With all the gorgeous food blogs, glossy cookbooks and “that looks easy” videos out there, you have every reason to be overwhelmed. It goes without saying that you want to make attractive, appetizing and healthy food for your kids. You’re a positive parent! But the world is bombarding you with beautiful images of perfect-looking food and instead of that feeling like a useful blueprint it leaves you not knowing where to start. Because there will always be somebody who won’t eat something. Don’t panic. Put your apron on—wait, who are we kidding, you already stained your shirt at least once today anyway—and get practical. All you need is a little bit of confidence and some solid ideas for riffing on basics. And here they are:
Unhateable Roasted Vegetables:
Do they have to have those perfect grill marks? No! Does it matter which ones your second child hates and might smear all over the walls? Yes! So, if that means no broccoli, then that’s what it means. Do what you need to do, not exactly what the recipe says or what’s on what’s-her-name’s instagram. It’ll be ok, we promise.
Mix about 6 cups assorted winter/root vegetables (potatoes, sweet potatoes, Brussels
sprouts, parsnips, beets, carrots) in a bowl, and toss with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and
sea salt. Optionally, add sliced onions and garlic, and/or season with fresh rosemary.
Roast in 350-degree oven for 45-60 minutes (depending on how small the pieces are).
Dal for Your Darlings:
The flavor is mild, and the vegetable choices vary, yet you’re making something they don’t have every day. All hail! Now, you do you. And them.
Saute 2 cups yellow or orange lentils, 1 potato, 2 carrots, onions, garlic, and ginger with
olive oil and salt and curry powder in a large pot until onions are soft. Fill the pot about
halfway up with boiling water. Cook 1 hour. Add any other vegetables later, such as broccoli
or zucchini squash.
Can You Cous Cous?:
Um, that was rhetorical. Of course you can. Cous cous is absurdly easy to make and you can put in anything you want. You can’t ruin it.
Just pour hot broth over the cous cous and cover for 15 minutes
(add nuts, fruit, chopped veggies, a protein—do it how you do it). Fluff with a fork.
The Crepe Escape:
Sweet, savory, breakfast, lunch dinner. What’s more flexible and riffable than crepes? Nothing. Nada. Rien.
Whisk together 1 egg, 1 cup of almond milk and ½ cup of flour.
Pour about ½ of this into a crepe pan on low heat, and cook until very solid and easy to flip.
Flip and cook on the other side, adding whatever you wish to the top at that time.
Savory choices: Cheese, tomato, spinach, cooked potatoes, cooked egg, cooked vegetables, ham or turkey deli slices. Sweet ways: Banana and Nutella, strawberries and whipped cream.
These are just options, people!
Be the Master of Your Quiche:
Eighties jokes about who eats quiche aside, this is one make-your-own-mark food item if ever there was one.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lay a pie crust in the bottom of a pie pan. Layer grated
cheese (gruyere or parmesan or what you have) in the bottom. Next, put sautéed vegetables
of your choice with salt, celery seed, and thyme or spices you like. Good combinations are asparagus and purple onion, cauliflower and shallots, or spinach and garlic. Pour 6-8 eggs mixed up with some cream or half-and-half on top. Bake about 45 minutes. Easy to make ahead of time and in multiples.
From this basic foundation, let your creativity go wherever it takes you.
You can even deconstruct it like this: Cut 4 small corn tortillas cut into pieces—cook in canola oil until the bottom side turns brown. Pour 4 scrambled eggs on top, let cook until set, then flip.
Add chopped asparagus and cook until egg sets again. Break it up and crisp it up.
It’s deconstructed quiche. It’s a riff on Tortilla Española. It’s a veggie omelet. It’s a healthy, hearty meal.
You want to feed your family well? Learn the ways of riffing and make your family’s own culinary music.