Do you cook much? I cook quite a bit. I don’t say it to sound so Martha Stewart, I say it because the more I cook the more I notice that great food is really simple. Great news for us moms!
Take mac and cheese for example. It’s pasta, cheese, butter, milk, and flour. What’s the difference between a pasta alfredo and mac and cheese? It’s just a different shape of pasta and a different cheese, that’s it! Which means you can make your kids into little epicureans with small changes. Here’s how!
My easiest of easy staples for the kids is the butter and pasta. I’ve slowly added things to this staple and in the process develped my kid’s palettes and eyes. Half the battle to eating “weird foods” is that they have to get use to seeing things different. Ie, little green specks in their pasta.
Garlic. After draining the pasta, I take the same pot it was cooked in and add butter and a little mashed garlic while the pot is still hot. Then I add the pasta and top it with parmesan cheese. I increased the amount of garlic slowly over time. They unknowinly got accutomed to the underlying flavor of garlic. I feel better because I’m giving my kids a natural antibiotic when I add garlic.
Pine nuts. Toasted pine nuts are delicious. Their smell is intoxicating as they toast. Let your kids smell and taste them (assuming they are not allergic) so they aren’t surprised (grossed out) when you add them to their pasta. They’re also a good source of magnesium and antioxidants. I continue to feel better about the easy dinner I made.
Parsley. Chop it up! Tiny! Again add little by little. They can’t even taste it in the pasta and yet it adds complexity. Also garnish your pasta. You’d be surprised how special it makes the kids feel. You made a fancy dinner for THEM! Parsley also contains vitamin K and cancer preventing Flavonoids. I feel like a total champ about what I’m giving my kids. You can substitute basil or rosemary for parsley.
Veggies. Add what they like. Add little of what they don’t like. I got mine use to broccoli by chopping it up tiny and adding it to pasta. In the summer I always add tomatoes because they contain lycopene which helps fight off skin cancer. It’s also their favorite! My goal is to always include a vegetable in pasta so it becomes a habit for them.
For my own sanity I try to keep it simple. Always the garlic and parm but a change of the veggies and herbs makes it almost an entirely new meal. My favorite combos are: tomatoes and basil, mushrooms and rosemary, parsley and pinenuts, red peppers and thyme, peas and sage. Remember, start with tiny pieces and smaller quantities. Slowly increase and enlarge. And of course always feel free to add rotisserie chicken or other proteins.
It can be a slow process but before you know it you’ll be out at dinner sharing YOUR pasta with your kids. And I always love that because it keeps me from eating so much!