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Feeding the kids: Stuffed tomatoes

The Mama Mato recipe from

The Mama Mato recipe from "Bean Appetit" (Andrews McMeel Publishing, LLC; $14.99) a cookbook for kids. Credit: Handout

This week I wanted to try something new with Maggie -- tomatoes! She loves fruits and veggies these days, so I figured now is the time to keep introducing her to different foods. She's had tomato sauce before on pasta and meatballs, even pizza, but I wasn't sure if she'd like a tomato.

When I saw a fun, kid-friendly stuffed tomato recipe in "Bean Appetit: Hip and Healthy Ways to Have Fun With Food," by Shannon Payette Seip and Kelly Parthen (Andrews McMeel Publishing, LLC; $14.99) I knew I had to try it, especially since baked tomatoes are a bit sweeter. We tried it recently for dinner and she loved it. She ate half of the tomato (along with grilled chicken I had prepared the day before) and kept pointing to her high chair saying "more, more."

I even baked it in the toaster oven so I wouldn't have to turn on the oven. Also, I decorated the tomato with the olives, but Maggie was only concerned with the filling, spaghetti and tomato.

Here's the recipe to try with your kids. Let me know what they think and be sure to check back next Wednesday for another healthy recipe.

Mama Mato!
(Makes 2 faces)

- 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

1. Preheat the oven to 400°F.

2. Use your spoon to dig out the center of each tomato half.

3. In a mixing bowl, combine the bread crumbs, 2 tablespoons of Parmesan and the garlic powder.

4. Fill the holes in the tomato halves with the garlicky mixture. Top the tomato halves with the rest of the Parmesan.

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

6. Place the cooked pasta on the baking sheet in whatever style you'd like. (You'll put the hair on her head after it comes out of the oven.)

7. Bake Mama Mato for 8 to 12 minutes.

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


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