Being a parent isn’t easy. Being a plant-strong parent to picky kids REALLY isn’t easy. Full disclosure, my kids eat mostly plant-based. We let them make choices outside of the home which many times, are not choices I would make for them, but it usually results in some kind of discussion later on as to why they feel sick or tired. My hope is that eventually, they will make the connection.
At home they are not super adventurous in trying new things, but they do take a “no thank you bite,” which means they try it and if they don’t like it, they say, “No thank you.” Often it takes many of these kinds of “bites” before they realize they DO in fact like something. I am always reminding them that their taste buds are changing daily.
So when my 10 year old (and my pickiest) started hanging around the kitchen more, I gave her the option of deciding on dinner with one requirement, she had to choose a meal from the Engine 2 Meal Planner.
When you tell a 10 year old they are allowed to go on the laptop and play around, they jump for joy. She really loved the program and the photos.
I explained how the meal planner worked, showing her the SEARCH box and explained that she could type an ingredient that she likes into the box and suggested recipes will populate.
Naturally, she searched “pasta” because she’s a huge fan of any kind of noodle. She skimmed through all the recipes until one of them stood out to her. She saved other recipes that interested her to our Menu for the future (mom is silently jumping for joy here).
In the end, she chose Engine 2’s Pasta with Creamy Marinara. This recipe is simple to make and I had all the ingredients on hand but the best part is that she could make this all by herself (minus cooking the pasta). Win win for mom!
I helped her gather what she needed and while I cooked the pasta, she made the creamy marinara sauce. This recipe is beyond easy because it uses ingredients that are not that foreign to kids. Everyone used to tell me to have my kids help in the kitchen to get them to eat “better” but that only backfired with my kids. When they saw what food looked like before it was cooked, it turned them off completely.
This recipe however used jarred tomato sauce, cannellini beans and spices like Nutritional Yeast and Italian Seasoning. Nothing too out of the ordinary.
She dumped the tomato sauce and the rinsed and drained beans into the blender and then added the nutritional yeast and seasoning. I told her to blend that up until it gets to the desired consistency she wanted. She told me she wanted smooth, “Nothing chunky mom.”
Following the directions, I poured the sauce mixture into a sauce pan to warm up. However, I think if the sauce was thinned a bit with maybe some water or more tomato sauce, you could blend it and warm it in a high speed blender like a Vitamix avoiding the use of dirtying another pot.
It was pretty thick after it was blended but it was definitely smooth and passed her taste test with a thumbs up.
Once the sauce is warm, you add it to the already cooked pasta and voila, you have dinner! The best part however, is plating your meal. I told her that she needed to make a “final product” plate like the photo in the recipe as well as dish some out for her little sister.
She was all over making the dish look pretty and presentable. She added steamed broccoli on the side and doused that with nutritional yeast. My kids eat steamed broccoli without issue and for that I am grateful. They eat it every single day if they cannot choose another green to add to their plate. They don’t complain and I don’t mind making it.
She really enjoyed the whole process and is already asking about making that other pasta dish with the cauliflower sauce that she added to our menu! Say what? Who IS this kid? Seriously, thank you Engine 2 Meal Planner!
If you also have picky kiddos at home (or even grand kids), having them go through the meal planner might be a great way to get them interested in cooking in the kitchen more. If you don’t have the meal planner, this Pasta with Creamy Marinara is pretty tasty and kid approved. You can find the recipe here.
P.S. Save $20 on the Engine 2 Meal Planner with code: PLANTSTRONG20 (valid on the annual plan – code expires 1/13)