One-pot mussels in tomato, chard and herb broth

One-pot mussels in tomato, chard and herb broth

If your family is anything like mine, the struggle to get your kid to eat healthy foods is real.

I read everything and tried to do everything right from the very beginning — and mean the very beginning. From the time I found out I was pregnant with my daughter, I made it a point to have a variety of foods in my diet with an emphasis on vegetables and bitter greens. When breastfeeding I did the same so that she would get a taste for the rainbow while nursing. And when I introduced the first solid foods, fruits and starchy grains were last on the list for her to taste.

Yet despite my efforts, Lu still seems drawn to all the things I don’t want her eating on a regular basis. And she turns her nose up at most vegetables or green things that aren’t avocado. (I mean, at least she eats her avocado.) As a result, I’ve resorted to bribery, entertainment and all sorts of things I know are bad for building good habits in the long run.

Luckily, I recently met a fabulous lady whose sole focus is helping parents like me turn those bad habits around and sloooowly work towards getting your kids to develop a well rounded palate. Her name is Ashley Kotch. 

In school for family nutrition, Ashley runs a beautifully designed and informative website called Vibrantly Healthy Kids about establishing healthy eating habits for yourself and your family. That includes getting kids to develop a taste (and hopefully love) for all kinds of nourishing foods. Ashley also does private consultations with families to develop strategies for having a healthier household.

Ashley joined me for lunch in my kitchen last week to talk about her tips and tricks for getting kids to choose salad over chips (if that’s even a thing). She mentioned things like having them help you in the kitchen any time you cook, designating days for special treats and  introducing foods at least 20 times — even up to 50 times, if necessary. You can see the entire interview on the Laurel Street Kitchen Facebook page. She was full of gold nuggets.

One of her go-to recipes was these mussels. They take 15 minutes to make, can be modified with any vegetables you have in your kitchen and are packed with nutrition and lean protein. She said her kids love the dish because it’s somewhat interactive. As in, you have to work to get the nugget inside the shell! We made it. I loved it. Lulu ate it up after the show.

 Spring naan flatbread
 Spring naan flatbread
 Spring naan flatbread

This is possibly one the easiest, fastest, healthiest and delicious seafood soup you could make. The mussels add a sea-salty touch to broth, which is simply a quick vegetable stock made of aromatics and tomatoes.

COOKING NOTES

When working with mussels, discard any that are not tightly shut before cooking. While this version uses onion, carrot and chard as the base of the brothy soup to cook the mussels, you could use any aromatics or vegetables in your kitchen. If you have more time and want a little more depth of flavor, cook the tomatoes for 15 to 20 minutes longer than the recipe notes.  

SERVES 4

INGREDIENTS

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small yellow onion, finely diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
Kosher salt
1 small bunch carrots, diced
1 can whole peeled tomatoes
1/2 bunch Swiss chard, roughly chopped
1/4 bunch parsley
1/4 bunch cilantro|
2 pounds mussels, scrubbed and rinsed

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. In a large sauce pot over medium heat, warm the olive oil until hot.
  2. Add the onion, garlic and a pinch of salt and cook, stirring often, until the onion softens, 3 to 5 minutes.
  3. Add the carrots and cook until just soft, 3 to 5 minutes. Then add the tomatoes and all their juice, along with a can full of water. Add a pinch of salt, turn the heat to high and bring to a boil. Cook at a boil until the tomatoes start to break down, 4 to 6 minutes.
  4. Add the chard and herbs and cook until just wilted, 2 to 3 minutes.
  5. Add the mussels, cover the pot, and cook until all the mussels open up, 1 to 2 minutes. 
  6. Spoon into bowls and serve.