WITH the holidays coming up, many parents are brainstorming easy meals that feed the whole house.
To help busy mom and dads, one parenting expert shared her go-to meals that are healthy, kid-friendly, and won’t take much time to make.
With her psychology degree in tow, mom-of-three Myriam Sandler began a parenting blog called Mothercould to provide tools for both first-time and veteran mothers.
One reality that she’s very familiar with is picky eaters, but she’s come up with some workarounds and recipes that will ensure both the parent and child are happy.
To begin, she recommends meal prepping.
“When it comes to feeding my family, that has helped me the most,” she said in an exclusive interview with The U.S. Sun.
“I don’t have time every day to cook a healthy meal, so I bulk cook and freeze.”
While today she didn’t have time to cook, she wasn’t worried because yesterday she made five lasagnas and stored the extras in the freezer.
“I’ve done that since they were babies. I used to make a ton of those pureed foods, portion them out into little containers, and freeze them.”
Not only does this method save you time, but it also ensures you’re giving your kids wholesome foods even on busy days, when you’d ordinarily substitute with a junk food packaged meal.
“It really helps me throughout the week,” she said.
As for her tried and true simple yet healthy meals, she has a few.
“For breakfast, I love to make the kids what I call Hulk Pancakes.”
In a blender, combine one ripe banana, one egg, one cup of white whole wheat flour, ¾ cup of almond milk, one teaspoon of baking powder, half a teaspoon of baking soda, and a cup of packed spinach.
Once the batter is ready, cook on a skillet as you would any other pancake and serve with syrup.
Myriam said: “Adding color is one way to get your kids more excited about eating things.
“So, the green pancakes are really exciting and different and it adds the spinach without any leaves they don’t want.”
Mixing up colors can extend to all your veggies.
She said: “Maybe try two or three different colored carrots.
“If they’re like, ‘I don’t like carrots,’ when they see the purple carrot they might think, ‘Oh maybe this one doesn’t taste as bad.’
“They’re more willing to try it.”
Myriam likes to pack in the veggies with her lunch and dinner go-tos as well.
One of those is a spin on a traditional kids’ favorite: nutritious mac and cheese.
The best part? It can be made in 15 minutes.
In a medium pot, add two cups of water, one teaspoon of olive oil, and salt before bringing to a boil.
Toss in one cup of whole wheat pasta and cook through.
After draining the pasta, in the same pot on low heat melt two slices of American cheese, three tablespoons of cream cheese, and two teaspoons of margarine or butter.
Once melted, add half a cup of whole milk and stir, then add two handfuls of finely chopped spinach.
After stirring all of the ingredients on low heat for about three minutes, the spinach will melt into the sauce.
Then simply fold in the pasta and mix well.
“Sometimes I just need something fast and filling,” she began.
“I’m assuming your little ones are as obsessed with mac and cheese as my girls are, so this is my version of that.”
Myriam said you can swap the spinach for beets if you want a pink version of the dish too.
And for those nights when you’re trying to avoid a pile of dishes, she whips up her one pot oven-baked chicken and rice.
Begin by preheating the oven to 350 degrees.
Coat five to seven pieces of chicken in a mixture that includes one teaspoon of each: salt, onion powder, garlic powder, paprika, thyme, and pepper.
Melt two teaspoons of margarine in an oven safe pan, then add two cups of uncooked rice to the pan, spreading evenly on the bottom.
Place the chicken on the rice, then pour one and a half cup of chicken broth and one cup of water on top.
Cover the pan and bake the chicken for 30 minutes.
Once the half hour is up, uncover, spray the chicken with oil, and put it back in the oven uncovered for 15-20 minutes or until the water has fully evaporated.
“So easy, so yummy, so quick to make,” Myriam raved, noting that you can add veggies to the pot as well.
She recommended serving your dishes in different ways every time perhaps adding toothpicks one time and funky forks another – to excite your children about the meal.
And if you notice that your little ones aren’t willing to try something new, she recommended her “safety blanket” approach.
“I always put something that they like on the plate when trying something new,” Myriam explained.
By adding rice – a family favorite in her household – to a plate that also includes a veggie they’ve never tried before, Myriam knows her child will eat one thing on the plate, and perhaps try another.
“I found it to be really interesting because sometimes the security blanket food item doesn’t get touched.
“It works because they feel secure with their plate, so they’re willing to try other things on it.”
This is part of what inspired her to create the Mothercould snack boxes, which are currently being sold on Amazon for $30.
While the reusable, dishwasher safe snack boxes feature eight compartments, you can remove some to make bigger spaces for larger foods – like a whole sandwich cut up in four.
“They were designed to give kids variety in one place so that they could choose what they want to eat, when they want to eat it, and how much of it they want to eat.
“It gives the child control.”
By giving the child autonomy over their food, Myriam said they will be more willing to try new things.
“Something that’s really important that a lot of parents don’t realize is that usually, when we offer our kids a snack, we give them a bag of chips or one box of crackers and that’s it.
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“But if you give them a snack box with different types of food – maybe it’s a sandwich, some olives, some carrots, strawberries, some little cookies.
“You’ll be very surprised to see what items your kids go for first and what items they finish, and how much variety they really have.”