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Mushroom Pasta with Red Pepper Flakes
Mushroom Pasta with Red Pepper Flakes

Our featured contributor this week is Rachel Matthews, the brains and drawl behind A Southern Fairytale, and the editor of Blissfully Delish, a site devoted to family-friendly meals. Rachel’s been a regular read of mine for a while now but I only started noticing recently that she didn’t hold back on foods I’d seen some moms take off the menu, fearing resistance. That included Shiitake Mushrooms, which her kids love (see below:-). With that in mind, I asked her to share some tips of getting her kids to eat AND enjoy nature’s hidden treasures.

“But mom, it’s slimy”

“Mom, it looks funny”

“Mom, it’s squishy”

“Mom, it’s not green”

“Mom, it’s green”

Every parent knows those phrases well. The words that with their mere utterance can cause the hair on the back of your neck to raise and your back to arch with tension.

You spend hours trying to figure out the perfect color combinations, the perfect textures, that meal that will finally get your child to eat the fruits, the veggies, the meat and the bread. Only to have them turn up their nose because of the color, texture, shape, size or phase of the moon.

I know this dilemma all too well and live it on a daily basis. I can be found frequently perusing menu plans, recipes and the contents of my fridge in order to craft a meal that will both provide them with the vitamins and nutrients they need and that they will actually eat!

The following recipe is one that is simple, delicious, nutritious and was devoured by everyone.

It is creamy, delicious, healthy, filling, chock full of things like Vitamin D, Omega 3′s and Protein, all things that are vital to the health and well being of kids and adults alike.

Dried Porcini Mushrooms Pasta with Red Pepper Flakes

1 Tablespoon olive oil3 boneless skinless chicken breasts1 can (10 ? oz) Cream of Mushroom Soup? cup 1% milk? cup heavy cream? teaspoonfresh ground black pepper3 cup Barilla Pasta Plus Rotini1 cup fresh sliced mushrooms? cup Fresh Grated Parmesan Cheese + more for topping2 Tablespoon (divided) Garlic PowderDash of red pepper flakes for the adults

    Cook Chicken breasts in olive oil, lightly dust with 1 Tbsp Garlic Powder. Set aside.Cook Barilla Pasta Plus (yay Omega 3′s) according to packageWhen al dente, drain and put back in large pasta pot.Add in soup, milk, cream pepper, mushrooms, garlic powder and parmesan cheeseCook and stir until well blended and lovely and meltyServe topped or tossed with sliced chicken breasts

**optional toppings: spinach, red pepper flakes, broccoli florets

This dish is creamy, simple, full of flavor and appeals to everyone. It can be made more adult by the addition of red pepper flakes and broccoli and spinach. My kids actually devour spinach by the handfuls so I can toss it in at will (it’s a Popeye thing) and combined with the mushrooms, I know they’re absorbing a lot of what they need and they’re eating it greedily.

There are so many ways to entice your kids to eat things that they normally turn their nose up at, I am not a fan of ‘hiding’ foods or disguising them in order to get your kids to eat them. I don’t think they learn to expand their horizons that way.

Here are a few tips that I use to get my own kids to be more adventurous:

Thinly slice mushrooms and add them into your kids grilled cheese sandwichMy kids love green eggs and ham, so we add thinly sliced mushrooms into to thoseHaving my kids help me in the kitchen with food preparation, choosing foods and picking the menu has helped tremendously in getting my kids to be more adventurous with foodsReading books with your kids where the characters eat lots of different things, especially fruits and veggies

Making food fun:

? Make wraps out of granny smith apple slices, ham and cheese.

? Let your kids create their own pizzas with english muffins, pizza sauce and fresh healthy toppings: sliced mushrooms, thinly sliced bell peppers and mozzarella cheese. Challenge them to see who can make the most colorful pizza

? Take your kids to the store and talk about what benefits each food has (ie) Mushrooms are chock full of Vitamin D which is good for their growing bones and strengthening their immune systems and tomatoes provide our bodies with vitamin C which our bodies need in order to rebuild and repair!!!

? Challenge your kids to eat a rainbow every day.