Have you ever noticed that most“kid food” is often about flashy, colorful packaging rather than about good nutrition? Inside the box, kid favorites like processed mac n cheese, chicken nuggets, pizza, etc., are just "brown." There’s got to be a way to make these beloved foods healthy and tasty. Oh, and not take forever to make! I’ve come up with some recipes that have become a big hit with my own family, and I’d like to share them with you. I aim to make all my recipes healthy, easy, tasty, affordable, and fast. They are so easy, in fact, kids of all ages can help you make them (and that’s kind of the idea).


(What are all those letter’s after her name???)

​​Mandy H. Layman, MS, RD, LD/N, CDE


MS – Master of Science. I received my Master’s degree in Food Science & Human Nutrition from the University of Florida. I received my Bachelor’s degree in Nutrition & Dietetics from Samford University.

RD – Registered Dietitian

LD/N – Licensed Dietitian/Nutritionist, Florida

CDE – Certified Diabetes Educator

This all started a few years ago. It hit me one day when my daughter was about 3 years old. She came into the kitchen while I was rushing to get dinner together and asked me if she could help me cook. My initial reaction was, “No, I need to you stay out of the kitchen.” But then I thought, “That’s not right...” So, I pulled a stool up to the counter and gave her a simple task to work on. Yes, it slowed me down, but only by about 10 minutes. Plus, she learned something new, and it was quality time spent with my child. What more do we really want as parents than to have quality time with our kids and hopefully teach them something useful? That’s the day I decided whenever my kids ask to help me cook, my answer will always be “Yes!” It’s quite amazing what kids are capable of in the kitchen and a bonus that they can have fun doing it. What wonderful skills they will be able to carry on with them as they grow into adults! My kids think they’re having fun, but truth be told, I’m actually training them to cook dinners for ME one day (wink, wink).

Just like many kids, my daughter (now age 7) and my son (almost age 4) went through picky eating phases. (See my tips for picky eaters). Don’t get me wrong, they still have their moments of stubbornness about eating and the occasional “yuck face.” Including them in cooking has encouraged them to try new foods, though! They were both snapping green beans at age 1. Sure, the green beans were snapped into odd lengths, and I had to pick out a few missed stems, but so what! It was a great way to involve them, and made it fun to eat the green beans later! My mission is to encourage more parents to include kids of all ages in the kitchen. Of course, the child’s age and maturity level will determine what they are capable of doing in the kitchen. For example, I wouldn’t hand over my sharp knife to just any 5-year-old, but I would let them crack an egg. Oh, and it’s okay if they make a mess, because part of learning to cook is learning to clean up! 

I am frequently asked where my kid-friendly recipes can be found, which is why I decided to put this website together. Please understand that I am not a full-time blogger, so I’m going to post recipes a few at a time. On this site, you will find a detailed recipe and nutrition analysis for every dish, along with “Before” and “After” photos (thanks to my photog” husband). All products were purchased at my local grocery store and the finished dish is fresh out of my own kitchen. If you have a request for a healthier version of a favorite dish, send me a message, and I’ll see what I can do! Who knows, you might see your requested dish featured as my next recipe!

Cooking with kids has been a long-time passion of mine, and I even found a way to incorporate it into my work by teaching cooking classes in my clinical practice. I have been working as a registered dietitian in a children’s specialty clinic in Central Florida for over 10 years. I see pediatric patients for a variety of nutrition related concerns, such as food allergies/intolerances, failure to thrive, hyperlipidemia, etc., but my two primary roles are with pediatric overweight/obesity and diabetes (type 1 and type 2). The joy I found cooking with my own kids inspired me to create a cooking class that my patients and families participate in as part of their clinical treatment.


Florida Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics – “Effective Nutrition Prescription”


University of Central Florida Medical School – “Nutritional Management of Type 1 Diabetes”


Compass Research – “Healthy Eating for Diabetes”


The Sleep Sense Program – “Infant and Toddler Nutrition”


Gerber / Babies R Us – “Nutrition for Pregnancy through Toddler Years” (monthly seminars)


Reducing Obesity in Central Florida Kids (ROCK) – “Motivational Interviewing”


Orlando Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics – “Pediatric Overweight and Obesity Interventions”


Boys and Girls Club of Central Florida – monthly seminars for parents on a variety of nutrition and wellness topics


National Initiative for Children’s Healthcare Quality (NICHQ) – “Motivational Interviewing for Pediatric Obesity”



Contact Mandy for speaking opportunities.