Healthy cooking for kids

April 24, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
Avoid the mealtime meltdown. How to sneak in some healthy greens without triggering a tantrum.

Gordon's tips for getting kids to eat fruits and veggies:

#1 Lay out a buffet of foods you'd like your kids eat & don't say a word.

On Saturday mornings Gordon lays out a nice little buffet of foods he'd like to see the boys eat, without saying a word. Oh, the hypnotic power of SpongeBob! A typical spread will include Broccolini with Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Organic Edamame with Extra Virgin Olive oil and Black Pepper, Ripe Mango (presented sliced nicely on a black plate, very visual), Crisp Turkey Bacon, and milk or yogurt drinks. hey'll absentmindedly eat the whole thing and not even realize what happened.

#2 Keep fresh organic fruits in the freezer for smoothies.

Fresh, organic fruits are always in the freezer; tossed in the blender with yogurt, bananas and said puree produces another wonderful, healthy treat that the kids can make themselves (you can also sneak in a scoop of whey protein, and they never even know!)

#3 Only offer fresh bite size vegetable and fruit treats after school.

When Gordon's boys get out of a late afternoon class, they're frequently starving. If all they're offered is fresh, scrubbed carrots, sliced apples, bagged fresh vegetables or granola bars, the parents can't lose. The boys, of course, could choose nothing; so be it! Anybody will knuckle under if they're hungry enough.

#4 Get your kids to help make soup and freeze it. They will eat it with pride.

All boys covet knives. To demonstrate the necessary level of maturity to earn a pocket knife, Gordon's boys are going through a "Knife Skills" class, the successful completion of which earns them a super- sweet Swiss Army Knife, with multi functions! The thrust of this class, is to teach them not only basic knife safety, but also how to use kitchen knives to make their own meal, and to know where good food comes from. A great recent meal was a giant pot of soup made with vegetables from the farmer's market, all of which were peeled, cut and simmered by the boys. The eldest earned his knife, the younger wants to make another batch so he can get his knife, and everybody ate the soup almost without even thinking about it.

The soup got put into meal-sized portions and frozen, and every times it's served they can all talk about how it was made themselves!

#5 Colorful fruit creations in attractive bowls and glasses are a big hit!

In high summer Gordon makes peak-of-season fruit jams and purees, and then use those as building blocks for other treats. For example, fresh, beautiful farmer's market strawberries get pureed with sugar (or vanilla sugar- left-over pods stuck in the sugar bowl are amazing!) to make a stunningly red, sweet puree that holds fairly well in the fridge. Then the beauty of a banana and yogurt parfait is made even more-so by drizzling the puree in between layers. When the boys are doing the banana slicing, yogurt spooning and puree drizzling themselves, the results are terrific. Add to that an attractive glass bowl and cool, long handled spoon and step back!

Recipe: Parfait with Bananas and Fresh Strawberry Sauce
Yields: 4 orders

Ingredients

Sauce:

  • 2 pts. Fresh, ripe strawberries
  • 1/4 Cup sugar
  • 2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 pinch salt

Parfait:

  • 4 Ripe bananas (green tipped are a personal favorite)
  • 2 cups of Vanilla yogurt (recommend Straus)

Optional:
Other fresh fruit; blueberries, blackberries, peaches, etc. sliced toasted and salted nuts

1. Wash the strawberries, remove the stem and any blemishes, and chop roughly

2. Place fruit in a small, non-reactive pot, and add the sugar, salt and lemon juice

3. Bring ingredients to a boil

4. Reduce heat to a low simmer and let cook until berries are softened, about 7-8 minutes. (Maybe less if the berries are very ripe). Let cool for a few minutes and place all ingredients from the pot into a blender, being sure not to fill more than one third full.

5. Cover the blender and puree the sauce until velvety smooth. If necessary, season with more sugar or lemon juice and cool completely.

6. Store tightly covered when contents are completely cold

7. To serve, layer sliced bananas with sauce, yogurt and optional ingredients. Let the budding young chefs do the layering to get in on the fun. The dish looks really pretty in glass bowls!

About Pizza Antica:

At Pizza Antica, we've created something a little different. We call it modern family dining. We offer the professionalism of a big city eatery with the warmth of a local neighborhood joint: perfect for your first date or your 50th -- with a couple of kids in tow.

The atmosphere is sophisticated without being pretentious; stylish but still comfortable. Slide into one of our wooden banquettes and order a fabulous glass of wine while you peruse the menu. Maybe you're in the mood for pizza. Ours is thin crust, Roman style using dough that proofs for nearly three days before we pin into pies that are both chewy and crispy. Toppings are seasonal and procured from local artisans: savory cured meats, fresh cheeses, wild mushrooms, tender, organic greens.

Our service staff is attentive without being overbearing, knowledgeable without being arrogant, qualities that may explain our growing roster of Pizza Antica regulars -- from the pint size customer looking for crayolas and cold milk, to the full grown foodie seeking a wine to pair with that tasty dish of gnocchi.

Locations in Lafayette, San Jose, Mill Valley and Granite Bay.

For more information, visit: www.pizzaantica.com

About Gordon Drysdale

Gordon Drysdale brings three decades of experience to his role as Partner and Executive Chef of Pizza Antica. Nearly everything on his menu of American-inspired Italian food is hand made down to the mozzarella cheese that tops the restaurant's signature Roman-style pizzas. Prior to joining Pizza Antica, Drysdale spent many years with Real Restaurants in San Francisco running such acclaimed eateries as Bix, the Buckeye Roadhouse and Café Museo at the Museum of Modern Art. Drysdale opened his own place, Gordon's House of Fine Eats, in 1999 where his innovative take on classic American cooking earned him Esquire Magazine's Best New Restaurant Award in 2000.


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