I am not sure if this exempts me from the short order cook that I can typically be with a 2 ½-year-old with toddler taste buds and a 6-year-old with shall we say, “budding taste buds”. However, this particular stir fry that I was making for “the family” required 3 pans and I was able to stick to just that and still feed and satisfy everyone’s tastes.
Most toddlers, just like mine, want their meals to have solid colors, to have very little variety and to be cut up into bite size pieces. They have to know exactly what is in their meal and must protest many times before caving, trying it and liking it (most of the time).
This night was no different, except we ate the same meal but three different ways.
In the morning, I had my small group nutrition class over (4 kick a$$ mom’s) for a prepping/cooking class. Our goal was to prep a detox veggie stir fry for our families to eat that night. We also made a quinoa salad to enjoy for lunch or as another side for a meal later in the week. The experience was so fun! We had mom’s of all comfort levels in the kitchen. One mom’s jaw dropped when I told her that she had to have 3 pans going at one time. Another mom, who was super organized in the kitchen, asked where was my compost (it’s coming!). Then our chief founding Smarty Mom, Jen, was so jazzed to have the time to prep a healthy meal that she could put on the table in less then 20 minutes that evening (especially since she had an afternoon of whizzing around to activities).
Here is the recipe for the Veggie Stir Fry (we used detoxifying veggies) made three ways.
Rice Noodle Stir Fry with Bok Choy, Dandelion Greens and Mustard Greens
2 heads bok choy
1 bunch dandelion greens
1 bunch mustard greens
1 bunch swiss chard
1 container sliced mushrooms
2 organic chicken breasts
1 package rice noodles
2 tbsp fresh ginger
5-6 chopped fresh basil leaves
2-4 tbsp tamari sauce
Cut the chicken into bite size pieces and marinate it in the morning or a couple of hours ahead of time (I used a Hawaiian soy sauce from Earthfare – do read labels on marinades to make sure it is not loaded with sugar, corn syrup or artificial colors). Rinse and roughly chop the dandelion, swiss chard and mustard greens. Pull apart the leaves of bok choy. Bring a pot of water to boil for the noodles. Saute the chicken 5-7 minutes or until cooked all the way through. Heat olive oil in pan and cook the mushrooms and ginger for 5-8 minutes. Add greens until wilted and add tamari sauce. Cook the rice noodles according to package. Add the noodles, bok choy, basil and chicken to the pan of veggies. Combine it all and serve hot. Add additional tamari if needed.
I added broccoli to the pot of bowling water and cooked it with the noodles. I served my 2 ½ year old, the stir fry chicken and broccoli with a few strawberries. For my 6 year old, I made a chicken and broccoli stir fry. I left some cut up chicken (after I added it to my veggie pan) in the chicken pan, added some broccoli, noodles and tamari sauce. Then in the large saute pan, I added the remaining noodles to my stir fry veggies and chicken.
My 6 yr old hesitated at the site of something new but, after trying it, responded that it was the best chicken that I had ever made and that we could have this meal every night for dinner!
I am also happy to report that all the kids that were served this stir fry for dinner (7 total) ate ALL the veggies in the stir fry, loved it and cleaned their plates! Thanks to one clever mom, she knew her kids loved spinach so they were all under the impression that is was simply noodles, chicken and spinach. Also, Jen’s oldest daughter, Ansley’s, response was that she is now interested in learning how to cook so she can help her mom in the kitchen – wahoo!
I am still smiling about the fact that 7 kids ate bok choy, swiss chard and dandelion greens with a smile because 3 mom’s were willing to try something new. I have experienced first hand that, the more you eat what you want them to eat and the more you expose your kids to new foods, it really has an impact and they will begin trying new things. I will keep trying and I hope that the days of being a short order cook will be behind me and that taste buds will blossom. Until then, it is worth the little extra effort and creativity to see a variety of real food go into these amazing, growing bodies.