Blog Posts by Foodlets

  • Kid-Friendly Apple Ideas: 4 Recipes the Whole Family Will Love

    Baked apple chips with cinnamon sugar

    When the weather turns crisp, there's nothing like cooking with fresh apples. Full of fiber and flavor, what once seemed like an old wive's tale turns out to be quite true: an apple a day, or at least every so often, can help prevent everything from Parkinson's and Alzheimer's, to cancer and diabetes. Not bad for fall's most portable fruit.

    On a personal note, our family of five includes three kids under four which means we're constantly walking that tightrope between teaching healthy eating habits and avoiding tears at the table. Through trial and error, hits and misses and all of it documented on Foodlets.com, we've come up with a few winners along the way. With my crew and yours in mind, here are a handful of family favorites for various meals in the day, each featuring the sweetest, crispiest flavors of the season.

    4 Family Favorites Featuring Apples

    Snack: Baked apple chips with cinnamon sugar

    Breakfast: Oatmeal applesauce mini-muffins

    Lunch: Pork,

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  • Why I'm Still Buying Organic Food for My Family

    Oh boy. Aren't the cynics laughing now? This week, USA Today reported on a new study, noting that organic produce may not be more nutritious than conventionally grown vegetables. As I've often mentioned on Foodlets, my blog about cooking for kids (including the recipes, the strategies, the food on the floor...), I do believe in buying organic. But this four year study led by a primary care doctor at Stanford University revealed two serious findings:

    There were no significant differences in the vitamin content of organic and conventional fruits and vegetables. The studies looked specifically at vitamins A, C and E.

    Detectable pesticide residue was found in 7% of organic produce and 38% of conventional produce. However, only three studies found pesticide residue that exceeded maximum allowed limits in the European Union on organic or conventional produce.
    That means organic produce is more expensive, often harder to find, yet not notably better for you. So, what's the point?

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  • Every meal with 18-month-old Estelle starts the same way. I lift the fork to her lips, just as she clamps them shut. "No." There's twisting, frowning and eyebrows furrowing and it would be maddening if this lasted for more than 5 seconds, but we're on to her. At this stage, and there will be many more, the trick is to take a bite yourself first. After that, she's open for business and eats like a hearty little field hand--one with a head full of ringlets in a highchair.

    And that's the key right there. Figuring out what works at whatever stage you're in. Since they're changing all the time, and we've got three rascals under the age of four, I've got tons of tricks up my sleeve for dinners between now and those 18th birthdays, which seem far, far away right now.

    In the meantime I'm on a mission to teach our kids about eating a variety of good food. Wholesome and fresh, nourishing and above all, delicious food. It's not okay with me if they eat fast food (which isn't really available in

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  • A Surprising Way to Cut Dinner Stress

    There's a hilarious cartoon circulating on Pinterest with a woman hunched over the arm of a chair in despair. The caption reads "Why do they want dinner every single night?" It's funny...because it's true.

    But it doesn't have to be so hard. I recently read about an idea that could change the anxiety level in our kitchen for good. In his book "Simplicity Parenting", Kim John Payne suggests making a set menu every week: pasta on Mondays, chicken on Tuesdays, tacos on Wednesdays, and so on. The point is to alleviate arguments with the little guys about what's for dinner plus, the whole thing is easier to plan for you. At first this idea sounded restrictive to me, but it's actually more flexible than one might think. Just consider how many ways there are to make chicken: grilled lemon chicken, slow cooker Tex-Mex chicken and many, many more. The point is to easily put together dinner by narrowing the playing field.

    If a whole week's worth of routine is too much, and it might be, the same

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  • Why French Kids Eat Everything

    Cover imageHere comes another one...but it's not what you think. "French Kids Eat Everything" is a surprisingly charming memoir about a family who moved to France with two picky eaters in tow, and returned to Canada a year later with a happier, healthier, more educated outlook on food. Make no mistake. This isn't a US-bashing book. It's not even a pro-French parenting book. It's just the story of a mom married to a Frenchman who moved overseas and discovered a whole new way of feeding her family. A more peaceful one. And I think they're on to something.

    In it, author Karen Le Billion describes her own heart-pounding fear about initially getting their young girls interested in sophisticated (to North Americans at least) French fare--duck, blue cheese, radishes, and so on--that even French kindergarteners chow down with gusto. With nary a Goldfish cracker in sight, they do it with few fits and tantrums, and actually seem to enjoy eating long meals as a family. It's like the French Paradox,

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  • Stop Making Two Dinners: Versatile Ideas for the Whole Family

    The other night I made herbed turkey burgers for dinner. Since our two-year-old has always been a diehard condiments fan, I put neat little dots of ketchup and mustard on her bun, silently congratulating myself on knowing her so well.

    That's when the screaming started.

    "I want it clean! Clean, like Stellie's!" Referring to her one-year-old sister Estelle's plain bun and patty arrangement, suddenly our pre-schooler was reduced to a shrieking puddle on the floor.

    This is why I don't make two dinners. Mama mia, who has the energy to deal with the trials of two-year-olds AND double their cooking duties on top of it? Not this one.

    Really though, I don't make a separate meal for the little guys (unless they're still eating pureed baby food and even then there are shortcuts to keep it simple) because I want us to be on the same page, figuratively. Eating the same food at the same table, literally, is a good way to do that.

    Also, it's a pain to cook twice. Parenting is amazing, sometimes

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  • 5 Ways to Teach Toddlers Table Manners

    I head up a blog about cooking for kids called Foodlets.com. My aim is to make healthy, delicious food, both with and for kids so they'll grow up to cook themselves, and better yet, enjoy sitting around a table full of family and friends for years to come. I've got tips (let the kids help cook) and tricks (grate vegetables and add them to everything-everything!) but mostly I rely on simply delicious flavors for success. Sometimes it's a win, sometimes it's not. So goes life, especially life with kids.

    But recently I was overwhelmed with responses to a post I wrote here about picky eaters. One issue came up over and over: why don't parents just make their kids eat what's in front of them the way most of ours did? Not everyone felt this way but when they did, the sentiment was almost always followed by some version of "Be the parent, not the friend!" plus a bit of grumbling that kids today are too spoiled…

    As a parent who makes tremendous effort to prepare a nutritious, tasty meal

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  • Why Are Some Kids Such Picky Eaters? Simple Solutions Worth Trying

    A friend of mine relayed a familiar scene with her four-year-old on Facebook.

    Lucy: "I don't like these meatballs." Me, noticing that they are still in big pieces: "Hmm, do you want me to cut them up a little more?" Lucy: "That won't make them yummy."

    So goes the battle that in our house, we like to call dinner. But for some parents, it's hardly cause for a new status update. It's more of a tear-your-hair out exercise in frustration. Every day. I have two very young girls of my own and heaven help me, a baby boy on the way this summer. Further flirting with disaster on a nightly basis, I make it a point to cook a fresh meal every night and know the feeling that comes when my ta-da! moment is met with one of our two-year-old's negative reviews, "Nooo. I want something else." In those worst case moments, she even pushes the plate away and folds her arms. And, sigh.

    (Note: While she may ask for "something else" she has exactly one fall-back option: yogurt. This is not a kid

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  • Cupcakes with healthier ingredients: carrots, wheat germ and white beans.Cupcakes with healthier ingredients: carrots, wheat germ and white beans.Here's a news flash reported recently by USA Today: kids are eating too much sugar. Your kids, my kids and there are pretty serious consequences. (And let's not even talk about my own sweet tooth. Except we should; more on that in a minute.) This isn't a discussion about blame, though. I have two little ones myself and we all know it's an uphill battle from the start. These little rascals actually DO come out of the womb craving sugar and fat. Of course, this is thanks to our ancestors who actually needed enough reserves to get by during lean times. The problem is that processed food--yes I'm talking to you Goldfish crackers, Coke and every flavor of the Skittles rainbow--isn't what Mother Nature had in mind. And she retaliates with force these days, as noted in the article.

    "A diet high in added sugars is linked to many poor health conditions, including obesity, high blood pressure and other risk factors for heart disease and stroke. The findings come at a time when a third of

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  • Italian Lessons: How to Take Kids to a Restaurant

    La Dolce VitaLa Dolce VitaSay what you will about French parenting but when it comes to food and family around a table, no one does it better, or enjoys it more, than Italians.

    We've lived in Rome for three years, where our baby and toddler both were born, and while our Dolce Vita has had its ups and downs, one of our absolute favorite activities is spending a long afternoon together…at a restaurant.

    There are cloth napkins and waiters in black jackets, usually one high chair for the whole place, never a children's menu and don't even think about a changing table in the bathroom. Yet, the experience is completely welcoming, comfortable and believe it or not, fun. Even for kids. Even for other diners. Italians expect children to be involved in mealtime experiences, whether they're long, fancy or both, and I love them for it.

    "Italian children are reared at the table," writes Helen Ruchti in "La Bella Vita". "They grow up sitting on the laps of parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles. They are held and

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