Do you ever find yourself spending too much money on healthy food for your children, only for them to immediately turn up their nose at the idea of a vegetable? If so, you’re not alone. Fruits and vegetables play an important role in the proper development and growth of younger children. According to the National Library of Medicine, only 12.2% of girls and 9.4% of boys consume the recommended 5 servings of vegetables per day! With those numbers, it is more important than ever to educated parents on the importance of a healthy diet for their children, and easy, affordable ways to get your kids to enjoy eating them!
Heart of Salisbury generously donated their space for our Fourth Annual Special Needs Fashion Show, including their teaching kitchen. Chef Eileen Delpiano, Executive Chef, Heart of Salisbury, took the time to walk us through two of her favorite healthy, easy meals for families to make at home. Chef Eileen has over 20 years of culinary experience, in fine dining and high-volume sports and entertainment events, experience as an adjunct professor at Culinard Culinary School, and writing and teaching healthy recipes for Kids Felt Health (501c). Chef Eileen appreciates the benefits that comes with a healthy diet and loves sharing the benefits with others.
Cooking with your children is also a great way to spend time together as a family. Having your children measure out the ingredients also helps them learn and apply everything they may know about measurements and different conversions in a practical setting outside of the classroom. While topping your pizza with desired ingredients, sectioning off portions of each piece of dough can be a quick fraction lesson as well. The great thing about the pizza dough recipe provided below is that it can create 6 individual smaller doughs for personal pizzas. This allows everyone to get involved and really make their pizza their own! Homemade pizzas are truly the best way to involve everyone in the family in creating a delicious, healthy meal.
One of the recipes shown in the cooking segment with Chef Eileen is her homemade ranch dressing. Making your own ranch at home ensure that you know exactly what you are putting into your children’s bodies. This is especially important if your children have any dietary restrictions or limitations. Ranch is the perfect topping to any salad, and also makes it more appealing to children! With this yummy ranch on top of all of their vegetables, they’ll forget that they are even eating healthy foods! Another fun tip that will help create a positive association with a healthy salad is to let your children customize their own. Set out a variety of traditional salad toppings, (i.e. tomatoes, croutons, cheese), and let them fill their salad with things that they enjoy! This will get them involved in the process and also give a sense of accomplishment that they were able to help create their own meal.
One of the great things about the recipes Chef Eileen shows in the cooking segment is that you most likely have the majority of the ingredients needed for both recipes already in your kitchen! Depending on what you like to top your salads and pizza with, picking up fresh produce from your local farmers market is always a great option as well! Check out the recipes for her Ranch Dressing and Pizza Dough below and get cooking!
Homemade Ranch Dressing
Yield: 1.5 cups
½ c mayo
½ c sour cream
½ c buttermilk or regular milk
1 tsp dried dill
½ tsp dried parsley
½ tsp dried chives
¼ tsp onion powder
½ tsp garlic powder
¼ tsp salt
Fresh squeezed lemon juice to taste approximately 1-3 tsps. (Can sub white vinegar)
Whisk together the mayo, sour cream and milk until smooth. Add the spices and whisk until combined.
Add Lemon juice and whisk again. Pour into a jar and chill in the refrigerator until ready to serve. This dressing will keep nicely in the refrigerator for up to a week.
Homemade Pizza Dough
Yield: 6 servings of 6 oz doughs
4 ½ c unbleached flour (can use bread flour also)
1 ¾ tsp salt
1 pkg yeast
¼ c olive oil
1 ¾ c water (can sub beer for flavor OR part water and beer to make up the total amount)
Cornmeal for dusting the pan.
Place all ingredients in mixing bowl with dough hook (can also be mixed by hand with a wooden spoon). Mix until all the dough comes together. Knead 8-10 minutes by machine until you have a soft, supple dough. If kneading by hand, this may take 15 minutes to achieve. Divide dough into your desired serving sizes (Note: 6-6oz doughs can be made into any size).
Rest dough 1 hour in an oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap if you plan to use it immediately. If you plan to use it later, and up to 72 hours after kneading, place in the refrigerator for at least 12 hours and up to 72 hours. When you plan to use dough, remove from refrigerator and flatten it on your pan, cover with plastic and let rest on the counter for 1.5-2 hours then proceed to roll your dough into desired size and top with your favorite toppings.
Bake in well preheated oven at 500 degrees for 15-18 minutes.