It’s pretty common knowledge these days that being a full-time mommy is one of the most demanding jobs out there.
My mommy friends gracefully balance raising their kids, running a household and sometimes even another job. Add preparing delicious, fast-and-easy meals for sometimes picky kids into the mix and it’s enough to make even the most “got it together” mama go crazy.
That’s why I’ve compiled some Skinny Chef tips for busy moms on the go-go-go and organized them into five sensible categories:
- Fast and Easy Eats For Mom
- Bites For Picky Eaters
- Balancing A Plate For A Toddler
- Incorporating New Foods Into Your Kids’ Diet
- Monkey See Monkey Do Snacks
1. Fast and Easy Eats For Mom
Moms who don’t eat regular meals end up overdoing it on the snacks later in the day. In my latest post on Epicurious.com, I’ve highlighted a day’ worth of meals for mom to feed herself so she can keep up with her kids and so the “snacks” don’t catch up with her!
2. Picky Eaters
When I worked as a private chef for families, I was in charge of getting nutritious food into kids without complaints — heck my job depended on it!
When toddlers and even preteens go through that weird “all white” food phase, or what I call the “wonder bread years”, it can be pretty discouraging.
Mornings with a hungry (or worse — cranky) kid can take a toll on a mom! Give the kids something nutritious to take them straight through to lunch with familiar flavors like Peanut Butter and Banana and wash it down with a cup of milk
Or make my crepes that are nothing more than a thin pancake that you can cook off the night before and reheat. Smear with peanut butter or a light drizzle or maple syrup and roll up with banana, strawberries or thinly sliced apple.
Miniature Turkey Meatballs are kid-sized so kids will be excited to pop them in their mouths.
Creamy Corn-Bake is colorful, sweet, creamy, and packed with veggies. It looks and smells yummy as it comes out of the oven so picky eaters will devour it, because most kids who are “vegetable-haters” will make an exception for a dish that contains corn.
3. Balancing A Plate For Toddler
Think “3” — the age where most toddlers begin to cut and eat from their own dinner plate. Three foods — vegetable, protein, carb.
Getting toddlers to eat carb-rich foods and sweet tasting fruit juices is rarely a problem, but placing vegetables on your child’s plate with every meal is key. Not only will they learn that vegetables are a part of every meal, but they will have a visual example of what a dinner plate should look like. And your plate can be just a “bigger version” of what they have!
Tips for enjoying veggies together: Even the best eaters will sometime balk when veggies appear on the dinner table. Here are some ideas to serve it up right and delicious, while making it more appealing to your toddler.
Go raw. Some kids are very sensitive to soft or slippery textures that steamed or cooked vegetables can have. Try cutting up raw broccoli florets, peeled carrots, and cherry tomatoes and serving them in a small dish with a tablespoon of ketchup or their favorite low-fat BBQ sauce or dressing along side for dipping.
Even though kids will pick off their parent’s plate, when it comes to serving them, large pieces of food can be overwhelming. Cut up meats and veggies in neat bite-sized pieces to arrange around a small scoop or piece of whatever carb you’re serving that night. They can always ask for seconds but will learn early about portion size. Kids are also delighted by anything that is “mini-size” or served in tiny dishes or bowls. Try spearing chicken cubes and cooked veggies
4. Incorporating New Foods Into Their Diet
To raise a kid who enjoys all kinds of foods, introduce them to new tastes via things they already love. A great way to try this out is with tacos. Try a Lentil Taco, a Fish Taco or a Shrimp Taco with different garnishes. Same base — just change up the filling. Always start with 1/2 large onion, 2 cloves chopped garlic, one package of MSG free taco seasoning.
- Fill a Buckwheat Blini with some creamy yogurt and delicious fruit preserves for a healthy and new breakfast treat.
- If they already love cheesy, chicken enchiladas and other tasty pick-up foods, try working beans and even tofu into their diet with this delicious Quesadilla.
- For extra fiber that will help kids feel fuller longer, and vitamin K that helps to heal cuts, bumps and bruises, serve it with Creamy Guacamole an all-time kid favorite.
- For dinner, take something your kids are used to, like chicken fingers, and revamp it with a new food. If you prepare these Fish Fingers with wild salmon, you’ll be getting a high dose of omega 3’s. Or, use low-mercury Tilapia for a white, flaky fish stick that’s low in fat.
- The kids see mom eat sushi, but they don’t want to eat the raw fish just yet. They can make their own faux sushi — whole wheat crepes filled with veggies and peanut sauce.
5. Monkey See, Monkey Do Snacks
Kids always want some of whatever mom is having. Set a good example by snacking on foods you’ll be happy to have them try but are also high in fiber and nutrients:
- Steamed Edamame with just a pinch of sea salt
- Laughing cow brand cheese spread on 100% whole wheat crackers topped with a few sliced olives
- Cucumber slices and red pepper wedges with humus topped with chopped almonds
- Almond hummus
- And for the sweet tooth: Blueberry Pops or Chocolate Zucchini Brownies