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Family & Pets

Cooking Ideas For Kids From A Charlotte Chef

January 5, 2013 6:00 AM

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(credit: Thinkstock)

(credit: Thinkstock)

Chef Valerie Lamie promises cooking with kids is easy. Just keep it simple, and have fun, she says. Patience and time are valuable assets when letting the kids loose in the kitchen. Buy them an apron — for fun and for your sanity — and watch them learn about food and math as they follow these simple recipes, courtesy of Lamie herself. 
(credit: Thinkstock)

(credit: Thinkstock)

Just In Thyme Personal Chef Services, L.L.C.
Chef Valerie Lamie

Charlotte Metro area
(704) 453-6918

Lamie offers valuable advice for cooking with kids. Start out easy, and keep it simple. Let the kids participate in tasks such as stirring or dipping when they’re little. When they are safely able to use a knife, let them chop the onions. Teach them the importance of healthy foods and eating. In shopping for food, stay in the perimeter of the grocery store where the healthy items are found. Lamie says some kids are picky eaters because they are allowed to be so by parents. These are her favorite ideas perfect for most any kid.

Banana Chocolate Stuffed French Toast
Total Time: 10 minutes
Yield: 4 Servings


1/2 cup 1 percent low-fat milk
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
a pinch of sea salt
1 tablespoon honey
8 slices whole-grain bread
4 1/2 tablespoons Nutella (chocolate-hazelnut spread)
2 cups thinly sliced banana (about three medium bananas)
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons powdered sugar


  • Combine milk, eggs, vanilla extract, cinnamon, salt and honey in a shallow dish.
  • Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Working with one slice of bread at a time, place them into the milk mixture, turning gently to coat both sides. Carefully place coated bread slices into the pan. Cook two minutes on each side or until lightly browned.
  • Spread Nutella on one side of each bread slice, and arrange sliced bananas over the four bread slices. Top sandwiches with the remaining four bread slices. Cut each sandwich into four triangles. Sprinkle each evenly with powdered sugar. Serve with a cup of mixed fruit.
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Cooking with kids (Credit= Catherine Lash)

Roasted Sweet Potato Bites
Total Time: 1 hour
Yield: 4 servings
2 pounds sweet potatoes
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
Sea sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste


  • Peel and cut the sweet potatoes into one-inch pieces and put them on an aluminum foil-lined cookie sheet.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil and maple syrup. Pour the mixture over the potatoes and toss to coat.
  • Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  • Bake, stirring occasionally, for 35 to 45 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender and slightly golden.
Whole Wheat Spaghetti with Turkey Meatballs
Total Time: 30 minutes
Yield: 4 Servings


3 tablespoons dry breadcrumbs
3 tablespoons 1 percent low-fat milk
1/2 pound Italian chicken sausage links (raw)
1/2 pound ground turkey
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
1/2 tablespoon worcestershire sauce
1 garlic clove, smashed and minced
1 tablespoon fresh basil, chopped
1/4 cup parmesan cheese, freshly grated
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 extra-large egg, beaten
1 pound whole wheat spaghetti, cooked
1 jar of your favorite marinara sauce


  • Preheat oven to 375
  • Combine dry breadcrumbs and milk into a small bowl. Let the breadcrumbs absorb the milk.
  • In a medium-size bowl, remove casings from the sausage links, and place the ground meat in the bowl along with the ground turkey, Italian seasoning, dijon mustard, worcestershire sauce, garlic, chopped basil, parmesan cheese, salt, pepper, egg and breadcrumb mixture. Combine with your hands until they’re just mixed. Using your hands, lightly form the mixture into half meatballs.
  • Place the meatballs onto an aluminum foil-lined cookie sheet, and bake them for about 15 minutes or until the meatballs are cooked all of the way through.
  • Heat marinara sauce, and add cooked meatballs.
  • Serve the meatballs, and sauce on top of cooked spaghetti and top dish with freshly grated parmesan cheese (Kids can grate cheese before serving).
About the chef
In her younger years, Chef Valerie Lamie spent hours cooking in the kitchen with her grandmother. As a high school student, Lamie baked home-made gifts for friends. While pursuing a degree in culinary arts, she worked in a variety of restaurants, learning about gourmet foods, presentation and managing menus. Now owner of Just In Thyme Personal Chef Services, she is an in-house professional chef to celebrity athletes in the Charlotte area, including the NBA, NFL and NASCAR team owners. She prepares dishes in many cuisines, such as Italian, French, Indian, Spanish, Middle-Eastern, American regional, Thai, Cajun and Asian. Lamie cooks healthy meals customized to each client’s needs: celiac disease, nut, legume and seafood allergies, diabetes, cancer and weight loss. Since 2009, she has served as president for the Carolinas Chefs Chapter of the U.S. Personal Chef Association for both Carolinas as well.

Related: 10 Best Charlotte Foodies To Follow On Twitter

Catherine Lash engagingly connects with people. She has learned that interested listening and thoughtful questioning are the means through which collaboration creates a story. She grew up traveling the world and learning military life in an Air Force family of seven. She currently lives in Charlotte, North Carolina with her husband and three kids. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.

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