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June 30th, 2011

Cooking with Kids: Whole Grain Strawberry Shortcake with Ginger

By Marygrace Taylor

Berries have a lot going for them: They’re loaded with fiber, vitamins, and antioxidants, and so are super good for you. They also score points for being incredibly versatile—eat berries out of hand for a snack, toss them into a savory salad, or turn them into dessert. Best of all—maybe because the finger food size is more fun for little hands—you don’t have to work very hard to get your kids to gobble them up.

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One of my family’s favorite ways to eat peak-season berries (like the ones overflowing at farmers markets right now) is in pie, but the whole process making the dough, rolling it out, and trying to keep it ice cold the entire time is pretty unappealing when it’s 90 degrees outside. Even when the temperature is cooler, notoriously tricky piecrust can be tough for children to work with, and so isn’t the best choice for parents who want to get their kids into the kitchen.

So instead, we get our fix with strawberry shortcake, which has all the delicious components of pie—buttery crust, saucy fruit, and even some sweetened cream to match the obligatory scoop of ice cream—in a package that requires less work and is simpler for kids to make.

Whole Grain Strawberry Shortcake with Ginger

Be sure to taste the strawberry mixture to adjust for sugar and lemon. Depending on your berries, you may need to adjust the sweetness and acidity.

Active time: 20 minutes

Total time: 40 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 pint strawberries, hulled and sliced
  • ¼ cup raw cane sugar, or to taste
  • Juice of half a lemon, or to taste
  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/2 cup unbleached, all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup rolled oats
  • 3 tablespoons raw cane sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 ½ teaspoons ground ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons low-fat buttermilk
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon finely chopped crystallized ginger

Whipped Cream Ingredients

  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 tablespoon raw cane sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions

1. In a bowl, have your child combine the strawberries with the sugar and lemon juice, then taste to see whether she thinks the berries need more sweetness or sourness. Set aside.

2. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease a baking sheet.

3. Have your child measure the flours, oats, sugar, baking powder, ginger, and salt and add to a bowl. After mixing with a fork, she can add in the butter pieces and use her fingers to crumble the butter into the flour mixture until pea-sized clumps form. Add the buttermilk and vanilla then fold in the crystallized ginger.

4. Help your child place the shortcake dough on a lightly floured surface and shape it into a disk, about ½-inch thick. Divide the disk into eight small wedges, transfer to the baking sheet, and bake 15 to 18 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.

5. When the shortcakes are cool, make the whipped cream. Have your child measure the whipping cream, sugar, and vanilla and add to a bowl or stand mixer. Whip the cream until stiff peaks form, being careful not to over mix.

6. Slice the shortcakes in half horizontally. Have your child spoon the strawberry mixture over each bottom half of the shortcake, followed by a dollop of whipped cream and the top half of the shortcake. Serve.

Makes 8 shortcakes

Marygrace Taylor is the staff writer and recipe developer for KIWI Magazine. She lives and cooks in Austin, Texas, with her husband and dog, Charlie.

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May 26th, 2011

5 Healthy, last-minute dinners your kids will actually eat

by Marygrace Tayor

Though they’re often a source of stress, those super-busy, super-structured weekdays that tend to define most of the school year do come with one advantage: Forcing parents to stay organized. Who’s picking up Jackson from trumpet lessons, who’s shuttling Hazel to the basketball game—and of course, what’s for dinner.

School might not be over just yet, but it’s already starting to feel that way.  As summer creeps in, the chaotic schedules start to wind down. Instead of playing chauffer after school, you’re just playing. The only problem is, sometimes you end up having so much fun, you lose track of time completely. Everyone’s having a blast chasing the dog, throwing the softball, and playing tag…Next thing you know, it’s six o’clock, and you’ve got a gaggle of hungry, tired kids who’ll turn anxious and irritable if they don’t get a meal pronto.

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These are the nights when you fry up a platter of grilled cheeses or order in a pizza—at least, they used to be. Just because you need dinner ready in no time flat doesn’t mean fast food-type food is the only option. Whipping up a speedy, nutritionally-balanced meal (that’s one with complex carbohydrates, lean protein, healthy fat, and a hearty serving of veggies or fruit) is easier than you think. In fact, it’s downright simple! Here, five of my favorite well-rounded, quick-cooking, kid-approved dinners ready in twenty minutes or less.

Hummus plate

In a food processor, add one 15-ounce can of chickpeas (drained and rinsed), ¼ cup tahini, the juice of half a lemon, one garlic clove, and salt. Puree while drizzling in a few tablespoons of olive oil until a smooth dip forms. Serve with cherry tomatoes, sliced , and whole wheat pita.

Total time: 10 minutes

Quick veggie tacos

In a wide skillet, saute one large, diced onion and 2 to 3 diced bell peppers, adding garlic and cumin to taste. Add a 15-ounce can of black beans (drained and rinsed), and continue cooking until heated through. Serve in whole wheat or corn tortillas with shredded cheddar cheese.

Total time: 15 minutes

Chicken avocado wraps

Cook frozen, all-natural chicken tenders according to package directions, then slice into strips. Meanwhile, mash one large avocado and spread on whole wheat tortillas. Top with the sliced chicken tenders, shredded lettuce, sliced tomato, and grated carrot; then wrap and eat.

Total time: 15 minutes

Breakfast for dinner

Add ½ cup canned pumpkin or mashed sweet potato to your favorite whole wheat pancake recipe. Drop a handful of blueberries or banana slices on the uncooked pancake side before flipping. Top cooked pancakes with chopped pecans, a dollop of plain yogurt, and a drizzle of pure maple syrup.

Total time: 20 minutes

Spicy peanut noodles

Cook one pound of whole wheat spaghetti according to package directions, then drain (reserving ½ cup of the pasta water) and rinse under cold water until cool. In a bowl, combine ¾ cup salted peanut butter, ¼ cup soy sauce, 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar, and 1 teaspoon sriracha sauce (or to taste). Add the ½ cup reserved pasta water and mix to combine. To the noodles, add the peanut sauce, half a head of shredded red cabbage, and one sliced cucumber. Toss well before serving.

Total time: 20 minutes

You can find even more of our favorite quick, kid-friendly dinner ideas—plus some KIWI readers have shared—on our blog, KiwiLog. What’s your healthy, go-to meal?

Marygrace Taylor is the staff writer and recipe developer for KIWI Magazine. She lives and cooks in Austin, Texas, with her husband and dog, Charlie.

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April 27th, 2011

Eat Your Veggies

by Marygrace Taylor

Hooray! Spring is here, and fresh, vibrant produce is finally cropping up in the garden and at the farmer’s market. If you’re like me, you’ve spent months waiting for a taste of peas, asparagus, or anything other than dreary winter root vegetables.  And while I’m willing to bet your kids don’t feel the same way (for now!), changing their minds about fresh produce isn’t an impossible feat. Here, my four favorite—and foolproof—ways to get kids excited about their fruits and vegetables.

Get them involved
Your kid’ll be way more enthusiastic about that bunch of broccoli if he gets to pick it out and cook it himself. Whether you’re harvesting from the garden or shopping the farmer’s market, you can make gathering produce more fun by turning it into a scavenger hunt. Have your child seek out fruits and veggies in certain colors or sizes, like long green sticks (asparagus) or little blue spheres (blueberries). Afterwards, leaf through a kid-friendly cookbook with your little one to find a yummy-looking recipe that he can help you make.

Point out the benefits—but make them exciting!
Tell a little kid that carrots are good for her because they contain eye health-promoting beta carotene, and her eyes will likely glaze over. Tell her carrots are good for her because they can help her have Super Vision, and there’s a nice chance she’ll start choosing the orange veggie over other, less healthful snacks that don’t have any magic powers.

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Carrots for Super Vision

Make it look fun
It’s no surprise that a platter of steamed kale probably won’t get your child excited, but kid food doesn’t have to be all macaroni and cheese and chicken fingers. Cut veggie sandwiches into interesting shapes, arrange salad vegetables in rainbow order on the plate instead of tossing everything together, or arrange your pizza toppings in the shape of a smiley face. You could even turn a pile of grapes and cheese into a campfire, veggie spring rolls into a caterpillar, or a chocolate-covered pear into a cute little penguin!

Serve healthy food when they’re hungry
Sounds like a no-brainer, right? A small plate of whole grain crackers and a cheese stick is a healthy snack choice—but if eaten an hour before dinner, it’ll wipe out your kid’s appetite for veggies (or anything else!) at dinner. When your child asks for a snack, offer fresh fruit or vegetables like sliced apple with almond butter or celery sticks with hummus. If she’s not interested, she probably isn’t all that hungry, and can wait until her next meal to eat. By then, she will be hungry—and more willing to gobble up the side of sautéed zucchini on her plate.

Marygrace Taylor is the staff writer and recipe developer for KIWI Magazine. She lives and cooks in Austin, Texas, with her husband and dog, Charlie.

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