Current Issue
Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese
Photo: Heather Gaumer.

Healthier Soul Food at Home

Chef Lisa shares recipes that kids will love and parents will find easy to make.

Personal chef and creator of Gourmet Away, Lisa Givens, who’s done business in the Denver area for 16 years, encourages parents to help their kids eat a few more veggies. Get them involved in preparation, and try some remixes on long-beloved soul food: fried chicken and macaroni and cheese.

Butternut Squash Macaroni and Cheese

Using squash as a key ingredient is a good way to keep a creamy texture without using loads of cheese. As a bonus, this recipe can be frozen and reheated.

You Will Need:


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Add the butternut squash and onions to a pot and cover with water by at least an inch or two. Add vegetable broth concentrate for additional flavor.
  3. Bring the pot to a boil, turn down the heat to medium and simmer until the vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, cook the macaroni according to the package directions. Once drained, place the noodles back in the pot and set aside.
  5. When the squash and onions are tender, drain, and add them to a high-speed blender with the remaining ingredients except for the noodles and bread crumbs. Add the reserved liquid from either the pasta or the squash. Blend until completely smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Stir together the sauce and macaroni, then place in an oven-safe container.
  7. Spray a clean skillet with cooking spray and lightly brown the panko bread crumbs. Sprinkle the crumbs across the macaroni and bake for eight to 12 minutes.

Baked Ranch Chicken Tenders

Photo: Heather Gott.

This is an easy dish to prepare ahead and freeze, plus a healthier, non-fried chicken tender.

You Will Need:


  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Combine the crushed corn flakes, parsley, and salt in a shallow bowl or pie plate.
  3. Cut the chicken breasts into strips about 3/4 of an inch wide and 3 inches long, or use pre-cut tenders
  4. Combine the dressing, water, and hot sauce in a large mixing bowl. Add the chicken and stir to coat.
  5. Roll the chicken in the crumb mixture to coat.
  6. Spray a foil-lined baking sheet and place the strips on the baking sheet; spray with additional cooking spray.
  7. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, checking periodically. Serve with ketchup or honey mustard.

Note: These can be prepared and frozen for later, before baking, as needed. To serve, heat the oven to 425 degrees, place frozen strips on a lightly greased baking pan and bake for 18 to 20 minutes.

Family Food

Newsletter Signup

Your weekly guide to Mile High family fun. Colorado Parent has a newsletter for every parent. Sign Up