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Cooking With Children

Why it's so important to spend time in the kitchen with your children -- and how you can get started.
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Perfect Pita Pizza

Journal as: 2 slices of bread + 2 ounces of low-fat cheese (plus any toppings you use)
OR 1 light frozen dinner
OR 1 veggie burger without added fat.

This pizza can be assembled by children of any age, though the baking needs to be done by someone aged preteen to adult.

1 large pita bread (use whole-grain if available)
1/8 cup low-fat ricotta cheese
1/8 cup bottled pizza sauce or marinara sauce
1/4 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
Favorite pizza toppings (sliced mushrooms, less-fat pepperoni or lite salami, chopped green pepper or green onions, chopped red onion, pineapple chunks, lean ham, etc.)

  • Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Place pita, rounded side down, on a baking sheet.
  • Spread ricotta cheese over the pita (leaving a crust-like edge around the pita). Spoon the pizza sauce over the cheese and add desired toppings. Sprinkle mozzarella over the top and bake 6-8 minutes (watch carefully so it doesn't burn).

Yield: 1 serving

Per serving (using whole-wheat pita and not including extra toppings): 256 calories, 16 g protein, 29.5 g carbohydrate, 8.8 g fat, 4.7 g saturated fat, 24 mg cholesterol, 4 g fiber, 492 mg sodium. Calories from fat: 30%.

Garden Stuffed Potatoes

Journal as: 1/2 cup "starchy food and legumes with fat" + 1/2 cup vegetables without added fat + 1 ounce low-fat cheese
OR 1 cup hearty stew.

This recipe can work for kids of all ages, though an older child or adult should work the microwave and an adult would need to handle the broiler. Younger kids could chop the green onions with a plastic knife, mix the potato and sour cream mixture together with a fork, and stuff the potato halves. Kids 5 and up could use the cheese grater, too.

2 large Russet baking potatoes
1 to 2 green onions (the white and part of the green), finely chopped
1/4 cup nonfat or lite sour cream
1 tablespoon whipped butter or less-fat margarine
Black pepper to taste
1/2 teaspoon parsley flakes
1/2 teaspoon Italian herb blend
1/2 cup reduced-fat, shredded sharp cheddar cheese
3 tablespoons shredded Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon minced garlic (or 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder)
1 cup cooked, chopped broccoli florets

  • Microwave or oven-bake (with adult supervision) potatoes until tender (don't forget to stab with a fork a few times before cooking). Meanwhile, in a medium-sized bowl, mix together the remaining ingredients (except broccoli) with a fork.
  • Carefully, with adult supervision, cut potatoes in half and scoop out the center, leaving about 1/2 inch of potato around the skin. Add the scooped-out potato and the broccoli pieces to the mixture in the bowl. Mix with fork, then spoon into potato halves.
  • Microwave each potato half on HIGH for about 1 minute or broil (with adult supervision) all the potato halves until lightly brown on top.

Yield: 4 side servings

Per serving: 205 calories, 10 g protein, 32 g carbohydrate, 5 g fat, 3 g saturated fat, 15 mg cholesterol, 4 g fiber, 150 mg sodium. Calories from fat: 21%.

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