When I became a mom I made the ambitious decision that I was going to raise my kids eating only healthy and nutritious food. They would relish in eating their veggies. For a while things were going as planned, Minda truly believed that roasted carrot sticks were french fries, burgers were made from black beans, and chocolate treats were usually some combination of dates, nuts and cacao. Minda liked her veggies so much that when she was introduced to asparagus one night at dinner, she gobbled up her first few pieces I had cut for her, and cried when I told her it was all gone! I almost cried of joy. I felt like I deserved an award!
Then the plan started to unravel. Slowly at first. A few pieces of candy after Halloween trick or treating. An ice cream cone as a special treat at an amusement park. Then we moved home and they started hanging with their older cousin (read coolest person on the planet). I can tell you the number of foods she likes on one hand. It is what I call the SAD kid diet (Standard American Diet). I am sure you know it. Macaroni and cheese, grilled cheese sandwiches, cheese pizza, chicken fingers, french fries, and a heaping dose of sugary treats to top it off. Once they got a load of this, veggies weren’t so cool anymore. As for chocolate candy? Total addicts!
I guess I could say no and demand that they only eat chips made out of Kale, but that would cause a lot of screaming and foot stamping on their part, and lord knows I like to keep my stress levels as low as possible, so I often relent to their demands I have come up with a few new rules for making sure they eat at least semi-nutritious. First, never take your four year old to the grocery store. This only ends up in a basket full of cheddar bunnies, chocolate bunnies and assorted candies from the bulk food section. Instead, go alone and only pick up what you want them to eat. They love fruit when it is their only option! Second, make meals at home that have their desired fill of carbs and cheese, but with whole grains and a few veggies sneaked in. This way everyone gets what they want. The girls like the food they are eating, and I am getting peace at home.
This is one of those meals that strikes the balance between naughty and nice. Who can resist a creamy cheesy bowl of curly noodles? This one just happens to be laden with cherry tomatoes, spinach and shrimp. The pasta is whole wheat too giving it a healthy dose of fiber. Sure to please even the pickiest of kids (as long as they are not allergic to wheat and dairy, which if that is the case, my sincere apologies!).
Lets get this party started shall we? You will need:
- 12 ounces whole wheat rotini
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter
- 1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
- 3 cloves garlic
- 2 cups half and half
- a couple of sprigs of fresh rosemary, finely chopped
- 1 pound of small shrimp (the ones that have about 60 to a pound)
- 3 cups baby spinach leaves, coarsely chopped
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- Salt & Pepper
First off get the water going for the pasta and cook it until al-dente, everything else comes together pretty fast, and you don’t want to be waiting on the rotini to cook, capisce? In the meantime, melt your butter over medium heat in a large skillet. Add in the tomatoes and garlic and cook stirring occasionally for about five minutes until the tomatoes are mushy and it smells like heaven. Slowly pour in the half and half and throw the rosemary in. Give it a big stir and let it simmer for 10 minutes, stirring often, until it thickens up. Next, put the spinach and shrimp in the pan and let it simmer 5 more minutes until the shrimp is pink. Add in the Parmesean and some S&P and you are set. Pour the sauce over the noodles, hopefullty they are ready by now. Toss it all together, and serve.
Oh yes! Clean your plate and maybe you can have dessert!