I know I’m not alone. Kids can usually count their favorite dishes on fingers one, two, three, four and five (I know, five is a thumb, not technically a finger) with moms and dads coercing, conniving and conning their kids into eating a healthier version of their faves.
When Smudge was a toddler she looooved butternut squash, zucchini and even broccoli—or little trees as she called them. Cut to pre-school. Boom. It all went downhill. Any veggie put in front of her was taboo. Persona non grata. Hit the road jack and don’t come round here no more.
So when she came home from school and said she “just loves salads” I almost fell to the floor in shock. Who had stolen my child and how did this health cyborg take over her body?
The answer? Once again: school. Apparently, her 2nd grade friends have developed a far more sophisticated palette and the salad bar is a big hit with her tres-hip-gotta-be-like-them-friends. (I’m now packing salads IN HER LUNCH!)
So to satisfy her veggie craving for dinner, but not rocking the boat by proposing she dig into a big plate of brussels sprouts or spinach, we snuck in a layer of veggie goodness that even Magnum P.I. couldn’t sleuth out. We went straight to who knows best—my mother-in-law—and the secret ingredients in her taco meat recipe.
What’s her now-not-so-secret ingredients? V-8 juice and yellow corn meal. A serving of veggies in every glass—I hope there’s truth in advertising. But I do avoid V-8 Splash which is sweetened with high fructose corn syrup.
Veggie adorned Nacho Taco Salads, a dish she loves assembling for herself, and being kids at heart, we love it too. Plus it is a DARN CLOSE facsimile of yo quiero Taco Bell.
What’s that Smudge? You want salsa with that too? He he he. Tthank you, we have crossed another food bridge.
- 1 lb ground beef
- ½ white onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1½ cup V-8 Original vegetable juice
- 2 tsp cumin
- 2 tsp chili powder
- 1 garlic salt
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp pepper
- ½ cup yellow corn meal
- 1 can black or refried beans
- 16 oz. package of tortilla chips, I prefer white corn chips
- Condiments: shredded cheese, sliced lettuce, tomatoes, black olives, jalepenos, peppers, avocado, onion, cilantro, Mexican crema, lime wedges
- In a fry pan over medium-high heat, brown ground beef and onion together until beef is browned and onion is translucent. Add spices and simmer together for another 10 minutes. Add vegetable juice and cornmeal to beef mixture and simmer for 15 minutes or until juice has cooked down and the mixture has thickened, stirring occasionally. While meat is simmering, heat beans on low in a small saucepan. To serve, layer beans, nacho meat, cheese, lettuce and other condiments over tortilla chips as desired.
And now, presenting…more ways to hoodwink your kids with a nudge to the healthier side of the table.
photo > Family Fresh Cooking
Hot dogs, skewers and corn chips? What kind of childhood dream is this? Marla has cooked up another kiddie goodie with Family Fresh Cooking‘s Grilled Hot Dog Skewers with Creamy Avocado Dip. Stick with turkey, kosher or organic beef varieties of hot dogs for the healthiest versions.
photo > One Dish Dinners
The kids are craving pizza and there’s no time to mix up a batch of dough or make a run for the store, so One Dish Dinners‘ Pizza Penne Bake keeps mom somewhat stable of mind thanks to less Erin’s one-pot-penne-and-pepperoni-pizza dish. Ahh mama mia!
photo > Un Déjeuner de Soleil
The chorus of “thank you’s” serenade Edda for a much more interesting take on the frozen-mass-produced-nuggets that kids love as mothers speculate what exactly is that mystery meat. Un Déjuner de Soleil‘s Chicken Nuggets with Tandori Mustard still has the crunch kids love (thank you corn flakes) with a sauce parents won’t mind giving a dip themselves.
photo > Eat Live Travel Write
Far from the boxed version of “yellow death”, Eat Live Travel’s Write‘s Macaroni and Cheese with Cauliflower sneaks in whole wheat pasta, low fat sour cream and a dose of veggies so sublimely and secretly added that they’ll never know what they aren’t missing.
The countdown is on! Maria is receiving some great holiday cookie submissions from our foodie blogger friends and can’t wait to showcase them in our upcoming Winter Issue, and we’d love to see yours. Submit your holiday cookie by September 1 and share your sweetness with the world.