Kitchen Tools that Kids Can Use: Crock Pot

Continuing with our theme of tools kids can use in the kitchen is the crock pot. With winter upon us it’s a great time for soups, chili, and stews to keep us warm on cold winter nights. These recipes are simple enough to follow and easy to prepare using a crock pot. Older kids around the ages of 12-13 years old can use a crock pot as well as other heating implements: a stove, a skillet, etc…This age group can also read simple recipes & use a vegetable knife for preparing vegetables.

When I was brainstorming a recipe I could share using a crock pot a few ideas popped into mind: Creton (a French Canadian meat spread that’s also a family tradition), chicken enchiladas, soups, or  a chili. I ruled out Creton pretty quickly after I realized the cooking time was outrageous for working households and boring for kids (the meat sits on the stove and simmers until no water is left for HOURS!!!). The second idea I ruled out simply because I wasn’t in the mood for enchiladas. I decided upon soups/chili because it was easy to prepare, it was winter, and I’m always cold!

With that being said my fiancee and I went with a vegetarian version of the recipe that I found on account of it being Friday when we tried this recipe and we’re Catholic. It’s usually a well known Catholic tradition to abstain from meat on Fridays as a way of remembering the death of Christ and preparing our hearts to celebrate the mini Easter every Sunday. As a result, we usually do Meatless Fridays instead of Meatless Mondays (still good for the environment no matter what day is chosen!).

Crock Pot Sweet and Spicy Bean Chili

Ingredients:

29 oz. can of Kidney Beans, rinsed

1 teaspoon oil

1 medium onion, diced

1 red bell pepper, diced fine

16 oz. can of corn

10 oz. can of Italian Style Diced Tomatoes

8 oz. can of plain tomato sauce

1/4 c. of low sodium chicken broth

1 teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon fresh garlic

1 teaspoon honey

1/2 teaspoon chili powder

1/2 teaspoon paprika

1/2 teaspoon dried basil

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Directions:

1.) Heat a medium skillet over medium high heat and saute the diced red peppers, onions, and garlic with a little oil until slightly translucent

2.) Transfer to crock pot and add the remaining ingredients (beans, tomatoes, tomato sauce, corn, chicken broth, and spices).

3.) Cover and cook on HIGH for 4 hours or on LOW for 6 hours.

4.) Serve with any additional toppings desired.

Note: If preferred, 1 lb of ground turkey or beef can be used instead of the beans or try half ground meat and half beans.

 

 

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Kitchen Tools that Kids Can Use: Apple Corers

Apple corers are a nifty little device that makes making apple pies, apple crisp, and baked apples so much easier! Apple slicers are similar but instead of just coring the apple it slices the apple into even slices. Although the apple corer may need some practice with handling, an apple slicer doesn’t take that much practice to use.  In fact, kids ages 6-7 can use these kitchen tools.

To be completely honest with you this blog post was meant to be on double boilers and posted last month. The highlighted recipe was on candy apples (love this fall treat!). Unfortunately, the recipe fell through as it didn’t turn out as planned.

So, onto plan B! (Personally, I think planned B worked out much better.)

Below I have provided a fun fall dessert for families to make together using above tools. Happy Cooking!

Fruity Apple Crisp

Makes 4 servings; Preparation Time: 30 mins; Cooking Time: 45 mins.

Ingredients: 

6 medium Macintosh apples, cored & thinly sliced

1/2 cup of fresh cranberries or blueberries

1 tablespoon flour

1 tablespoon white sugar

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Topping:

2 tablespoons of flour

1/8 cup of sliced almonds

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

2/3 c. of oatmeal

1 tablespoon brown sugar

3 tablespoons melted butter or margarine

Directions:

1.) Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit and spray a 9 inch baking pan with cooking spray.

2.) Wash all apples & peel with a peeler. Then use an apple slicer to slice all the apples on a clean cutting board. Then take the sliced apples and slice them into thinner slicers. Place into the prepared baking pan.

3.) In a medium bowl mix flour, sugar, lemon juice, & cinnamon. Whisk together & pour over the apple slicers in the baking pan. Use a spatula to coat evenly.

4.) In a small mixing bowl combine the remaining ingredients for the topping. Add the melted butter and stir. Spread evenly over the apples.

5.) Bake at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 45 mins. Let cool before serving with a little bit of Greek yogurt. Enjoy!

Note: little ones can also help out by peeling and washing the apples. Younger kids, ages 2-4, can help wash & mix ingredients while the older ones, 6-7 can peel.

 

Making Family Meals Happen

Was reading this awesome article by Jessica Levinson, an RDN and author of Small Bites blog on How to Make Family Meals Happen. Found her post to be useful and her info-graphics engaging especially for busy families. It would also compliment some of my previous posts on the importance of family meals and fun conversation starters.

I thought I would share. This is the link to the original blog.

Kitchen Tools that Kids Can Use

A year ago I posted a blog article that listed the tasks children can help with in the kitchen by age. Today I decided to expand upon that idea, highlighting kitchen equipment and tools that kids can use and an easy recipe that kids can do with little to no supervision.

A Blender

This tool is versatile in the kitchen. It can be used to make smoothies, sauces, dips, and for combining ingredients in some recipes. It’s also a tool that kids ages 6-9 can use on their own. For the first time though it might be beneficial to have some supervision.

The two recipes I chose to highlight in today’s blog are dips and smoothies. These two I have found while working at WIC to be something of a fan favorite for kids. If your child is texture sensitive try experimenting with recipes to see if you can change the texture  or even taste. Personally, I like smooth/creamy textures and have an aversion to gritty textures so these two recipes highlight the first two texture combinations.

Green Monster Smoothie

1/2 c. of milk

1/2 c. of ice cubes

1/2 c. of vanilla yogurt

1 large banana

1/2 c. of baby spinach

1.) Add all ingredients in a blender.

2,) Blend on high for 2-3 minutes or until smooth.

3.) Pour into cups and enjoy!

Monster Mash Yogurt Dip

1 c. of greek yogurt

1 c. of baby spinach

1/2 small green pepper

1 medium sized chive

1 teaspoon of garlic powder

1.) Put all ingredients into the blender.

2.) Pulse mixture until well blended and smooth

3.) Serve with tortilla chips of veggie sticks

 

Preparing your Family for the Farmer’s Market

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Image courtesy of winnod at freedigitalphotos.net

Now, being prepared to attend a Farmer’s Market is very similar to being prepared to go grocery shopping with your kids. It takes preparation! It takes time! Is it worth it?

Heck yeah, it is. Here’s some tips for getting ready for the Farmer’s Market:

1.) Do some Research

Before stepping foot into a Farmer’s Market it helps to know which market you’ll be attending and what they sell. A city’s website that has posted the event is probably a good place to begin. Apps like Farmstand can help offer this type of information too. There is also government websites like Mass.gov.

2.) Make a shopping list

Just as if you were going to your local grocery store you want to have a general list of what you plan to get. Or what you want to look at. Have your kids decide some of the things that’ll go on the list.

3.) Make Room for Un-expected Purchases

The unexpected happens, so go prepared. You want to be able to have the freedom to buy unexpected purchases that just can’t be passed up.

4.) Bring a re-usable bag

Those cloth bags just sitting in your closet. Now’s a good time to use them. They’re also good for the environment. No plastic bags!

5.) Communicate your Plan of Action (before leaving the car)

If your going with your children and have more than 2 or 3 this is a very important step. Make sure your kids know how the day will go. Sticking together is sometimes the best bet.

6.) Bring a laminated copy of The List

Just like on an ordinary shopping trip let your kids check off the foods on the shopping list.

7.) Designate  “Jobs”

Give each child a “job” to do at the market. This may be as simple as instructing them to help you pick the best tomatoes.

Refer to Kid’s Kitchen: Tips to get you from Store to Fridge for additional shopping tips.

 

 

 

 

5 Ways that Farmer’s Markets Teach Kids about Food

On Monday, the WIC office was packed with only a few hours in between the morning and afternoon groups. It  was our Farmer’s Market Coupon Giveaway Day, All of us were on our feet taking turns between education and crowd control! I was able to share with my clients much of what I’ve been writing about over the past few months especially the benefits to their children.

Through Farmer’s Markets kids learn about food by:

1.) Learning about sustainability/agriculture

Kids will learn where their food comes from and how it’s grown!

2.) Interacting with local farmers

Kids will learn so much from listening to local farmer’s talk about their crops/farms.

3.) Enjoying Seasonal Eating

Kids will learn how the environment effects what food is grown and where.

4.) Identifying different fruits and vegetables

Farmer’s Markets are a classroom where kids will be exposed to a variety of produce, both ones they know and ones they don’t know.

5.) Incorporating fruits and vegetables into family meals

By preparing foods found at Farmer’s Markets kids will learn how the food process works from beginning to end.

The next blog will be about how to prepare for a farmer’s market. Having a game plan is a necessity for large and small families alike, especially ones with small children.

9 Benefits of Farmer’s Markets

One of the best parts of a farmer’s market  is that you get to support locally grown food and your community. By doing so you:

1.)  Shorten the distance between farm and table –  From your farmer’s hands to yours = very simple

There aren’t too many things that beat being able to go down to your local farmer, pick your own produce, and eat it the same day.  (At least, there aren’t too many for a Nutritionist!) First, it’s fresher. Second, it didn’t have to travel half way round the world for you to get it. And third,  you know where it came from.

2.) Decrease environmental pollution

By decreasing travel you decrease air pollution.

3.) Preserve nutrients 

The further a food travels the greater the length of time a food will remain on the shelf, and the more likely the nutrients in that food may be lost.

4.)  May decrease pesticide exposure

This is not always the case because even local farmer’s use some pesticides. The upside, is that fewer may be used and some may be more “natural” than the ones used by larger farms.  You still have to wash your produce though! This leads me to my next benefit.

5.) Get to Know your Farmers

Taking the time to learn about your local farmers means you get to learn what’s being offered in your community, what foods are commonly grown in which regions, and how those foods are being grown. There’s just more transparency.

6.) Support the Economy

By buying produce and other goods at a farmer’s market revenue tends to stay in the community thus boosting the economy. Not to mention that for larger farmer’s markets it opens up more job opportunities within the community.

7.) Save Farmland

The more people visit farmer’s markets the greater the demand, and the more likely it is that farmers will continue farming. It’s supply and demand. Very similar to how I might advise a mom that the more she breastfeeds the more milk she has for her baby.

8.) Receive Great Tips for Cooking foods

Don’t know how to use a food you find? No problem. Just ask the farmer. Unlike supermarket chains farmers’ markets have the advantage of one on one advice from your farmer.

9.) Promote Community Partnerships

Some farmers’ markets and farm shares partner with  nutrition programs to help bring fresh fruits and veggies to those on state run programs like WIC and SNAP.  Mass.gov has more information about which farmers’ markets accept WIC/SNAP.