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Debra Caffrey is the Education E-newsletter Editor for FredParent. She also writes, blogs, and assists with events. She is the proud mom of 8-year-old Aidan. She is passionate about cooking, meal planning, and smart grocery shopping, and is excited to share her ‘Practical Pantry’ with you.


MWMG Pediatrics

Practical Pantry

Sometimes you think you're doing everything right when it comes to food, and you still find yourself with a picky eater. My 8 year old, Aidan, is a perfect example of this. I experimented with every piece of advice under the sun to develop good eating habits and widen his horizons when it comes to food. I pureed all his baby food from fresh fruits and vegetables and decorated his toddler plates with cute animals and designs made out of carefully carved grapes and cheeses. We’ve modeled proper eating habits, provided him with opportunities to shop and cook with us, read books on the matter, given vegetables “superhero” names, withheld dessert, practiced apathy and reverse psychology – you name it! And yet, the child will still take 60 minutes to carefully dissect his plate of dinner to make sure not one grain of rice or vegetable will enter his mouth!

Over time, I’ve tried to make peace with Aidan’s stubbornness when it comes to food, and instead, focus on the positive and be grateful for the items he does eat. One fruit that Aidan will ingest without drama is the versatile banana. I’ve learned that the best way to get the nutrients from this great fruit in him is by way of the frozen banana – it lends itself to so many fun recipes and can make eating something healthy taste like dessert – the best way to trick my picky boy! Freezing our bananas has been a great way to utilize them and avoid wasting this highly perishable fruit. Besides eating a ton of fresh bananas when they are ripe, I like to throw a bunch of firm, peeled bananas into the freezer in a Ziploc bag right away to use for later. Freezing them when still firm and not over ripe will ensure that they will not get icky in the freezing process (I’ve found that when I wait too long, they darken and get mushy in the freezer no matter what). Here are two of my favorite kid-friendly ways to use up frozen bananas and they could not be simpler! I hope you enjoy!


Monkey Smoothie

Aidan goes bananas for this simple way of using bananas! It takes two seconds to make, is a satisfying snack for little ones, and the frozen banana gives this shake the exact consistency of a Frosty! Aidan loves coming home from school and asking me to whip up a Monkey Smoothie!


Makes approx. one 8-oz serving, adjust amounts for more servings

  • 1 cup milk
  • 1-2 tablespoons chocolate syrup, more or less depending on personal preference
  • One whole frozen banana


  1. Place all ingredients into a blender, and process until smooth and yet still thick. Enjoy!


Banana Pops

My mother used to make these for me as a child. It’s a fast, easy way of getting your fruits in at dessert time and you can custom-make each pop with an array of “toppings.” If you’re using up frozen bananas with this recipe, be sure to insert the wooden craft sticks in the fresh bananas first.



8 servings

  • 4 ripe but firm bananas
  • 8 wooden craft sticks
  • Approx. 6 oz semi-sweet chocolate morsels
  • 2-3 tablespoons each of your favorite items to decorate the pops with: coconut flakes, granola, sprinkles, crushed nuts, crushed candy pieces, etc.
  1. Cut each peeled banana crosswise and insert a craft stick into each half. Place on tray lined with wax or parchment paper and place in freezer until frozen, about 3-4 hours.
  2. Melt the chocolate over a double boiler, stirring constantly and being careful not to burn until smooth and completely melted. Roll the frozen banana in the melted chocolate, covering almost completely or to your own preference.
  3. Immediately sprinkle your toppings over the chocolate portions so it sticks, and place on a tray covered with new wax paper. Cover with plastic wrap and place in freezer until chocolate hardens. If not serving immediately, cover in airtight container and keep in freezer until ready to enjoy! 


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Established in 2006 in memory of Laila Rose Engh, The Laila Rose Foundation partners with Living Hope Adoptions to provide financial assistance to families adopting foreign born children with medical needs. Laila Rose, the namesake of the charity, and her mother, Lisa, lost their lives tragically in an automobile accident in 2005.