I find that feeding children is a constant battle. Even though I am attempting new and exciting recipes and meals, we still struggle with truly successful meals. But I love food and especially exciting foods and I want my kids to be adventurous eaters. I don’t want them to eat butter noodles and chicken fingers their whole lives. Of course, that’s what they order every time we go out for dinner. But I find two things, one, if I starve them – they will eat. Two – my kids are separatists.
Now let me touch on the first one…by starving them, I mean, limiting their snacks. Molly is hardwired for two things, TV and food. It’s a lethal combination. Being the oldest, she has a harder time entertaining herself, the other two have been neglected a bit more than she and are better at playing on their own! So I will find her gravitating towards the television – even though we have a rule about how much we watch she will quickly try and exceed that limit. When I flip off the TV she heads straight for the pantry. So by the time dinner hits – she is stuffed on pretzels and other junk that she doesn’t need to be eating at 4:30.When Kaben is in charge- it’s like boot camp – you will eat breakfast and then lunch and then dinner. Nothing in between. And then they eat! I’m not quite that strict – but if I watch their snacks and help them choose healthy snacks – they are more inclined to eat more at dinner.
Secondly –my kids are separatists. They like broccoli, rice and chicken. But mix them together and they won’t touch it! I have tried over and over again to have them eat their food “mixed” up. But, with the exception of Lucy, it’s a “no thanks to that mom.”
So I recently fell back on a favorite of mine, which are kabobs. One of our favorite summer nights are veggie kabobs on the grill. Or grilled shrimp. So I decided to take a few favorites and also some new foods and try them on kabobs. Great success! The best part is that it’s really very easy and there are lots of options that you can try. The kids think it’s fun to pull off their food from the skewers (and eat them all separately!) and they feel a bit more grown-up to have skewers on their plates just like mom and dad. Just beware they don’t start using them as swords…they are sharp!
Here are a few of the kabobs we made – but you can wing it and try any combination of foods. Make any or all for your next backyard barbeque.
Hot Dog Potato Skewer for the Kids:
You will need skewers. You can buy metal ones that are reusable (beware they get hot!) or you can use wooden ones – but be sure to soak them for at least an hour. They can burn on the grill and if they aren’t soaked full can splinter a bit, too.
I tried using buns- but a few of them got charred… and I learned that my potato bites weren’t quite small enough! Next time I made them – they were gone before I could even take a picture!
3 hot dogs, cut up in bite sized pieces.
3 Yukon gold potatoes, cooked and chopped into bite size pieces
2 hot dog buns, cut into medium sized pieces
Serves three kids
- Cook potatoes. Either boil them for 20-25 minutes until easily pierced with fork or roast them at 450 for 20-30 minutes. Our kitchen gets so hot – I’d choose the stovetop. Let potatoes cool before cutting them into bite size pieces.
- Skewer hot dog, pepper, and potato until skewers are full.
- Grill until hot dogs are warmed through and potatoes have a crispy outside.
- Serve with ketchup and/ or mustard.
Andouille Sausage, Pineapple and Pepper Skewers
2 Andouille chicken sausages, precooked, cut into bite-sized pieces (any precooked spicy sausage works here)
½ cup of fresh pineapple, cut into bite sized pieces
½ cup of red pepper, bite sized pieces
Serves 2 adults
- Skewer chicken sausage, pineapple, and pepper until skewers are full.
- Grill until sausage is warmed through.
- Serve with a honey mustard dipping sauce (Trader Joe’s has a great honey mustard that can be used as a dipping sauce.) Or just eat together – it’s a nice combination of sweet and spicy and eaten together you don’t even need a sauce!
Shrimp on the Barbie…
Adapted from Marcella Hazan
1 lb. medium shrimp, shelled and deveined
3 tablespoons olive oil
¼ tsp. very finely chopped garlic
1/3 cup breadcrumbs (optional)
1 tsp. parsley (optional)
salt and fresh ground pepper
Serves a family of 5
Molly won’t eat shrimp – only shrimp poppers from the lunchroom – probably because they are so processed they taste like chicken! But I tried this recipe for her and she ate them! Adding a little breadcrumbs made it more like eating poppers for her! Double this recipe if cooking for more then a small family.
- Sprinkle shrimp with olive oil. If using breadcrumbs – mix into olive oil and shrimp mixture. Stir mixture to make sure shrimp get coated with the breadcrumbs. Add garlic, salt and pepper, and parsley, if using.
- Skewer shrimp tightly. Let sit for 30 minutes – 2 hours before grilling.
- Grill on direct heat – about 2 minutes a side. Shrimp should be opaque in color.
- Eat hot!
These speak for themselves! Fruit that is in season is great to use. I made one with pineapple (since I was using it for the sausage), strawberries and cantaloupe. I used a melon baller for the cantaloupe- it’s a great way to have the kids help. And eat some fruit along the way! Watermelon, mango, banana’s, oranges, the list goes on!
This idea came from a brainstorming session with Melissa. And what a great hit! I’ve had a hard time getting my kids to eat ravioli or tortellini but the newness of this style of eating really helped! I used three-cheese tortellini.
½ lb. tortellini
½ cup cherry tomatoes
½ cup little mozzarella balls
Serves three hungry kids
- Cook tortellini according to package until al dente – just a bit firm. Mix with olive oil and salt and pepper.
- Slightly salt mozzarella balls.
- Skewer cooked tortellini, cherry tomatoes and mozzarella balls.