Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Tuesday's Tip

As a Christian parent, I am aware that educating our children according to our faith is not always easy.  Time is a scarcity for many families.  If you have children of varying ages, it can be hard to find ways to communicate on everyone's level.  And, sometimes, parents aren't even sure where to start.

Over the summer, I came upon the book of Proverbs in my daily reading and, as I made my way through the book, couldn't help but notice how much of the book was easily applicable to children.  The plan that resulted was simple.  I made note of all the verses that I felt could easily be explained and applied to a child and then copied each verse on a 3x5 card.  A hole punch in each corner and a binder ring and I now have a  set of Proverbs for my kids.

I use these in the morning as we wait for the bus.  We drive to the bus stop and often wait for a few minutes.  I read one proverb each morning and let each child comment - then we discuss what it means and how we can apply it to our day.

Consider a "stack of Proverbs" for the new year.  Even if you don't think of yourself as "religious" or very spiritually motivated, consider taking your child through the book of Proverbs.  It is a great introduction to the Bible, and the wisdom found in it is universal.  You just might learn something, too.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Tuesday's Tip

I guess this tip is more of a recipe... but it falls in the "tip" category if you have kids that you are forever trying to feed without using the same old tired food options.

Personally, I refuse to indulge picky eaters.  I married one, and 12 years later, he has learned to not only eat but to enjoy foods that he always said he'd never touch.  And, occasionally, he thanks me for broadening his culinary horizons - and he also agrees that our children's whims regarding taste and texture only sets them up for bigger issues in the future.  So, our kids are learning to eat just about anything.  Yes, they each have their preferences, which we keep in mind (ie, Chloe doesn't like nuts in her food - so we won't make her eat desserts with nuts, but we also don't make extra desserts.  With that in mind, she has discovered that, if she really wants to eat something, the nuts don't bother her that much.  Hmm...)

For all of those reasons, I'm not a big fan of "kid friendly foods" in place of "real food."  I don't make a separate meal for the kids at dinner.  But, when I find a recipe that incorporates a kid-favorite, it makes a nice compromise.

Mac N Cheese Lasagna is one such compromise.

I like this recipe because it's simple.  It uses boxed macaroni and cheese (not my personal favorite, but the kids always think they're getting a treat).  It feels like a real meal.

recipe... for a 9x9 or 8x8 casserole / baker
1 pkg macaroni and cheese (Kraft or otherwise...), prepared according to directions
1 1/2 cu. spaghetti sauce
1/2 lb cooked ground beef
1 cu. shredded mozzarella cheese
2 tbsp. parmesan cheese

Quite simply, you prepare the mac n cheese, brown the beef and mix with the sauce, layer the two ingredients two times (starting w/ a bit of sauce on the bottom of the pan), then top with the cheeses.  Bake at 350 for 20 minutes or until heated through.

For an even more grown-up version, add peppers and onions to your sauce and try using more meat (or sausage!).

Try it... they'll like it :)