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Archive for Kid Foods

TIP OF THE DAY: Gourmet Ants On A Log

September 8th is National Ants On A Log Day. Most kids growing up in the 1950s or later ate them as a healthy snack: celery stalks stuffed with peanut butter (the log) topped with raisins (the ants).

Our mom took a creative approach, alternating the ants with purple raisins (the boy ants) and golden raisins (sultanas, the girl ants).

This kiddie favorite can easily be made more sophisticated for grown-ups, as well as more fun for kids.

Play with these substitutions. There combinations are [almost] endless. For sophistication, we like fennel or celery with goat cheese, dried cherries or cranberries and pistachio nuts (call them the visiting friends of the ants); as well as tzatziki with sliced black olive ants. For comfort food, it’s chocolate peanut butter with dried cherries and pecans.

And don’t forget flavored peanut butter*!

To customize your Ants On A Log, cut celery in 3-inch long pieces and fill with your spread of your choice and topping of choice. Suggested substitutions:


Ants On A Log With Guacamole

Ladybugs On A Stick: Photo courtesy California Avocado Commission. Here’s the recipe.

  • For peanut butter: flavored peanut butter* or other nut or seed butters, including almond butter, cashew butter or sunflower butter
  • Beyond nut butter: cottage cheese (plain or seasoned), cream cheese (plain or flavored), goat cheese, Greek yogurt (plain, seasoned or tzatziki), hummus (plain or flavored)
  • For the raisins: blueberries, chocolate-covered raisins, dried cherries or cranberries, freeze-dried vegetables, nuts, sliced black olives, sultanas
  • For the celery: bok choy, carrots (sliced with a flat top), Chinese celery, fennel

    Hats off to Food Network for these variations:

  • Ants On A Ranch: cream and ranch dressing with peas (we used crunchy freeze-dried peas or corn)
  • Beans On A Stalk: guacamole with black beans
  • Berries On A Branch: cookie butter and blueberries
  • Fish In A Stream: hummus with Goldfish
  • Ladybugs On A Log: strawberry cream cheese with dried cranberries
  • Pigs In A Pen: pimento cheese and bacon
    *Check out for Cinnamon Raisin Swirl, Dark Chocolate Dreams, Mighty Maple, Pumpkin Spice, The Bee’s Knees, The Heat Is On, White Chocolate Wonderful.



    And the award for creativity goes to…The Food Network, for these variations. From top to bottom: Ants On A Log, Berries On A Branch, Ladybugs On A Log, Beans On A Stalk, Fish In A Stream, Pigs In A Pen. Photo courtesy Food Network.



    Celery and raisins have been eaten—not necessarily together—since ancient times. Celery, raisin and nut salads arrived on our shores with German immigrants in the 19th century.

    George Washington Carver invented a form of peanut butter in the 19th century and made a soup of peanut butter and celery. But the smooth, spreadable peanut butter we know today was invented in 1890 by a St. Louis physician.

    He sought a high-protein food substitute for people with poor teeth who couldn’t chew meat. Others soon discovered how tasty peanut butter was, and, like many products, it was sold in bulk from barrels at grocery stores.

    Peanut butter was first distributed commercially by Krema Nut Company, the oldest peanut butter company still in operation today (and the PB is superb!). Here’s more on the history of peanut butter.

    Now for the celery: The American practice of stuffing celery began in the early 20th century, with anchovy paste, Roquefort, cream cheese and soon, pimento cheese, port wine cheddar and other cheese spreads. The filling was topped with spices, including curry and paprika.


    According to old cookbooks, stuffed celery was served as an appetizer or hors d’oeuvre at the beginning of a meal. People of all ages enjoyed it at dinner parties, family get-togethers and holiday meals. Stuffed celery was also served as to children as snacks.

    These appetizers and hors d’oeuvre remained popular through the 1960s. There are some old recipes that include nuts and raisins, although none quite describe the “ants on a log” we know today. Peanut butter fillings for celery surface in the early 1960s. [Source]

    We actually don’t know who invented Ants On A Log. Magazine and newspaper articles from the 1980s attribute it to the Girl Scouts, but they don’t give specific references. The recipe appears in Girl Scout cookbooks dating to 1946; however, the recipe is simply called Celery Sticks.

    We may never know who named it, but “Ants on A Log” was first used in the 1950s. Whoever you are: Thanks for putting a fun name on peanut butter-stuffed celery sticks.



    JULY 4TH: Star-Shaped Sandwich Skewers

    We loved this idea from Smucker’s, which uses its creamy Jif peanut butter and seedless strawberry jam to make these charming sandwiches.

    You don’t have to use PB&J: Any sweet or savory spread will do. You can make some very sophisticated combinations for adults.

    Prep time is 15 minutes.


    Ingredients For 1 Serving

  • 3 slices white or whole wheat bread
  • 1 tablespoon creamy peanut butter
  • 1 tablespoon seedless strawberry jam
  • Large fresh strawberries, halved
  • Seedless green grapes
  • Skewers

    You can use other spreads:

  • Chicken mousse pâté and fig jam
  • Cream cheese and raisins
  • Goat cheese and beets
  • Tapenade and julienne of carrots and celery


    July 4th lunch or snacks. Photo courtesy Smucker’s.

    Try more sophisticated breads, too, like brioche, date nut bread, Irish soda bread, olive bread or walnut bread.


    1. CUT 10 shapes from bread using 2-inch star-shaped cookie cutter.

    2. SPREAD peanut butter (or ingredient of choice) on half the stars and jam on remaining stars. Press together to make five small sandwiches.

    3. THREAD the sandwiches, strawberry halves and grapes alternately onto skewer. Serve immediately.



    FOOD FUN: Bear Toast

    Food fun doesn’t get easier than this:

  • Toast a piece of whole wheat bread.
  • Spread it with honey or peanut butter.
  • Add banana slices for the ears and mouth.
  • Add raisins for the eyes and nose.
    All of the ingredients are on the “better for you” list, so enjoy!

    P.S. It’s not just for kids! Who wouldn’t love a piece of bear toast?


    Bite this bear! Photo courtesy Dana’s Bakery | Facebook.




    EVENT: Kids’ Food Festival

    Get ready for the 2015 Kids Food Festival on February 28th and March 1st from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Held in the America Winter Village at Bryant Park (behind the New York Public Library, between Fifth and Sixth Avenue and 40th and 42nd Streets).

    Presented by The Creative Kitchen, this is a fun-filled, flavorful weekend of family activities that showcase how delicious and easy it is to make better-for-you foods.

    A celebration that educates families about making balanced food choices, it’s a great opportunity for adults to help create wholesome, lifelong eating habits for kids and adult family members alike.

    With a fantastic line up of chefs, performers, and exhibitors, free general admission includes:

  • The Main Stage, featuring music and dancing, live
    entertainment and cooking demonstrations
  • The Balanced Plate Scavenger Hunt
  • Fun activities and kitchen crafts for the whole family
  • Samplings of delicious foods
  • Giveaways and more


    Appetites of all ages will be satisfied, February 28th and March 1st.

    Tickets for hands-on cooking classes hosted by the James Beard Foundation at the Future Foodies Pavilion can be purchased separately here. The $25 per class includes admission for one child and one adult companion.
    The Kids Food Festival helps in the fight against childhood obesity. It’s a painless way to learn about the importance of achieving balance in food choices, through fun activities and sampling family-friendly foods.

    When kids are immersed in enjoyable activities, they absorb information more effectively. The Kids Food Festival embodies this philosophy of learning through fun events.

    Families will cook, dance, laugh and taste their way to making balanced food choices! Get your forks ready for a weekend full of flavorful fun!

    Discover more at



    TIP OF THE DAY: Cook As A Family

    The family that prays together stays together, according to a post-World War II prayer movement called Family Rosary Crusade.

    But the family that cooks together eats better, and trains the kids to be self-reliant in the kitchen.

    As we enter the season of nonstop holiday treats, teaching balance and good eating practices can offset bad habits. So, at least for one meal a week—more if you can manage it—gather the entire family in the kitchen.

    If kids learn to cook from a young age, it gives them confidence and skills essential for leading a healthy life—not to mention, it saves a fortune in take out and restaurant meals.

    Even if there are no kids in the house, the odds are that there’s an adult who could stand to eat better.

    Ditch the fast food and store-prepared take-out (laden with fat, salt and hidden sugar). Start with this list of tips:

  • Cook together. So many families find cooking to be a chore at the end of the day. Make it an enjoyable teaching experience, and use meal preparation time to connect with your children and partner.


    The family that cooks together eats better. Photo courtesy Le Creuset.


    • Show kids that spending time preparing fresh foods is fun. Tie into the notion of being attractive, which [alas] is pervading the consciousness of children increasingly younger ages. Explain how actors and models are very careful about their food choices, and often employ health-focused cooks, nutritionists and trainers to keep them looking good.



    It’s easy to start with a cookbook targeted to kids. Photo courtesy Better Homes & Gardens.

    • Bring kids to the grocery store and explain how you choose better ingredients and products. If they’re old enough, teach them to read the ingredients labels. They might evolve into the “ingredients checker” for the family, gaining awareness and knowledge on nutrition in the process.
    • Find ways for them to participate. At any age, they can do some prep, be it rinsing and drying produce, measuring ingredients, stirring or tearing lettuce leaves.
    • Show them how to make their favorite recipes: burgers, fruit skewers, pasta, pizza, salads, sandwiches, smoothies, etc.
    • Make soup from scratch. Kids can see how easy it is, how delicious it is, and that soup does not naturally come from a can.
    • Bake together. What better way to get kids interested in cooking than the promise of a cookie or piece of cake as the payoff!

    When they get proficient, they can invite friends over for a home cooked meal and impress them. (Our mom was throwing elaborate dinner parties at age 12. Alas, we didn’t get to that level until after college.)


    Dr. Nimali Fernando is a pediatrician who founded The Doctor Yum Project. Here’s her medical perspective:

    “Childhood obesity is just the tip of the iceberg,” she says. “Under the surface lies the other 70 percent of children, many who may be of normal body weight but suffer from diet-related illnesses. In my practice I see these illnesses like chronic constipation, gastroesophageal reflux, anxiety, and difficulties with attention and concentration. So many of these symptoms are directly related to the diet.”

    Her innovative practice, Yum Pediatrics, also houses a 1000 square foot teaching kitchen, designed to inspire the most reluctant eater. In the kitchen she teaches her patients how to cook and offers classes to the community at large through the Doctor Yum Project.

    Behind the office is a teaching garden meant to be an outdoor waiting space for her patients and a place for her cooking students to learn how food grows and to inspire a love of locally grown produce.

    Can this be turned into a trend among pediatricians nationwide? We hope so!


    If you need a nudge, check out these cookbooks, developed for kids:

    • Better Homes and Gardens New Junior Cook Book (details)
    • Betty Crocker Kids Cook! (details)
    • ChopChop: The Kids’ Guide to Cooking Real Food with Your Family (details)
    • Kids’ Fun and Healthy Cookbook (details)
    • Pretend Soup and Other Real Recipes: A Cookbook for Preschoolers and Up (details)



    FOOD FUN: Ocean Water

    We love this idea from Spoonful Of Comfort: a soft drink turned into “ocean water.”

    It’s not just for kids! Even adults like the Swedish Fish garnish; and they’ll especially appreciate it with a hit of vodka or other clear spirit.



  • 7 Up or Sprite
  • Optional spirit: gin, tequila or vodka
  • Blue food coloring
  • Swedish fish
  • Straw (preferably red or red and white stripes)

    1. FILL a glass or mason jar with soda. Add spirit to taste.

    2. Using an eye dropper, add one drop of blue food color. Stir. Add more color as desired.

    3. Drop in a Swedish Fish. Serve with a straw.



    Turn a soft drink or cocktail into “Ocean Water.” Photo courtesy Spoonful Of Comfort |


    We’d be remiss if we didn’t recommend Spoonful Of Comfort’s chicken soup. Send it to friends and family: new parents, new homeowners, under the weather, or lovers of chicken soup.



    RECIPE: Ladybugs On A Stick


    Crunchy, fun and good for you. Photo
    courtesy California Avocado Commission.


    Move over, Ants On A Log, the childhood classic made from celery-stuffed cream cheese topped with raisins.

    Ladybugs On A Stick have no cholesterol, the fat from avocado oil is super-healthy, and the tomatoes are lower in calories and more nutritious than raisins.

    You can make or buy guacamole, or combine the mashed avocado and salsa as shown below. Thanks to the California Avocado Commission for the nifty idea.


    Ingredients For 8 Sticks

  • 1 ripe avocado*, seeded, peeled and mashed
  • ¼ cup prepared salsa, or to taste
  • 8 celery stalks, washed and trimmed
  • 12 small grape tomatoes, cut in half lengthwise
    *Large avocados are recommended for this recipe. A large avocado averages about 8 ounces. If using smaller or larger size avocados, adjust the quantity accordingly.


    1. COMBINE the salsa and the mashed avocado.

    2. FILL the hollow in each celery stalk with the guacamole, taking care to keep it in the groove and not on the rims. For precision, you can use a piping bag or a plastic food storage bag with a corner cut off.

    3. NESTLE 3 grape tomato halves atop the guacamole on each celery stalk.



    EVENT: Our Favorite Family Food Event, March 1 & 2

    Got kids who could learn better eating choices?

    Head to the Kids Food Festival in Bryant Park, New York City on March 1st and 2nd, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

    Families will cook, dance, laugh, and taste their way to making balanced food choices. When kids are immersed in enjoyable activities, they absorb and retain information more effectively.

    The Kids Food Festival embodies this philosophy of learning through fun with its weekend full of family-friendly events. Kids engage all five senses through hands-on, food-related activities. The magic of the festival is rooted in the fact that kids are having so much fun participating in flavorful activities, that they don’t even realize how much they are learning!


    Enthusiastic eaters and little epicures alike can attend hands-on cooking classes at the James Beard Foundation Future Foodies Pavilion, where renowned chefs pass on their recipes, skills and love for all things culinary to a new generation of learners.

    The Balanced Plate Scavenger Hunt sends kids to exhibitors and activities to sample tasty, wholesome snacks while learning the importance of achieving balance in their food choices.



    Bring the kids, have a blast. Image courtesy Kids Food Festival.

    Families will enjoy live musical performances, a disco dance party, fitness workshops and more, with each of the activities relaying special messages about healthful eating!

    Find the complete calendar events at


    We love the Kids Food Festival, now in its fourth season. It was developed by children’s author, teacher and food expert Cricket Azima, founder of The Creative Kitchen in New York City. She created it to combat the very serious issue of childhood obesity in a fun and effective way.

    “We are able to promote and support companies that make healthful living delicious, and kids go home from the events excited about the new, better-for-you foods that they embraced,” Cricket explains. “Through the Festival, we get to reach thousands of families in one weekend, and that in itself is incredible.”

    The Kids Food Festival supports the Alliance for a Healthier Generation.


    General admission to the event is free, and includes activities and sampling. Tickets to the hands-on cooking classes in the James Beard Foundation Future Foodies Pavilion, $25, can be purchased online.

    Hope to see you there!


    Website: Kids Food Festival
    Twitter: at @KidsFoodFestFun



    FOOD FUN: Bear In A Blanket

    Who can resist this edible bear? Photo


    We love this brown rice bear in an omelet blanket. What a fun dinner idea for this quiet week, along with a colorful side salad. Have the kids help make it!

    Bear in a Blanket was created by Angie Ramirez of, who shares yummy food, easy DIY crafts, adventures of motherhood and everything in between on her blog.

    The recipe takes only 20 minutes of prep time, 50 minutes of cook time.


    Ingredients For One Bear & Blanket

  • 1 cup brown rice
  • 2 scrambled eggs (for the blanket)
  • Small, thin slices of cheese (for the ears and nose)
  • Small, thin slices of black olive (for the eyes and nose)


    1. COOK brown rice on stove top as directed on package, or about 45-50 minutes.

    2. SCRAMBLE eggs with a pinch of salt over medium/high temperature in a lightly buttered skillet pan.

    3. ASSEMBLE the bear in a blanket: Place about 1/2 cup of rice in the middle of the plate to form the bear’s body. Then scoop a medium size ball of rice to form the head. To form the bear’s ears, use a small amount of rice by shaping it like a half circle. Place the omelet on top of the bear’s body to form the blanket. Attach the olive and cheese slivers to form his ears, nose and eyes.

    Serve to happy diners!



    PRODUCT: Cheeky Monkey Peanut Butter Puffs

    A tasty, gluten-free snack—organic and
    kosher, too. Photo by Elvira Kalviste | THE


    Imagine if cheese puffs tasted like peanut butter instead of cheese, and you’ve got Cheeky Monkey Peanut Butter Puffs.

    They’re airy, peanutty, kosher, gluten free and organic.

    The ingredients are simple: organic corn, organic palm oil, organic peanut butter and salt. Produced by Hasadeh Organic, the melt-in-your-mouth snack is good for everyone from toddlers to grown-ups.

    The bags, graced with a humorous monkey juggling peanuts, make fun stocking stuffers and party favors.

    The snacks are gluten free certified by Gluten Free Certification Organization, and certified kosher (parve) by OU.

  • A 2.12-ounce bag is $2.49 on
  • A case of 12 bags is $31.55.
  • For those who like a spicy kick, there are Peanut Butter Chili Pepper Puffs.
    Learn more at




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