Requests for seconds at the dinner table can be as sparse as open floor space in your preschooler's bedroom. Parents just want to serve wholesome food to their kids that will keep them strong and healthy. Kids, on the other hand, want food that tastes, looks and smells good. If dinnertime has become a battleground filled with whining kids and edgy parents, perhaps it's time to try a new recipe. Put a twist on a classic tuna casserole dish that will have everyone clearing their plates and even asking for more. Use canned tuna with water, rather than oil, because it offers fewer calories. Drain and rinse the tuna, to remove some of the sodium content. For kids age 2 to 5, the AAP recommends canned light tuna.
1. Creamy Tuna Casserole
Many toddlers and preschoolers adore pasta -- it's soft, smooth and fun to eat. Parents love it because you can hide a whole lot of vegetables in the sauce -- without a wrinkled nose in sight. Create a creamy base for tuna casserole by mixing 1 cup of cottage cheese and 1/2 cup each of plain yogurt and sour cream. Finely chop 1/2 cup of carrots, 1/3 cup of green bell peppers and 1/4 cup of fresh parsley. Add the veggies to a bit of sauteed onion and garlic, and add some paprika to taste. Mix two cans of drained tuna with the vegetables, then add it all to the cottage cheese mixture. Cook any type of pasta your kids like -- spaghetti, linguini or vermicelli -- then mix the cooked pasta with the rest of it and place in a greased casserole dish. Add toasted bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese to top it off. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for about 45 minutes.
2. Crunchy Tuna Casserole
Tell your kids you're having potato chips for dinner and they'll be putty in your hands. You can easily create a hearty tuna casserole that doesn't stray too far from an original creamy soup and peas recipe. Begin by cooking a pound of cubed potatoes until tender. Mix the potatoes with 2 cans of drained tuna, 1 can of cream of mushroom soup, 1 cup of frozen peas, 1/3 cup of diced green onion and 1/4 cup of milk. Top with your kids' favorite crushed potato chips and bake at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for about 20 minutes. Be prepared for dinosaurs, bears or monsters crunching away at the dinner table.
3. Macaroni and Cheese Tuna Casserole
There's something about macaroni and cheese that lights up the eyes of most kids. Perhaps you even remember it fondly from your childhood. Prepare 2 boxes of macaroni and cheese -- or make your own homemade version -- then mix it with 2 cans of drained tuna. Add 2 cans of cream of mushroom soup to the mix and you're done. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for about 30 minutes and watch for those eyes to light up as they recognize a favorite.
4. Cheesy Tuna Casserole
Cheese is many a parent's best friend when it comes to masking flavors. Your kids will flip for a tuna casserole that's cheesy and topped with those favorite fish-shaped crackers. Mix 1 can of cheddar cheese soup with 1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese and a can of evaporated milk. Add 1/4 cup of finely chopped onions, 2 cans of drained tuna, 1 cup of frozen peas and a package of cooked egg noodles. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit in an un-greased casserole dish for about 30 minutes. Top with cheesy, fish-shaped crackers and return to the oven for 5 more minutes.
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