Bean Appétit: Hip and Healthy Ways to Have Fun With Food

bean appetit mama matoI usually don't get so many giggles in the kitchen when cooking with my daughter, but when we cracked open Bean Appétit: Hip and Healthy Ways to Have Fun With Food, my 4-year-old thought it was arts and crafts instead of cooking time and she was ready to create.

This cookbook for kids by Shannon Payette Seip, Kely Parthen, and Carisa Dixon is all about keeping the young'uns engaged and interested in what they're eating. It absolutely worked for me, and my daughter keeps begging me to make something else from the book.


While she ate every bite of the dough-re-mi cookie and licorice combo that looks like sheet music, and left only crumbs of the campfire crunch made of cheese, pretzels, and grapes; her favorite menu item to make was one she didn't polish off.

As seen above the Mama Mato! The tomato, spaghetti, and olive combo was the cutest of the bunch and had the added benefit of being the healthiest. Under normal circumstances, my girl wouldn't touch tomatoes or olives, so the fact that she nibbled and tried it was enough for me to scream, "Success!"

What you'll need:

  • 1 medium tomato, cut in half
  • 6 tablespoons bread crumbs
  • 5 tablespoons shredded Parmesan cheese
  • Pinch of garlic powder
  • 2 slices black olive
  • 4 ounces spaghetti, cooked
  • 2 basil leaves

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

Ready to scoop? Use your spoon to dig out the goopy center of each tomato half.

In a mixing bowl, combine bread crumbs, 2 tablespoons Parmesan, and garlic powder. How does it smell? Give it a whiff! Fill holes in tomato halves with garlicky mixture. Top tomato halves with the rest of the Parmesan.

Use a butter knife to cut olive slices in half. Place 2 slices on top of each tomato half for eyes. Place tomato halves on a baking sheet.

Mama Mato now needs a great hairstyle! Place cooked pasta on baking sheet in whatever style you'd like -- curlicues, long and straight, or short and sassy. (You'll put the hair on her head after it comes out of the oven.) Kiss the tips of your fingers and say, "Ciao, Mama Mato!" before putting the pan in the oven.

Bake Mama Mato 8 to 12 minutes. While it's baking, see if you can style your hair like Mama Mato's.

Transfer tomato halves to a plate to cool for a few minutes. Tear top of each basil leaf off and place it under the eyes for a smile. Now add spaghetti hair to tomato top to create a super style.


Find more fun recipes, silly songs and games, and fun food facts in Bean Appétit.

Bean Appétit: Hip and Healthy Ways to Have Fun With Food ($10.19) -- Amazon


Image from Bean Appétit

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