The Dr. Seuss Method of Getting Kids to Eat

Last year I wrote about being the character Sam of Dr. Seuss’s Green Eggs and Ham.  I was just  reading the book, in celebration of Dr. Seuss’s birthday, to my youngest son the other night.  Then last night had a moment where I felt like I was again Sam-I-Am.  My youngest is now seven years old and until a couple of weeks ago, broccoli was one of his favorite foods– not just one of his favorite vegetables, but of all foods.  Until two weeks ago that is; now he’s decided he no longer likes broccoli.  No, he hates broccoli.  My logo is of him eating broccoli with a huge smile on his face.  If he hates broccoli, I think, I’m done for.  But I remember what my mother said she learnt from Dr. Spock (not the Klingon Dr. Spock, but the baby book author that was popular in the 60’s & 70’s).  She said kids will go on “jags” eating nothing but one food until they suddenly no longer want that food.   I’m hoping this broccoli dislike is temporary. 

Anyway, my youngest is already my pickiest eater by far.  Well, when I made dinner last night, I took the vegetables I was going to use for a stir-fry and instead made a pasta dish.  It had garlic, shallots, green onions, broccoli, purple cabbage, shredded carrots, shredded cauliflower, zucchini, sugar snap peas and chick peas with a little olive oil and stock.  Number Two cried a bit at first then added ketchup (a trick a friend told him about and I said he could try), took a couple chickpeas out and ate most of it.  My eldest ate all of it and declared it delicious. My youngest son refused to taste it.  Wouldn’t eat a bite.  I just said he wouldn’t get anything else until he ate it… or at least tried it.

Fast forward an hour or so.  Youngest son is in the bath, probably with dessert on his mind.  I brought the pasta dish in to him and said, “Just try it, try it and you may see.”  He did without fuss and then requested I heat it up.  Of course I obliged and then proceeded to feed him in the bath (yes, I fed him like when he was a baby) with no train, fox, mouse or car in sight.  He even said he liked the broccoli “with the pasta” though he didn’t eat every piece and he asked to not have to eat the chickpeas (he loves hummus but not whole chickpeas).  The other thing he tried which previously he said he disliked was zucchini. I  explained that he might actually like it if he gave it a chance.  Immediately he said he didn’t but as he chewed and then swallowed his face softened and he said he did actually like it! 

He liked it!

He liked it!

I was so happy he ate so much of his dinner that he’d originally refused to touch with a thirty-nine-and-a-half-foot-pole.   It seems like I had the Sam-I-Am touch again.  

Don’t give up; sometimes you just have to catch them at the right moment — like when they are hungry enough to not fight you on it and they will actually try something new or healthy.

Snowed In!

This past week my kids have had a 6 days in a row without school (only 2 were actually snow days) and they’d just returned from the winter holiday break and had a snow day the week before.  In the morning I will find out if it will be 7 days in a row.  Luckily the inability to get to school has also turned our town into winter wonderland and without having to travel, the kids have had a blast sledding, making snow forts and just playing in the more than 2 feet of snow.   If they stay inside too long they drive me and themselves crazy.  Snow is such a great draw to play outside; it’s much more fun than rain! 

When the first big snowfall of the year was falling I made a simple, quick yet delicious and nutritious meal using leftover roast chicken.  We had chicken quesadillas, broccoli and cauliflower, brown and red rice, black beans and peas.  Since the rice was left over from a previous meal it took only 10 minutes to cook/assemble the whole dinner. 

I used pre-shredded cheese (Cheddar, pepper Jack and Muenster), chicken and chopped cilantro in the tortilla.  My husband showed me how the Mexican cooks he works with cook their quesadillas by putting the filling inside one half then folding the tortilla over it.  I think it’s easier to flip.  Once they’ve browned nicely and the cheese is melted you can cut into pieces and serve.  I didn’t have any avocados for guacamole (and wasn’t going out in the snow) but did have some jarred salsa.  I only had to heat the peas and beans (added oregano, 1/4 tsp chili powder, some chopped cilantro and garlic powder) and reheat the other veggies and rice. 

The kids loved it and it was so little effort.

Funny thing about peas…My middle son said he had to “turn the plate around for the peas express” so it was easier to scoop up.  My youngest said when he saw the plate, “I don’t want any. I don’t like them!”  I just reminded him that peas are in snow peas and sugar snaps, which he loves, so he tried some. Minutes later when he’d finished all the peas on his plate, “Can I have some more?” 

Forgot to buy cream… now what am I making?

Sometimes my dinners aren’t what was originally planned.  The other night I was going to make the chicken and mushrooms in cream sauce that my kids all love, but while I was browning the chicken I remembered I’d used the last of the cream to make scones the day before. So, mid cooking I needed to change course.  I had brown rice in my rice cooker.  I had the mushrooms all cut.  I’d pulled out a zucchini… so what direction should I go?  I went Asian style stir-fry.  I added sesame oil, fish sauce and soy sauce to the chicken once browned and set that aside.  I cut up a small broccoli crown, remaining half a head of cabbage, and the kid’s carrot sticks left over from their snacks.  My husband came home from work and helped by chopping garlic, grating fresh ginger and thawing/shelling edamame (soybeans).  Boy, at the speed of light he can mince that garlic into tiny pieces— I couldn’t even imagine doing.  I threw in some frozen red, yellow and green peppers.  And voila, a delicious meal that was not what we planned, but was so healthy and delicious. 


You can do this with whatever vegetables you have on hand that seem to go together.  I purchased the Cascadian Farms organic frozen peppers and edamame because they are handy and also great in stir-fries.  Not every vegetable freezes well, but some are fine and they actually retain their nutritional value plus you won’t worry about unwanted additives (the linings from cans or pesticides) this way.

Chicken, Mushroom, Vegetable Stir Fry

5-6 boneless chicken thighs (or 2 breasts), cut into 2 inch pieces

3 Tbsp tamari soy sauce

1 Tbsp fish sauce

2 tsp sesame oil

1 quart shiitake mushrooms, sliced

1/2 quart white mushrooms, sliced

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 tsp fresh ginger grated

1-2 carrots, chopped

1 small broccoli crown, cut into small pieces

1 organic zucchini, cut in half lengthwise then sliced

1/4-1/2 small cabbage head, chopped

handful organic edamame, shelled

handful organic peppers (multicolored), sliced

canola, sunflower or peanut oil

Brown chicken in 2 tsp oil over med-high heat.  Add soy, fish sauce and sesame oil.  Set aside. Add another 2 tsp oil and sauté mushrooms.  Add garlic and ginger, stirring well for two minutes then add broccoli and carrots.  Keep stirring for another two minutes then add zucchini, peppers, cabbage, edamame, chicken in soy mixture.  Stir occasionally until vegetables are tender.  Check seasoning and add more soy or sesame as needed.

Serve over brown rice or rice noodles.


My kids all loved this and ate their entire meal without fuss.  Ok, well, my middle son saw it and said he wasn’t going to eat it and didn’t want it before my eldest and younger sons told him that it was delicious.  It was.  I was the lucky one who ate the leftovers (it was enough to feed all five of us with one remaining bowl for next day’s lunch).  My middle son was the first one of the kids to finish. 

It didn’t matter that it wasn’t what I planned. It was healthy, tasty, easy and the kids ate it.

Another quick, last minute meal

I have way too many tomatoes right now so I keep using them in recipes.  One  confession to make: sometimes I end up throwing them into the compost.  It’s not my preferred method of using them, but I just have too many for me to get to.  So, today after putting in some time at the farm where we get our CSA I learnt that you can freeze tomatoes to use in sauce (ok, I just have never done it, nor thought that it would be that great) but I decided to go the other route— canning.  I have bought some mason jars and other supplies. I remember making jam as a kid and preserving it, so if I could do it then, I’ll try it now. 

In the meantime (I just bought the stuff today, give me a day or two), I made some salsa on one day and pizza with the tomatoes as base another. I also used some cherry tomatoes in a killer I-have-no-idea-what-I’m-making-for-dinner-now-because-I spent-too-much-time-chatting-on-the-playground-oh-yea-I-can-make-THIS-pasta.  (I was going to make chicken gumbo, but that keeps getting pushed back due to time). I used to throw together these great chicken and pasta dishes that are like my version of stir-fry…whatever vegetables I have in stock that actually go together will go into the dish with chicken, garlic, basil and tomatoes.  I try to make it with mushrooms, because they’re perfect here, but I had none.

I used a bit of kale, corn, broccoli, onions, zucchini, orange bell pepper, and carrots.  Fussili pasta is perfect, but ziti or farfale will go nicely too.   It takes 10 minutes to prepare and 10 minutes to cook (using chicken breast)— if you don’t have to interrupt for looking over kids’ homework or refereeing a squabble.

Chicken and Vegetable Pasta with Garlic and Tomatoes

  • Approx 1 pound chicken breast (or thighs), deboned, skinned and cut into 1-2 inch pieces (thighs take longer to cook)
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 med onion or 2 shallots
  • 10-15 cherry tomatoes, quartered or 2 large tomatoes, diced
  • handful of fresh basil, chopped
  • Tbsp fresh chopped parsley
  • cup chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1/4-1/3 cup white wine
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • choice of fresh vegetables, chopped  (spinach, beans, broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, peppers, carrots, corn, kale, chard, snow or snap peas, asparagus and/or mushrooms) 

Put pasta on to cook according to instructions. While that’s cooking: sauté onions then garlic in pan.  Add chicken and lightly brown on all sides, careful not to burn garlic.  Add wine and stock.  Cook for few minutes and add vegetables that take longest first (kale, carrots, peppers) then others (mushrooms, zucchini, broccoli, corn).  While stirring, cook another couple of minutes then add herbs and tomatoes, salt and pepper.  Mix gently and cook for 2 minutes until tomatoes are warm but not disintegrated.  Toss pasta so well coated with sauce and veggies.  Serve.

This is always a winner with my kids.  Not everyone will like every vegetable each time, but it hardly ever elicits a protest because there’s pasta.  It’s great to get rid of left over vegetables and perfect for lunch the following day. And, it uses up some of those tomatoes. 

The tomatoes give it a fresh sweetness that goes so nicely with garlic, basil and pasta.  You can also substitute shrimp for the chicken.

Rush, rush, rush… now cook.

It can be a real challenge to actually find the time to write this blog let alone cook a good meal and take photos while I’m cooking— I’m already multitasking with keeping kids occupied and/or mediating fights (and working my “real” paying job).   So sometimes, I skip writing/posting to my site because I just can’t do it all. The other day I had someone over while I was cooking, I was busy talking and cooking so I couldn’t manage to actually take my camera out and shoot photos of the food before and during the cooking process.   I’d have overcooked the veggies (actually I did slightly overcook the zucchini) and burnt the salmon (luckily not) if I tried that much multitasking.  But she left just as dinner was ready, and it looked so delicious (it was) I had to snap some photos of the end result. 

If I haven’t mentioned before, salmon is my go-to main course.  My kids love it, I love it and it only takes a few minutes to cook in a pan or on a grill.  And if it’s seasoned with salt and pepper before it’s cooked there’s no need for sauce— so, easy. 

Our dinner that was made in 40 minutes from start to finish including getting our charcoal grill started and hot enough.  It would have taken only 20 minutes had I pan roasted the salmon (started on stove, finished in oven).  I made mixed grains that take just 10 minutes to cook, broccoli and zucchini that each take 3-5 minutes plus the prep time.  Oh, right and I made a coleslaw.    

Everything was enjoyed… although it wasn’t eaten neatly or with them sitting at all moments.  It’s more important to me that they eat well— getting them to eat with proper manners and without getting up is still a work in progress. 


Simple Coleslaw

Cut 1/2-1/3 cabbage into 4 inch long thin strips and put in bowl with  2 shredded carrots.  In separate bowl mix 4 heaping Tbsp of mayonnaise, 1 1/2 Tbsp cider vinegar, 1 tsp sugar, 3/4 tsp celery salt, pepper to taste.  Pour over cabbage/carrots and toss.  Chill if possible or just serve!  Shredded apple or minced red bell peppers are nice in there too.

Cooking Together: The Whole Fish

There are times when cooking is easier for me—the nights my husband is doing it. I am lucky how often he cooks considering he does this for a living and is at work most nights, especially weekends. I will often defer the cooking to him when he’s home. But, I really enjoy cooking with him, because I often learn something and because we enjoy being together and we work well together. There’s a reason or two I married him.

Today we shopped for dinner at Stew Leonard’s and I picked out the Bronzino (Bronzini) as our main. Bronzino is a Mediterranean sea bass and the ones we purchased were sustainably farm-raised in Greece. If you haven’t noticed, I love fish and because I do and cook it often, my kids do as well. I am careful what I buy and try to pick something sustainable that’s also in my budget. Fish is expensive. It was on sale today and looked fresh. Stew’s is one of our favorite places to buy fish, because the turnover is so great, the fish is very fresh. My husband told me to look at the eyes, if they’re clear and not cloudy, it’s fresher. Ok, yes, the eyes. This fish is whole, head and all. Daunting? Maybe, but not necessarily. Off-putting? That’s up to you. Continue reading

Grilled Chicken with Indian/Asian Spices

I was browsing through Jamie Oliver’s recipes when I came across a marinated and grilled chicken dish.  I took the idea but adapted it… I do that sometimes, depending on what I have in the house, what I like, and/or what I think might work.  Sometimes it works, other times it doesn’t.  This time was a big winner.  Love when it happens.  Especially when all three kids and I like it!

Mix together into paste:

  • 1 tsp garam massala
  • 1 tsp  paprika
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp coriander seed (first toast in pan then grind with mortar/pestle)
  • 1/4 tsp allspice
  • 1/4 tsp ginger
  • 1/2 ground garlic
  • juice of one lime
  • 2 Tbsp pureed tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup olive oil

Coat boneless, skinless chicken thighs on both sides and let sit in refrigerator for one or more hours.  Grill until done about 5-8 minutes each side depending on thickness, should read about 140F before you take off and let sit 5-10 minutes before serving as it will keep cooking.  (For safety reasons chicken should be cooked to 165F) 

I served it with brown rice (cheated— Trader Joe’s 3 minutes in microwave, baby!), steamed kale and broccoli from our CSA.

Kids really loved it and I found a new dish that I can also cut into small pieces and serve as appetizers at parties.  Woo-hoo!



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Tailgating tonight… turned left overs into a delicious salad.  I used pan roasted King Salmon, Brown Rice, Broccoli, Edamame, Capers, Kalamata and Nicoise Olives, chopped CSA mixed greens (lettuces, arugula, tatsoi, mustard greens), parsley, mint, sea salt, pepper and a champagne … Continue reading


Tonight I came down to the kitchen, having fallen asleep reading to my sons hours before, to the dishes and pans piled up from tonight’s dinner.  Ugh.  Last thing I felt like doing was dishes.  The dishwasher was full of clean things I put on this afternoon and the pots and pans still needed to be washed.  The funny thing about my love of cooking is that I am anything but a domestic goddess; I hate cleaning the house and doing laundry.  I am constantly battling piles of papers that I need to weed through.  But that never stops me from cooking, especially for others.  I remember at university I’d rather cook a spectacular Indian/Japanese meal for my 7 flat mates (it was really 5 but we had one live-in girlfriend and an exchange student staying with us for several months), than go to my lectures.  Messed up priorities.

I mean, I love in the summer that we often grill, just so that clean up is easier.  Or in the winter a crock pot meal is perfect for the ease of cleaning and also that the prep time is not during the kids’ witching hour.  Marinating a food for grilling later can also cut your stress when you’ve planned that day’s dinner beforehand.  Even if we are pressed for time, I usually  make sure my kids have healthy meals.  I will take short cuts but won’t skimp on vegetables.

Today, I was reading a Parent & Child magazine my son brought home from school and saw a recipe for chicken satay.  I love satay, and though I haven’t made it before, thought my kids would love it too.  I had time this morning so I made the recipe. But I thought about the satay that was made in a restaurant I worked at during senior year of high school and thought they made it without the peanut butter in the marinade, so I adapted it in another marinade as well. 


Annabel Karmel’s Satay Marinade:

  • 1 Tbsp grated ginger
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 Tbsp lime juice
  • 1 Tbsp soy sauce (I use tamari)
  • 1 Tbsp honey (try to buy local)
  • 1Tspn peanut butter (I use Trader Joe’s Organic salted- just peanuts and salt)

My version had above without the peanut butter and I added a Tbsp of OJ. I pretty sure the restaurant I worked at used pineapple juice but I didn’t have any.  

Annabel Karmel’s Peanut sauce

  • 1/3 cup chunky peanut butter (I only had smooth, but it was ok)
  • 1/3 cup coconut milk
  • 1/3 cup water  
  • 1 Tbsp sweet chili sauce
  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp lime juice

I cut the chicken breasts into strips and marinated them in two different containers in the

fridge for 8-9 hours.

So, this evening, after I started the grill, I made my vegetables and grains.  I used the Trader Joe’s Harvest Grains.  It’s a mixture of Israeli Couscous, orzo, baby garbanzo beans and red quinoa. It takes 10 minutes to cook, very easy.  My eldest loves it so much, we always make enough for leftovers so he can take it to school for a snack. 

We had baby spinach from our CSA and broccoli.   Those are probably our go-to vegetables.  All three of my kids love them and I can store it more than a couple of days if need be.  If you’ve read my other posts, I did my usual preparation— steam, shock, reheat with little butter, sea salt and pepper.  Tonight I added a little garlic powder to the spinach. 

My kids loved the satay but didn’t care too much for the peanut sauce because they supposedly don’t like coconut at the moment.  News to me.   But they cleaned their plates of all their vegetables and most of the grains. 

Now, I have dishes to do.  I washed up the pots and pans, rinsed the food off the plates and cutlery, and will unload/reload in the morning.  Now it’s time for bed.  Priorities.

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