. Many brands offer utensil lines made for small hands and are perfect for your kids to use to cook alongside you.
‰Involve your kids as much as possible. While children can’t slice vegetables or sauté meat, they can still help with simple tasks. Have them peel bananas, whisk eggs, stir batter, shape dough into cookies or ground beef into meatballs or burgers and taste test dishes as you go. Giving them a task will keep them busy and also make them feel accomplished.
‰Talk as you’re cooking. The kitchen should be full of conversation. As you prepare food with your children, it’s important to not only give them instructions but to talk through your process to help them learn about food and cooking techniques. Encourage your children to ask questions and ask for their opinions on how a recipe is coming along.
‰Eat together. Bringing the family together around the table creates an emotional connection between your children, cooking and eating. If you’ve prepared the meal with the help of your children, discuss their contributions to the dish as you eat. Praising them for their accomplishments will make your children proud and that much more likely to want to help with the next meal.
McCord also encourages families to use pasturized eggs, especially for those who have family members who like to
“lick the bowl.”
She said more than 2.3 million eggs contain salmonella each year.
“Eating meals together is a priority in my family, and involving my children in the process enhances the time we spend together in the kitchen,” McCord said. “Whether I’m baking sweet treats or preparing a quiche, I use Safest Choice Eggs. Not only do they taste incredibly fresh and have a longer shelf life, I can invite my kids to taste-test as we go without worrying that they may get sick.”
She offers an egg recipe for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
1 cup cottage cheese
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons honey or agave
1⁄2 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1⁄4 teaspoon salt
butter, oil or oil spray
Place the first four ingredients in a bowl and whisk.
In a separate bowl whisk the dry ingredients.
Pour the dry mixture into the wet mixture and stir until just combined.
Heat a large sauté pan or griddle over medium heat, lightly coat with oil or butter and pour about 1 tablespoon of the mixture onto the griddle for each pancake.
Cook for 2 minutes on each side or until pancakes are set and golden.
TIP: To freeze, let pancakes come to room temperature and place in a ziploc bag, label and freeze up to three months.
EGG PESTO MELT
1 large egg
1 tablespoon pesto
1⁄2 teaspoon vegetable or canola oil
1⁄4 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
2 slices whole wheat bread
Whisk the egg and pesto in a bowl.
Heat the oil in a small sauté pan over medium heat. Pour in the egg mixture, tilting the pan to spread it evenly across the bottom.
Allow the egg to cook for one minute, using a rubber spatula to gently pull the egg away from the sides of the pan so the rest of the liquid egg can continue to coat the pan and cook.
Using the spatula, fold the outside parts of the omelet inwards into a square shape (to fit the bread).
Remove the square shaped omelet to a plate, place a slice of bread topped with half of the shredded cheese, cheese side up, in the pan. Top with the omelet, remaining cheese and slice of bread. Cook for 1 minute on each side until golden.
MEXICAN FRIED RICE
2 teaspoons canola oil
4 large eggs
4 cups cooked brown rice
1 can black beans, drained (about 2 cups cooked beans)
1 cup frozen corn kernels, defrosted
1 cup mild salsa
1⁄2 cup grated mexican cheese
1⁄2 teaspoon ground cumin
Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a skillet or wok over medium- high heat. Stir-fry the eggs for 30 seconds and remove to a plate.
Place the additional teaspoon oil in the skillet.
Toss in the brown rice, beans, corn, salsa and cumin. Cook, stirringly continuously, until heated through, about 2 minutes.
Stir in the eggs and cheese to warm through and combine.
For more information about eggs, visit SafeEggs.com. To view Catherine McCord’s recipes, visit weelicious.com.
While I don’t claim to be an expert cook, I do like to cook and love to eat. Readers are encouraged to send questions about food and cooking; I’ll try to find the answers. Also, if you’re looking for a specific recipe, send your request, or if you can offer a recipe to someone looking for something specific, please send email to firstname.lastname@example.org.