One Dish, Two Ways
Homemade Chicken Fingers
Sorry drive-through: This version of the kid favorite is better than yours.
The Cheeseburger Salad
Classic burger elements become a fast, fun salad for the entire family—a deconstructed take on a diner favorite. Instead of four burger patties, we cook just two, then chop and sprinkle them over the top. A handful of crushed potato chips adds crunch. Kick up the dressing with a pinch of ground red pepper.
A vegetarian’s delight, this pizza is piled-high with flavorful summer produce, two types of cheese, and fresh oregano and basil.
Spiralized Cinnamon Apples with Greek Yogurt
You already put your family's favorite vegetables into a spiralizer, but the result with apples? A perfectly twirlable treat. Top with Greek yogurt and homemade granola, and you have a sweet little snack for less than 150 calories per serving.
Mini BBQ Meat Loaves
Divvying up this classic comfort food into muffin tins halves the cooking time and results in fun-sized portions.
S'mores Ice-Cream Sandwiches
If you don't have an ice-cream maker, soften 1 pint low-fat vanilla frozen yogurt, and place in a food processor; add 5 ounces toasted marshmallows, puree, and freeze until firm. For chocolate lovers, use chocolate graham crackers.
Grilled Chicken and Vegetable Quesadillas
A rich mixture of Monterey Jack cheese, grilled chicken, and fresh veggies will make these quesadillas a hit with everyone in the family.
Tomato-Basil Soup with Grilled Cheese Croutons
A bit of 1/3-less-fat cream cheese adds rich body to our Tomato-Basil Soup, a fast weeknight meal that boasts three times the protein compared to common store-bought varieties.
Chip-Crusted Fish Fillets
Ditch the TV dinner fish sticks and upgrade your family meal to this twist on a classic. The tang in the salt and vinegar chips mellows as the fish bakes in the oven, creating a crunchy spin on fish and chips. Look to hook-and-line-caught Atlantic or Pacific cod for the most sustainable choice.
Frozen Yogurt Blueberry Bites
Frozen blueberries are absolutely delicious, and when dipped in creamy Greek yogurt and frozen again, they make for a delightful snack or slightly sweet dessert.
Smoky Two-Bean Vegetarian Chili
Chili is always a crowd-pleaser that can be loaded with your family's favorite nutritional ingredients. A wee bit of canned chipotle chiles goes a long way in infusing this hearty chili with rich, smoky flavor and a hint of heat.
Berry-Bacon Waffle Minis
The only way to make breakfast more fun for kids is to have it for dinner. This concoction of berries, bacon, and waffles will have everyone at the table asking for more.
Moroccan Pita Sandwiches
Grilled Teriyaki Shrimp Kebabs
Top-rated by readers, these simple kebabs are sure to please kids. (Who doesn't love a meal-on-a-stick?) If you don't want to fire up the grill, sauté the shrimp and veggies in a pan, or try a grill pan.
For Kids: Sweeten the marinade by adding orange juice. Boost the veggie quotient by adding bell peppers, broccoli, or onions to your skewers. Serve it to kids on a bed of brown rice for a wholesome meal.
For Adults: Include scallops on the skewers. To add depth and flavor to the marinade, add grated ginger and minced garlic, Dijon mustard, and red pepper sauce to the marinade. Serve it on top of brown rice or lemon orzo.
Lemony Green Beans
This wonderfully adaptable recipe will become a go-to side dish that works alongside fish, chicken, poultry, and many other main dishes.
For Kids: Skip the lemon juice and sweeten the dish with a touch of honey or maple syrup. Serve on top of steamed white or brown rice along with a piece of grilled chicken for a complete meal.
For Adults: Try a spicy variation to the dish: add crushed red pepper, cumin, and slivered unsweetened coconut to the hot oil. Sauté for a minute or two, then add the lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Serve garnished with a mixture of mint and cilantro leaves. Complete the meal with brown rice and grilled chicken.
Crab cakes are equal parts yummy and elegant. The key to making sure that these fragile crab cakes don’t fall apart during the cooking process is to refrigerate the uncooked patties for a few hours before pan-frying them.
For Kids: This dish is very mild, and kids will enjoy these cakes burger-style, tucked in between buns with a touch of mayonnaise and ketchup.
For Adults: Serve the crab cakes over a bed of seasonal greens and top them with a red pepper mayonnaise: Diced red pepper, a touch of garlic, cayenne pepper, and mayonnaise mixed well.
Strawberry Agua Fresca
This refreshing frozen drink is best with summer-sweet berries, but can be made year-round with other readily available fruit.
For Kids: Use berries of their choice. For a fun presentation, let them help you freeze individual berries with some water in ice-cube trays to create whimsical ice-cubes that add playfulness to this drink. Sweeten with honey instead of sugar, if you prefer.
For Adults: Make this drink a frozen cocktail with the addition of silver tequila and a touch of Triple Sec.
Lemon-Grilled Chicken Breasts
Keep chicken breasts on hand, and you'll always have options. Creative pairings mean endless dinner possibilities. No-grill option: Brown the chicken in a pan as opposed to firing up the grill. Or, try a grill pan.
For Kids: Serve the chicken diced on some baby spinach greens along with your kids' favorite dressing, or serve it atop couscous made with chicken broth and raisins. Nutrient-boosting option: Top with homemade fruit salsa.
For Adults: Serve with caramelized onions, spicy tomato salsa, and homemade guacamole. Or serve it on the kid-friendly couscous above, adding diced olives, cashews, and lemon zest. Warm salad option: Diced, atop baby spinach greens sautéed with mushrooms, garlic, and cayenne.
Simple Baked Eggs
The charm of this recipe lies in its simplicity and versatility. Because the preparation is so mild, this baked egg dish is perfectly suited for young tastes.
For Kids: For a fun presentation, trace a smiley face on the finished eggs using ketchup.
For Adults: Top the finished eggs with a touch of caviar, scallions, and a small dollop of unsweetened whipped cream or crème fraîche.
This is a very versatile side dish that makes a wonderful accompaniment to grilled chicken or lamb kebabs and sizzling curries.
For Kids: If strong spices are a deal-breaker, you can leave all but the cumin. You can also sweeten the yogurt and then try this dish with grapes instead of the cucumber and onions or small, diced pineapple.
For Adults: Substitute jewel-like pomegranate seeds for the cucumbers and onions, and use honey to sweeten the yogurt a little, to balance out the spices. It is a perfect side to accompany our lightened Lemon-Ginger Fried Chicken.
Broiled Peaches with Hazelnuts and Vanilla Ice-Cream
This dish adds a nutritious sweet topping―fresh peaches―to the all-around favorite vanilla ice cream. A sprinkle of nuts contributes heart-healthy fats.
For Kids: Replace the hazelnuts with their choice of nuts and allow them to add their own final garnish – chocolate sprinkles, diced bananas, whipped cream and of course a cherry on top.
For Adults: For a touch of indulgence, top this dish with a Kahlua-flavored whipped cream: Beat ½ cup chilled heavy cream with 1 ½ tablespoons Kahlua, for a heaping tablespoon of whipped topping per serving.
Mini Frittatas with Ham and Cheese
Sloppy Joes are not easy to eat–that's half the fun for kids of all ages. Adults who like spicy food can add hot sauce at the table.
Whole-Wheat Pasta with Edamame, Arugula, and Herbs
Make healthy eating a game. Can you eat all the colors of the rainbow in one meal? This dish almost gets you there with the array of fresh ingredients. Add your picky-eater’s favorite veggies to the mix.
Chipotle Chicken Tortilla Soup
Clocking in at barely 10 minutes to make, this soup proves no night is too busy for home cooking. Add all your kids' favorite vegetables and top with slices of avocado.
Bow Ties with Tomatoes, Feta, and Balsamic Dressing
You're reading the recipe correctly: There are green grapes in this dish. Their juicy, crisp, and bright sweetness complements the tomatoes and provides a nice contrast to feta's creamy tang. Besides the pan-grilled asparagus shown, any green vegetable sautéed or grilled with a little garlic, salt, and pepper makes a good side―try spinach, broccoli, or even kale.
Thai Beef Rolls
Get Asian flavor on the go with these no-cook, make-ahead, easily portable wrap sandwiches. Deli roast beef is dressed up with a sesame-and-lime dressing in a three-minute sandwich that will make you and your child the envy of your lunchrooms. Make a batch and stick them in the fridge for a great grab-and-go supper on busy nights or a picnic lunch on warm afternoons.
Mac & Cheese
Macaroni and cheese is a kid's favorite at home and when dining out, but the options, whether from a menu or the box, don’t always score nutritional points. Our version has all the creamy goodness you expect without powder packets and loads of sodium, fat, and calories. Prepare with whole-wheat macaroni to up the fiber and serve with a side of veggies for a complete meal.
Tomato and Mozzarella Risotto
To put this kid-friendly recipe to the test, we contacted Matisse Reid, our 11-year-old resident Kid-in-the-Kitchen. She and her friend Alex were both impressed, saying it tastes a bit like lasagna. Matisse says, "Be sure you test the rice to make sure it’s cooked—you may need a little more vegetable broth if it’s not."