4 Fine Family Recipes

Erin McKool of Start restaurant suggests some kid-friendly dishes.

"I'm not the kind of parent who sneaks kale into brownies. I don't agree with hiding vegetables. I want kids to like them." Photography by Elizabeth Lavin

Start Restaurant’s owner and mom of 5-year-old Michael Finn turns traditionally kid-friendly recipes (like pasta and chicken nuggets) into dishes fit for adult dinner parties. Here she shares four of her favorite family eats.

Peanut Butter-Banana Smoothie


1 c. low-fat vanilla yogurt

2 tsp. honey

1-2 tbsp. peanut butter (to taste)
1 1/2 c. frozen banana
3/4 c. ice
Optional: 2 tsp. chocolate superfood powder or Ovaltine
Place ingredients into a blender in the order listed. Blend until smooth.
Fancy it up: Substitute raw almond butter, sunflower seed butter, or
cashew butter for the peanut butter. Add dark chocolate syrup.
Erin’s tip: Keep sliced bananas in the freezer for an easy on-the-go snack for kids.

Purple Milkshake
1 c. frozen vanilla yogurt
3/4–1 c. milk (depending on desired thickness)
1/3 c. frozen blueberries
Place ingredients in a blender and blend until creamy.
Fancy it up: Add 1 tsp. Madagascar bourbon vanilla extract and top with real whipped cream (1 c. whipping cream whipped with 1 tbsp. sugar and 1 tsp. vanilla in an electric mixer until stiff). To make it healthier, add 1/2 tbsp. Amazing Grass for Kids berry powder.
Erin’s tip: Dump your favorite yogurt into an ice cream maker and allow it to stir for 25 minutes to make homemade frozen yogurt with less sugar than store-bought versions.

Baked Chicken Bites

1 c. dry breadcrumbs (Erin uses whole wheat crumbs or leftover bread she processes in her Cuisinart)
1/2 c. Parmesan cheese, grated
1/2 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. salt
1 lb. boneless, skinless organic chicken breast
1/2 c. unsalted organic butter, melted
Directions :
1. Preheat your oven to 350°.
2. Mix breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese, paprika, and salt in a mixing bowl. (If you want finer crumbs blend in the food processor.)
3. Pour melted butter into a separate mixing bowl.
4. Cut chicken into 1-inch cubes; dip cubes into the melted butter and then into the breadcrumb mix. Repeat until all are breaded.
5. Place cubes on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet and bake 10 to 12 minutes. 
Fancy it up: Soak chicken cubes in ¼ c. coconut milk (enough to cover the chicken pieces) for at least 3 hours (up to 24 hours) before breading. Substitute barely melted coconut oil for the butter and coconut breadcrumbs for the regular breadcrumbs (use the same recipe but substitute finely grated coconut for the cheese).
Erin’s tip: If using day-old bread, be sure it has been dried of its moisture.

Pasta with Broccoli and Spinach
3/4 pkg. whole wheat pasta
1 garlic clove
3 c. broccoli florets
1/3 c. extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp. coarse salt
1 c. spinach
1/4 c. Parmesan cheese, shredded
1/4 c. Parmesan cheese for garnish, grated or shaved
1. Cook the pasta according to the package instructions.
2. Heat a wok or large frying pan over medium-high heat.
3. Mince garlic and saute with the broccoli in half of the olive oil, until broccoli is cooked but still firm.
4. Add salt and remove from heat.
5. In a large mixing bowl, combine pasta, broccoli, spinach, cheese, and remaining oil. Toss to coat.
6. Drizzle with additional olive oil as desired and top with Parmesan.

Fancy it up: Toss ½ c. cooked shrimp in with the broccoli-garlic mixture and add 1/8 c. chicken stock. Substitute butter for half of the olive oil or substitute goat cheese for the Parmesan.
Erin’s tip: Blend the spinach in last, so the leaves become tender without wilting.