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Spinach Pesto on Rice

My greens obsession continues!

Can it be challenging to get kids to eat their greens? At times, absolutely. But it can really make a difference when you use your greens in creative ways.

Consider pesto. If your little one has an aversion to the color, I say get her involved in making it with you by letting her measure, dump and turn on the food processor. Sure it might make a bit of a mess in the kitchen, and you may have to do a little cajoling here and there, but I promise that when you’re done and your youngster can taste how flavorful her creation turned out, that “no green food” face is going to be replaced with a big smile.

And don’t forget to double the recipe so you always have extra pesto on hand. I find it to be a lifesaver at mealtime. Just store the extra in freezer cubes and all you have to do is defrost one, toss it with pasta, rice, fish or chicken and voila, you have an effort-free meal in minutes!

Spinach Pesto (Makes 1 1/4 Cups)

2 Cups Packed Spinach
1/4 Cup Pine Nuts, toasted
2 Tbsp Parmesan Cheese, grated
1 Clove Garlic, minced
2 Tbsp Lemon Juice
1 Tsp Salt
1/4 Cup Olive Oil
Cooked Rice *

1. Place all of the ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth.
2. Stir into rice and serve.

* Can also be mixed into cooked pasta, fish or chicken.

Chicken Caesar Wrap

I bet if I looked in the refrigerators of every home in the country, there would be some sort of cooked chicken in 8 out of every 10 of them. That’s good news for moms in need of quick, delicious meals to prepare for their families, because whether you roast it, grill it or buy a juicy rotisserie bird at the market, cooked chicken is one of the most versatile foods you can keep on hand in your fridge. There are plenty of exciting things you can make with it like Mac, Chicken & Cheese Bites or Chicken, Bean and Cheese Quesadillas (both of which kids love), and these Chicken Caesar Wraps, which are another favorite of mine.

Between Kenya’s love of any kind of food put in a wrap and Chloe’s obsession with olives, it’s not hard for me to understand why my little ones love them too. These sandwiches can be put together in no time flat….and eaten up just as fast!

Chicken Caesar Wrap (Make 2 Wraps)

1 Cups Cooked Chicken, chopped
1 Tbsp Kalamata Olives, pitted and chopped
1/4 Cup Eggless Caesar Dip
2 Cups Romaine Lettuce, shredded
Salt to taste
2 Spinach Wraps

1. Place the first 3 ingredients in a bowl and stir to combine.
2. Place 1/2 of the mixture on the spinach wrap and top with 1/2 of the
lettuce.
3. Wrap the sandwich, cut in half and serve.

Popcorn Balls

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Whenever I want to make an inexpensive, healthy snack, popcorn almost always comes to mind. Kenya and I make popcorn together at least once a week, but last week I decided to change things up a bit for snack time and turn this simple treat into something even more fun and special.

I loved eating popcorn balls when I was growing up, but most recipes for them are loaded with sugar and thus not a great choice for kids. These weelicious popcorn balls are made with high protein nut butter and brown rice syrup, so they’re still plenty sweet like the old fashioned recipe, but much more nutritious and delicious in my opinion.

Popcorn Balls (Makes 28 1 1/2 Inch Balls)

7 Cups Popcorn (to make popcorn, you can follow the "cheesy popcorn" through step 3)
1/2 Cup Almond, Sunflower or Peanut Butter
1/2 Cup Brown Rice Syrup (found at most health food stores)

1. Place the nut butter and rice syrup in a saucepan and cook over medium heat until warm, about 1 minute. You don’t want the mixture to cook or boil, just loosen up a bit so it becomes spreadable.
2. Pour the mixture over the popcorn in a bowl and with a rubber spatula or using your hands, coat the popcorn with the nut butter mixture.
3. Take a small portion (a little less than a 1/4 cup) of the popcorn mixture with slightly wet or damp hands and roll into 1 1/2 inch balls.
4. Serve.

Banana Leather

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One of Kenya’s favorite snack foods is Trader Joe’s “Nothing But Bananas, Flattened”. As the name clearly states, there’s nothing in them except for bananas. As much as I truly adore Trader Joe’s, I wanted to see if I could save a little money and make a similar version to this treat on my own. When I tell you my attempt took no effort or time, I mean it. All I did was slice the bananas, lay them on a cookie sheet and bake for just over an hour. It was so easy and I think they’re even better than the Trader Joe’s version.

But, don’t take my word for it. Let your family do a taste test and see for yourself. When Kenya saw these come out of the oven, he proceeded to eat the entire tray’s worth. Good thing I had more bananas on hand to make another batch!

P.S. This is a great teething snack for babies.

Banana Flats (Makes Approx. 12 Strips)

2 Bananas

1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees.
2. Slice the bananas lengthwise into 1/8 inch strips.
3. Place the banana strips on a Silpat or parchment lined baking sheet and cook for 1 hour and 15 minutes.
4. Cool and serve.

Whole Wheat Oat Pancakes

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We’ve become big pancake eaters in our house. My husband is sort of the breakfast master these days and Kenya loves getting into the action as his Daddy’s sous chef. Many mornings I come down to the kitchen at the crack of dawn only to find the two of them partaking in their own little IHOP, and I have to say they’re giving me a run for my money. Blueberry, banana, strawberry, even raspberry pancakes — my boys have been on a roll. So, I set out to beat them at their own game. Or at least come up with something equally yummy.

This recipe takes no time to put together and it’s a perfect opportunity to let your kids help you cook: whisking and dumping the dry and wet ingredients into a bowl is great fun for them. I liked the idea of using oatmeal in these pancakes as they add great texture and flavor. Not only is the end result delicious, they’re also healthy and packed with nutritious ingredients that are the perfect start to a kid’s busy day!

Take that boys!

Whole Wheat Oat Pancakes (Makes 25-30 Pancakes)

1 1/2 Cups Buttermilk
1 Egg
2 Tbsp Butter, melted
2 Tbsp Agave
3/4 Cup Quick Cooking Oatmeal
3/4 Cup Whole Wheat Flour
1 1/2 Tsp Baking Powder
3/4 Tsp Baking Soda
1/2 Tsp Salt

*Optional Toppings: Maple Syrup, Honey, Berries or Bananas.

1. Place the first 4 wet ingredients in a bowl and whisk to thoroughly combine.
2. In a separate bowl, combine all the dry ingredients and whisk to combine.
3. Add the dry mixture to the wet mixture and stir until just combined (it’s okay if there are a few lumps).
4. Heat a large pan or griddle on medium heat and grease with butter or oil.
5. Drop about 2 Tbsp of the pancake mixture onto the griddle and cook for 3 minutes on each side or until golden.
6. Serve with desired topping(s).

* Prior to serving you can keep them warm on a sheet tray in a 250 degree oven until all the pancakes are cooked.

**Allow to cool and place in a ziploc bag, label and freeze up to 4 months. When ready, place in a toaster over or oven at 300 for 10 minutes or until heated through.

Chocolate Almond Fondue

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Valentine’s Day is only a couple of weeks away and I’ve been thinking about all the yummy recipes that I can make for the Valentines in my life. Someone on the Weelicious Facebook page suggested making fondue, which I thought was a perfect idea. What better way to get your little ones (and not so little ones) excited about eating than to give them a dessert that requires dipping!

Fondue is simpler to make than it sounds and the only issue for me was the amount of sugar normally found in most chocolate fondue recipes. After a bit of trial and error, I came up with this recipe that is smooth, creamy and perfect for dipping fresh fruits into. Even better, your kids will get a boost of protein from the almond butter, so they’ll get strong muscles to give you loads of loving hugs!

Chocolate Almond Butter Sauce (Makes 3/4 Cup)

1/4 Cup Almond Butter (I use smooth)
1/4 Cup Agave or Honey
1/4 Cup Cocoa Powder
2 Tbsp Hot Water

1. Place all ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth.
2. Serve with sliced fresh fruit.

Edamame Hummus

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Hummus is a food that no matter what age people are when they first discover it, they fall in love. OK, maybe not everybody, but I certainly find hummus to be an “everybody loves….” food among people I know. Kenya loved it from his very first bite at 12 months and my father-in-law still devours it at age… well, I can’t tell you his age, he’s my father in law. For those of you who haven’t discovered this delicious dish yet, hummus is a Middle Eastern spread made from chickpeas. It’s healthy, full of flavor and versatile — I use it as a dip, as a spread on sandwiches, or just enjoy it on its own.

One of Kenya’s favorite snacks is edamame, so I thought I’d try a variation on the classic hummus recipe and make it for him with edamame instead of chickpeas. Kenya was in heaven with the final result — the bright green color and creamy texture has a ton of eye and taste appeal for kids. And I was thrilled knowing it’s a great source of iron, vitamin C and protein for my growing boy. With kids, I find hummus very useful as a dip. it’s a great way to try to get even the most resistant little ones to take their veggies and dunk away!

Edamame Hummus (Makes 2 1/2 Cups)

2 Cups Edamame, hulled (I use frozen and defrost it)
2 Tbsp Tahini
Juice of 1 Small Lemon
1/4 Cup Water
1 Small Clove Garlic
3 Tbsp Olive Oil
1/2 Tsp Salt
1/2 Tsp Cumin

1. Place all the ingredients in a food processor and puree.
2. Serve.

Baby Frittatas

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These baby-frittatas are so cute I want to squeeze them like I squeeze Kenya’s tushy! These fritattas are not only petite and cute, but they’re also delicious. There were several adults over when 
I made them and we left Kenya with only 2. Good thing they were so 
fast and easy to make, so I could easily whip together another batch. Even better is that every baby-frittata has a protein from the egg, two vegetables and a dairy.
Asparagus is a nutrient-dense vegetable high in folic acid and also a good source of fiber. Besides their beautiful bright green color, in my experience, wee ones love them. With the addition of parmesan to add a salty flavor and sun dried tomatoes to add a little tang, these baby-frittatas will be a hit with 
everyone in the family. You could even serve them at a party for hors d’oeuvres.

Baby Frittatas (Makes 12 Baby Frittatas)

3 Large Eggs
2 Tbsp Milk
2 Tbsp Parmesan, grated
1/4 Cup Asparagus, diced
3 Sun Dried Tomatoes, packed in oil and diced

1. Preheat the oven 375 degrees.
2. Spray or grease mini muffin tins with oil or butter.
3. Whisk the eggs and milk together. Add the cheese, tomatoes and
vegetables.
4. Add a heaping tablespoon of egg/vegetable mixture to each muffin cup.
5. Bake for 12-14 minutes.
6. Cool and serve.


We used these to make this recipe:

Peach & Cherimoya Puree

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I can’t stop buying cherimoyas….wait, do you know what a cherimoya is? I didn’t until recently and I’m so happy we found each other. A cherimoya is a fruit that Mark Twain called “the most delicious fruit known to man”. So, as I said, I can’t stop buying them and wanting to mix them with every
 fruit to make purees for Kenya. I got one at the Santa Monica Farmers
 market yesterday that was so ripe and sweet, I couldn’t resist buying it. Now
 that peaches are in season and finally starting to pop up again at the market, I feel like
 summer’s bounty of fruit is finally here.
Cherimoyas are high in fiber, iron and niacin. Make sure to pick ones
 that are soft when you give them a light squeeze, a good sign that
 they’re ripe. You can cut them into 6-8 pieces, pick out and throw
 away the big black seeds and then pull away the flesh from the skin
 which you can feed to your baby straight or puree.
Peaches are high in potassium, vitamin A and C. When they’re soft and
 ripe there is nothing like it. I waited until the peaches were very ripe,
 peeled them and then pureed them with cherimoya. I’m not exaggerating
 when I tell you that Kenya ate the entire bowl of puree that I made
 for this recipe (do you get the sense my son eats everything?!)

Peach & Cherimoya Puree (2-3 baby servings, unless your baby is like Kenya and eats the entire puree in one sitting)

1 Peach, peeled, pitted and chopped
1 Cherimoya, seeds removed, and peeled

1. Place both ingredients in the food processor and puree.
2. Serve

*Place in Baby Cubes and freeze.


We used these to make this recipe:

Cheese Omelette

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It’s funny to me how one day Kenya has no interest in a certain food and the next he can’t get enough of it. Two months ago, right after his 1st Birthday, I made him an omelette. I had seen my friend Diane giving one to her son and he was lovin’ it. That afternoon, I made a gorgeous fluffy omelette for Kenya, cut it into pieces and put it on his tray. He proceeded to hold it in his hand and drop it on the floor, piece by piece. Considering the fact that he loves egg yolks, I was kind of shocked. Yesterday, I decided to give it another try. Kenya couldn’t chew fast enough. He loved it. He was singing to the omelette, dangling it into his mouth — it was cracking me up. For parents with finicky eaters, this will hopefully be a home run and it’s also a good lesson that if your little one doesn’t like something, you can always try it again at a later date. Sometimes you just have to let their palettes develop at their own pace.
Eggs are a wonderful source of protein, Vitamin A and iron. If you serve the omelette with a Vitamin C food such as kiwi, your baby’s body will absorb the iron more readily. You can even finely chop vegetables or add a little cheese as I did to give it more flavor.

Baby Omelette (1 Baby Serving)

1 Organic Egg (we buy ours at our local farmer’s market, but every supermarket should carry organic eggs)
1 Tsp Whole Milk or Water
1 Tbsp Cheddar Cheese, shredded (you can use other types of cheese)
1 Tsp Butter or Oil

1. Whisk the egg and milk in a bowl with a fork until thoroughly combined.
2. Melt butter in a 6 or 8-inch omelette pan over medium heat (approximately 30 seconds) making sure it coats the bottom of the pan. As soon as the butter stops bubbling (and before it starts to brown) slowly pour in the egg mixture.
3. Pour in the egg mixture tilting the pan to spread it evenly. Let the egg firm up a little, and after about ten-seconds shake the pan a bit and use a spatula to gently direct the mixture away from the sides and into the middle. Allow the remaining liquid to then flow into the space left at the sides of the pan.
4. Continue to cook for another minute or so until the egg mixture holds together. Do not let the underside of the eggs brown.
5. Sprinkle the top with the shredded cheese and with a spatula; gently fold the omelette in a half moon shape.
6. Continue to cook another 30 seconds or until the omelette is thoroughly cooked through.
7. Cool, cut into bite size pieces and serve.