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We’re always looking for ways to make real food feel special for kids, and frankly I will take any ideas you all have for getting your kids to eat the good stuff when they’d rather have fast food. We tried this approach.

You know how every fast food chain celebrates a movie release or holiday with special meal? And because of that – oh, and sugar-salt-fat addictive whammy in their foods – they have lured us to their counters to say supersize me (and my butt and my kid’s butt).

We took a page out of their book for a food celebration in our home and a then took another page from their menu for our dinner and then another page out of Cooking Light to make our dinner, well, out of real food. That was three pages which were only three thousand one hundred fifty four pages short of what we were celebrating in the first place.

It was February, so very long ago – reading month for my son’s fourth grade class. The goal, not the contest, was that every student read 400 pages. The record, not the contest, was 2000 pages. My son just happens to love reading (anything but his mom’s blog -“it’s weird to write about our dinner”) and he just happened to fall into the Pendragon series – well the rest was history – 3157 pages later.

I’m sure you’re thinking that in this day of every kid gets a trophy just for putting on a pair of gym shorts or that announcements are made over the school’s loud speaker for the kids who sell the most Sally Foster gift wrapping paper, that the school might do something, some acknowledgement of the academic feat that kept him holed up in his room and his mom racing all over the Los Angeles PublicLibrary branches to find each book as he needed it. In all fairness, the school (I’m not supposed to talk about) had a fantastic celebration for all with an amazing, healthy fiesta lunch and the headmaster brilliantly acknowledged that all the kids were winners because they read. They know better than I why not to single out kids and focus on numbers and rankings. But, we’re not that brilliant and so we had our own celebration.

First with a dinner inspired by his favorite fast food restaurant (yes, he goes to fast food restaurants – I have a husband, right?), and rather than a giant cake with numbers, we had tiny cakes with giant numbers. This ten yearold boy, and you never know which one you’re going to get, loved it, he used his book to fan out the candles, and thanked me many times to which I said “your real prize honey is loving to read…now let’s have a cupcake and watch the Simpsons.”

And just a quick note about our inspired hamburger. In-n-out is a fairly decent fast food restaurant with a simple menu that uses only fresh ingredients – no additives or preservatives. We hear the secret in the burger is mustard and then everyone goes gaga for the sauce. That’s where Cooking Light comes in, sort of. Starting with CL’s idea to make the sauce with a recipe provided in the latest issue and combing the internet for all of the other recipe speculators, I came to a simple prep I liked.

So, bring it on and share your ideas for making a celebration out of real food.

homemade in-n-out burgers, cause for celebration

preptime: 5 minutes

1/3 c veganaise (mayo okayo)

2 T ketchup

2 T pickle relish

2 t dijon mustard

1/2 t white wine or other lighter vinegar

  1. Mix.
  2. Serve.
  3. Eat.

recipe inspired by cooking light who was inspired by in-n-out and provided and eaten by your friends at crunchtimefood.com


  1. Elizabeth says Mar 8th 2011 7:50 pm

    The sauce looks easy- I’ll try it and congratulations to your amazing reader. THAT is quite the accomplishment.

  2. Leslie says Mar 14th 2011 7:18 pm

    Love this idea for a different, memorable celebration.

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