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26 Easy to make veggie macaroni and cheese made with carrots

Homemade Veggie Mac and Cheese

Do your kids love macaroni and cheese but can’t get enough veggies in their diet? If so, this Homemade Veggie Mac and Cheese recipe is for you.

Easy to make veggie macaroni and cheese made with carrots
I want to share with you how I began adding an extra serving of veggies to my veggie-averse son’s macaroni and cheese. At first, I read about adding the pureed carrots directly into boxed macaroni and cheese. But what about those of us who don’t want to use boxed mixes?

Related: Top 5 Lunchboxes We’ve Tested

Eventually, I settled for the ricotta and sharp cheddar combination because it resembled the creaminess texture my son loves.

I love ricotta cheese because it packs on the calcium and protein he needs to grow (he’s not a big milk drinker either). After much experimenting, I began creating larger batches to freeze ahead. I love knowing I can just go to the freezer and pull out a serving to make an entire dinner!

I will tell you that this doesn’t taste like traditional macaroni and cheese. Sharp cheddar cheese is essential to creating the sauce because it intensifies the cheesy flavor and tones down the sweetness from the carrots.  Medium cheddar won’t cut it and you’ll have a very sweet tasting sauce.

For more creative ways to feed kids veggies, check out our meal plans.

For a homemade traditional version of stovetop macaroni and cheese, check out this recipe.

Better Than Boxed: MOMables Veggie Macaroni & Cheese

  • Author: MOMables
  • Yield: 1
  • Cuisine: Dinner

Ingredients

  • 1 cup steamed carrots or,
  • 1/2 cup carrot puree
  • 1/3 cup ricotta cheese
  • 2 ounces sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 cup cooked pasta

Instructions

  1. Peel and wash the carrots. Cut into pieces. Steam until tender in the microwave or stovetop.
  2. In a blender/food processor, add steamed carrots, ricotta cheese, sharp Cheddar cheese, and milk.
  3. Pour cheesy veggie sauce over 1 cup cooked pasta.

Busy Mom’s Guide: How to Sneak Nutrition into Your Kid’s Meals

Greta, our resident mom, writes about making small, healthier changes for her family that give big results. This week, she gives us some easy tips on how to sneak nutrition into your kid’s meals without sacrificing taste or wasting food.
 
As a busy mom of four young children and the daughter of busy parents of four kids, I’ve grown up and learned to live on homestyle foods that are delicious but not necessarily the healthiest choices. We have always depended on comfort foods such as meatloaf, scalloped potatoes, lasagna, and cheeseburger macaroni. I’ve never put a lot of emphasis on filling our plates with different colors (green broccoli, yellow squash, orange carrots, red tomatoes…you get the idea).

But last summer, I made a major lifestyle change for myself to try to lose the baby weight, and so far, I’ve lost a little more than 30 pounds.

I feel so much better now, physically and mentally. But the thing that I don’t enjoy about eating healthier is making separate meals for myself because the rest of my family doesn’t like what I’m eating. My kids are 6 years old and younger, and they’re pretty typical: picky and very selective on the fruits and vegetables they are willing to eat. They prefer cheeseburgers to steak, fish sticks to grilled tilapia, and unfortunately, they would eat cheese pizza every day if I gave it to them.

In order to ensure that I’m not cooking two separate dinners every night (one for me and one for them), I’ve had to get creative with the way I cook. These are a few of my tips for making meals that are healthier and still kid-friendly:

  • Substitute leaner meats. Use ground turkey instead of beef in meatloaf, meatballs, tacos. If you’re not crazy about the taste, add a little bit of ground sausage or beef to the turkey when you cook it, and season the dish as you normally would. Use pork ribs in place of beef. Marinate and roast boneless, skinless chicken breasts, and build a meal around them. (I love to cook mine in a slow cooker with barbecue sauce.)
  • Any sauce is an opportunity to hide “good for you” items: Add pureed vegetables to spaghetti sauce, on pizza, even in macaroni and cheese! If you want a more-convenient option, throw a couple of jars of baby food into spaghetti sauce, and nobody can tell the difference.
  • Find lower-fat and higher-fiber alternatives: This is easy for most dairy items: milk, yogurt, and cheeses.  Other alternatives are whole-wheat pasta, brown rice, whole-wheat and multigrain breads.
  • Less meat, more beans: When you’re cooking soups/chilis/stews, load them up with extra beans, diced tomatoes, pureed pumpkin, even leftover mashed potatoes. You’ll need less meat and will have added nutrients.
  • Continue to experiment with new foods: It’s true that it takes more than one try for kids to get used to a new item. Try to add one new item with a couple of familiar things on their plate.

I am proof that it’s possible to make small changes to the way your family eats that lead to big results, without disrupting your eating habits or sacrificing convenience. Once I started using the MOMables lunch plans during the day and got on a healthier, less-processed routine for my children (we adults eat them too, just bigger portions), I knew I had to be consistent with the rest of our meals and not give up! Your family’s health is worth the extra effort.

What are some of the tricks you use to incorporate healthier items in your picky eaters’ meals?

 

Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookies Recipe

Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies

This gluten free chocolate chip cookie recipe is one your kids will love! Served with milk or in the lunchbox as a treat... it's a winner!

Need an easy gluten-free chocolate chip cookie your kids will love? This is it!

Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookies RecipeOur whole-wheat chewy chocolate chip cookies were an instant Internet and Pinterest hit, thank you! Many of you have e-mailed and asked for a gluten-free version of the chewy cookie.

We tested more than a dozen recipes, and I’m happy to share the winner.

Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies

Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookies Recipe

Recipe: Land O’Lakes

  • Author: MOMables
  • Cuisine: Baking

Ingredients

  • 2 1/4 cups gluten-free flour blend*
  • 1 teaspoon gluten-free baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons gluten-free vanilla
  • 1 12-ounce package (2 cups) gluten-free semisweet chocolate chunks or chips

Instructions

  1. Heat the oven to 375°F. Combine the flour blend, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. Set aside.
  2. Combine the butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar in a large bowl. Beat at medium speed, scraping the bowl often, until creamy. Add the eggs and vanilla. Continue beating, scraping the bowl often, until well mixed.
  3. Reduce the speed to low. Beat, gradually adding the flour mixture, until well mixed. Stir in the chocolate chips.
  4. Drop the dough by rounded tablespoonfuls, 2 inches apart, onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake for 9 to 12 minutes or until light golden brown. (DO NOT OVERBAKE.) Let them stand for 1 to 2 minutes, then remove them from the cookie sheets.

Notes

* Gluten-Free Flour Blend: To make this flour blend, combine 2 cups rice flour, 2/3 cup potato starch, 1/3 cup tapioca flour, and 1 teaspoon xanthan gum. Use the appropriate amount for your recipe, and store the remainder in a container with a tight-fitting lid. Stir before using.

 

Meatball Madness: A Healthy Recipe Everyone Will Enjoy

Do you know how to make homemade meatballs?

Let’s face it. Meatballs have kid appeal. We sing songs about them. We see them in movies and on TV. We have pictures of them in storybooks and coloring books. In fact, they are easily identifiable to most of the world. They span the globe from North America to Europe, the Mediterranean to Asia, and they are universal and extremely versatile. Even my pickiest eater  (who has never allowed one to cross his lips) can pick one out of a picture lineup. But how on earth do you make a good one?

Thanks to one of my dearest friends, I learned a simple way to make the lightest, most tender meatballs on the planet. The secret is in the cooking method. Put away your skillets, and no baking pan required. You won’t even need to turn them! Instead of baking or frying the meatballs, we drop them into a pot of simmering broth. 

The best part? When they are cooked through, they float to the surface of the liquid! Simply scoop them out with a slotted spoon and cool. This recipe makes approximately 50 meatballs, but it all depends on the size you like them. The kids love them in miniature, but my husband and I prefer them a little bit bigger.

Meatball Madness! Easy and Delicious

For this recipe, you will require 6 to 8 cups of beef stock (your own or premade) or a 50/50 mix of beef stock and ground tomatoes for cooking. Bring the stock to a simmer in a small stockpot or a deep sauce pan.

  • Author: MOMables
  • Cuisine: Dinner

Ingredients

  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1 pound lean ground pork
  • 2 eggs
  • 5 ounces bread crumbs
  • Pinch of kosher salt
  • Fresh ground pepper
  • Splash of red wine
  • Additional seasoning as you prefer

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients. Gently squeeze them together until well mixed. The texture should be moist and soft. If it is dry, add another egg. Using a leveled tablespoon or cookie scoop (my personal favorite), shape the mixture into balls.
  2. Bring the stock to a simmer.
  3. Gently place 10 to 12 meatballs in the simmering stock, not too many at a time, because you want to clearly see them float to the top when they are cooked. As they float up, scoop them out with a slotted spoon.
  4. Use immediately in your favorite recipe, or allow them to cool completely if you are freezing them. You can also skim the fat off the stock used to cook the meatballs, and freeze it in ice cube trays to use in other recipes!

 

The Meatball Madness Sub:
A family favorite at our house on movie night, this is a snap to prepare. Place precooked (thawed) meatballs in the slow cooker with your favorite spaghetti or pizza sauce. Don’t be afraid to add a cup of pureed carrots or squash to this dish—they blend right in and enhance the flavor perfectly. Cook on the lowest setting for 6 to 8 hours. Serve on lightly toasted submarine buns with your favorite cheese melted on top. Who needs fast food when home-cooked is simple and tastes this good?

About Jenn Sprung: A full-time Mom to three wonderful children, with a keen interest in boosting the nutrition in every bite. Because in my world, every bite counts! Visit Jenn’s blog Cleverly Disguised as Cake for additional sneaky resources or learn more about Pediatric Feeding Disorders and how to help your child.

 

47 Fire Roasted Tomato Creamy Crock Pot Chicken is a family favorite. Made with fire roasted tomatoes it's full flavor is a keeper!

Fire Roasted Tomato Creamy Crock Pot Chicken

This recipe is my family’s favorite. I love freezing leftovers for a quick 6 o’clock what-to-make-for-dinner fix.

Fire-roasted-tomato-crockpot-chicken-A

 

To freeze, simply allow the “sauce” to cool completely and store in a freezer bag or container. Thaw out, warm up, and serve over fresh boiled pasta.

I stumbled upon a similar recipe on Pinterest a while back, but when I didn’t have all the ingredients on hand, I substituted the fire-roasted tomatoes and took out some of the spices the recipe called for.

As you can see, a little freshly grated Parmesan cheese adds the final cheesy touch we all love. Enjoy!

Related: Top 5 Lunchboxes We’ve Tested

Fire-Roasted Tomato Creamy Slow-Cooker Chicken

Fire Roasted Tomato Creamy Crock Pot Chicken is a family favorite. Made with fire roasted tomatoes it's full flavor is a keeper!
  • Author: MOMables
  • Cuisine: Dinner

Ingredients

  • 3 large chicken breasts (about 1-1 1/2 pounds)
  • 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 14-ounce can fire-roasted tomatoes
  • 1 16-ounce bag frozen corn
  • 8 ounces cream cheese (okay to use light)
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper

Instructions

  1. Place all the ingredients in the slow cooker. Set for 4 to 6 hours on high.
  2. Stir a few times throughout the cook cycle.*
  3. After 4 hours, shred the chicken with two forks and mix well.
  4. Serve over the pasta of your choice.

Notes

* Stirring every once in a while is key; otherwise, your dairy might crust and possibly burn around the slow-cooker edges. If you need to do a “set it and leave it” for 3 to 4 hours, leave the milk and cream cheese out, and add them in the final 30 minutes. Mix well to incorporate.

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: serves 6

 

 

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