We are big fans of Trader Joe's Bruschetta sauce. It pairs so well with chicken in the oven, Instant Pot or slow cooker...and now you can also try it with pesto! This simple pour-and-cook meal pairs nicely with whole grain, gluten-free or bean/lentil-based pasta and some roasted veggies!
Full disclosure - the broccoli turns a little olive green (I literally had flashbacks to food science class and kicked myself for not remembering this!) so I would probably omit it next time in lieu of sliced olives, but feel free to try it if you don’t care about color!
Here’s how you make it:
In case you haven’t noticed, I think most recipes are just rough guidelines. I usually just dump stuff in a bowl, pan or blender and see what happens. That’s how these smoothies were created.
I knew I wanted an orange flavor (kind of like a creamsicle), so it needed sweetness, orange, and vanilla. I added full-fat plain Greek yogurt so it’s filling and balanced (fruit and some sugar are totally fine, we just want them balanced with protein and fat for blood sugar regulation) and some real maple syrup for sweetness. You could do whole dates or other sweetener, or if it’s sweet enough for you feel free to omit it! Of course, banana adds to that sweetness and texture as well, and almond milk adds liquid required for blending. We poured this into popsicle molds and they are delicious!
Remember, you want your kid to know what you’re using to make smoothies - no hiding or sneaking foods. Ask them to help you by pouring in ingredients! Serve foods in their whole form as often as you can. Smoothies and popsicles are most appreciated when it’s freaking HOT in Arizona and all things cold are a win.
Here’s the recipe-ish:
Add milk to blender first, then add all other ingredients. Blend until smooth and enjoy as a smoothie, smoothie bowl or frozen as a popsicle!
An easy recipe for the whole family.
This One Pot Hamburger Helper by The Defined Dish was a massive success in my house. How massive? Well, my eldest inhaled 3 helpings of it. The best part? ONE POT, people. I made it in a dutch oven on the stove and loved only cleaning one big pot. (Well, let’s be honest, my husband does the dishes! He loved it too!)
This recipe makes a ton of food so you can have leftovers or freeze extras. We used beef bone both for more minerals and promote gut health. Use whole grain elbow pasta if possible (gluten-free if needed).
Here’s the recipe straight from The Defined Dish - modifications listed below:
Dips can help selective eaters be more adventurous.
We love Tzatziki (cucumber yogurt dip) for veggies, crackers and pita...and the kids we tested this on last week were gobbling it up! It’s good on its own too - grab a spoon! Recipe inspired by Food Network. Here’s how to make it:
Peel and dice cucumber. Mix it in a small bowl with all other ingredients and stir until well-blended. Refrigerate for an hour before serving.
Dips are a fun way to enjoy foods! If you have a selective eater in your family, try offering a dip that works with the meal. When given the opportunity to dip their foods, kids are more likely to try a new food or a food they might otherwise avoid. If you're interested in more tips like these, check out our online Toddler Course.
A quick snack for kids (and adults).
We demoed this chocolatey smoothie for about 40 preschoolers and elementary school kids recently at my daughters’ school, and it was generally a hit! (I didn’t expect everyone to love it, but every kid tried it and most of them kept drinking it! It was a hit with all the adults, too!)
Remember....exposure is what counts. When you’re making smoothies have your tot help you, and let them learn about what’s going into their food! Taste along the way to make sure the flavor is right. Here’s how to make it:
Add all ingredients to a high-powered blender (coconut milk on the bottom) and blend until smooth. Makes approximately 24 ounces.
Keep it simple, friends.
What did you have for breakfast today? One of our go-to’s is “egg in a hole” (and holy smokes, there are so many different names for this delightful meal!). Basically, cook an egg inside a buttered piece of bread and serve it with some fruit. Filling, balanced, and wholesome, but also absolutely delicious. Here’s how we make it:
What is gelatin, and how do you use it?
Gelatin (and collagen) are all the rage right now. How do you use them, and do you really need them?
While gelatin can have amazing culinary properties and beneficial health benefits, we don’t think most families *need* gelatin or collagen powders. However, we do like to have it on hand for homemade gummies or to throw it in popsicle and smoothie recipes for a boost of protein.
Gelatin is essentially an amino acid that comes from the collagen of animal connective tissue and bone. It is helpful when making gummies, jello and many other recipes since it dissolves in hot water and has a thick, gummy texture. Gelatin can also help promote joint, skin and gut health. Just one tablespoon has 11 grams of protein, so it’s a potent protein source for those who struggle to get enough of this essential macronutrient.
Collagen peptides are similar to gelatin in that they're made from amino acids from animal connective tissue, but they're cut into smaller peptide pieces and don't have the same gumming effect as gelatin. I like using collagen peptides for clients experiencing gut or skin issues or those who need more protein in their diet. I prefer Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides when recommending it to clients, but work with a healthcare provider if you're experiencing gut or skin issues.
Gelatin is relatively flavorless and dissolves only in hot water - in cold it’s a little clumpy. When we put it in smoothies, we keep quantities small and blend it well. Just don’t go nuts on the gelatin, friends - most toddlers only need 16-18 G protein daily (minimum).
Below is our favorite popsicle recipe using gelatin powder by Great Lakes Gelatin found on Amazon.
Blend in high speed blender and taste - if it’s not sweet enough depending on the fruit used, you may need a dash of sweetener like maple syrup or honey (no honey for babies under age 1). Pour into popsicle molds, freeze and enjoy! Makes at least 8-10 popsicles depending on mold size.
Switch up the crust.
Who likes pizza night?
Have you tried cauliflower crust pizza? Yes, it's trendy right now, and some see it as "diet-y"...but we like cauliflower crust pizza for those who need a wheat alternative or people who want to add more veggies to their life in a tasty way. Don't feel like you "have to" try it or that other crust isn't "healthy" - it's just an alternative to check out and integrate into your menu if you enjoy it!
Cauliflower crusts come as just crusts that you heat and top or as fully-topped, ready to heat and eat pizzas. You can also make it from scratch, but we usually don't have time for that on busy weekdays!
Our favorite cauliflower crust options include those from Trader Joe's and Milton's brand at Costco, but many retailers are making their own cauliflower crust.
Why try cauliflower crust pizza? Different crusts offer different flavors, textures and nutrition. We want kids to eat all sorts of foods and be comfortable with different flavors so they can have varied, flexible palates and aren't thrown off by new ingredients.
We like to top our pizza with chopped tomatoes and mushrooms cooked from frozen, but choose your favorite toppings! If you can, let your kids help top the pizzas for a fun activity that also makes them excited to eat.
To make cauliflower pizza from a frozen crust (un-topped):
Serve with veggies and/or fruit of your choice! (We did shredded carrots and quartered grapes.)
Weeknights just got easier!
Asian Grilled Salmon, Feta Lentil Salad and grilled corn on the cob make a delicious and filling summer dinner! I will be the first to admit two things:
Here’s how to make it:
Grilled corn on the cob:
Lentil feta salad (a Trader Joe's original recipe):
We served the salmon, corn and salad with cherries, but any seasonal fruit of your choice works! Be sure to modify cherries for babies and kids under age four by removing the pit and cutting it into quarters lengthwise.
Your next go-to dinner is here!
I’ll be honest - cooking a whole chicken kind of intimidates me. That’s why I love doing it in the crockpot. (I admittedly haven’t tried it in the Instant Pot, and until I get a new lid after I melted my IP lid on a hot stovetop, I won’t be able to try!) I still love my trusty crockpot and adore making this chicken recipe, even if I've made chicken recently.
I created this recipe after experimenting with various recipes online, so feel free to explore the interwebs to find various crockpot whole chicken recipe ideas. This is just what worked for us.
We serve this with fruit (optional) and Trader Joe's cauliflower gnocchi (2 bags because this was sure to be a hit with our family of 4).
To make the cauliflower gnocchi, add 1 T olive oil or butter to a large pan on medium heat. Heat gnocchi on oil until cooked though, and as it’s heating add another tablespoon olive oil to prevent sticking. Sprinkle with Parmesan. (We altered the heating instructions from what’s on the package as suggested by an awesome follower!)