Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Creatively Cooling Hot Meals (Repost)

Okay, so I know I've briefly mentioned this before, but I thought it was worth mentioning again. When I was a little girl, my momma would make piping hot soups and chili. My brother and I would dive right in and scorch our tongues to pieces! Eventually we learned to put an ice cube in the soup or chili to cool it down. But then the soup or chili would get watery and not very flavorful -- or that might be because we ended up adding 3 or 4 ice cubes!

Now that I'm an adult with children of my own, I have come up with creative ways to cool off my kid's food. These are not only cooling off the food but also getting my kids to eat more fruits and vegetables. Here are some of my favorite ways:

Frozen Berries

In the summer months, we go to a local You-Pick farm to gather fresh blueberries, blackberries and strawberries. When we get home we clean them with a cloth and put them on a sheet tray in the freezer. Once they have frozen, we pour them into a freezer storage bag for later use. Frozen berries are a wonderful and healthy addition to your morning oatmeal or cream of wheat. They cool off the hot cereal and soften enough for the kids to eat them. Frozen berries are also great for babies going through the miserable "teething" phase. Of course, if your little one hasn't mastered the pincher grasp (the thumb and finger milestone) you may need to sit with them so they don't choke. Neither of my children ever choked on the frozen blueberries -- I'm guessing it's because the fruit softens in their mouths. Nonetheless, use caution with your little ones.

Frozen Vegetables

I always have frozen peas in my freezer. You can usually pick a bag of frozen peas on sale with a coupon for around $.50. If not, the store brands range in price from $.75-1.00. My husband is not a "pea-eater" and the rest of us are. So I keep them in the freezer and microwave a cup or two for our suppers. I also add frozen peas to my kid's servings of macaroni and cheese and soups. It not only cools down their meal, but they also get a healthy serving of vegetables and fiber. It can also help stretch a small cup of macaroni and cheese between two children. I was able to pick up some of the Kraft Easy Mac at Publix a few weeks ago. Normally, I'd have to make two pouches for my two children, but when I started adding the frozen peas, it increased the portions so I could stretch one pouch between the two. I've also done this with frozen broccoli, diced carrots, and lima beans.

Recently, I made a vegetable pizza and used canned tomatoes which I drained and carefully sliced. I was trying to figure what to do with the leftover sliced tomatoes since my pizza was covered and I couldn't fit another slice. Then I thought about my ice cube tray -- which oddly enough I don't use for ice cubes. So I placed one or two slices in each cube and put the tray in the freezer. Once they froze, I put them in a freezer storage bag. Now when I make chili, I can add a cube of frozen tomatoes to each of the kid's bowls. It will cool it down enough for them to eat it without watering down their food.

These are just a couple of creative food cooling ideas I came up with. I'd love to hear what you do to help cool down your kids food so they don't scorch their tongues.


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Sinead said...

Great ideas! I've always given my kids frozen peas still frozen. My 6 yr old (then 3, I think) watched the Dora episode where they gathered blueberries and wanted frozen blueberries, which we didn't have. I told her that I had green blueberries, and the trend began. :) I came clean with her at some point, and now they love frozen sweet peas--they're like little frozen yummy treats and super fast!!

Sinead said...

Oh! One more...I keep a kid plate in my freezer and when I am ready to serve hot foods to my kiddos, I pull out that plate and put the food on it. It helps get things cooled off MUCH faster!

Candi said...

What a great idea to put the plate in the freezer! I think that's a restaurant trick for the salad plate too. I'll need to remember this!


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