Nutritious Cooking For Kids

By: Keely Simone

Tips to get your baby & toddler to eat well
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Grilled Veggie Pita

Prep time: 5 minutes

What you need:

  • ½ cup low-fat cream cheese or any other low-fat spreadable cheese
  • 1 teaspoon chives, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon parsley
  • 3-4 cups leftover grilled veggies (we like carrots, eggplant, and zucchini)
  • 4 whole-wheat pitas

Equipment and supplies

  • Food processor
  • Butter knife (for spreading)

What to do:

  1. With an adult's help, place cream cheese and herbs into a food processor.
  2. Pulse until herbs are evenly distributed throughout cheese.
  3. Spread 1-2 tablespoons of herbed cream cheese onto the inside of each pita.
  4. Stuff each pita evenly with grilled veggies.

How much does this recipe make?

  • Serves 4

Garden Chicken Wrap

Prep time: 5-10 minutes

What you need:

  • 4 whole-wheat wraps (8 inches)
  • 2 cups store-bought rotisserie chicken, shredded
  • ½ cup shredded carrots
  • 1 avocado, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup baby spinach leaves
  • ¼ cup of your favorite fat-free/low-fat dressing (about 1 tablespoon per wrap)

Equipment and supplies:

  • Cutting board
  • Sharp knife
  • Measuring cups

What to do:

  1. Place wraps side by side on a flat surface. Divide chicken into four portions (about ½ cup each). Place a portion of chicken on each wrap.
  2. Top each wrap with carrots, avocado, and spinach. (Have an adult help with the chopping.)
  3. Drizzle dressing evenly over each wrap.
  4. Roll each wrap up tightly and cut on the diagonal.
  5. Serve immediately or wrap tightly in aluminum foil and refrigerate for lunch the next day.

How much does this recipe make?

  • 4 wraps
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Lucky Lettuce Cups

Prep time: 45 minutes

What you need:

  • 2 tablespoons safflower oil
  • ¾ pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 4 scallions, thinly sliced, plus 2 scallions sliced diagonally, for garnish
  • 1 (2-inch) piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated
  • 2 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup zucchini, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 cup red bell pepper, cut into 1-inch dice
  • 1 cup yellow bell pepper, cut into 1-inch dice
  • 1 cup lightly salted roasted peanuts
  • 1 cup cooked short-grain brown rice
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1½ teaspoons rice wine vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon hot chile sauce (optional)
  • 1 head butter lettuce, washed and separated

Equipment and supplies:

  • Measuring cups and spoons
  • Knife
  • Sauté pan
  • Grater for ginger
  • Stove

What to do:

  1. In a large sauté pan over moderate heat, warm 1 tablespoon oil.
  2. Add the chicken and sauté, stirring occasionally, until cooked through and brown, 5 to 7 minutes.
  3. Transfer to a plate and set aside. Do not wash the pan.
  4. In the same pan, warm the remaining 1 tablespoon oil over medium heat.
  5. Add the 4 thinly sliced scallions, ginger, and garlic and sauté, stirring occasionally, for 1 minute.
  6. Add the zucchini, red and yellow bell peppers, peanuts, and rice, and cook, stirring occasionally, for 3 minutes.
  7. Add the brown sugar and cook, stirring occasionally, for 3 minutes.
  8. Add the cooked chicken, along with the soy sauce, vinegar, salt, and hot chile sauce, if using.
  9. Mound the rice and vegetable mixture in the middle of a large serving plate and garnish with diagonally sliced scallions.
  10. Surround the rice with lettuce cups.
  11. To serve, let everyone spoon the rice and vegetable mixture into lettuce cups and eat with their fingers, taco-style.

How much does this recipe make?

  • 4 servings
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Shrimp Primavera Carbonara


  • 2 Tbsp. Olive Oil
  • 1 lb. uncooked large shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 2 cups sliced yellow squash
  • 8 ounces snow peas, (about 2 cups)
  • 1 jar Carbonara Sauce


  1. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat and cook shrimp, stirring occasionally, 3 minutes or until shrimp turn pink. Remove shrimp and set aside.
  2. Add squash and snow peas to same skillet and cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes or until crisp-tender.
  3. Return shrimp to skillet and add Sauce; heat through.

TIP: Try with chicken, asparagus and red pepper or pork with green beans and mushrooms.

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Pasta with Winter Squash and Pine Nuts


2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted

1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage

1 teaspoon olive oil

1 garlic clove, minced

2 1/2 cups water, divided

1 pound butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and shredded

1 teaspoon sugar

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

12 ounces uncooked penne (tube-shaped pasta)

1 cup (4 ounces) finely shredded Parmesan cheese, divided.


Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until lightly browned. Add pine nuts and sage; remove from heat. Remove from pan, and set aside.

Heat olive oil in pan over medium-high heat. Add garlic to pan, and sauté 30 seconds. Reduce heat to medium. Add 1 cup water and squash to pan. Cook for 12 minutes or until water is absorbed, stirring occasionally. Add remaining water, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring occasionally until each portion of water is absorbed before adding the next (about 15 minutes). Stir in sugar, salt, and pepper.

Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup pasta water. Combine pasta and squash mixture in a large bowl. Add reserved 1/2 cup pasta water, butter mixture, and 3/4 cup cheese; toss well. Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup cheese. Serve immediately.

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Spinach lasagna roll-ups

1 cup lasagna noodles(2 oz dry) ½ cup cooked spinach ½ cup ricotta cheese 1 ounce part-skim mozzarella cheese ½ cup tomato sauce* 1 ounce whole wheat roll 1 tsp tub margarine Beverage: 1 cup fat-free milk

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  2. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Cook lasagna in boiling water until cooked through but firm to the bite, about 8 minutes; drain and lay noodles flat onto a flat surface.
  3. Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Cook and stir garlic in hot oil until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Transfer garlic to a large bowl; add spinach, ricotta cheese, mozzarella cheese, and salt. Stir mixture until evenly combined.
  4. Spread a heaping 1/4 cup of spinach mixture into the middle of each lasagna noodle. Roll noodle firmly around the filling. Arrange rolled noodles into a baking dish. Pour spaghetti sauce over the rolls. Cover dish with aluminum foil.
  5. Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes. Remove foil from dish and continue cooking another 5 minutes. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese over the rolls to serve.

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Baked salmon on beet greens


  • 1 cup whole grain farro
  • 1 (1 pound) skinless salmon fillet
  • 3 beets and their greens
  • 1 ½ cups chopped cucumber
  • ½ cup crumbled feta cheese
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


  1. First, cook the farro. Fill a medium pot with water and allow it to boil. Wash the beet greens and transfer them to the pot. Allow the greens to wilt and turn bright green.
  2. This should take about 2 minutes. Drain greens; squeeze out excess moisture and allow to cool. Once they are cooled, chop them coarsely and set aside.
  3. Prepare the beets. Remove the leafy stems, reserving them, and slice the beets in half. Wrap each loosely in aluminum foil and place in an oven heated to 400 degrees.
  4. Bake until soft when pierced with a knife - about 40 minutes.
  5. Remove the beets from the oven and allow to cool. Remove the skins from the beets, and chop into cubes.
  6. Rinse the salmon fillet in cold water. Then, season it with salt and pepper. Heat up your oven to broil and line a broiler pan with foil rubbed with some Colavita Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Place fish on the foil-lined broiler pan and cook for 5-8 minutes or until the fish flakes easily when tested with a fork. Using 2 forks, break fish into large chunks and set aside.
  7. Bring 5 cups of water to a boil in a medium pot over medium heat. Add in the cup of farro and a pinch of salt. Boil until tender - about 60 minutes.
  8. In a bowl, combine the cooked farro, beet greens, chopped beets, diced cucumber and chunks of broiled salmon.
  9. Drizzle with mint dressing (recipe below) and toss to combine. Garnish with crumbled feta cheese and more fresh mint.
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Roasted chicken

1 (5 to 6 pound) roasting chicken
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 large bunch fresh thyme, plus 20 sprigs
1 lemon, halved
1 head garlic, cut in half crosswise
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter, melted
1 large yellow onion, thickly sliced
4 carrots cut into 2-inch chunks
1 bulb of fennel, tops removed, and cut into wedges
Olive oil


Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Remove the chicken giblets. Rinse the chicken inside and out. Remove any excess fat and leftover pin feathers and pat the outside dry. Liberally salt and pepper the inside of the chicken. Stuff the cavity with the bunch of thyme, both halves of lemon, and all the garlic. Brush the outside of the chicken with the butter and sprinkle again with salt and pepper. Tie the legs together with kitchen string and tuck the wing tips under the body of the chicken. Place the onions, carrots, and fennel in a roasting pan. Toss with salt, pepper, 20 sprigs of thyme, and olive oil. Spread around the bottom of the roasting pan and place the chicken on top.

Roast the chicken for 1 1/2 hours, or until the juices run clear when you cut between a leg and thigh. Remove the chicken and vegetables to a platter and cover with aluminum foil for about 20 minutes. Slice the chicken onto a platter and serve it with the vegetables.

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Tortilla Soup

  • Ingredients

    3 chicken thighs, skin removed

  • 10 -ounce can diced tomatoes

  • with green chiles

  • 1 1/2 cups cooked black beans

  • 1 1/2 cups chicken broth

  • 1 1/2 cups water

  • 1 yellow onion, finely chopped

  • 3 garlic cloves, finely minced

  • 1 jalapeno, finely chopped

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder

  • Juice of 1/2 lemon

  • 20 tortilla chips

  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro

  • 1/2 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese


Place the chicken, tomatoes (and juices), beans, broth, water, onion, garlic, jalapeno, cumin, and chili powder in a slow cooker. Cover and cook on high for 3 to 4 hours or on low for 6 to 8 hours.

Uncover the slow cooker and use tongs to remove the chicken from the pot. Once cool enough to handle, remove the meat from the bones and shred, then return the meat to the pot. Stir in the lemon juice. Crumble a few tortilla chips into each bowl and cover with some soup. Serve sprinkled with cilantro and grated cheese.

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Honey Ginger-Chicken Bites


2/3 cup honey

2 tablespoons minced peeled fresh ginger

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

2 tablespoons cider vinegar

2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce

2 teaspoons dark sesame oil

1 teaspoon grated orange rind

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

4 garlic cloves, minced

1 1/4 pounds skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut into bite-sized pieces (about 16 thighs)

Cooking spray

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

2 teaspoons cornstarch

2 teaspoons water

2 teaspoons sesame seeds, toasted (optional)


Combine first 9 ingredients in a large zip-top plastic bag; seal and shake well. Add chicken; seal and toss to coat. Refrigerate at least 2 hours or overnight, turning occasionally.

Preheat oven to 425°.

Remove chicken from bag, reserving marinade. Arrange chicken in a single layer on the rack of a broiler pan coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. Bake at 425° for 20 minutes, stirring once.

While chicken is cooking, strain marinade through a sieve into a bowl; discard solids. Place marinade in a saucepan; bring to a boil. Cook 3 minutes; skim solids from surface. Combine cornstarch and water in a small bowl; stir with a whisk. Add cornstarch mixture to pan, stirring with a whisk; cook 1 minute. Remove from heat; pour glaze into a large bowl.

Preheat broiler.

Add chicken to glaze; toss well to coat. Place chicken mixture on a jelly roll pan; broil 5 minutes or until browned, stirring twice. Sprinkle with sesame seeds, if desired.

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