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Family Meals Made Easy

Social Media Influencer Winny Hayes Shares Family-Friendly Recipes

Article by Michelle Talsma Everson

Photography by Winny Hayes

Originally published in Bellevue Lifestyle

With an estimated 276,000 followers on Instagram, 1.5 million followers on TikTok and 974,000 subscribers on YouTube, busy mom of two Winny Hayes has reached social media influencer status. Her fun and approachable videos and images feature colorful, easy-to-make dinners and lunches that she feeds her family, and they receive hundreds of thousands of regular views. 

“I have two kids, ages 8 and 9, who were born 11 months apart,” Hayes says. “My son was a great eater until he was about 18 months old and then he became very picky. I was freaking out trying to find solutions, so I’d do different things like take his food to the park and experiment with packing Bento boxes because then the food didn’t touch. So, it started from there.”

As time went on, Hayes packed more creative lunches for her husband and growing children. She focused on imaginative but easy-to-make recipes, including dinners that could be repurposed for delicious lunches the next day. Her specialty is healthy, colorful and vibrant meals that kids actually want to eat. She’s all about being efficient and saving time without sacrificing flavor. 

“I never realized my passion until I started doing this, but honestly, I love cooking, packing lunches and helping fellow busy parents,” she shares.

Winny’s Kid-Friendly Lunch Tips 

  • Make an extra portion of dinner for lunches the next day.

  • Invest in a good thermos for kids’ lunch boxes. Consider if your child will have time or the ability to re-heat something if they want a hot lunch. 

  • Don’t overwhelm them with new tastes and flavors—it can take multiple times for them to try new foods. 

  • Include a small treat in each lunch. 

WinnyHayes.com | IG and TikTok: @WinnyHayes

Rotisserie Chicken Orzo Soup

 Ingredients:

1 tablespoon butter

1/2 cup each, diced celery, carrots and onion

1/2 cup orzo

4 cups broth

2 cups shredded rotisserie chicken 

1 teaspoon fresh thyme

2 bay leaves

Fresh parsley

Seasonings: 

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon each black pepper, granulated onion, ground ginger, ground turmeric and garlic

Directions:

  • In a pot over medium heat, melt butter and add diced celery, carrots and onion. Add a pinch of salt and stir. Cook for about 5 minutes.

  • Add the orzo and mix it in with the veggies, let this cook for 2 minutes.

  • Add the seasonings and stir. After about a minute, add the broth, shredded rotisserie chicken, thyme and bay leaves. Stir and let it come to a boil. Reduce heat to low and cook for 8 minutes. Sprinkle parsley and enjoy.

Chinese Chicken Salad 

Ingredients:

2 cups of greens (a combination of napa cabbage, slaw mix and romaine)

1/4 cup shredded carrots

1/4 red bell pepper, sliced

2 tablespoons green onion, sliced

1/4 cup wonton strips

5 oz. shredded rotisserie chicken

4 oz. mandarin orange

Dressing

1 tablespoon soy sauce

2 tablespoons vinegar

1 teaspoon hoisin sauce

2 teaspoons sesame oil

1/2 teaspoon sugar

1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger

Directions:

  • Combine the dressing ingredients in a mason jar and shake.

  • Combine the salad ingredients, pour desired amount of dressing and toss.

  • If you are taking this to work in a lunch container, separate the mandarin orange, wonton strips and dressing. 

More helpful tips

  • If your kids don’t like their food touching, use Bento boxes to separate items.

  • Keep it simple: Make sure that children don’t have to put together their lunch (for example, don’t include build-your-own tacos).

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