from the Desk of Kay & Leslie, founders Grandparentslink.com
There’s a lot to be said about meal times together with our families. Hopefully it’s a time to get together, smile, laugh, share stories and just enjoy each other’s company. And, what makes it so much fun is the preparation. However, mealtime can be a disaster when the children overtake this gathering time with their picky or finicky eating habits, keeping the family hostage to routine food and few options. No more chicken fingers is the chant heard ‘round the table.
As grandparents we have to constantly be reminded that we are just that – the grandparent, and all due and told, the parent(s) have their own ways with your/their precious ones. No matter if we like it or not, it’s their call most of the time. And this little reminder comes knocking at your door when you don’t have the ‘right ‘foods on hand. If your children or the parents of your grandchildren show no interest in exposing new foods to their children because they don’t cook, they don’t have time, or they can’t be bothered, ask them if you can make the effort when you are around. After all, kids need to be introduced to a variety of foods in order to develop taste, or what we adults describe as an opinion. They’ll be a lot better off in the long run. Studies have shown that the earlier you introduce a food, the more likely a child will accept it and show interest when it comes to trying something new. One bit of advice:
Don’t turn into the ‘short order‘ cook even if mom and dad are – Tell them food comes from love and loving food is to understand it!
Here are a couple of tips to follow (be sure to clear it with the parents of course):
Keep it fresh and simple:
Creating an adventurous eater is a lot easier when you serve it fresh.
If the children are old enough to experiment, have them dip their tomatoes in some fresh pesto, or vinaigrette- their taste buds will come alive!
Introduce something new with the old:
You can present a plate of something much loved (some of their favorites) and add one thing new. For instance, plate their favorite sliced cucumbers with homemade ranch dressing and sneak in some fresh sliced zucchini on a quarter of the plate.
Make dinner a destination adventure:
For the little ones, make a theme meal: create a full taco stand with all the fresh ingredients, and let them stuff the taco on their own. If they are old enough, discuss the region of the food, and show them on the map it’s location- all the while you are giving a little fun history lesson.
Whatever you do, it is not a good idea to reward bad behavior at your table with food- that is NOT good. “You can’t have ice-cream or that homemade cookie if you don’t eat your dinner.” Statements like this send the wrong message.
Try these nutritious family-friendly recipes:
Butternut Squash Quinoa
“I have been making this side dish for many years and it is always a hit with my family and guests. It is a great one-pot side dish, which is very quick and simple to pull together. I recommend prepping the butternut squash ahead of time (even a few days ahead) and then it will only take 10 minutes to pull together and 20 minutes to cook. This recipe serves 4-6 people as a hearty side dish to roasted or braised chicken or even lamb.
- 1 Tbsp coconut oil
- 1 cup coarsely chopped peeled butternut squash
- 1/3 cup finely chopped onion
- 1 finely chopped jalapeno pepper
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 tsp ground turmeric
- 3 cardamom pods
- 1 cup homemade chicken broth
- 1/3 cup coconut milk
- 1 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed clean
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Heat coconut oil in a saucepan (that has a cover) over medium-high heat. Add squash and next 6 ingredients (squash through spices); sauté 5 minutes. Stir in broth, quinoa, and salt; bring to a boil.
Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 20-25 minutes or until the liquid is absorbed.”
Mini Chicken and Root Vegetable Pot Pies
- 1 sweet potato, diced
- 1 parsnip, diced
- 2 sage leaves
- 5-6 cremini mushrooms, diced
- 1 white onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 tbsp. olive oil
- 1 tbsp. butter
- 2 chicken breasts, diced
- ½ c. parsley, chopped
- 2½ tbsp. flour
- 1 c. chicken stock
- ½ c. white wine
- Premade puff pastry dough
- 1 egg, plus 1 tbsp. water
1. Preheat oven to 400°.
2. Sauté potatoes, parsnip, sage, mushrooms, onion, and garlic in oil and butter over medium heat.
3. Season with salt and pepper to taste, allowing vegetables to sweat about 5 minutes.
4. Remove vegetables and sauté chicken breast 5 minutes.
5. Add vegetables, parsley, flour, stock, and wine. Simmer 5 minutes and season again with salt and pepper if necessary.
6. Fill four ramekins or baking cups with mixture and top each with a circle of dough about ¼-inch larger than the vessel.
7. Brush tops with egg wash and sprinkle with coarse sea salt. Bake 15-20 minutes or until puffed and golden.