This week it’s back to cooking with the kids. Today I am going to share a tasty, simple, and fun- to-make summertime meal: taco salad, fruit salad, and a mango burrito for dessert. My goal when cooking with the kids is to involve them as much as possible and create a fun & healthy meal. Of course, I need to try and have fun too and if you know me or have been following my blog, then you know that this can sometimes be a challenge. Kids and food can be messy, which can be a challenge for a neat freak like me! Yes, I am a neat freak, and I like recipes followed in a specific manner. That doesn’t always work with two little kids. What I have learned is that I just need to let go a little bit and let the kids have fun (I find it helpful to remember that they are not trained chefs!).

Taco Salad: Fruit Salad:
½ lb ground meat (I use turkey) 2 Hawaiian Papayas, peeled, de-seeded & chopped
¼ C chopped onion 1 C fresh blueberries
1 garlic clove, chopped  Juice of 1 lime Fresh lime
1 or 2 T chili powder, to taste
1 tsp cumin Mango Burrito:
1T oil (canola or olive) 4 Flour Tortillas (soft taco size)
salt to taste 1 mango, sliced
Vanilla ice cream
3 handfuls tortilla chips – give or take few handfuls butter & cinnamon
½ C black or pinto beans, drained & rinsed
¼ C chopped cilantro

Heat oil in skillet on med-hi, add onions & garlic; cook until soft and aromatic. Add meat & brown. Add cumin & half of the chili powder; stir and then let meat simmer until cooked through– add chili powder and salt if needed. Set aside to cool.

While meat is cooling, assemble the salads.

For the fruit salad, simply put the papaya in your salad bowl, add blueberries, and squeeze fresh lime juice over the fruit. If you want to get fancy, garnish with a sprig of mint.

For the taco salad, add greens to a large bowl. Add in meat and chips. Toss then add beans, tomatoes, and cilantro. Drizzle with olive oil, vinegar and lime juice to taste.

For the dessert, butter both sides of the tortillas and sprinkle with cinnamon. Cook in skillet over med-hi until lightly crispy. Remove from skillet and add two or three mango slices and a scoop of ice cream. Fold tortilla to create your “burrito” and enjoy!

The great thing about these recipes is that they are easy, the kids can do a lot of it, and it can be done ahead of time; the meat does not have to be warm. When I was staying at home I liked to get as much of dinner prepped during the day. This gave me something fun to do with the kids. It is also a great opportunity to teach them about cooking & nutrition and feeling a sense of accomplishment for creating a full meal.

The biggest lesson for me with cooking projects is to breathe and let go; the kitchen can be cleaned, and the meal is not going to be on the cover of Bon Appétit, so I don’t need to stress over presentation. Now that I am relaxed with the patience of a saint, I can give the kids some tasks. Get them working on the easy stuff like draining and rinsing beans, chopping tomatoes, or slicing mangos. You get the gist; just make sure to keep an eye on them and have them using age appropriate utensils. I give them butter knives to do the chopping & slicing; remember, it’s not going on the magazine cover so everything doesn’t have to be perfectly uniform. Just let them at it and have fun.

The time I spent with the kids seems like a lifetime ago. Time passes quickly and the kids seem to grow even quicker. Relax & have with this and cherish the moments; they are only kids for a short time!

I hope you like this post and recipe. This recipe is great because you can change it up to fit your family’s taste buds. We like to add avocadoes & sliced olives. Try it out and let me know what you think and remember to share tricks, tips and opinions.

Bon Appétit!

– Kevin Williams
VP & Dad