Fun, Healthy Recipes to Enjoy with Your Children - MetroFamily Magazine
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Fun, Healthy Recipes to Enjoy with Your Children

by Shannon Fields

Reading Time: 8 minutes 

The darkness lingers longer in the morning. The days are shorter and there is an unmistakable chill in the air as the kids head off to school. There’s no denying that fall is upon us—and with the cooler temperatures, our cravings and taste buds tend to change. Soups, stews, and other comfort foods become staples for many families during the fall and winter months, but such foods aren’t always friendly to our waistlines. With more families putting a focus on better health, we are pleased to showcase a sampling of healthy fall recipes that your family is sure to love, inspired by our readers and staff.

Baking and Bonding

In addition to being tasty and healthy, these recipes can also serve as a vehicle for some truly awesome bonding experiences with your child—regardless of their age or abilities. “The whole process should be about coming together as a family,” explains Lori Manning, an Oklahoma City-based registered & licensed dietitian. “It’s not just about the eating, it’s about the meeting.”

And, according to Manning, involving children in the meal preparation process brings something else to the table. “It’s all about spending time with kids in the kitchen,” she explains. “Just be reasonable and realistic. They don’t have to be involved with preparing the entire meal. It’s really about connecting and being together.”

Learning to Love Food

This quality time also serves another importance purpose—helping children to form a healthy relationship with food. “The goal is to encourage food acceptance,” she adds. “When they are exposed to different things and have an investment in the meal, they tend to be open to trying and tasting new things.” Manning says that repeated exposure to new foods and new recipes can help establish life long healthy eating habits. “I always say that picky eaters are created, not born. Remember that you are not as concerned about if they necessarily eat perfectly today,” she cautions. “You are interested in making sure they form healthy food relationships in the long term.”

Manning’s last piece of advice to parents looking to create fun culinary memories with their kids? “Let them make mistakes and be messy,” she encourages. “Their relationship with food is extremely important and this is the way to make it great.”

Ready to start connecting in the kitchen? Pick a recipe, gather the needed ingredients and let the cooking—and bonding—begin.

Easy Peasy 3 Ingredient Cookies:

Sarah Lucas is an Edmond mom to 5-year-old Sydney, and she selected this recipe because it’s a healthy, kid-friendly dessert. “It’s easy to get even small children involved in the preparation of these cookies, and they’re easy to change up and customize.”

• 1 cup Quick Oats
• 2 large ripe bananas (3 if they are small)
• 1 teaspoon vanilla

• Mix ingredients together using a pastry blender or two forks.
• If the dough looks too runny, add some more oats.
• If too dry, add more banana or a ½ tsp of applesauce.
• The consistency should be that of regular cookie dough for drop cookies. Drop on greased cookie sheets (or line with parchment paper) and bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.
• Cool on wire racks and serve.

Optional add-ins:
½ cup of any of the following:
• Chocolate Chips
• Chopped Nuts
• M&Ms
• Raisins
• Chopped Dried Fruit

Quick and Easy Cabbage Sauté

Tiffany Riggar is a working mom of four kids, ranging in age from 2-10. She chose this recipe in large part because her kids love it, and it’s a great way to get some greens in their diet. Just as important? “It’s easy!” she laughs. With four kids and a business of her own, easy, healthy recipes are good as gold in the Riggar household.

Serves 4 to 6

• 1/4 cup of olive oil
• 1/2 of a large onion chopped
• 2 cloves of garlic minced
• 4 strips of bacon
• 1 medium to large head of cabbage
• 1/2 cup Feta crumbles

• Cook bacon in microwave until crispy and crumble.
• Sauté garlic and onion in olive oil until translucent.
• Meanwhile. slice your cabbage into strips and cut into chunks.
• Add cabbage and toss in pan until covered with oil. Continue to cook until desired tenderness–about 7 to 9 minutes.
• Top with bacon and feta and serve.

Greek Chicken

Adrienne Dumas is a single working mom with a teenage son. “Getting him to eat healthy isn’t always easy. Plus, we have very busy schedules at our house,” says Dumas. She likes this recipe because it’s low-calorie, yet full of protein and easy to fix. Best of all? “Tyler loves it!” says Dumas.

Serves 3-4

• 4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
• 1 can diced tomatoes with basil, garlic, and oregano, undrained
• ¼ cup pitted kalamata olives
• 1 tablespoon bottled minced garlic
• ¼ teaspoon black pepper1 C crumbled feta cheese

• Place a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat.
• Coat pan and chicken with cooking spray and place chicken in pan.
• Cook until browned, about 3 minutes on each side.
• Reduce heat to medium. Add tomatoes, garlic, olives, and pepper.
• Cover and cook 11 minutes until chicken is cooked through.
• Remove from heat, sprinkle with feta.

Pork Chili Verde

For many of us, chili is a fall staple…but when it comes to chili, sometimes it pays to think outside the box. Lisa Huggins of Moore is working mom to a 4-year-old son and a 2-year-old daughter, and she loves to make this pork carnitas twist on traditional chili. “It’s a great weekend recipe…it takes a little time to prepare, but left to simmer most of the day, the payoff is amazing, and my family loves it!”

Serves 4-6

• 8 whole tomatillos
• 4 garlic cloves
• 1 cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
• 4-1/2 oz green chilies, chopped
• 2 tablespoon olive oil
• 3 1/2 lb pork tenderloin or pork roast cut into bite-size pieces
• 1 teaspoon Salt
• 1 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
• 2 each yellow onions, chopped
• 1 large green bell pepper, seeded, chopped
• 2 jalapeno pepper, seeded, minced
• 1 tablespoon Ground cumin
• 2 teaspoon Dried oregano
• 2 cans sliced black olives
• 2 cans great northern or navy beans
• 2 cups chicken broth, low sodium

• Preheat broiler.
• With a sharp knife, make a small X on base of each tomatillo.
• Spread tomatillos and unpeeled garlic cloves on a baking sheet lined with foil, and place them about 6 inches under broiler.
• Broil until tomatillos are blistered in several spots, about 5 minutes (The X you cut in the tomatillo skin should help keep them from bursting loudly in broiler, but don’t worry if they do).
• Turn tomatillos and garlic cloves over and broil until other side of tomatillos blister and they’re soft to the touch, 3 to 4 minutes longer. Remove baking sheet from oven and let cool.
• When tomatillos and garlic are cool enough to handle, peel garlic.
• Place tomatillos, garlic, cilantro, and chilies in a blender or food processor.
• Pulse until ingredients are blended and finely minced, the texture of applesauce. Set aside.
• Heat olive oil in a large stockpot over medium-high heat.
• Season pork cubes with salt and pepper and add cubes to pot.
• Saute pork until cubes are browned on all sides, then use a slotted spoon to transfer them to a bowl; set aside.
• Don’t overcrowd pork…you may need to cook it in batches, about 5 to 6 minutes per batch.
• If needed, pour off all but 1 Tbsp. of fat left in pot.
• Add onions, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook, stirring frequently, until onions are soft and translucent, about 8 minutes.
• Add bell pepper and jalapenos and cook for about 5 minutes more, stirring frequently.
• Return pork to pot, sprinkle with cumin and oregano, and cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes.
• Add tomatillo mixture to pot along with chicken broth, beans, and olives, and stir to combine.
• Bring mixture to a boil over medium-high heat.
• Reduce heat to low and simmer, uncovered, until pork is very tender, about 2-3 hours.
• Serve chili in deep bowls.
• If desired, serve lime wedges and warmed flour tortillas or corn bread on side plates and chopped cilantro and sour cream in side bowls.

Vegetarian Butternut Squash Chipotle Chili

Looking for another fun twist on traditional chili? This one comes from MetroFamily’s Art Director Kathryne Taylor. This hearty, spicy and sweet vegetarian butternut squash and black bean chili is perfect for game day potlucks. Top with creamy avocado for an easy meal that satisfies vegans, carnivores and gluten-free eaters alike. “This chili is very hearty, so feel free to add another can of tomatoes or more vegetable broth if you want to thin it out a bit,” Kathryn explains.

Serves 3 to 4

• 1 medium red onion, chopped
• 2 red bell peppers, chopped
• 1 small butternut squash (1 1/2 pounds or less), peeled and chopped
• 4 garlic cloves, minced
• 2 tablespoons olive oil
• ground sea salt
• 1 tablespoon chili powder
• 1 teaspoon ground cumin
• 1/2+ tablespoon chopped chipotle in adobo (usually found in the Mexican section of the grocery store.)
• 1 bay leaf
• 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• 14 ounces (1 can) diced tomatoes, including the liquid
• 4 cups cooked black beans or 2 cans black beans, rinsed and drained
• 14 ounces (1 can) vegetable broth
• 2 avocados, pitted and diced
• 3 corn tortillas for crispy tortilla strips (Use all corn/gluten-free tortillas for gluten-free chili.)

• In a 4 to 6 quart Dutch oven or stockpot, sautée the chopped vegetables (onion, bell pepper, butternut squash, garlic) in one to two tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat. Stir the ingredients every few minutes.
• Once the onions start turning translucent, turn the heat down to medium-low. Add all of the spices and canned ingredients and stir. Cover for about one hour, stirring occasionally. Taste test for spice level and add more chipotle if desired.
• By the time your chili is done, the butternut squash should be nice and tender and the liquid should have reduced a bit, producing the hearty chili consistency that we all know and love.
• Make the crispy tortilla strips: stack the corn tortillas and slice them into thin little strips, about 2 inches long. Heat a small pan over medium heat, add a drizzle of olive oil and toss in the tortilla slices. Sprinkle with salt and stir. Cook until the strips are crispy and turning golden, stirring occasionally, about 4 to 7 minutes. Remove tortilla strips from skillet and drain on a plate covered with a piece of paper towel.
• Serve the chili in individual bowls, topped with crispy tortilla strips and plenty of diced avocado.

Greek Quesadilla with Dill Yogurt Dip

Looking for a quick meal, snack or appetizer? Art Director Kathryne Taylor suggests this tasty twist on a kid-friendly classic. This recipe yields a crisp quesadilla stuffed with Greek flavors, including tomatoes, olives, chickpeas and red onion, served with a dill-mint yogurt dip. “You can also switch things up with Cheddar cheese, thinly sliced Granny Smith apple and a light spread of Dijon mustard, or black beans instead of chickpeas,” she suggests. “Or, skip the olives and include salsa for dipping. Try them with sautéed mushrooms and spinach, or enjoy a different flavor by including roasted sweet potatoes, black beans and roasted red pepper.” No matter what you stuff them with, the results will undoubtedly be delicious.

(Per quesadilla, multiply as necessary)
• 1 whole grain tortilla (use gluten-free tortillas for gluten-free quesadillas.)
• 3/4 cup shredded Monterrey Jack cheese
• 1/4 cup cooked chickpeas, well drained
• 8 mini heirloom, cherry or grape tomatoes, sliced into thin rounds
• 7 pitted kalamata olives, sliced into thin rounds (or a sprinkle of capers or crumbled feta cheese)
• 2 tablespoons chopped red onion
• 1/2 teaspoon olive oil, for brushing

Dill-mint yogurt dip (enough for at least 4 quesadillas):
• 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
• 2 tablespoons packed fresh dill, torn into pieces
• 2 tablespoons packed fresh mint (or basil or flat-leaf parsley), torn into pieces
• 1 tablespoon olive oil
• 1 tablespoon lemon juice (about 1/2 of a large lemon)
• pinch red pepper flakes
• 1/8 teaspoon salt

• In a food processor or blender, combine all of the dip ingredients. Blend well, and transfer to a bowl(s) for dipping.
• Make the quesadilla(s) one at a time: heat a 10-inch skillet over medium heat. Warm one tortilla for about 30 seconds, flipping halfway.
• Flip once more, and sprinkle one-half of the tortilla with about half of the shredded cheese.
• Cover the cheese with chickpeas, tomatoes, olives, and red onion. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the other fillings and fold over the empty side of the tortilla to enclose the fillings.
• Quickly brush the topside of the quesadilla with a light coating of olive oil, and flip it with a spatula.
• Let the underside of the quesadilla cook until golden and crispy, about a minute or two.
• Brush the topside with a light coating of olive oil, flip it and cook until the underside is golden and crispy.
• Flip it once more and immediately transfer it to a cutting board.
• Let the quesadilla cool for a couple minutes, then slice it into three even wedges using a sharp pizza cutter or chef’s knife.
• Serve immediately, with a side of yogurt dipping sauce.

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