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how to cook healthier

Chef Cat Cora’s Top 4 Tips To Help Your Kids Love Fruits and Veggies

Written on March 2, 2012 at 9:54 am , by

Cat Cora's dishes often spotlight seasonal veggies. (Photo courtesy of Diane Bondareff/AP Images for Hidden Valley Lunch Break for Schools)

The First Lady’s Let’s Move campaign strikes a chord with mom of four Cat Cora. In fact, Iron Chef Cora was at the White House in the spring of 2010 when Mrs. Obama kicked off the Chefs Move to Schools program. The goal: Improve the quality of food served during lunches at public schools and teach students to enjoy eating fruits and vegetables. This week, Cora is spreading the word about the Love Your Veggies Lunch Break for Schools, which raises money to help fund Chefs Move to Schools.

We spoke with the restaurateur, cookbook author and soon-to-be co-host of Bravo’s Around the World in 80 Plates (with Curtis Stone) about how to help your whole family to enjoy produce.

  • Ask for input. Offer options, such as broccoli or edamame as a dinner side, before you start cooking. Once the young ones come to a consensus, cook it up and prepare to watch it disappear! “If you give your kids a choice, they’ll feel empowered and will be more willing to try a new food,” Cora says.
  • Dip it good. “I always serve my kids crudites as an appetizer,” Cora says. Carrot and celery sticks, snap peas and sliced peppers taste great solo or with a dip like light Hidden Valley Ranch, Cora recommends. Or you can toss roasted or steamed veggies with lemon juice, sea salt and olive oil for some Mediterranean flair.
  • Don’t take special requests. Cora believes that raising kids who eat what the adults in the family eat will make them more adventurous eaters. “That’s how I grew up and I think that’s really what made my palate grow,” she says. “Don’t assume your kids won’t like something just because it isn’t a typical ‘kid’ food.”
  • Think outside the box. When asked what fruit or vegetable she’d most like to see as the secret ingredient unveiled at her next Iron Chef battle, Cora quickly responded, “the all-American vegetable: broccoli! I want to make it fun and cool.” While Cora thinks she might whip up candied broccoli or broccoli ice cream, you can add to the novelty of a meal and inspire your kids to eat more greens by preparing them in different ways (grilling, mixing into soups or chopping and tossing into salads).

Now that we covered the vegetables, we asked Cat to share one of her favorite family-friendly fruit recipes. Who’s ready for dessert?

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Skip the Salt: Healthy Alternatives to Please Your Taste Buds

Written on August 22, 2011 at 3:56 pm , by

Stick to just a pinch of salt and reap the health benefits. (Photo courtesy of Peter Ardito)

I love to cook, and thanks to my Italian mother I often use measurements like “five healthy shakes” instead of exact amounts. So when making dinner for a friend that’s on a low sodium diet this weekend, (my “five healthy shakes” would probably max out her sodium intake for the next year) I came to a realization — salt is everywhere, especially in my kitchen!

It’s no secret that a majority of Americans crave all things salty. In fact, this ABC News article reports that companies like Campbell’s are adding more salt to their Harvest Select soups after consumers complained they were too bland. With health experts telling us to avoid excess salt, and companies adding more into processed foods, what’s a girl to do?

I tested out some salt substitutes to see if I could live without my beloved salt shaker. Below, some of the things I tried and how my taste buds fared.

  • Lemon juice: I used this on almost everything I would normally salt, like pasta, chicken, and veggies. Not only did I find a new condiment I’m obsessed with, I didn’t miss my usual salty taste one bit.
  • Vinegar: A quick lesson learned, a little bit of this goes a long, long way. Add to potato salads, regular leafy salads, and raw veggies.
  • Spices: Another tasty substitute, I swapped out garlic salt for rosemary and oregano when making homemade tomato sauce. Not only did the sauce taste basically the same, I finally put my spice rack to good use!

Now tell us: What do you use to substitute salt when you cook?