Fresh Mama's Easy Guacamole and Getting Your Kids to Help in the Kitchen!

Here you have it! My kid's favorite healthy recipe to "cook" in the kitchen -- easy guacamole. When I asked for feedback on my facebook page, many of you were looking for ways to get the kids to help in the kitchen. My boys help me A LOT in the kitchen, especially my 7 year old -- Evan loves to eat and realizes one of the best ways to get food in his belly is to make it himself. He's a pro at getting himself snacks and both boys (age 6 and 7) often get themselves cereal with milk, snacks, and can make themselves peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. I love it when one of them sees me busy in the kitchen and asks "can I help?" The answer is almost always "yes" and I look forward to a day when they can cook me a whole meal themselves!

Our kitchen rules:
  •  We wash our hands well with soap and water before doing anything in the kitchen.
  •  Kids cannot even touch a knife unless a parent is helping and supervising. If your child is interested in using a knife, start them off with a butter knife and practice on something soft like pancakes around age 5 or 6. My 7 year old is allowed to cut apples (after I have cut it in half) with a real knife and it is a work in progress. Safety first!
  •  Kids have to help with clean-up to the best of their ability.

Kitchen tasks for kids:
  • measuring wet and dry ingredients (good for practicing math skills!)
  • whisking, stirring, mixing by hand or with the stand-mixer (supervised)
  • scooping, spreading, pouring (i.e. batters, or spreading pizza sauce for homemade pizza)
  • topping dishes with cheese, breadcrumbs
  • have kids choose what they want to make (look through recipe books, magazines and Pinterest with them) -- make sure to choose recipes that are appropriate to your skill level -- that 5 layer  tie-dye rainbow cake might look awesome, but you don't want to pick something you would never attempt on your own!
  • carrying dirty bowls, dishes, spoons, etc. to the sink, wiping down counters, sweeping floor, putting away silverware
  • let them do a taste test! My 7 year old already knows when a dish needs a tad more salt, sugar, herbs, or if it is over seasoned -- definitely a food critic in the making.

If your kids are new to helping in the kitchen, I suggest the guacamole as a first recipe because it involves kid's favorite thing in the world -- instant. gratification. Takes about 5 minutes start to finish, no cooking time and of course it involves chips -- something most kids won't say "no" to! As you can see, these photos were taken on more than one day... we make guacamole pretty frequently around here! Please use my recipe as a guideline and change it up any way that suites your family's tastes. P.S. don't tell them its healthy! Just tell them it is brain-food;)

Meal Plan Week of 2/23-3/1

Hi Everyone!!! I know its been a while since my last post -- my family had a busy February vacation and we are easing back into our routine. We spent the majority of our vacation week in Disney (first trip ever for my kids and myself)! Then the past couple days Colin and I have been sick from some lovely germs we picked up in our travels. UGH.

So unfortunately, the blog has taken a bit of a backseat recently -- but I thought I would start off with my meal plan for this upcoming week. I have not meal planned in over two weeks and I cannot wait to get back in the kitchen!

FMCC: Make-Ahead Meals and Artisan Bread

Sadly, its been a long time since I've written an FMCC post. This means it was a long time between cooking clubs and I missed it! Although I was doing lots of cooking on my own, it is such an amazing experience cooking together with the club. A cooking day means hard work, getting messy and of course, lots of laughter!
I was so glad we were finally able to get together for some make-ahead meals and artisan bread. I had asked the FMCC ladies what they wanted most at a cooking club and many were interested in make-ahead meals and crockpot meals. So this week we went with that theme and I also showed the awesome Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day! Dawn first introduced me to this method back in the fall, it took a while for me to finally make it and I haven't looked back! If you love fresh bread, there isn't an easier method out there, so even if you have never baked a yeast bread before, this is the perfect beginner recipe.
This week's cooking club came with some homework. We were using lots of beans in our meals, so we prepped our beans ahead of time using the crockpot method. I love this tutorial: How to Cook Dried Beans in a Crockpot from Kalyn's Kitchen


The Best Oven "Fries"

If you have been following me for a while, you know I love my CSA. It is so exciting to receive our box full of organic veggies, fruits, and eggs! My favorite thing about the "you get what you get and don't get upset" style of CSA --- sometimes you get things you would never see at the grocery store or wouldn't think to buy, even if you did. Now, I have always been an adventurous eater, but would you believe I have never really liked potatoes and rarely buy them at the store. Sure, I ate them on holidays or if someone else was cooking, but they were not a staple in my cooking. Well, my CSA has changed that. Organic, local potatoes are a whole new experience -- full of flavor and a moist, buttery texture! I LOVE them and have enjoyed trying many new recipes including this one. These oven "fries" are fantastic. My boys inhale them and have declared them their favorite French fries,.

Homemade Taco Seasoning

One of the easiest things you can do to save money and cut out processed food, is make your own seasonings. I make taco seasoning all the time! It is so easy and flavorful, not just a mouthful of salt and spice like most packaged taco seasonings. Go ahead, read the back of a package, it probably has MSG or a variety of other additives. Plus, when you make your own, you can control what spices you add and in what amount. Please use this recipe as a guide and adjust to your liking. 

Zesty Bean Soup

One thing my kids have always loved are beans... in fact beans were one of the first finger foods I gave them as babies. They enjoy many kinds of bean soups, but I wanted to come up with a meatless soup that didn't have to cook all day. I have to say, this version is so delicious! Tasty, but not too spicy, you can add siracha to increase the heat to your liking, but the basic recipe is kid-friendly. It comes together quickly, so it makes an easy week-night meal. The tomatillo sauce is essential for the unique and zesty flavor, so make sure to stock up!

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