Sunday, March 16, 2008

Cooking Fresh, Fun Food with your Kids
Trying to get your kids to eat healthy? Promote them to chef! Here on the May 29 edition of Sprig, KidFresh chef Cricket Azima gives a cooking lesson and strawberry salsa recipe.

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An American Pie

The summer sun is shining and fresh organic fruit is everywhere. Eat it off the tree or vine or try it in a favorite American dish: cobbler. While the local selection may vary, this dessert suits fruits from all regions. A classic American sweet that dates back to Colonial times, the cobbler is a deep-dish upside-down fruit pie with a biscuit-like crust. Although peach, berry, cherry and apple are the most popular, cobblers can be made with any fruit.

Preparing a cobbler with your child (and waiting for the sweet reward) can be a delicious event and a fun learning experience, too!

Geography: Look at a map of the U.S. and ask your child to find your state on the map.

Science: How does the weather vary in each region of the U.S. and, in turn, affect the produce?

Music: Listen to the sounds of American music. Beat a drum to a Native American rhythm or play some southern jazz or blues. Or, you can play Jazz for Kids: Sing, Clap, Wiggle and Shake, Putumayo Kids New Orleans Playground or The Peasall Sisters’ Home to You.

Food: Talk about the local fruits for each region.

The Pacific Northwest: Cherries, berries, apples, pears and grapes.
The West (mainly California): Strawberries, peaches, grapes and oranges.
The Southwest: This area grows many of the same fruits as the West.
The Midwest: Vegetables are more common than fruit, but you’ll find blackberries, strawberries and apples.
The South: Peaches, citrus, berries, tomatoes and melons.
The Mid-Atlantic: Rhubarb, cherries, plums and apples.
The Northeast: Apples and all berries.

Fruit Cobbler

4 cups fruit (berries or peaches, sliced)
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
1/2 cup sugar
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 tsp.vanilla
2 Tbsp. butter, cubed

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
3 Tbsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon (optional) 6 Tbsp. chilled butter, diced
2/3 cup and 1 Tbsp. cream

PARENT: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease glass baking dish.
CHILD: Use plastic knife to cut butter into small cubes, and place in baking dish.
CHILD AND PARENT: In large bowl, add fruit, cornstarch, sugar, lemon juice and vanilla. Mix together. Pour into glass baking dish and set aside.
CHILD AND PARENT: In another large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt, 2 Tbsp. sugar and cinnamon.
CHILD: Add butter to flour mixture, and use fingers to mix until it looks like cornmeal.
CHILD: Add 2/3 cup cream and stir until smooth.
PARENT: Lightly flour a clean surface, and place dough onto flour.
CHILD: Roll dough to ½-inch thickness.
CHILD: Use a round cookie cutter to cut circles out of dough.
CHILD AND PARENT: Arrange rounds of dough on top of fruit mixture.
CHILD: Brush dough with remaining Tbsp. of cream, and sprinkle with remaining sugar.
PARENT: Bake 25 minutes or until fruit is tender and crust is golden. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Serves 10

Per serving: calories 307, fat 16g, protein 3g, carbohydrate 39g, dietary fiber 2g

*As always, KIWI recommends using organic ingredients as much as possible.

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Saturday, March 15, 2008

Cricket's Tortilla Soup

In the September/October issue of Today's Diet & Nutrition, Cricket Azima explained that her friends and family can't live without her tortilla soup. Azima, author of the new book, Everybody Eats Lunch, shares the recipe. For more about Azima, visit

Tortilla Soup

1 onion
2 celery stalks
1 small zucchini
1 small yellow squash
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
4 plum tomatoes
6 cups chicken stock
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
1 14-ounce can corn
1 15-ounce can garbanzo beans
1 teaspoon cumin (or to taste)
1/2 bunch fresh cilantro
salt and pepper (to taste)
1 avocado
2 cups tortilla chips (or to taste)
shredded cheese (cheddar or Monterey jack) (to taste)

1. Dice the onions, celery, zucchini, squash, and the fresh tomatoes and set aside.
2. Put vegetable oil into a large pot and heat over a medium temperature.
3. Once the oil is heated, add the onions, celery, zucchini, and squash and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
4. Add the fresh tomatoes, chicken stock, crushed tomatoes, corn, garbanzo beans, and cumin to the pot. Cook over a high heat for 15 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender (covering the pot with a lid will speed up this step).
5. While the soup is cooking, dice the avocado into small pieces and set aside.
6. Remove the cilantro leaves from the stems and add the leaves to the soup.
7. Break the tortilla chips into small pieces and put into the soup bowls.
8. Adjust the salt and pepper within the soup. Ladle the soup into bowls over the chips. Add the avocado and shredded cheese to the top. Enjoy!

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Super Chef Challenge!!

The Lunch Box Dilemma

Our 2nd SuperChef challenge!

By ClubMom Shopping and Cooking Expert Stephanie Gallagher

Stephanie Gallagher, a.k.a., “The Shopping Mom,” reveals her closely-guarded shopping secrets and money saving tips in her blog, The Shopping Mom’s Favorite Things. She is also the author of four books, including The Gallagher Guide to the Baby Years, Fabulous Bargains, The Everything Baby Resource Guide and Money Secrets the Pros Don’t Want You to Know.

Faster than a speeding blender, more powerful than a Ginzu knife, able to whip tall meringues in a single mound. It’s a lemon curd! It’s a microplane! It’s SuperChef!

Stay tuned to see how these mild-mannered men and women wielding knives of steel handle the heat of a real family kitchen...

You’ve seen them on TV. Read their books. Heard stories about their legendary restaurants.

With their Viking ranges, fine ingredients, and bevy of sous chefs to assist them, celebrity SuperChefs create mouth-watering meals with effortless ease.

But what if they had to work a night in your kitchen? Cook after shuttling kids to 5 p.m. soccer practice? Cope with finicky friends staying for dinner after playdates? Cater to that most discriminating of all palates — the three-year-old picky eater?

Could they handle the pressure?

We decided to find out.

Welcome to SuperChef Challenge, where each week, two celeb-u-chefs are pitted against each other in a race against time, funds, and the lure of the fast food drive through.

In this week’s Challenge, our SuperChefs face a predicament that confronts moms across America every day: The Lunch Box Dilemma.

You’re tired of giving the kids the same thing every day for lunch, but whenever you try to give them something beyond the usual PB&J or bologna sandwich, they reject it. What to do?

The Challenge:

Create a kid-friendly lunch box meal that goes beyond the usual bologna and cheese or peanut butter and jelly.

The Rules:

It must be transportable (able to go in a lunch box with or without a cold pack), healthy, delicious, and sure to please even the pickiest appetite.

The SuperChefs:

Margaux Sky, author of Beautiful Breads and Fabulous Fillings.

Cricket Azima, founder of The Creative Kitchen.

Margaux Sky gained notoriety when Oprah tasted her Curried Chicken on Spicy White Pepper Jack bread sandwich and proclaimed, “This is the best sandwich I’ve ever tasted.”

Oprah was in California meeting with Sky’s brother-in-law, Tim Bennett, who is the head of Harpo Productions. They ordered out from Sky’s restaurant for lunch. When Oprah tasted the sandwich, she was floored. She immediately invited Sky to be on her show in an episode titled, “My Favorite Sandwich.”

Fans began clamoring for the now-famous “O Sandwich” at Sky’s former restaurant, The Art Café & Bakery.

Sky no longer owns the café, but she included the recipe for “The O Sandwich” in her book, and you can order the curry sauce and the spicy white pepper jack bread from her web site.

Cricket Azima is a professional chef who travels all over New York City teaching cooking classes for kids. She says cooking is a great way to teach kids everything from reading to science, social studies and math.

“I work on the Montessori education theory, where kids retain information about social studies, geography or math because they’re touching, feeling, smelling and tasting it,” she says. “For example, when I say, ‘Take this strip of orange pepper and cut it into quarters, I ask, how many pieces is that?’ Or I ask, ‘How hot is boiling? On a hot day in New York, the temperature is 90 degrees. Is that boiling?’”

The goal of all of The Creative Kitchen products, which include DVDs and books as well as the cooking classes, is to help children develop healthy lifelong eating habits and a positive relationship with food.

The Results:

Peanut Butter and Chocolate Fudge Bread with Strawberries and Cream Cheese
By Margaux Sky

2 oz. cream cheese
1 cup thinly sliced strawberries
2 tablespoons strawberry jam
2 slices of Peanut Butter Chocolate Fudge Bread (recipe below)

Spread the cream cheese on one slice of the Peanut Butter Chocolate Fudge Bread. Next, spread the strawberry jam over the cream cheese. Then, layer the strawberries evenly over the strawberry jam. Cover the sandwich with the top slice of bread and slice diagonally.

For the Peanut Butter Fudge Bread:

1/2 tablespoon dry active yeast
1 cup warmed milk
1 cup warmed ½ & ½
1/4 stick (2 tablespoons) butter (melted)
1/8 cup powdered sugar
4 cups all purpose flour
3/4 tablespoons salt
2 cups of organic peanut butter
2 cups of *Creamy Chocolate Fudge Topping (use your own favorite, such as Ghiradelli Chocolate Fudge Topping or make your own using the recipe below)
1/4 cup of semi sweet chocolate chips

In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast in the milk and half and half. Let stand for 5 minutes until the yeast is foamy. Add the butter and mix with a whisk. Add the powdered sugar and mix well to break up any clumps.

In a large bowl, combine the flour and salt. Add the liquid mixture to the flour mixture and knead well. If you're using a stand mixer, knead for 3-4 minutes. If kneading by hand, knead for 4-6 minutes on a lightly-floured countertop. Keep the dough moist for a soft, tender bread (so that it is not sticking to the counter top when rolling, but is more moist than one might think a dough should be.)

Place the kneaded dough in a buttered bowl, cover with a towel, and allow to rise in a warm dry place for 60 minutes.

Punch dough down with your fist and pour onto a floured counter and roll out into a 9 x 11 inch rectangle so that the long side is perpendicular to your body.

Spread the peanut butter evenly over the dough. Spread the Creamy Chocolate Fudge Topping over the peanut butter.

Generously butter a 9" loaf pan.

Tightly roll the dough into a loaf with the rolling action going away from your body. To hold in the filling, fold in the outer edges of the dough as you roll. Place the loaf in the loaf pan, cover and let rise another 45-60 minutes.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Bake for approximately 1 hour. Ovens vary so test for doneness. Remove the loaf from the pan and tap the bottom. If it sounds hollow, it's done. If not, continue baking, checking every few minutes.

Remove from oven when completed. Melt the chocolate chips in the microwave and drizzle over the bread. Let the bread cool in the pan for 30 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and cool another 30 minutes.

*Creamy Chocolate Fudge Topping

1½ - 2 cups powdered sugar
3/4 cups granulated sugar
½ cup brown sugar
6 tablespoons butter
1 cup heavy whipping cream
3 ounces unsweetened chocolate
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

In a large saucepan, combine the powdered sugar, granulated sugar, brown sugar, butter, whipping cream, and chocolate on low heat, stirring constantly. Allow the mixture to thicken and boil. Cook, stirring, for 5 - 7 minutes.

Remove from the heat and add the vanilla. Mix vigorously until well blended.

Yields approximately 4 cups. (Use additional Fudge Topping for breads and desserts.)

Panzanella (Italian bread salad)
By Cricket Azima

1/2 medium loaf whole-wheat country bread
1/2 pound fresh mozzarella
4 small tomatoes
4 stalks celery
1 cucumber
1 green pepper
1 red pepper
1 red onion
1 small bunch fresh basil
1/3 cup olive oil (or to taste)
1/3 cup Balsamic vinegar (to taste)
Salt and pepper (to taste)

*If you want to add some protein: add a 1/2 cup diced salami, diced pepperoni, canned tuna, or white beans as a tasty addition to this dish.

Tear (or cut) the bread into large cubes and place in a large mixing bowl.

Dice the mozzarella, tomatoes, celery, cucumber, peppers, and onion. Add them to the bowl of bread. Tear the basil into small pieces and add to the bowl.

Add the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, and pepper to the bowl, a little at a time, until the desired taste is achieved. Mix the dressing into the bread salad.

By lunch time, the salad will be moist and all of the flavors, well combined.

Serves 8

Which Recipe Do You Like Best?

Make sure to tell us which recipe was a hit at your house in the comments field!

© Stephanie Gallagher, 2006.

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Lunchbox Chow

Bunny ChowTired of turkey sandwiches and PB&J? Open your mouth and mind to something new from across the globe. Try making this portable and delicious sandwich (with an adorable name!) from South Africa—Bunny Chow.

Geography: Point out Africa on a world map. As you’ll see, South Africa is the southernmost country on the continent. About 20 languages are spoken there. It has three capital cities— Cape Town, Bloemfontein and Pretoria—but it’s the city of Johannesburg that is the largest and most populated.

Science: How does weather affects the South Africa’s produce? Its subtropical climate allows many different types of agriculture to grow. Crops include potatoes, sugarcane, nuts, corn, green beans, coconuts, pumpkins, wheat, and fruits such as bananas, mangoes, pineapples and oranges.

Music & Art: Traditional dancing, music and crafts play an important role in Africa’s cultures. Listen to songstress Miriam Makeba (a.k.a. “Mama of Africa”) for a sample of legendary South African music.

Social Studies & History: How has history influenced South Africa’s cuisine? Because it’s located at the southern tip of Africa, the cape was used as a trading post for shippers in the 1600s. With all the comings and goings of people from faraway lands, South Africa became incredibly diverse. The food of South Africa reflects that of India, England, Holland, Portugal and, of course, other African countries.

Bunny Chow

A popular sandwich eaten everywhere in South Africa, Bunny Chow is made of hollowed-out bread filled with a curry mixture. Immigrants from India introduced South Africa to curry dishes in the 1800s. The original sandwich was stuffed with vegetables, but today’s versions are also made with chicken or lamb.

1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 onion, chopped
1 lb. chicken breast, cubed
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. coriander
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. garam masala
1 cup chicken stock
2 tomatoes, diced
Salt, to taste
4 small bread rolls

CHILD: Help measure vegetable oil. Using a plastic knife, chop onion, garlic and tomatoes.
PARENT: In medium frying pan, heat oil over low heat, add onion and cook until softened, about 10 minutes. Add chicken and raise heat to medium-high. Cook for 10-15 minutes or until chicken is cooked through.
CHILD: Help measure coriander, cumin, garam masala and stock, and set aside.
PARENT: Add garlic, spices and stock, and simmer for 10 minutes.
PARENT: Add tomatoes and cook until softened, 7 minutes. Add salt to taste.
PARENT: Cut off one end of each loaf of bread.
CHILD: Use fingers to hollow out center of loaves.
PARENT and CHILD: Fill bread with chicken mixture and serve.

Serves 4

Per serving: calories 303, fat 14g, protein 23g, carbohydrate 20g, dietary fiber 2g

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The Japanese Tea Ceremony

A fascinating and intimate custom, the Japanese tea ceremony is an excellent way to expose your child to Japanese culture. To get started, you’ll need: a whisk, bowl, scoop, teapot and green tea, like bancha, hojicha or sencha. A parent or teacher can act as host for this adaptation of a tea ceremony until the child is familiar with the rituals and can take over the role.

Setting the Mood
Ceremonies are often held in a special tearoom or teahouse. These environments are calming, quiet and formal. That may not sound like your house, but you’ll be surprised by how quickly you can transform the mood. Before entering your “tearoom,” everyone should give a bow, remove their shoes and wash their hands. Ask children to shake out their giggles, close their eyes and turn on their imagination. When their eyes open, they may think they are visiting Japan.

Sit in seiza style (on knees with bottoms touching heels) in a circle formation with the host positioned near the tea equipment.

Preparing the Tea
Using a special cloth, the host starts by cleaning the equipment. Next, he scoops the green-tea powder into the bowl and adds hot water. He whisks it to create a tea with a light foam on the top. Unlike Americans, the Japanese do not add sweetener.

Drinking the Tea
After they exchange bows, the host serves the bowl of tea to the guest of honor, who is seated next to the host. This guest of honor then bows to the next guest, takes two to three sips from the bowl, wipes the rim, turns the bowl and passes to the next guest while bowing. This exchange continues around the circle until each participant has tasted the tea. Then, the host cleans the equipment again. The guests pass around and admire the cleaned equipment before it is put away.

As everyone leaves the “tea room,” they bow again to symbolize the end of the ceremony.

For more information
*New Tastes in Green Tea, by Mutsuko Tokunaga
*The Urasenke Foundation:

Green Tea Dora Yaki

A special type of sweet called Wagashi is served with tea to counter its bitter flavor. Wagashi are teacakes that come in various shapes, sizes, colors and flavors. These sweets are bought in confectionary stores, as they are difficult to make at home. As a substitute, try making Green Tea Dora Yaki, a simple adaptation of Dora Yaki, traditional miniature pancakes filled with red bean paste (we use jam instead).

7 oz. organic pancake mix
1/2 cup milk
2 tablespoons green tea powder
1 large egg
1 cup blueberry jam
Butter or vegetable oil for cooking

1. Have children help measure 2 tablespoons green tea into a medium mixing bowl.
2. Add milk, egg, and pancake mix into bowl and blend well. Children of any age can assist in measuring each ingredient and blending.
3. Adults should take the lead in the remainder of the cooking so that kids aren’t working at the hot stove. Add 1/2 teaspoon butter or oil to large frying pan and heat on medium for 1 minute.
4. Keeping in mind that this batter makes 10 pancakes. Spoon dollops of batter into the pan—final size should be about 4 inches in diameter. Make sure to space the batter sufficiently so the pancakes do not touch. When bubbles form on top, flip and cook for about 2 more minutes. Transfer to a large plate or platter and allow to cool.
5. Once the pancakes have cooled to room temperature, kids can help spread a generous amount of blueberry jam on a pancake and then place another pancake on top to make a sandwich.

Serves 5

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We Be Cookin': Take your child on an island adventure while preparing Caribbean mango salsa

The weather is warming up, and it’s the perfect time to throw a beach party in your kitchen. Be inspired by the Caribbean—a fusion of many islands, cultures, histories, languages, musical styles and, of course, foods. Here are some facts and activities to share with your kids while making the dish.

Geography: Look at a map. Although there are more than 7,000 islands in the area, the most populated include Jamaica, the Bahamas, Bermuda, Cuba, Aruba, Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago, the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and the Cayman Islands.

Social Science: Appreciate the blended culture, which is a result of the diverse peoples who have moved to the region. In the 17th century European countries like England, France, Spain and the Netherlands began to colonize the islands, which were originally populated by native Indians. Africans also played an integral role in Caribbean history.

Music: Get moving to the beautiful beats of the islands. The sound is a rich mixture of steel pan, calypso, reggae, salsa, mambo, soca and jazz. Listen to the album Putumayo Kids Presents: Caribbean Playground. Use a stockpot and wooden spoon to play along with the music.

Science: Discuss the tropical climate of the region and how it directly affects the types of produce grown. Plant cilantro in a pot and watch it grow this summer.

Food: Taste some of the native flavors. The islands share many of the same crops, including sugarcane, banana, plantain, pumpkin, coconut, sweet potato, corn, papaya, citrus fruit, pineapple and mango. These foods are used to make some of the most common dishes: fried plantains, banana bread, pumpkin soup and coconut custard.

Caribbean Mango Salsa

The mango, one of the area’s most popular fruits, grows on trees and, interestingly, is a relative of the cashew. It’s an excellent source of vitamins A and C, potassium and fiber.

4 small tomatoes
1 mango, peeled
1 cucumber, peeled
1 red onion
1 red bell pepper
1 yellow or orange bell pepper
1 15.5-oz. canned black beans
11/2 cups corn kernels (fresh or frozen)
2 limes
1 cup fresh cilantro
olive oil, to taste
salt and pepper, to taste
1 bag baked corn tortilla chips

CHILD: Before cooking, wash fruits, vegetables and cilantro.
PARENT: Cut tomatoes, mango, cucumber, onion and peppers into strips that are easier for small hands to handle and cut.
CHILD: Using a plastic knife, cut vegetable and mango strips into small dice. Then place the pieces into a medium bowl.
PARENT: Open the can of beans, and remove the lid completely.
CHILD: Pour beans in strainer and rinse under running water. Add corn and beans to the bowl contents.
PARENT: Cut limes in half.
CHILD: Squeeze lime juice over contents of bowl.
CHILD: Remove cilantro leaves from stem, and sprinkle over mixture.
PARENT: Allow child to help dress salsa with oil, salt and pepper—a little at a time.
Serve with chips and enjoy.

Serves 12

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Italy’s most famous contributions to world culture include art, music, and, of course, FOOD! This winter, nourish your kids’ minds with facts about Italia, keep their hands busy with cooking and then warm their bellies with the hearty Italian soup Pasta e Fagioli.

Geography: Observe the unique boot shape of Italy, which is situated between the Mediterranean, Ionian and Adriatic Seas.

Social Studies & History: Introduce a few words of Italian such as fagioli [fa-jho-lee], meaning “bean,” amore, [a-more-ay] expressing “love,” and ciao [chau], stating “goodbye.”

Music & Art: Italy is known for its culture, including art, architecture, literature and opera. Famous historical figures such as Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Dante, Vivaldi and Puccini called Italy home. Grab paper and paints and imitate some of the great artists’ masterpieces.

Math: Teach kids about weights and measures as you divvy up raw, cut pasta. Have them play with the different amounts of pasta using measuring cups. For an advanced challenge, weigh each measuring cup and convert the result to the metric system.

Science: Discuss the science of how pasta cooks. Did you know that water boils at 212 degrees Fahrenheit?

Food: Take a tasting tour. Cuisines vary greatly among Italy’s 20 regions—with each area boasting a product such as wine, cheese, cured meat or sauce. Some examples of regional specialties include pizza from Naples, pesto from Liguria and tortellini from Bologna.

Italians take pride in featuring fresh, seasonal produce as part of their meals. Olives, grapes, tomatoes, eggplant, artichokes, mushrooms and lemons are just some of the produce grown around Italy.

Pasta e Fagioli Soup

Pasta e Fagioli is an Italian soup made of pasta and beans. Since beans and pasta were historically inexpensive and plentiful, this soup was originally a peasant dish. Like most Italian cuisine, this dish may be prepared differently depending on the region.

1/2 lb. small cut pasta (such as small shells or ditalini)
1 onion
1 clove garlic
2 celery stalks
2 carrots, peeled
4 small tomatoes
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 28-oz. can crushed tomatoes
1 15-oz. can white beans
6 to 8 cups chicken stock
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
Salt and pepper, to taste
Additional Parmesan cheese, to taste

PARENT: Cook 1/2 lb. of pasta and set aside.
CHILD & PARENT: Dice onions, garlic, celery, carrots and fresh tomatoes and set aside. PARENT: Put olive oil into large pot and heat over medium temperature. Once oil is heated, add onions and cook until transparent.
CHILD & PARENT: Add garlic, celery and carrots and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
CHILD & PARENT: Add fresh tomatoes, crushed tomatoes, white beans and 6 cups chicken stock to pot. Cook over high heat for 15 minutes, or until vegetables are tender and soup has come to a boil.
CHILD: Use large measuring cup to carefully add the cooked pasta and 1/3 cup of Parmesan cheese and stir.
PARENT: Adjust salt and pepper. Add more chicken stock to adjust to desired thickness. Ladle soup into bowls.
CHILD: Sprinkle additional Parmesan cheese on top.

Serves 6

Per serving: calories 545, fat 8g, protein 38g, carbohydrate 90g, dietary fiber 16g

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