Growing Foodie kids

Lately as I’ve been talking with people the topic always gets on food. When someone finds out I am the mom of 5 kids they often ask , “but wait your kids will eat that?”. Yes 99% of the time my children eat what I put out. Or I should say four out of 5 of my kids will eat what I cook. I’ve noticed as kids grow up and become adults things change and they do get some odd eating habits. It might be the large amount of processed foods they eat out with friends that are known to change taste buds. I also think it’s a right of passage of pulling away when you grow up. The way the family eats suddenly is a tool to rebel against in their teen years and early 20’s (so far), even if it was something they wanted to have or asked for. I think it’s an inner clock that says it’s time to move on and move out and find their own way of eating and living.

So, yes, when I post something up here, like my last post about having goat, my kids ate it. Actually they ate the leftovers for lunch the next day. My kids like Quinoa which to my shock I have found out lots of kids don’t like. Really? I know my youngest likes it better if I cook it in a vegetable or some other type of meat broth but that’s the only issue he has with it.

I am always more confused when I hear about a mom who is cooking several different meals for each of the her kids, then separate meals for her and her husband. I am awe of anyone who can be a short order cook like that. I admit it, I just can’t do it. Just like getting up in the cold of the night with babies wasn’t my cup of tea so it was easier to nurse as I knew I’d mess up mixing a bottle. It’s either I take shortcuts to make life easier on me and stay happy or I am lazy. You can decide. I cook one meal, we all eat it , mission accomplished. That seems like sanity making to me.

So how did I get my kids to eat what we eat? I might have to chalk that up to being sort of a shortcut as well mixed with being frugal. Jar baby food was to costly and the smell was enough to make me gag. Have you ever eaten it? The fruits are not to bad (to sweet for my tastes) but really it’s not that great. So I bought a very inexpensive food mill that I hear has been lovingly passed on to friends who passed it on as well. I would just cook dinner, say like carrots, before I seasoned them I would run them through the food mill. Whatever else we were having I would do the same and that’s what the kids ate. This way they were eating real food that we were eating. Not a sugared up version.

When the kids got older they had what we had. There really is no mystery to it. If your kids are not this way no worries. You can still try. Try out a new recipe each week or so. Leave out a some condiments on the table so your family can season the food to taste how they like it. Hot sauce is a big hit in our house for a new recipe, Soy Sauce or Tamari is another. This helps a new recipe be less scary to some kids and helps older ones feel more in control if they can change the flavor to meet their needs.

Another way to get kids eating a variety of foods is get them involved. By that I mean, meal planning, shopping , gardening and cooking. My kids go shopping with me at both the stores and farmer’s markets. Sometimes they have a list of their own to shop for a meal they are cooking for or they helped plan the menu for the week. We always plant the garden together and they help me with caring for it. All my kids have signature dishes that they cook. Like my youngest daughter makes a dish for Thanksgiving that I’d miss if it wasn’t on the table. She’s 19, busy working and out with friends and she still made it this year for the family. Teaching my kids to cook came from a goal I had to raise well adjusted adults that could take care of themselves, though I am sure at times they thought I might have been thinking slave labor. Ok I wasn’t that bad.

So get your kids involved with you in cooking. What’s the worse that can happen? You enjoy some quality time in the kitchen together and maybe laugh together? Not so bad.

Below are some pictures from Food Day and my boys cooking a dish by Mario Batali’s of Mussels with Peperonata for dinner as well as they made a roasted pear and black berry dessert served with local ice cream. If your not sure what Food Day is check out their site here. The boys worked well as a team on their first big dinner they cooked alone and the meal was amazing.

So get in that kitchen, or garden, plan a menu together and get cooking with your kids. I promise it will open doors to them trying new foods.

Till next time,



Farmer’s Market Cookbook and family time

Wednesday I went over to the Downtown New Haven Farmer’s Market with my 11 yr old son and my 18 yr old daughter came as well. That was a real treat as usually she’s not that interested in doing things like this but we had a great time picking out produce and talking about cooking and what’s things going on in her life. Great bonding time.

I spent just $15 for the following items. 5 ears of corn, 2 yellow squash, 2 green squash, 6 tomatillos, 1 onion, 1pound of fresh green beans and a very large french baguette from South Norwalk Baking Company (missing from the picture). Oh and we can’t forget the raspberry tart my daughter got for a snack and the Pain de chocolat my son picked out for himself.

Now also in the picture above is a cookbook (not part of the total I spent above) , New Haven Cooks (or Cocina New Haven). I am eager to try the recipes in this book. They look and sound delicious. The book is in both English and Spanish. It features recipes for sides, salads, soups, main dishes, and a section titled “fruit, sweets, and snacks”. My favorite parts of the book are in the back where they give folks tips on improving packaged food, meal planning and much more. It’s packed for 94 pages! If your interested in supporting City Seed’s program or just want a copy of this great little book you can order one here, or you can find them at Whole Foods in Milford, Caseus in New Haven, Blue State Coffee in New Haven as well.

So what did I make with my finds? Wednesday night I made Tomatillio chicken tacos with goat cheese that was inspired by this recipe from the blog “at the farmer’s market, but I used my husband’s salsa recipe in place of how the tomatillios were used. I served the ears of corn as a side with the tacos. Thursday I simply steamed the green beans , then sauteed the squashes with a little olive oil, basil, oregano and salt and pepper and served that with a steak my 17 yr old son and I grilled. We cut up half the french baguette and put out olive oil to dip the bread in.

Last night my hubby and I were sitting out on our back deck talking and watching the bats fly around our yard (I so love bats) and we were talking about what we were thinking of picking up at Saturday’s market that we go to weekly. Just planning and talking and laughing. It’s so nice to be able to have my whole family involved this week in planning meals, cooking and just being together as a family (ok we are missing two adult children but I take what I can get). So if you haven’t taken your family to a local farmer’s market I suggest you give a try and see what happens. I know I never thought my very busy, fashionista daughter would turn to me and say “thanks for inviting me me to go with you, I had fun.”

On that happy mom moment I’ll close.

Till next time,

“Mom let’s make peanut butter”

I am pretty blessed to have kids that do like to cook. Some more than others but it is nice to be able to get in the kitchen and cook with them.

So when my son , after looking for something to make for lunch, said he wanted to make peanut butter I was in for this. Honestly I have never made peanut butter. I’ve seen it done and seen the machine at Whole Foods but that’s about as close to it as I have gotten. I said, “Sure why not, heck I’ll be your sous”. He loved that idea. So from then on I said “Yes, Chef” to all he asked me to do. What a grin I got.

He found the recipe “The Best Peanut Butter Ever” in a book that was given to my youngest daughter when she was about his age. The cookbook is “Honest Pretzels”. Really great first cookbook for a young budding cook to work with in the kitchen. Lots of pictures and simple instructions.

So this recipe called for very little. Peanuts, salt (we used unsalted peanuts) , and peanut oil. That was it. Now go look at your jar of store bought PB and see what’s in it. I was a little shocked how much sugar was in a leading PB that says “choosy moms” would pick it. Um no, not at that much sugar and other chemicals. Not to mention did you know that peanuts are treated with high amounts of pesticides? You would be wise to spend your money for a higher priced organic peanut butter. Not to mention the better taste. Yes you will have to stir it as the oil separates. Think of it as calories burned before eating it!

So what we did was shell a bunch of peanuts making a lovely mess (recipe calls for 1 1/2 cups of nuts) , put those in the blender (or food processor ) and turn them to a mush. Then we added a 1/4 tsp of salt and 1 Tablespoon PLUS 1 teaspoon of peanut oil. Hit the blend again and viola we have yummy peanut butter. Of course Jake is now thinking of in the future what to add to his peanut butter to make flavors.

The whole thing will take you 5 mins if your using already shelled peanuts or about 25 if your shelling your own peanuts like we did but we had a good time talking and laughing so really I say shell the peanuts. This will give you a cup of peanut butter when your done and a child with a huge smile.