Kids in the Kitchen

Joan Martin, Nutritionist
CCE-Schuyler County

Many families are experiencing the adventure of combining in-person, online, and hybrid learning. Learning modes can change weekly or even daily, depending on the COVID-19 situation in a school district. The last thing stressed-out parents or anxious kids need right now are conflicts over what (and what not) to eat. Younger children—who have little control over the big things in their lives—may quickly realize that they can assert themselves in the food arena. As the mother of a former Picky Eater, I admit that there are often no easy answers.

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One strategy is to let kids be involved in meal planning and preparation as much as possible. That is easier said than done sometimes, especially after a crazy week of work, school, and untangling the technical challenges of digital life. Try stocking up on a healthy range of fruit, vegetables, and snack choices that do not have to be constantly monitored and that the kids can grab when they are hungry. Hungry kids are grumpy kids.

Here are links to favorite kid- and teen-friendly recipes we have used in afterschool and summer programs, plus some fall favorites. Also below is a link to a reliable plastic knife set younger ones can use to begin learning chopping and cutting skills, so they can help at home. 

My Personal Pizza (https://bit.ly/3plQZlR

Pumpkin Fruit Dip (https://bit.ly/35mSus0)

Curious Chef Knife Set (https://bit.ly/3poOijd)

Peanut Butter Balls (https://bit.ly/38DJxg2)

Apple Bars (https://bit.ly/36rXsTy

The wraps below offer flexibility: it does not matter if school is in-person or online. Kids can help make them then pack in a lunch or eat at home for lunch, dinner, or a snack. The veggies can vary based on what you have in the house. A note on the low-fat cream cheese: some brands taste better than others, and the Low-fat kind tastes and spreads a lot better than the NON-fat kind. 

Crunchy vegetable wraps

Crunchy Vegetable Wraps

Prep Time: 20 minutes (plus 2 hours to chill)

Ingredients

  • 4 tablespoons cream cheese, low-fat (whipped) 
  • 2 flour tortillas, whole grain preferred
  • 1/2 tablespoon ranch seasoning mix
  • 1/4 cup broccoli (washed and chopped)
  • 1/4 cup carrot (peeled and grated)
  • 1/4 cup zucchini (washed and cut into small strips)
  • 1/4 cup summer squash (yellow, washed and cut into small strips)
  • 1/2 tomato (diced)
  • 1/8 cup green bell pepper (seeded and diced)
  • 2 tablespoons chives (chopped fine) OR parsley OR cilantro

Directions

  • In a small bowl, stir ranch seasoning into cream cheese, chill.
  • Wash and chop vegetables.
  • Steam broccoli in microwave for 1 minute with 1 tablespoon of water.
  • Spread cream cheese onto flour tortilla, staying one inch from edge. 
  • Sprinkle vegetables over cream cheese. Roll tortilla tightly.
  • Chill for 1–2 hours before serving (the wrap will hold its shape better). 
  • With a sharp knife slice into circles and serve.

Source: ChooseMyPlate.gov, recipe/Crunchy Vegetable Wraps