Recipes for Little Hands

There is no way around the fact that cooking with children can be a little messy. Crumbs and spills aside, cooking with children is a great way to spend quality time and teach important skills like measuring, counting, fractions and following directions. Not to mention the fact that children will be more likely to taste something they helped to make. Below is a recipe roundup of dishes that are fun to make and eat with kids.

  • Crunchy Apple Roll-up: This recipe is quick and easy to make for a simple snack or super-quick breakfast. Young children will learn how to measure ingredients, practice spreading peanut butter and older children can practice cutting the apple.
  • Scrambled Egg Muffins: These delicious little egg muffins help you start the day off right. Children can practice cracking eggs and whisking them with a fork, measuring ingredients and dividing them between the muffin cups.
  • Fruit Pizza: Fruit Pizza is perfect for a party or a special treat at home. The cookie crust will make your home smell delicious. Children can practice measuring and fractions with this recipe. Younger children can mix up the creamy sauce while older children can wash and cut fruit for the topping. We recorded a video showing this recipe being prepared with some little ones; we think you’ll enjoy it!
  • Pizza on a Potato: We all love to customize what we eat to suit our tastes. Pizza on a potato allows you and your children to be creative in the kitchen. You can choose your favorite pizza toppings and add them to a baked potato for a complete meal. They can help you plan the meal and make a shopping list and when the time comes to cook, they can chop, measure and add their favorite toppings.

I hope you and your little ones enjoy the recipes above and that you have fun making them together!

Christine Hradek

Christine Hradek

Christine Hradek is a State Nutrition Specialist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. She coordinates ISU’s programs which help families with low income make healthy choices with limited food budgets. Christine loves helping families learn to prepare healthy foods, have fun in the kitchen and save money. In her spare time, Christine enjoys cooking, entertaining and cheering on her favorite college football teams with her family and friends.

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I don’t like that!

‘I don’t like that’ is heard more often than I’d like in my kitchen! Often my children tell me they don’t like what I’ve made for supper, even before they’ve tried it. It’s normal for young children to prefer foods they are familiar with and to have periods of time where they may only want to eat 1 or 2 different foods. However, there are ways you can help your child try new foods.

  1. Offer choices. Instead of asking, ‘Do you want broccoli for supper?” ask “Would you like broccoli or cauliflower for supper?”
  2. Name a food your child helps make. Make a big deal of serving “Paige’s Sweet Potatoes” or “Kenny’s Super Salad” for supper.
  3. Offer only one new food at a time. Serve something that you know your child likes along with the new food.
  4. Offer small portions of new foods. Let your child try small portions of new foods that you enjoy. Give them a small taste at first and be patient with them. The first few times the child might just smell the food, than they might lick the food. This helps the child become more familiar with the food. It may take up to a dozen tries for a child to accept a new food.
  5. Be a good role model. Try new foods yourself. Describe their taste, texture, and smell to your child.

To help children develop positive eating habits, offer the same foods for the whole family. It is okay for your child to eat more at some meals and less at others. Lastly, make eating family meals together fun. If meals are time for family arguments, your child may learn unhealthy attitudes towards food. Talk about fun activities family members did during the day. Or use our Mealtime Conversation Cards to get the conversation going.

Jody Gatewood

Jody Gatewood

Jody Gatewood is a Registered Dietitian who enjoys spending time in the kitchen baking and preparing meals for her family. She does lots of meal planning to stay organized and feed her family nutritious meals.

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Berry and Greens Smoothie

When it is smoothie night at my house, my children get so excited.  Mostly because they love smoothies, but also because they love to help make smoothies.  If you are trying to get your children involved in the kitchen, our February recipe of the month – Berry and Greens Smoothie – is a great place to start.

My oldest children are 6 and 4, so I let them peel and cut up the bananas and measure and add everything into the blender.  My son enjoys turning the blender on and off, while my daughter hides in her bedroom when it is blender time (it is too loud for her).  An older child would be able to prepare this recipe on their own with a little help from an adult to gather the ingredients, double check amounts, and keep an eye on blender safety.

In addition to being a great way to involve children in the kitchen, this smoothie recipe has many benefits:

  • It includes three food groups (fruit, vegetables, and dairy) in one glass, so it is packed with nutrition.
  • It makes a perfect snack or it can go along with any meal.
  • It freezes easily, so you can have smoothies available in your freezer for a quick breakfast. Find out more here.
  • It tastes delicious and can be made any time of the year because the ingredients are always available in the grocery store.
  • It looks beautiful because of the rich, dark colors added by the berries.

Please try our Berry and Greens Smoothie today.

Enjoy!

Justine Hoover

Justine Hoover

Justine Hoover is a Registered Dietitian and mom who loves to cook for her family.

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Learn from our Mistakes

Most cooks have tried a recipe that did not turn out how they planned. Sometimes it’s a cake that collapses on the counter, other times it’s a roast that ended up raw in the middle. The best thing to do when this happens is to try to learn from the mistake, so it does not happen again. We have rounded up a few common mistakes people make with slow cookers to try to help you avoid them in your kitchen.

  1. Be sure your slow cooker is working properly. It is critical that your slow cooker get to the right temperature to avoid problems with food safety. If you’re like me, you may have your grandmother’s old slow cooker. The good news is – you can test it. Just fill your slow cooker halfway with water and turn it on. It needs to heat to at least 170 degrees within two hours. You can test it with a food thermometer. If after two hours, the water is cooler than 170 degrees, your slow cooker is likely not heating your food fast enough and should not be used.
  2. Prep ahead the smart way. It is helpful to prep ingredients ahead so you can drop them into your slow cooker in the morning. However, do not mix raw meat and other ingredients together in advance. The safest approach is to keep meat separate from other ingredients until you are ready to cook.
  3. Cook foods to their usual safe temperatures. This helpful guide shows safe temperatures for meat, poultry, casseroles and more. You can measure temperatures using a food thermometer. Once foods reach a safe temperature, you can hold them in the slow cooker at or above 140 degrees.

Follow these simple tips to make safe and tasty meals in your slow cooker. Happy slow cooking from the Spend Smart. Eat Smart. Team!

Christine Hradek

Christine Hradek

Christine Hradek is a State Nutrition Specialist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. She coordinates ISU’s programs which help families with low income make healthy choices with limited food budgets. Christine loves helping families learn to prepare healthy foods, have fun in the kitchen and save money. In her spare time, Christine enjoys cooking, entertaining and cheering on her favorite college football teams with her family and friends.

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Slow Cooker – Converting Recipes

I love using my slow cooker for many reasons.  Right now, the main reason I love my slow cooker is the timing. There are usually two or three nights each week when someone in our family needs to be somewhere by 6 or 6:30. It is really hard for me to make a meal, feed everyone, and then get three children out the door on time.  These are the nights when I rely on my slow cooker.  I can do the prep for a meal the night before, load the slow cooker in the morning, and then have a great meal ready in the evening.

Over the years, I have gradually converted some of my family’s favorite stove top recipes into slow cooker recipes.  It can take some trial and error, especially with the cooking time, but it is worth it in the end.  Here are some pointers for converting your own recipes into slow cooker recipes:

  • Choose recipes that simmer on the stove top or roast in the oven.
  • Reduce the amount of liquid in the recipe by 1/3 to 1/2. You need to do this because the slow cooker creates its own liquid.
  • Adjust the cooking time. This website has a convenient conversion chart.

If you have questions or concerns about your slow cooker, contact AnswerLine.  They are a great resource for your home and family questions.

Good luck converting some of your favorites into slow cooker recipes!

Justine Hoover

Justine Hoover

Justine Hoover is a Registered Dietitian and mom who loves to cook for her family.

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Slow Cooker Recipe Roundup

We love our slow cookers at Spend Smart. Eat Smart. It is such a delight to come home from a busy day to a home-cooked meal that is ready to eat. At our holiday potluck, three of us made slow cooker dishes!

Here are some of our favorite slow cooker recipes:

  • Chicken and Broth: This simple dish will leave you with delicious homemade chicken broth as well as cooked chicken to use in other dishes.
  • Slow Cooker Black Eyed Pea Soup: It’s our recipe of the month and it’s perfect for this time of year. It is a tasty option for a meatless meal.
  • Slow Cooker Pork Chili: This rich, flavorful chili will warm you up on the chilliest winter day. Best of all, the leftover pork from this recipe can be transformed into Shredded Pork Sandwiches. Nothing beats cooking once and eating twice!

I hope you give these recipes a try this winter. Next week Justine will share how you can get creative by converting recipes to work in a slow cooker.

Have a great week!

Christine Hradek

Christine Hradek

Christine Hradek is a State Nutrition Specialist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. She coordinates ISU’s programs which help families with low income make healthy choices with limited food budgets. Christine loves helping families learn to prepare healthy foods, have fun in the kitchen and save money. In her spare time, Christine enjoys cooking, entertaining and cheering on her favorite college football teams with her family and friends.

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Keeping Food Safe in a Slow Cooker

Slow cooker vegetarian chiliWe often get request for recipes that can be made in a slow cooker. It’s not surprising since you can add the ingredients to the slow cooker, turn it on, and then go about your day while the food cooks. No need to spend a lot of time in the kitchen when you have other things you need to do! Here are some tips to keep food safe when using a slow cooker.

  1. Cook foods using the low or high heat setting. If possible, turn the cooker on the highest setting for the first hour of cooking time and then to low or the setting called for in your recipe. However, it’s safe to cook foods on low the entire time. Do not use the warm setting to cook food. It is designed to keep cooked food hot.
  2. Always thaw meat or poultry before putting it into a slow cooker. If frozen pieces are used, they will not reach 140°F quick enough and could possibly result in a foodborne illness. If possible, cut the meat into small chunks. The temperature danger zone is between 40°F and 140°. If food is in this temperature zone for more than 2 hours, harmful bacteria may grow to unsafe levels.
  3. Place vegetables on the bottom and near the sides of the slow cooker. Vegetables cook the slowest, so you want them near the heat.
  4. Keep the lid in place. Each time the lid is raised, the internal temperature drops 10 to 15 degrees and the cooking process is slowed by 30 minutes.
  5. Place leftovers in shallow containers and refrigerate. Do not leave cooked food to cool down in the slow cooker.
  6. Reheat food on the stove top or microwave and transfer to a slow cooker to keep warm (140°F or above). Do not reheat food or leftovers in a slow cooker.

For additional information on slow cookers and food safety, visit:

https://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/topics/food-safety-education/get-answers/food-safety-fact-sheets/appliances-and-thermometers/slow-cookers-and-food-safety/ct_index

http://www.extension.umn.edu/food/food-safety/preserving/safe-meals/slow-cooker-safety/

Jody Gatewood

Jody Gatewood

Jody Gatewood is a Registered Dietitian who enjoys spending time in the kitchen baking and preparing meals for her family. She does lots of meal planning to stay organized and feed her family nutritious meals.

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Slow Cooker Black Eyed Pea Soup

Slow cooker black eyed pea soupMy family has never had any New Year food traditions. I have been reading up on some New Year food traditions from around the world and everything I read sounded so good that I am thinking I need to start one of these traditions with my family.

If I am going to start a New Year food tradition with my family this year, it is going to have to be simple. So, I think black eyed peas are going to be the new tradition for us. January’s recipe – Slow Cooker Black Eyed Pea Soup – is one of the easiest and tastiest recipes I have ever made. All you need to do is cut up the vegetables, dump all the ingredients in the slow cooker, set it on low, and wait patiently.

Black eyed peas served with greens and cornbread is a New Year food tradition from Southeastern America. Many eat this meal in hopes of good luck and prosperity in the new year. This soup pairs well with cornbread and a side of greens can easily be added for those who want to stick closely with this tradition. Try out this black eyed pea recipe for your New Year meal. Enjoy!

Justine Hoover

Justine Hoover

Justine Hoover is a Registered Dietitian and mom who loves to cook for her family.

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Ramen Noodle Skillet

The Spend Smart. Eat Smart. Ramen Noodle Skillet recipe is always a winner at my house. My husband loves it, my children devour it, and even the grandmas and grandpas enjoy it when they come to visit. Ramen noodles are an inexpensive and easy meal, but they do not keep you full for long. Our Ramen Noodle Skillet adds vegetables and meat to give those noodles staying power.

I would enjoy telling you how to make this dish, but I don’t need to. We now have a short Ramen Noodle Skillet video that will show you all you need to know about this delicious recipe. Take a minute to watch our new video and then add the recipe to your menu for this week. Enjoy!

Justine Hoover

Justine Hoover

Justine Hoover is a Registered Dietitian and mom who loves to cook for her family.

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