Tag Archives: Meal Planning

Kids arguing over their favorite…squash?

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Filed under Meal Planning, Musings of a Cooking Teacher..., Vegetable Challenge

Fall Y’all Bloggy Giveaway Winner

Thanks to the 57 of you who entered my Fall Y’all Bloggy Giveaway contest, hosted by Bloggy Giveaways.

Our winner is #23 – Katie from Mostly Mommy!  (She was chosen at random by a Random Number Generator.)  She and her family will enjoy a free 6-month subscription to What’s Cooking Weekly, our healthy menu planner.  They will receive recipes, organized grocery lists, nutritional information and tips on getting kids into the kitchen for 5 healthy meals every week.

As a Thank You gift to those of you who entered, I would like to offer you a 10% off coupon if you sign up for What’s Cooking Weekly or purchase it as a Gift for someone you know.  Please enter: FallYall at checkout to receive your discount.

What’s Cooking Weekly


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Picky Eaters – They Get It From You

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Hey, don’t shoot the messenger! This is a title of an article that my husband told me about in the New York Times…

I found it to be very interesting, especially their explanation of how evolutionary biology plays a part in why children are (and should be) cautious about certain foods.

The article also supports what I have been promoting:

  • Don’t be a short order cook. Make one family meal each night and don’t cater to the little drill sergeants in your kitchen. (We do that enough the rest of the day!)
  • Lying to your kids may not be the best policy.
  • Be persistent – It can take 8-12 exposures to a new food before it may be liked…or tasted!

For those of you who are fairly new to my blog, I thought I’d refer you to one of my earliest posts about some power struggles that I was having with my son. Because I Said So… describes how Ari and I avoid battle engagement at the dinner table.

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Is Deceptively Delicious too Deceptive?

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You will find this article there 🙂


Filed under Cooking with Kids, Meal Planning, Musings of a Cooking Teacher..., Nutrition and News

Do You Always Eat Such Good Dinners?

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Good Dinners

Yesterday after school, we had my daughter’s friend, Emma, over for a play date. Like most multi-tasking mothers, I started getting ingredients for dinner ready while they were playing. Emma kept coming into the kitchen to stare at my ingredients and to ask questions. When I told her that we were making Asian Lettuce Wraps, she wanted to know why I liked to make foods from other countries. I happily explained how fun it is to try new foods. She leaned over the steaming pot of pad thai noodles and loved that they were almost invisible…I am so lucky to have a career that sparks such enthusiasm in kids!

When I found out that her mother was running late, Emma ran to the table to eat dinner with my kids. After the first bite, she asked, “do you always make such nice dinners?” I looked at the table and had to laugh. It was simple and took less than 30 minutes to prepare. But it made me realize that before I began meal planning, I made the same things over and over again. Emma explained that she was tired of the foods she got for dinner, and asked me if I could tell her mom what I did to the food to make it taste so good.

When her mother came to pick her up, her stood wide-eyed as the kids asked for seconds…and thirds, and ate their asian broccoli slaw! She admitted that until she saw Emma eating with such gusto, she hadn’t realized that she was in such a food rut. She started asking questions about What’s Cooking Weekly, my online meal planning service for families, and decided that she would give it a try. Even if she just tried a few of my menus, or simply added some of my sides to her existing repertoire, she said it was still a good value. She was also excited that she would start saving money on groceries, since she would go into the market knowing what she was looking for.

She nearly had to drag her daughter away from the table when I said that I had to save the rest of the food for my husband, who hadn’t arrived home from work yet.

So, what was that simple menu that caused such a sensation?

Asian Broccoli Slaw:
1 bag broccoli slaw mix from Trader Joe’s
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
2 Tbs. sesame oil
2 Tbs. sesame seeds

Combine dressing mix and pour on salad, to taste.
Yes, that’s it!

Pad Thai:
This is embarassing – I used a package from Trader Joe’s that was in the back of my cabinet for 6 months. The kids loved it, and it was so easy that I’ll use it again. Next time, I might add some scrambled egg, tofu and maybe some julienned bell peppers or carrots.

Asian Lettuce Wraps:
1 pound ground turkey
1 can water chestnuts
1 small red onion
2 Tbs. oyster sauce
2 Tbs. hoisin sauce
1/2 tsp. salt
Juice from 2 limes
1 Tbs. brown sugar
Large lettuce leaves (bibb lettuce works well)

  1. Dice water chestnuts and red onion. Combine in a bowl, along with the oyster sauce, hoisin sauce, salt, lime juice and brown sugar.
  2. In a large skillet, begin to brown the ground turkey. After 3 minutes, add red onion mixture.
  3. Cook until the turkey is done.
  4. Serve by putting the turkey mixture on top of a lettuce leaf. You can wrap them like a burrito, or like a taco. Either way, be prepared for some of the filling to fall out. The kids loved the fun and challenge of eating their food like this!
  5. Serve with Asian broccoli slaw, pad thai noodles or steamed brown rice.

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Easy, Delicious, and Peanut Free

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Easy and Delicious
Peanut Free Lunch and Snack Ideas for School

Peanut Free Lunch and Snack Ideas for Children

Don’t despair! There are lots of peanut-free, tasty and easy lunch and snack choices for your child! Please be sure to check labels carefully since many products may be processed on peanut contaminated lines. Thanks for helping ensure our children have a safe environment at school.

* For more ideas, check this out: Nutritious Lunches with a Sample Peanut-Free Menu

Snack Ideas:

· Yogurt mixed with fruit or with fruit on the side for dipping

· Hard boiled egg

· Homemade trail mix with cereal, pretzels, raisins

· Celery sticks stuffed with soft cheese

· Whole grain muffin (make a large batch ahead of time and freeze, so you can pull them out as you need them)

· Carrot sticks, cherry tomatoes (or any crunchy veggies) with ranch dressing or a favorite dip

· Popcorn

· Mini-pitas stuffed with cheese

· Half a bagel with cheese

· String cheese and bread sticks

· Cheese and crackers

· Fresh fruit, fruit salad, mixed dried fruit

· Whole grain cereal

· Sliced meat wrapped around cheese sticks

· Cubes of smoked tofu (some manufacturing plants may have peanut contamination)

· Graham or animal crackers

Lunch Ideas:


· Egg salad on their favorite bread, tortilla, or crackers bagel sandwiches with meat, cheese, tofu

· Soy nut butter is a great peanut butter replacement

· Tuna salad (with or without pasta added in or as a sandwich)

· Cheese sandwich, use pita, whole grain bread, bagel, or crackers

· Pita wrap with meat and/or cheese, lettuce and tomato

· Leftover meatloaf or chicken on whole grain bread

· Leftover pasta or macaroni & cheese

· Deli meat and cheese roll-ups

· Cottage Cheese with fresh fruit or veggie slices (loads of protein!)

· Hearty soup in a thermos (stew or chili are good too)

· Give them separate containers of ingredients so they can assemble their own foods, such as mini pizzas or burritos.


· Spread cream cheese, shredded carrots, sliced meat or tofu on a tortilla, roll up and slice into 1-inch pinwheels.

· pinwheels with cream cheese and jam, or with soy nut butter and jam

· Pasta Salad with meat or cheese

· Rice Salad or Couscous with mixed in chopped veggies, meat, cheese or tofu.

Combining a number of fun and healthy lunch and snack ideas makes your child’s school lunch and snack more enjoyable for them… the more fun their food the more likely they’ll eat it!

Interesting fact: One slice of cheese pizza has almost twice the protein of 2 tablespoons of peanut butter!



For more information about making Healthy School Lunches for Children, visit the

Healthy School Lunches page of the What’s Cooking Website. (http://www.whatscooking.info/pages/HealthySchoolLunches.php)


Filed under Cooking with Kids, Meal Planning, School Lunches

Preserving the Basil Season…




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How to Preserve Basil for the Winter

There is nothing like fresh basil to brighten up a recipe. This time of the year, it is easy to find basil, whether it is growing in a pot in the kitchen or yard or is in bunches at the farmer’s market. But in about a month or so, the basil will be gone. All you will be able to find will be some fairly unappealing basil that has traveled a huge distance to reach you in the grocery store. Yuk – it’s almost worth waiting until next year.


Preserve the basil season all year long by blending bunches of fresh, locally grown basil leaves with some olive oil, and putting it in the freezer. Many people like to put pesto or other leftover sauces into ice cube trays, freeze them, and then store them in freezer containers. However, my freezer doesn’t seem well suited to stacking unstable piles of freezer boxes, and they usually come tumbling down when the door opens! Instead, I pour leftovers or home-made sauces (fresh marinara sauce, pesto, blended basil, lemon juice, coconut milk, etc…) into zip-top bags and freeze them flat. That way, I can have lots of thin frozen bags that hardly take up any room and stack neatly. When I need some of the frozen item, I just break off what I need and put the rest back in the freezer.


If you would prefer to turn your basil into pesto and freeze it that way, try this recipe:



Add the following ingredients into your cuisinart, and blend until smooth:
3 cloves garlic
2 cups fresh basil leaves
3 tablespoons pine nuts (pignolia)
1 dash salt and pepper
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese grated

Come winter time, you will be glad you did!

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