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Challenge: Raising Kind Kids

Three Ways to Teach Kindness from Your Kitchen

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As a newest member of the mom club, I now understand the many challenges, big and small, that come with raising a child. From worrying about whether they’re getting enough to eat, to praying we can make it one more errand without a meltdown and mindlessly searching for their favorite stuffed animal, it’s safe to say that my days can get a bit hectic. But as my daughter is growing, I am starting to encounter challenges that are less practical and more personal.

Teaching kids to be charitable can be trying. Just try explaining the concept of sharing to a two-year-old. We all want to raise our children to be kind, self-sufficient, giving people. So how do we do this? I’d like to share with you a few tips and tricks I’ve picked up from family and friends on how to teach kindness from the kitchen.

Treasure the Family Meal: Coming from a large Italian family, I have always viewed family dinners as more than just a meal. The dinner table was a place my parents taught, reinforced, and encouraged us as children to be better.

In fact, according to recent research from Red Gold Tomatoes, the majority of parents use the family as the essential moment to talk to children about issues facing today’s world, including hunger and poverty. Although my child is too young to understand these issues fully, we do use this moment to connect as a family and reinforce the kind behavior that our daughter has exhibits throughout the day.

Be an Example: As a chef, I am drawn to engaging in charitable acts of service by providing food for those in need. Preparing meals and sharing them with others is one of my joys, especially when my daughter can be a part of it.

I was shocked to learn that, according to the USDA, 1 in 8 Americans face hunger, including 13 million children. That means that 1 in 8 Americans don’t know where their next meal is going to come from. The idea that for so many families across this country the family meal is an aspiration rather than an everyday reality is why I have partnered with the Red Gold’s Crush Hunger campaign.

This October, Red Gold is making it easy to be kind. For every can of Red Gold Tomato products purchased (includes Redpack, Tuttorosso and Huy Fong), Red Gold will donate one meal to Feeding America, with a goal of providing 2 million meals nationwide. As a fourth-generation, family-owned company, Red Gold knows the importance of the family meal and is committed to help fight hunger.

When I decided to be a part of Red Gold’s Crush Hunger campaign last year I knew my involvement would be good for our family. Through leading by example, I am able to show my daughter how to do our part in helping others.

Encourage Giving Back: All parents seek to inspire their children in different ways. As part of my goal to teach kindness, as she grows, I will encourage my daughter to share with her friends, say kind words and to act in a compassionate way. There are countless ways we can lead by example and demonstrate how to give back in our own communities. For example, go volunteer with your children at food banks, soup kitchens or nursing homes. By sharing these experiences, your child is more likely to continue this compassionate behavior as they get older.

By participating in programs like the Crush Hunger campaign, we can teach our children that being kind is easy! A simple act of buying one can and making a delicious family meal means one meal for a family in need. And as someone who LOVES to cook, you know this campaign has my whole family involved.

To make it even easier for you to help Crush Hunger, I have developed a new recipe for a scrumptious slow cooker lasagna. This dish is perfect for the start of autumn. As we turn over to our crisp weather foods, this lasagna is definitely a keeper and will surely fill your belly while also helping those in need.

Find my recipe below and let’s teach kindness by crushing hunger together!

Slow Cooker Lasagna

1 Tbsp of Olive Oil

1 lb of Ground Beef

½ of an Onion, diced

3 Cloves of Garlic, minced

1 tsp of Italian Seasoning

2 14.5 oz cans of Red Gold Diced Tomatoes

1 14.5 oz can of Red Gold Tomato Puree

28 oz Container of Whole Milk Ricotta

1 Egg

¼ cup of Freshly Grated Parmesan Cheese

9 Lasagna Noodles

Salt, to taste

½ cup of Water

4 cups of Shredded Mozzarella


1) Add the oil to a large skillet with high sides, preheat it over medium high heat and add the ground beef, chopped onion and garlic, add a pinch of salt and saute for about 3 to 4 minutes or until the ground beef is mostly cooked.

2) Add the diced tomatoes and Red Gold tomato puree to the skillet with beef mixture, add a touch of water (about ¼ cup) to the can of the tomato puree, swish it around and add it to the skillet.

3) Season with some salt and Italian seasoning, reduce the heat to medium low and simmer for about 40 minutes.

4) In a large bowl, mix together the ricotta, egg, parmesan cheese and a generous pinch of salt, set aside.

5) Time to layer. Grease the base and sides of your slow cooker then add a touch of sauce in the bottom, layer 3 pieces of lasagna noodles (if you have to break them to fit, feel free to do so) add ¼ of the sauce, followed by ⅓ of the ricotta mixture and ¼ of the mozzarella, repeat this process 2 more times, then finish off with the last 3 noodles, cover with the last ¼ of the sauce.

6) Cook the lasagna on low for 2 hours, then top with the remaining mozzarella and continue to cook for another hour and a half.

7) After the lasagna has cooked, remove the slow cooked insert and allow it to sit at room temperature for a minimum of 30 minutes before serving.

8) Cut and serve!


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