Justina Huddleston is an editor and the head writer for TDmonthly Magazine. She has been a freelance writer for several years, though her real passion is cooking. You can see the recipes she creates on her vegan food blog, A Life of Litt...
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Getting picky kids to eat their veggies isn't always easy, but it is possible. To crack the code on making produce-rich recipes irresistible to the under-18 set, we decided to ask an adult (Thea Baumann, food editor of Goop and co-author of It's All Easy) and a kid (Logan Guleff, 2014 winner of MasterChef Junior) for their expert advice on cooking up healthy, kid-friendly recipes.
The biggest secret to incorporating healthier foods into kids' diets: You've got to start slowly. "Don't expect your little one to go straight from a diet of french fries and chicken fingers to salads and steamed veggies," says Baumann. Instead, start by making you classic favorites healthier: Add extra veggies to your pasta, for instance, or swap meat for beans in your next batch of slow cooker chili (see recipes below).
That said, don't be afraid to try new things. "I love cooking and exploring the world of food," says Guleff. Sometimes, that exploration can be as simple as heading to the farmers market to seek out the best produce possible.
"You'd be surprised how many kids will devour a plate of sugar snap peas or cut-up carrots on their own or with a bowl of hummus" when they're market-fresh, says Baumann. She recommends serving fresh peas, snap peas, raw carrots, steamed broccoli and sweet potatoes as a side, even if you still end up ordering a take-out pizza — it's all about slowly incorporating healthier foods into your family's diet.
Ready to get cooking? Check out the recipes from Goop and Guleff below.
Chef Logan's veggie zoodles with cream sauce recipe
For the zoodles
2 large zucchini, spiral sliced or thin-cut
1 teaspoon butter
For the easy Alfredo
1 garlic clove
2 tablespoons butter
1/3 block cream cheese (low-fat is OK)
1/2 – 1 cup milk (depending on your preference)
For the zoodles
Put zucchini strands in cold water for 5 minutes, then rinse and drain.
Melt 1 teaspoon of butter in saucepan and sauté noodles until tender.
For the easy Alfredo
Melt 2 tablespoons of butter and sauté garlic until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add cream cheese, then add milk until it's nice and creamy.
Toss Alfredo sauce into the zoodles and serve.
Chef Logan's carrot fries recipe
1 pound carrots, cut into sticks
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
Toss carrots in olive oil, cumin seeds and cinnamon and bake at 375 degrees F for 22 to 30 min.
1 cup fresh herb leaves (such as basil, parsley or arugula), packed, washed and thoroughly dried
1/2 cup toasted pine nuts, walnut pieces or pecans, cooled
1/2 cup grated hard cheese, such as Parmesan or pecorino, plus more to finish
1 clove garlic, finely minced
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
20 ounces good-quality conchiglie pasta
4 medium zucchini, grated on the large holes of a box grater
1 – 2 tablespoons butter
First, make the pesto: In a food processor, pulse the herbs, pine nuts, cheese, garlic, a pinch of salt, pepper and olive oil until the mixture achieves a paste-like consistency.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add enough to salt to make it as salty as the ocean – about 1 tablespoon of salt per liter of water, depending on the type of salt.
Add pasta and cook according to package directions.
About 1 minute before the pasta is finished cooking, add the grated zucchini to the pot of boiling water, cook together for the remaining 1 minute, then drain both pasta and zucchini through a colander set over the sink.
Immediately add a pat of butter to the pasta-zucchini mixture and stir. This will keep the pasta from sticking to itself.
Mix the pesto into the cooked pasta and zucchini.
Serve, finishing each portion with a little grated cheese.
1/2 pound russet potato (1 medium potato), cut into 1/2-inch dice
1/2 head medium cauliflower, stem removed and cut into 1-inch pieces
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for the top
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Heat the largest sauté pan you have over high heat. When the pan is hot, add 1 tablespoon of olive oil and the ground turkey and season generously with salt and pepper. Sauté until very well browned, about 5 to 7 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a medium Dutch oven over medium-low heat. Add onion, carrot, garlic and rosemary, and cook 5 to 7 minutes, or until the onion is translucent and the veggies are just starting to brown.
Add the tomato paste and cook 2 to 3 minutes, stirring often and being careful not to let it brown.
Add the chicken stock to the pan with the turkey to deglaze, then transfer everything to the Dutch oven along with the Worcestershire sauce.
Bring the mixture up to a boil then reduce the heat and simmer gently for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally.
While the meat sauce simmers, put the diced potatoes in a small to medium saucepan and cover with cold water by at least 3 inches. Add a very generous pinch of salt and bring the mixture to a boil. Once it reaches a boil, reduce to a steady simmer and set the timer for 6 minutes. When the timer goes off, add the cauliflower, bring the mixture back up to a boil, reduce to a simmer again and cook for another 6 minutes.
Drain the mixture, return to the saucepan and cook over low heat for 1 minute to cook off any residual water. Turn off the heat and mash the mixture very well with a potato masher. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and season to taste with salt and pepper.
When the meat sauce has reduced for 25 minutes, remove the rosemary sprigs, add the frozen peas, and season to taste with salt and pepper.
Transfer to a 2- to 3-quart baking dish (or leave in the Dutch oven) and spread the potato-cauliflower mixture evenly over the top. Drizzle over a little extra olive oil and bake in the oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until the filling is starting to bubble. Turn on the broiler and cook for 3 to 5 minutes, just until the topping starts to brown.