(credit: Thinkstock)

(credit: Thinkstock)

Today’s modern family is, in a word, busy. In the rush of the typical day, meals more often come from a bag than from an oven. Kids learn to cook by pushing buttons on a microwave. Aside from the loss of knowledge and tradition, the lack of home-prepared meals represents a diet comprised mainly of fast food and processed meals which can lead to obesity, diabetes and heart disease. Even if you can only do it once a week, spend some quality time with your kids preparing a simple, healthy meal and teaching them about local farming, sustainable agriculture and making good food choices.

Chef Kelli Lewton
2 Unique Caterers
4303 Delemere Court
Royal Oak, MI 48073
(248) 549-5242
Chef Kelli Lewton’s food philosophy is simple: make everything from scratch and eat like your grandparents used to. She’s also a realist, however, and understands that unlike their grandparents, many families today spend their mornings rushing around to get everyone to work and school and don’t have the time for a sit-down breakfast. As a healthy compromise, prepare these breakfast cookies on an evening or weekend and send the family out the door in the morning with a nutritious way to start the day. Also, her banana spheres make for a great after-school treat.
Breakfast CookiesCream together one cup each of softened butter, peanut butter and brown sugar. Blend in two beaten eggs; set aside. Measure one and a half cups ground oats or whole wheat flour into a separate bowl. Mix in one teaspoon each baking soda and baking powder, one and a half teaspoons cinnamon and a pinch of salt. Gradually add the egg mixture into the flour mixture, taking care not to over stir. When the two mixtures are well blended, stir in one and three-quarter cups whole oats, one finely grated Granny Smith apple, one finely grated carrot, one cup raisins and one quarter cup shredded coconut. Drop tablespoons of the dough onto a parchment paper-lined cookie sheet and bake for 9-11 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit, until the edges are just brown. Remove from the oven and cool completely. Plan ahead and have the kids grate the apple and carrot before you begin mixing the cookies.

Banana Spheres

These easy and fun treats make a great after-school snack, and are a healthy alternative to chips and cookies. Mash one banana in a medium bowl and use an electric mixer to blend in one half cup peanut butter. (For kids with peanut allergies, try sunflower or almond butter.) Stir in one cup ground oatmeal and two tablespoons freshly ground flaxseeds. Chill for one hour. While the mixture is chilling, prepare garnishes. Chef Kelli suggests finely chopped nuts, shredded coconut or mini chocolate chips. Once chilled, have the kids roll the mixture into balls, about an inch in size, and then roll in the garnish to coat. Chill again until firm. These treats can be kept frozen for up to three months, and kids can eat them straight from the freezer. Recipe makes about 14 spheres.

About Chef Kelli Lewton:

A graduate of the renowned Schoolcraft College Culinary Arts program, Chef Kelli Lewton perfected her craft at upscale Detroit restaurants such as Opus One and the Beverly Hills Grill before launching her own catering business, based on the simple premise that fresh food is better. Her love of the farm-to-table concept prompted her to launch Pure Food 2 U, a meal delivery service featuring local, organic, close-to-the-vine foods.

Chef Paul Penney
Call Chef Paul
Canton, MI
(734) 516-0236
www.callchefpaul.comFor a fresh, light but satisfying lunch, try Chef Paul Penney’s savory apple salsa on a bed of crisp lettuce. If that doesn’t quite fill you up, enjoy a delicious milkshake to round out the meal.Apple Salsa SaladPrepare the dressing first by combining in a large bowl one teaspoon vegetable oil, one tablespoon apple cider vinegar, one quarter of a finely chopped jalepeno, one clove of minced garlic, a half teaspoon of ground cumin and two tablespoons of cilantro. Set the dressing near your work area. Core two medium apples, one red and one green, and dice into pieces about a quarter inch in size. Let the kids help by briefly tossing the apple pieces with the dressing as you dice. Add in one half cup diced orange segments and one half cup each finely chopped red onion and green pepper. Combine thoroughly and chill for at least two hours before serving over chopped romaine.

Healthy Milkshake

Kids love milkshakes, but the calories, fat and sugar can be a concern for parents. Lighten up the recipe and give your kids a delicious treat that’s better for them. The simple recipe is easy enough for most kids to make on their own. In a blender, combine one cup low-fat frozen yogurt, one half cup low-fat milk and one banana. Blend until smooth and serve. Experiment with different flavors and fruits – mix chocolate yogurt and chocolate milk with raspberry, vanilla yogurt and white milk with pineapple or try a triple strawberry treat. These shakes make a great dessert or after-school snack, and could even be used as a quick and easy breakfast drink.

About Chef Paul Penney:

Chef Paul Penney was born in Adelaide, South Australia. His love of food began at a young age when his father would prepare weekend breakfasts and involve his son in the process. Today, Chef Paul provides catering for any size event, teaches in-home cooking classes and offers personal chef services through his satellite business, Aussie in the Kitchen. Penney is a wellness expert for HAP and serves on the boards of Detroit Slow Foods and the Personal Chef Cooperative.

Related: Best Cupcakes In Detroit

Chef Andrew Hollyday
1128 Washington Blvd.
Detroit, MI 48226
(313) 961-2500
Michael Symon’s Roast restaurant is well known for catering to carnivores, but it’s a vegetable that is the most popular item on the menu. The fried Brussels sprouts are so popular, notes Executive Chef Andrew Hollyday, that while most items on the menu are rotated seasonally, the sprouts are a year-round feature. While kids generally avoid anything resembling Brussels sprouts, this recipe might be just the thing to get them to not only eat their vegetables, but ask for more.Fried Brussels SproutsStart with a half pound of trimmed Brussels sprouts, quartered lengthwise. In a medium pot, heat three inches of canola oil to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. As the oil heats, in a large bowl whisk together half a Serrano chili, seeded and minced, one and a half teaspoons honey, two tablespoons red wine vinegar, one tablespoon olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Place a small batch of sprouts in the hot oil, deep frying about three minutes or until the edges start to curl and brown. Remove from the oil and set on a paper towel-lined pan or plate to drain off some of the excess oil. With the last batch of sprouts, carefully add one quarter cup walnut pieces and one tablespoon capers. Keep the kids back from the stovetop at this point, since the capers will cause the oil to sizzle and pop. When the sprouts are ready, give the pot a quick stir to loosen any walnuts or capers on the bottom. Remove the contents with a skimmer and place them directly in the bowl of dressing. Add in the rest of the Brussels sprouts and toss thoroughly to coat. Serve with roasted chicken or baked pork chops.

About Executive Chef Andrew Hollyday:

A Toledo native, Executive Chef Andrew Hollyday traveled the world before landing at Tribute in Farmington Hills. He took a position as sous chef at Roast when the restaurant first opened, and after just eight months was promoted to Executive Chef. Hollyday likes to focus on fresh local food sources, working with Detroit farmers to get the best produce as soon as it’s harvested.

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Jennifer Walker is a freelance writer living in Detroit. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in animal science from Michigan State University. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.