Stovetop Hidden-Veggie Mac and Cheese

Stovetop Hidden-Veggie Mac and Cheese

This toddler-friendly mac and cheese is loaded with three types of cheese and squash (you didn’t think I’d leave out a veggie, did you?) which is virtually tasteless and mimics that neon orange color that kids love from the boxed stuff.

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Recipe: Cinnamon Apple Chips


One thing is for sure at this time of year: You're going to be eating a lot of apples. Here in November, apples are the only fresh fruits left at the farm stand, and that fruit (along with pears and bananas), will be what my kids survive on until citrus season begins this winter. Happily, my kids LOVE apples--our family goes through at least a dozen a week!--but it's also nice to change things up a bit.

This recipe for baked apple chips is so simple, and it's the perfect project for a rainy homebound weekend day. All you have to do is slice the apples nice and thin, let the kids sprinkle on sugar and cinnamon, and then set them in the oven on low for an hour. Your home will smell wonderful all day, and you'll end up with sweet and crispy chips that are perfect for snacking by the handful or packing into lunch boxes.


Cinnamon Apple Chips


2 apples

½ tsp cinnamon

½ tsp sugar


Heat oven to 250 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper

Core the apples. With sharp knife, slice off 1/2-inch from top and bottom of apples and discard. Saw gently crosswise into very thin (1/8-inch) rings

Arrange apples on the baking sheet in a single layer. Place the sheet on the middle shelf in oven, and bake for 45min-1 hr until apple slices are lightly browned and almost dry to touch.

Let chips cool on racks completely before storing in airtight container.

5 Ways to Get Your Kids to Eat Healthier This Week


If your summer is looking anything like mine, it’s filled with ice cream trucks, pizza nights, and treats at grandma’s house/the pool/the beach.My sneaky kids have gone so far as to befriend all the regulars on our beach who come with bags packed with Oreos. They then make their best puppy dog eyes and say, "I've never had an Oreo before." Works every weekend. Healthy summertime eating can sometimes feel like a lost cause. But these quick strategies steer 'em back on track and are so easy to implement. Follow them to make your whole family healthier right away.

1. Ask your child to wash a vegetable. Pull a step stool up to your sink, and give your child the “job” of rinsing off the vegetable that you’re serving. While a common goal for parents is to get their kids to actually eat more vegetables, all types of exposures count--even holding a veggie in their hand. Kids are natural explorers, so letting them grab hold of a veggie exposes their senses to something new in a completely non-intimidating way.

2. Eat dinner under your kitchen table. Or have your kids pick any place you can spread a picnic blanket: over the sandbox, atop their playground—anything works. Remember, this strategy isn’t for pizza night—serve something healthier that you want them to try. Changing up the location makes dinnertime less of chore for children than having to sit at the table, which translates into more of a chance that they’ll eat what’s in front of them.

3. Replace one of your go-to snacks with something homemade. 99 out of 100 times, the snacks you make yourself are healthier than anything you buy in a package. Instead of a store-brought granola bar, make these sweet spinach muffins or healthier blueberry muffins. Compared to packaged stuff, homemade snacks contain way fewer ingredients, an ingredient list you can pronounce, and no preservatives or artificial anything. That’s always a step in the right direction.

4. Put out a veggie tray after camp after the park. Add a mix of chopped veggies, like baby carrots, cucumbers, celery, pepper slices and a dip like hummus or ranch dressing. When kids are starving, they eat what’s in front of them. We do this about 30 minutes before dinnertime, and it works every time.

5. Count colors. Hang six pieces of construction paper on a wall or your door in these colors: green, orange, red, blue, yellow, purple.  Tell your kids that your goal for the day is to eat as many of these colors as they can—whoever gets the most colors at the end of the week wins. And no, rainbow sprinkles don’t count :)

No-fuss gazpacho soup


If you dislike cooking, you are going to love this. If you're outside roasting on this sticky 90 degree day, you are going to love this.

If you like recipes that can be prepped and on the table in less than five minutes, you are going to love this.

If you like the idea of your child eating vegetables and if you like vegetables in their purest, most-refreshing form, then you are going to really really love this.

Because unlike many gazpacho recipes that require blanching tomatoes, peeling cucumbers, and straining the finished product, this is the no-fuss (read: no work) version. All we do is blend up veggies with little else, and the result is something so refreshing, so delicious, and so impossible to screw up (I'm looking at you, so-called non-cooks).

Best of all, my kids eat this up AND love helping with the prep. My 5-year-old washes the veggies, my 2-year-old transfers the veggies I chop to the blender, and then they both fight over who presses the on button while I wipe tears of unfairness and mop up the food they've dropped and squished all over the floor. It really is quite fun.

But back to the soup. I love this served with an add-your-own-toppings bar with bowls of chopped peppers, cucumbers, hardboiled eggs, and croutons that can be spooned over the top. So good!

No-Fuss Gazpacho Soup

Ingredients: 3 slices bread 2 pounds of tomatoes, cut into quarters and seeds squeezed out and discarded 1 medium cucumber, seeded and diced 1 bell pepper, seeded and diced 2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/4 teaspoon pepper

Directions: Place bread in a medium bowl and cover with water until saturated. Squeeze water from bread and place bread in a blender. Discard soaking water.

In the same blender, add tomatoes, cucumber, pepper, garlic and vinegar. Blend until well combined, about 1 minute. With motor running, add oil in steady stream until well blended. Stir in vinegar; season with salt and pepper.T

Transfer to refrigerator to chill before serving up to 48 hours.


10 ideas for leftover baby food purees


It seems to happen overnight: Your baby who once devoured baby food purees decides she only wants finger foods. Once babies begin to use their pinchers, they become more interested in perfecting picking up food from their trays, rather than being spoon fed by you. The good news is that you now have two free hands during mealtime (take this as your cue to eat!). But don't toss your freezer stash of pears, peas, and parsnips!

Whether your baby is moving on to the finger food stage or is ready for more than just single-ingredient fruit and veggies, these 10 puree-based food ideas (for baby AND you!) can help your baby transition to the next stage AND ensure your leftover stash doesn't go to waste.

  1. Stir fruit and veggie purees into plain whole milk yogurt, cottage cheese, and oatmeal. It's a delicious way to naturally sweeten without adding sugar. How's that for getting in a veggie at breakfast?
  2. Add veggie purees into sauces and pestos. Bump up the nutrition and flavor of your traditional pasta toppings! Winter and summer squash, sweet potato, pumpkin and bell pepper make great additions to tomato sauce. Green purees like peas, zucchini, kale, and spinach all get disguised when stirred into pesto.
  3.  Mix veggie purees into meatballs and meatloaf. Go for up to four ounces of puree per pound of meat to boost nutrients AND add moisture. No dry balls for your baby!
  4. Dump veggie purees into soups or stews.
  5. Use them as  teethers. Frozen cubes feel good on baby's gums. Add puree cubes to a mesh teether, like these Fresh Food Feeder, 2 Pack, Blue/Green.
  6. Blend them into a smoothie. Mix fruits and veggie cubes with ice, plain yogurt, and a bit of juice or coconut water for a refreshing and healthy breakfast or snack.
  7. Make 'em into a protein-rich dip. In a food processor, combine 1 can of white beans, 1 garlic clove, 2 ounces of veggie puree, and herbs of choice. Bean dips stick well to spoons, so if baby is learn to self feed, this is less messy than drippy foods.
  8. Toss a cube of fruit puree into a glass of champagne. Just so there's no confusion, this is for you, not baby.
  9. Stir fruit and veggie purees into pancake or waffle mix or mix into a muffin recipe.  Way healthier baking!
  10. Spread leftover fruit puree on crackers or as a jelly replacement on sandwiches. Three cheers for no added sugar!


How do you use leftover baby food? Tell us your ideas!

30+ (Healthy!) First Finger Food Ideas


  Finger foods are your baby's first step in the transition to table food—and let's face it: Without the need to spoon feed, you now have two hands free during meal time (score!). But many packaged finger foods that are made specifically for this toddler stage are loaded with salt and sugar, according to a recent study. Ugh! Step away from the teething crackers and pick up these nutrient- and flavor-packed choices:

FRUIT AND VEGGIES! {veggies} - steamed cut up carrots - frozen mixed veggies, defrosted - steamed chopped broccoli or cauliflower - cut cooked green beans - diced cooked squash or sweet potato - diced steamed zucchini or summer squash

{fruit} - halved blueberries - avocado chunks rolled in wheat germ or ground flaxseed for easier pickup - banana slices rolled in wheat germ or ground flaxseed for easier pickup - small chunks of peaches, plums or mango - small dices of melon - steamed apple or pear dices

HIGH PROTEIN OPTIONS {beans (when buying canned, go for organic or low sodium, and always rinse)} - small white beans - cooked lentils - black beans - small pink beans {meat, fish, and eggs} -scrambled eggs cooked in butter - flaked salmon - shredded chicken - cut up meatballs {misc.} - tofu cubes - shredded cheese or cheese cubes

HEALTHY CARBOHYDRATES - homemade muffins, cut up - frozen whole wheat bagel (great for teething!) - cheerios or other whole grain no-sugar-added cereal - cooked whole grain pasta (top with tomato sauce or a veggie puree) - plain waffles or pancakes, cut up