School is out, the kids are happy to have free time and this mom is ready for a little break in the evening homework. But it doesn’t mean I want my kids to stop learning. I think of summer as an extra special learning season – extra special because you can plan fun activities that are creative and fun with the bonus of having the kids learn along the way. And you are the teacher! That means more quality time with the kids. What can you do to help make extra special memories this summer?
Invite the kids into the kitchen with you.
I know it sounds like that could be a nightmare. Flour all over the counter, crumbs on the floor, fingers covered with food. Those are just a few things I think of when I imagine and do cook with my kids.
But its totally worth it.
Whether its breakfast, lunch or dinner, with a few simple guidelines, the kids can take ownership for all or part of the meal. You as the parent may also need to help a little (a plus for connections), but let the kids do the majority of it. One of my daughter’s favorite things to make is nothing glamorous – it’s peanut butter and jelly. But she is getting the sense of meal planning because she at least includes a fruit and vegetable with it along with an ice-cold glass of milk.
I met a lady last week who has kids that are all grown up. One in particular, she noted, does not like to cook and she blames herself for that because in her words she never “invited them in”. As a working mom when her kids were little, she wanted to always get the meal done, in a hurry to accomplish the next thing. We all get into that rut, but I have been more intentional now more than ever to cook with my kids and the United States of MyPlates challenge keeps us on track. Maybe it will for you too.
Stuffed Zucchini Boats
Adapted from the Healthy Lunchtime Challenge Cookbook recipe submitted by Haley Matthews of Georgia.
4 small zucchini, halved lengthwise
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup shredded carrots
1/2 cup diced yellow onion
8 ounces ground chicken or turkey sausage
1 cup cooked brown rice
1 large egg
1/2 cup ricotta cheese made with skim milk
1 teaspoon each chopped fresh thyme and parsley
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup Panko breadcrumbs
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly cover a baking pan with olive oil spray.
2. Scoop out the pulp of the zucchini and discard. Place on baking sheet with scooped sides facing up.
3. In a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil, shredded carrots, onion, garlic and sausage. Sauté 5 minutes or until vegetables are softened and chicken is cooked through.
4. Remove from heat and add rice, egg, ricotta, herbs, salt and pepper. Gently stir until well combined.
5. Evenly divide into scooped out zucchini boats. In a small bowl, combine cheese and breadcrumbs. Sprinkle over the top of each boat. Bake for 30 minutes or until tops are golden brown.
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Make it a MyPlate meal by enjoying the zucchini boats with a spinach salad with berries and a smoothie.
Husband: 3 – He’s not in love with zucchini, but with a little more tinkering of this recipe (meaning more cheese, we may be able to up the score
Adventurous Son – 3 – He ate it but it was our first time making boats out of vegetables – a new concept.
Cautious Daughter – 1 – Again she states she would eat this for survival. Although she did pick out the sausage and rice.
Dietitian Mom – 4 – Overall, I would say this recipe deserves another chance!