Kids Healthy Cooking – Dairy Free Peanut Butter Ice Cream

sugar free dairy free peanut butter ice creamIce cream. One of the many favorite summer treats, wonderful on a hot summer day. But honestly, great anytime and popular with kids. Growing up in my house ice cream was a staple and often requested after dinner. So when we went dairy free, ice cream was definitely something I missed. But like any change (like when we went sugar free) it was just a matter of shifting gears and finding new recipes to meet our ice cream needs. This is when I discovered this sugar free dairy free peanut butter ice cream.

I had been promising the kids in my Mini Chefs class ice cream for a few classes and many of them kept asking when we were going to make it. In our last class of the session I thought I’d throw it in with our chocolate making, making it a bit of an extra treat. This sugar free dairy free peanut butter ice cream recipe is rich, creamy and delicious. No one would ever know that it did not contain dairy (and don’t worry if peanuts are a concern you can use WOW butter, an awesome substitute for peanut butter. Being in a peanut free facility this is what we used and no one noticed a difference in either look, taste or texture). In fact when we made it in class the kids did not question the ingredients at all. They just heard ‘ice cream’ and were ready to make it and eat it.

sugar free dairy free peanut butter ice creamThis sugar free dairy free peanut butter ice cream recipe is super easy to make with kids. Just put all the ingredients into a blender, blend and then pour into your ice cream maker. If you do not have an ice cream maker, you can take the mixture and put into a freezable container and put in the freezer until firm.

All the kids were bouncing off the walls, waiting for the ice cream to be ready. And when it was, they gobbled it up, most of them asking for some more. I was pleased to be able to finish off the class with something a little more special (and considered a treat), but also still healthy and good for them. By this point, none of them were questioning the ingredients that were going into things, and all of them were willing to try it. Which I think is the greatest success – a child who is willing to at least try it will open up their world of healthy foods and possibilities. Not only with foods, but in other areas of their life as well.

Peanut Butter Ice Cream

Ingredients:

1- 14 oz. can coconut milk, chilledsugar free dairy free peanut butter ice cream

¾ c. coconut sugar

½ c. natural peanut butter (or WOW butter if need peanut free option)

1 tsp. vanilla

3 tbsp. dark chocolate shavings

Prepare your ice cream maker ahead of time by freezing the canister overnight. You’ll also need a good blender to whip the ice cream mixture.

Combine chilled coconut milk and coconut sugar in blender and whip until sugar is dissolved. Add in peanut butter and vanilla. Whip until mixture is creamy and frothy.

*If it’s hot in your kitchen and the mixture is warm-ish, chill mixture before adding to ice cream maker; it will freeze better is mixture is cold.

Set your freezing canister in place and turn on ice cream maker. Pour mixture into freezing canister. Add in shaved dark chocolate.

Churn until frozen. Depending on your ice cream maker this could take 10-15 minutes or up to 30 minutes.

Make roughly 3 cups. Serve in small single scoops as it is rich.

Original recipe from Gluten Free Goddess

healthy chocolateCooking with kids really can be easy and fun. I had a great time working with these kids, gently expanding their palates and horizons. I was pleased to see how everyone progressed and to hear from parents how what they did in class was being transferred to home. Whether it be a food they now liked, making supper, or helping with clean up.

My greatest joy was the success I had with the more particular eaters, one’s who said they did not like much of anything, but by the end of our classes were not only trying everything but loving what we were making. Those kids had come a long way and really grown. It just goes to show how cooking with kids,  and letting them make their own food not only encourages them to eat it, but also to start trying and experimenting with new things.

Kids Healthy Cooking – The Perfect Mini Pizza

making mini pizzas with kidsPizza is another one of those fabulous recipes to make with kids that is super easy and fun. Not only do kids like eating pizza, kids like making pizza to! It is fun, easy and something they can get their hands into.

Making mini pizzas with kids is great because they can choose their own ingredients and put on what they like. Giving them choice and control over what they are having. It is also great because they use their hands to make it, and most kids, (though I do know some who don’t), like getting messy and using their hands to make and create things.

The key as the adult is providing a number of ingredients for them to choose from, not only in hopes that they will choose ingredients that will provide a balanced diet, but also an opportunity for them to try something new.

making mini pizzas with kidsMaking mini pizzas is also a great way to give kids further autonomy over their pizza because they are truly making their own, that they are going to eat and no one else.

I had to laugh when we made these in our Mini Chefs class. As soon as I took out the ingredients we were using, little ones started expressing how they did not like tomato sauce, or mushrooms, etc. I just smiled and said that was the great thing about making your own pizza is that they could put whatever they wanted on it!

So they did. Some of them completely excluding the tomato sauce and just placing ham and cheese on top. Others experimented with all the ingredients, while some went for the simple straight forward ‘just cheese’.

And it’s so great to watch them experiment and try new things. Sometimes I don’t know what is actually new for them until after class when I talk to Mom and say “Suzy had ham and cheese on her pizza today.” Then Mom looks at me in surprise and says “Wow, she tried ham, she won’t touch it at home,” looking impressed.

Once you have the kids making a basic mini pizza, you can then start adding in some new ingredients the next time you make them, like spinach or feta. You can also get creative around holidays like Halloween and have them make spooky faces on their pizzas (again adding new ingredients to try like peppers or olives – they’re great for faces). Pizza options really are endless and once they’re hooked and involved they’ll be no limit to what you and they can try.

Mini Pizzas

Ingredients:

Tomato saucemaking mini pizzas with kids

Daiya mozzarella cheese (or regular mozza if preferred)

Sliced ham

Pineapple, sliced and cut into pieces

Mushrooms, sliced

Whole Wheat English muffins

Cut english muffins in half. Place both halves face up on counter. Spoon on 1-2 tablespoons of tomato sauce (to taste). Be careful not to use too much as it will make the muffin soggy. Place desired toppings, ham, mushrooms, pineapple on top of tomato sauce. Spread toppings evenly. Sprinkle with Daiya mozarella.

making mini pizzas with kidsPlace in pre-heated oven (350F) or toaster oven until cheese is melted and muffin is golden brown around the edges – approximately 5-10 minutes. Keep an eye on your pizza as some ovens are warmer than others and may cook faster.

Next week we experiment with dips – the caramel one is to die for (and is fabulous with apples – you’ll want to eat an apple just to eat the dip)!

Kids Healthy Cooking – How to get your Kids Eating Vegetables

get kids eating vegetablesIt is amazing how many kids do not like vegetables. Or if they do, they like only one, like carrots, or cucumbers, but otherwise that’s it. I know many parents experience this struggle of expanding their children’s vegetable palate. That’s why getting creative to get kids eating vegetables is key.

In our Mini Chefs class last week we created vegetable flowers. This is a great way to get kids eating vegetables – it is fun, offers them diverse food colors and creates a pattern, which are all proven ways to get them eating. The ‘flower’ was a combination of celery, radish, carrot, cucumber, spinach, and grape tomato (lots of colors).

veggie flowerWhen we were creating our vegetable flowers, many of the kids told me right away which vegetables they did not like. Though I acknowledged it, I encouraged them to make the flower anyway and then they could eat the parts they did like and leave the rest (not forcing the kids to eat what they don’t like, but acknowledging and encouraging is another way to get kids eating vegetables, and a variety). I praised and encouraged them as they were creating, telling them how much I liked the ‘grass’ they had made or the ‘petals’ on the flower. When we were done, all the ‘flowers’ were unique. Similar to the example but with their own creative flare!

Then of course we ate them and some of the kids not only ate the parts they liked but branched out and tried something new. I had to laugh when I watched two girls each try a spinach leaf and heard them exclaim “oh this is so yummy!”

This is why cooking with your kids is such a great benefit! It gets them involved, creative and gives them opportunities to try something new. Making food fun, will encourage them to try it out and maybe, hopefully expand their palates. It also is an opportunity to teach them about nutrition and why we need balance in what we eat.

IMG_6922Also that day we made Tuna Melts, which is one of my favorites! It is a simple quick recipe and great to do with kids. All you need is bread, tuna, Veganaise (or your favorite mayonaise) and cheddar cheese. This recipe is a great one for kids to practice stirring and spreading (the tuna). Parents of course should do the opening of the can, cutting and using the oven as these tasks need to be closely supervised with small children.

Again we had a few kids who said they didn’t like tuna, but I encouraged them to at least try it. For some kids, it could simply be the Veganaise (mayo) that they don’t actually like. I remember when I was little I did not care for mayonaise at all. It wasn’t until I was much older that I actually liked it. If you think this may be the case, you can either change your mayo choice (not all mayos are created equal) or you could leave it out and not mix it in your tuna – though this would leave the tuna a little dry the melted cheese on top could help with this. Experiment, let your child taste the items separately to determine what part they don’t care for and then adjust from there.

Cooking with kids is always an adventure and getting kids to eat vegetables just makes it that much more interesting! But recognizing and praising them for what they do and trying new things definitely puts them on a path to enjoying their food and exploring new recipes!

Tuna Meltstuna melt with Daiya cheddar

Ingredients:

Slices of bread

1 can of tuna

Veganaise (or choose your favorite mayonaise)

Slices of Daiya cheddar (or regular cheddar)

Mix tuna with Veganaise. Start with one to two spoonfuls of Veganaise and mix. Add more if needed to taste, you do not want the tuna to be dry, but you don’t want it sopping wet. Spread tuna on slice of bread. Place cheddar slices on top of tuna.

Place on a cookie sheet in oven on broil. When cheese has melted it is ready to eat! this only takes one or two minutes so make sure you keep an eye on it. Take out of oven and let cool slightly, then eat and enjoy!

Vegetable Flower

Ingredients:IMG_6930

Cucumber slices

Celery

1 grape or cherry tomato

1 radish

2 spinach leaves

8 baby carrots

Wash all vegetables. Slice cucumbers, radish and 2 pieces of celery (one big and one small) to make stems of flowers. On a plate place 2 pieces of celery. At the top of the big piece arrange cucumber slices into a flower shape. At the top of the small piece of celery arrange the radish to make petals of flower. Place grape or cherry tomato in middle of the cucumbers to form center of big flower. Place two pieces of spinach on either side of big piece of celery to make leaves. Line the bottom of flowers with baby carrots to create ground/ grass. Take a picture of your creation! Enjoy plain or with your favorite dip.IMG_6925

Missed last week’s kids healthy eating recipe? Click for Yogurt Parfaits and more great tips on cooking with kids

Looking for more creative fun ideas to get kids eating vegetables? Check out these great ideas 

Next week Kids Smoothies – 3 delicious recipes, one with chocolate! how can you go wrong?

Kids Healthy Cooking – Tips and Tricks for making it easy and fun!

Mini Chef ArtworkCooking with kids can be a challenge. It’s messier, it’s slower, and often times can try your patience as a parent. Kids healthy cooking can be even more of a challenge with your little munchkins palates changing and developing, being sensitive to textures, smells and levels of salt and sweetness. One day they like a certain food and all of a sudden the next day they don’t? Even with these challenges, there are many benefits to getting little ones into the kitchen at a young age, benefits that will set a foundation for their eating and nutrition choices for life.  And these benefits will outweigh the extra time and patience you have to spend in the kitchen.

fruit2For little hands, time in the kitchen allows them to build basic skills, explore with their senses and create an adventurous palate! You can introduce healthy foods in a fun and unique way that will get them eating and enjoying it. Kids are also more likely to eat what they have made and it creates a foundation for them later in life – when they’re older in college and can actually cook. Not only that, but it creates a great opportunity for you and your child to spend some quality time together, learning and creating together, even having a little fun.

I recently started teaching a preschool class at the Trico Center called Mini Chefs and it is one of my favorite classes. You may think that cooking with a preschooler would be difficult, but when you choose recipes that are simple, easy and appropriate for their age, it is actually a lot of fun. I love how excited the kids are each week, curious about what we are making and what is in it.

IMG_6903One of the keys to making kids healthy cooking successful (especially with preschoolers) is to pick something with less than 5 ingredients and things that they can do themselves, like scooping, mixing, tearing (lettuce). Most kids at this age love to help and get very excited about mixing things, or scooping out the flour. Yes you may have a little more flour on the floor but encouraging them and letting them do it, will make them want to do it again.

For our first class we created Yogurt Parfaits, which is a very easy, hands on recipe with 3 basic ingredients and lots of scooping and sprinkling. They all wondered what a yogurt parfait was, as even my children had not made one of these before. What was in it? How did we make it? When were we going to make it? The when question was the best. They are so keen at this age to get started!

This is why it is very advantageous and less stressful for you to prepare things in advance so that the cooking process goes more smoothly. For the parfaits, I had the yogurt already in a bowl with a spoon for scooping, the fruit cut and the granola in a bowl ready for scooping as well. Parfait glasses were in a stack ready for me to hand out as well as the spoons. This made it easier for each child to do what they could themselves, once I explained how we made the parfaits.

It was so fun to watch each child create their parfait, scooping in their yogurt (some with fairly large scoops and some very small), choosing their fruit, then scooping in some yogurt again. Each parfait was creative and unique, and honestly it was not that messy. Some kids had lots of yogurt in theirs and less fruit, some had a lot of both, while others just wanted the granola off the top. Either way they all had fun and all tried it, it was a new taste adventure for many of them.

Now my kids ask for yogurt and fruit all the time now and it makes a very healthy snack!

Yogurt ParfaitIMG_6905

Ingredients:

Non-dairy vanilla yogurt  – such as coconut, almond or soy   *(can easily substitute dairy yogurts if desired)

Fruit – pick your favorite! Blueberries, strawberries, banana, honeydew

Granola (store bought or make your own – you can also substitute large oats if desired)

In a bowl or cup place desired amount of yogurt. Then place fruit of choice on top, layer with yogurt then another layer of fruit. One more layer of yogurt and top with granola. Enjoy!

And don’t forget, get the kids to help you clean up after as well. They are willing at this age and that way they learn that cooking whether creative, messy or fun, requires clean up at the end.IMG_6904

Next week… Tuna melts and Vegetable Flowers – who says vegetables can’t be fun!