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Ask A Minnesota Expert: Healthy Recipes Kids Can Make

Kids can be particular about what they eat, much to the chagrin of parents. Getting children to eat healthy foods can be challenging, but encouraging your kids to help you prepare meals can go a long ways towards teaching the importance of consuming a well-balanced diet. Check out these recipes from local chef Dylan Alverson of Modern Times Café.

Dylan Alverson
Modern Times Café
3200 Chicago Ave. S.
Minneapolis, MN 55407
(612) 886-3882

Dylan Alverson, chef at Modern Times Café, grew up cooking in his mother's kitchen, where she shared with him her belief in healthy eating, which he is in turn passing on to his children. Dylan shares three healthy recipes that he likes to cook with his children that you can easily re-create at home.


Roasted Vegetable Quesadillas


  • 8-inch flour tortillas
  • Favorite cheddar, jack or melting cheese
  • 2 cups of sliced vegetables (potatoes, zucchini, red pepper and onion)
  • Fresh cilantro (if desired)
  • Sour cream and favorite salsa
  • Olive or vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. pepper
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • Optional: leftover brown rice, beans or meat


"For these quesadillas we use the oven, one good stainless steel sheet pan or a large cast iron pan.

Slice the vegetables as thin as you can get them, especially the potato. Grate your cheese and dice the cilantro. Put the vegetables in a large bowl and add a couple tablespoons of olive or vegetable oil, 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp black pepper and 1 tsp cumin. Toss vegetables to coat and spread out in a thin layer on sheet pan and roast at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for about 15 minutes, or until potatoes are fully cooked.

Once cooked, transfer vegetables back into bowl. After the sheet pan cools, brush one side of two flour tortillas and place oil side down on the pan. Sprinkle a light coating of cheese on each tortilla and a sparse layer of the roasted vegetables on each side. Cook for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the tortilla is light brown and crispy and the cheese has melted. Add cilantro (if desired) and sandwich the tortillas together. Cut into slices with a pizza cutter and serve with favorite salsa and sour cream."

Related: Best Spring Salads In Minnesota

Mac And Cheese

Broccoli Mac and Cheese

  • 2 cups dried pasta, elbow or penne works best 
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 2 cups whole milk or half and half
  • 1 tbsp. butter
  • 2 tbsp. flour
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 cups broccoli, broken into small florets
  • 8 cups water, plus 1/2 cup


"Boil 8 cups of salted water and cook pasta al dente (edible but still firm). While the water is boiling, prepare the sauce. Melt butter in a sauce pan (large enough to hold 3 cups of sauce) over medium heat. Once the butter has melted, add flour and whisk until it appears the flour melts. Keep whisking and slowly add milk to the mixture. Add salt and pepper and keep whisking until the mixture starts boiling again. Once bubbling, whisk in cheese, and continue stirring until the cheese melts.

Once the cheese has melted, turn off the heat and add cooked pasta. Do not rinse the pasta, as it will help hold the dish together. Add 1/2 cup water to the pasta pot and bring to a boil once more. Once boiling, add broccoli and cover and steam for 2-3 minutes, until bright green. Strain and add to the mac and cheese or serve on the side."

Related: Ask A Minnesota Chef: Best Corned Beef And Cabbage Recipes

Oven Breaded Chicken and Salad

Ingredients (for chicken):

  • 1 pound chicken breast, cut into 1/2-inch strips
  • 2 cups Panko bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 organic eggs
  • 1 tsp. salt and pepper
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup flour
  • Oiled sheet pan

Ingredients (for salad):

  • Fresh spring greens
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 tsp. salt and pepper
  • Juice from 1 lemon
  • 1 tsp. mustard


"Cut chicken breasts into strips and add to a bowl. Cover with buttermilk. Mix bread crumbs, parmesan cheese and salt and pepper together and spread out on a plate. Sprinkle flour out onto a separate plate. Beat eggs and add to a third plate. Take the chicken strips individually out of the buttermilk and dredge each first in flour, followed by the egg mixture and finally roll in the bread crumb mixture. Lay coated chicken strips on an oiled sheet pan.

Bake chicken strips in the oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for approximately 25 minutes (or until the internal temperature reaches 165 F). Add lemon juice, mustard and salt and pepper to bowl and whisk while drizzling olive oil in slowly. Mix desired amount with salad greens and serve alongside chicken strips."

More about Modern Times Café

Modern Times Café serves up a variety of healthy breakfast and lunch options using locally sourced, organic and sustainable ingredients. Menu items are clearly marked as vegan or vegetarian-friendly and gluten-free options are also available.

A Minnesota native that was born and raised Up North, Minneapolis is where Christina Kalinowski currently calls home. Christina appreciates irony, loves bacon, enjoys a hearty libation (drink responsibly, folks), and is an avid proponent of the Swanson Pyramid of Greatness. Her work can be found at

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