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Eating Well at Home: Cooking With Your Kids

April 27, 2020
Published in: COVID-19, Nutrition

Mother and daughter looking into a pot while cooking

In our previous post by the Augusta Health Dietitians, we suggested to include the whole family in meal planning. In addition to suggesting recipes, even the kids can help with meal preparation. Here are more fun ideas that you might want to try out:

close-up of girl making pizzaKathy Berger, RD, offered additional ideas for 'cooking with your kids". She recommended "make-your-own pizzas." These can be made by dividing refrigerated pizza dough into 4 sections and rolling them out. Have each family member then top their pizzas with their preferred toppings and bake. Encourage creativity by offering several toppings, such as:

  • chopped vegetables (onions, peppers, broccoli, spinach)
  • chopped ham or chicken
  • a few sauce options (tomato, BBQ)
  • cheeses (mozzarella, Parmesan, mild cheddar)

You can round out the meal with a tossed salad and some fruit. Kathy also suggested that you can replicate this with a "stuff-your-own baked potato" night.

Ashley Hartshorn, RD, says, "While getting to spend more time together at home, my family has really enjoyed trying some new recipes." She shared some recipes for some of their favorite "new" dishes- see below for the "#1 pick"—Butternut Squash Chili.

Cheryl Miller MS, RD, suggested some ways to make the entire "dining experience fun for the entire family":

  • If you have fancy dinner ware, glasses and cloth napkins, now's the time to dust them off for a "special" weeknight meal.
  • Have dinner by candlelight with a vase of flowers from your yard and play some background music to create a "fancy" vibe.
  • Spread out a blanket in your yard and enjoy a family picnic.

Butternut Squash Chili

Yield: 8 Servings
Total Time: 60 minutes


  • 3 Tbsp. avocado or olive oil, divided
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 large carrot, chopped
  • 2 large stalks celery, chopped
  • 1¼ tsp. sea salt, divided
  • ¾ tsp. ground black pepper, divided
  • 1 small jalapeño chili pepper, seeded and diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 cups peeled, seeded and diced butternut squash (about 1 medium squash)
  • 1½ lbs. ground beef
  • 1 Tbsp. each ground cumin and dried oregano
  • 4 tsp. chili powder
  • 1 tsp. smoked paprika
  • 2, 14-oz cans fire-roasted diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth

Optional toppings: Sliced green onions, shredded cheddar, chopped avocado, fresh cilantro


  1. In a large Dutch oven on medium, heat 2 Tbsp. oil. Add onion, carrot, celery and ¼ tsp. each salt and pepper; cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 6 minutes. Stir in jalapeño and garlic; sauté 2 minutes. Add remaining 1 Tbsp. oil, squash and ½ tsp. each salt and pepper; cook, stirring, 1 minute.
  2. Add beef, cumin, oregano, chili powder, paprika and remaining ½ tsp. salt; cook, stirring to combine and break up meat until beef is cooked through, 5 to 6 minutes. Pour in tomatoes and broth. Increase heat to medium-high; bring to a boil, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer 20 minutes, stirring once or twice.
  3. Garnish with optional toppings of choice. Or let chili cool then cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days.

Nutrition Information (for 1 ¼ cups)

Calories: 300; Carbohydrates: 18 g; Fat: 17 g; Fiber: 4 g; Protein Content: 20 g; Saturated Fat: 5 g; Sodium: 660 mg; Sugar: 7 g; Monounsaturated Fat: 8 g