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For holiday meals I enjoy making new recipes, but my children are not always open to trying new things.

When these new dishes are being passed around the table my children often express hesitation or flat out refusal.

Please tell me my kids aren't the only ones to do this.

In an attempt to increase their acceptance and expose them to new ingredients, I decided to enlist them in searching out new recipes to make them together.

My six year old daughter, ten year old son and I searched for side dishes on Pinterest. They gravitated to recipes that included the color red, and especially the ones with marshmallows. I wanted them to try something that contained fruits or vegetables, and something they had never eaten before.

My daughter chose a Cranberry Salad and Santa Hats recipe. My son chose an Apple-Cranberry Stuffing recipe. These recipes gave them an opportunity to use a food processor, chop, stir, assemble and sneak in a marshmallow here and there.

They really took ownership of these new dishes, and I was so impressed with their ability to prepare the food. They liked the recipes and even convinced each other to try one another's dishes before taking them to Grandma's.

Peer pressure is a great way to get kids to try new foods.

They were so excited to take their dishes to Grandma's and enjoyed the praise they got for their work. Giving your children a small and/or large role in cooking will significantly increase the likelihood they will try and may even like a new food. This new holiday tradition gives me a chance to teach cooking skills that will benefit my kids for life and an opportunity to bond together.

Fresh Cranberry Salad

I altered the original recipes by adding an apple and using less sugar.


  • 3 cups fresh cranberries, diced
  • ½ cup walnuts, diced
  • 20 ounce can crushed pineapple, drained
  • 1 apple, diced
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 2 cups mini marshmallows
  • 1 pint heavy whipping cream


  1. In a food processor, chop the cranberries until diced and place them in a mixing bowl.
  2. In a food processor, add the walnuts and dice until fine. Place them in the mixing bowl with the cranberries.
  3. In the bowl add crushed pineapple, diced apple, sugar, and marshmallows. Mix.
  4. Put the heavy whipping cream in a separate mixing bowl. Whisk for 1 minute.
  5. Add to the other ingredients and blend.
  6. Refrigerate for 2 hours or longer. Enjoy!

Santa Hat Recipe

An option to make the Santa Hats more nutritious is to substitute the marshmallows for cut up pieces of string cheese.


  • 1 container of fresh strawberries
  • 2 bananas
  • 1 cup, mini marshmallows OR cut up pieces of string cheese
  • Toothpicks


  1. Wash the strawberries under cold water, pat dry, and cut off the tops.
  2. Cut the bananas into 1-inch sections.
  3. Assemble the Santa Claus Hats by placing a banana section, a strawberry and a marshmallow on a toothpick.
  4. Serve and eat soon after assembling before the banana turns brown.

Crockpot Apple-Cranberry Stuffing


  • 10 ounces dried bread crumbs
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 apple, chopped
  • ½ cup dried cranberries
  • ½ tablespoon thyme
  • ½ tablespoon parsley
  • 2 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 tablespoons butter
  • 2 eggs


  1. In a crockpot mix together the eggs, chicken broth, and 3 tablespoons of butter.
  2. Add in the bread crumbs, celery, apple, cranberries, thyme, and parsley until completely coated.
  3. Slice a tablespoon of butter into three sections and place on top of the stuffing mixture.
  4. Cook in the crockpot on high for 1 hour.
  5. Stir with fork when finished, serve and enjoy.

Source of recipe: House of Yumm

Carrie Miller MS RD

Registered Dietitian from UNL Extension

Carrie Miller is a mother of two and Registered Dietitian with a Master degree in Nutritional Science and Dietetics. Carrie has worked at UNL Extension in Omaha for over 12 years managing the Nutrition Education Program and teaching limited resource audiences. Special interests include feeding children healthy, fun foods, and finding time to get outside and be active. Learn more about Carrie and the other UNL Extension nutrition experts at ...

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