Cooking Magic for Kids

Kids Dry Climate Edibles

Families that would like to plant food in their landscape, but live in a dry climate, like California or Arizona, can choose from a variety of fruit trees, plants, and vines that are drought tolerant and long living to plant around their home.

Globe Artichokes grow well in dry climates and have naturalized in the Californian coastal foothills; they are outstanding in the landscape with a gorgeous purple bloom that comes out of the immature bud that we eat. Dragon fruit, in the pictures above and below, is a cactus vine that can be grown in frost free coastal conditions and has highly ornamental flowers that yield large white sweet fruit and grows quickly in sheltered yards and gardens.

Fig trees prefer dry, warm climates, provide shade, and yield fruit sometimes twice a year; they grow in well drained full sun locations and dwarf varieties grow well in containers. Olive trees are long living and drought resistant and provide fruit for decades; they should be placed where the fruit won’t stain paving or patios. Pomegranate trees are self fruiting and like late summer heat and dry climates; they grow 8 to 15 feet high with multiple trunks. 

Thompson seedless grapes were discovered in the dry climate near Sacramento. Grapevines grown on arbors offer shade, can withstand hot seasons, and provide abundant fruit each year. Another cactus fruit, Prickly Pears, are the most drought resistant of all garden plants with abundant large fruits; they have been harvested in Mexico for centuries and were planted at the Californian missions where they continue to bloom every spring. All the above mentioned food sources add visual interest and shade to the landscape without extra irrigation.

Kid Chef Rice and Bean Burrito

Kids can create a make-your-own-burrito bar for a family dinner or a party. Kids also love to grab a burrito for lunch or snack. The fast food burrito is made with low quality ingredients filled with extra fat, salt, chemicals  and preservatives. The home made organic burrito is nutritious, inexpensive, energizing, and made with the best ingredients.  Organic brown rice and organic black beans are a perfect protein when eaten together, rich in fiber and phytonutrients. Cabbage improves digestion, detoxifies the stomach, kills bacteria and viruses, and stimulates the immune system.

Preheat the oven to 350°. Kids can cook ½ cup of organic brown basmati rice with 1 ¼ cup water on the stove for 50 minutes. In another pot, cook ½ cup of organic black beans for 40 minutes.

In the fall when cherry tomatoes are in abundance, kids can slice them, sprinkle them with organic extra virgin olive oil and sea salt, and put them in baking sheet pans with a slice of organic red onion, a deseeded chili, and a slice of organic red bell pepper and roast for 20 minutes. Put the onion, chili, red bell pepper, and ⅓ of the tomatoes in the blender and mix until smooth. Drain the cooked black beans and pour into a bowl with the roasted tomatoes and the sauce from the blender and stir.

Kids can make a cabbage salad with 1 cup of chopped organic cabbage, ¼ cup of chopped organic red onion, ¼ cup chopped organic red pepper, 1 chopped stalk of organic celery, and 2 grated organic carrots. Dress the salad with organic extra virgin olive oil and fresh lemon juice.

Heat 4 organic whole wheat tortillas in the oven for 5 minutes. Stuff the tortillas with the rice, beans, and salad, wrap them, and cut them in half. The salad will store in the refrigerator without salad dressing for several days to a week. Store the rice and beans separately in glass containers for up to a week. Kids can heat up rice, beans, and tortilla and stuff a fresh burrito whenever they like.

Kids Feed their Brain

The brain’s evolution took place over millions of years and our early ancestors ate 98% vegetarian. What kids eat affects their brain. Plant food provides brain essential vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, good carbohydrates, good fats, and lean protein for today’s dementia free centenarians. The dietary fiber in vegetables, as well as in grains, legumes, and berries, is critical for the health of our guts and brains at every meal. 

Kids love avocado toast, which is chockfull of heart and brain healthy fats with organic whole grain bread. Foods that are high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as organic walnuts, kiwi fruit, flaxseeds, chia seeds, coconut oil, and peanut butter, improve brain health. Nuts, seeds, and organic cold pressed extra virgin olive oil are healthy fats rich in antioxidants. However, trans fats found in all sorts of packaged processed foods (and in fast foods, snacks, and fried foods) contain poisons, chemicals, artificial ingredients and is a type of fat that is harmful and should be eliminated from the diet. 

Many processed “health”, “natural”, or “vegan” foods are filled with too much sugar, salt, and fat. Preparing a balanced diet of local, organic produce from the Farmers Market or the backyard garden, plus organic whole grains and beans can protect the brain and reduce the chance of developing mental disorders. When kids grow an organic veggie garden their brains are charged with healthy exercise, breathing fresh air, and communing with nature. Kids can get a powerful brain boost by growing their own colorful organic fruits and veggies and eating omega-3 rich foods. 

Kid Chef Mushroom Barley Soup

Kids love this comforting vegan soup, rich in nutrients. The meaty protein in the mushroom and complete protein in the organic tofu (non GMO soy) make this hearty vegetable soup a warm, comforting, satisfying meal. Organic whole grain barley is rich in fiber, niacin, selenium, copper, and phytonutrients with a nutty flavor. Kids can make this vegan soup with a quart of homemade organic veggie broth or use Pacific Organic Mushroom Broth.  

In a large soup pot, heat 4 tbsp organic extra virgin olive oil and sauté 5 oz sliced organic cremini, and 5 oz sliced organic shiitake mushrooms and 1 chopped organic red onion. Sprinkle with sea salt and cook 5 – 7 minutes until tender. Add 32 oz organic mushroom broth, 1 chopped organic green pepper, 2 chopped organic celery stalks, 2 sliced organic carrots and bring to a boil. Add ½ cup rinsed organic barley, 8 oz of organic sprouted extra firm tofu, ½ tsp sea salt, and ½ tsp curry powder. Cover and simmer 20 minutes.

Kids read Food Labels

When kids go to the grocery store with their folks, they can make a game of reading all the different labels on fresh and packaged foods. In the produce section, kids will find labels saying “USDA organic” and “local”, which means this produce was grown on certified organic farms in the local county. Organic farming practices build healthy soil that is non GMO and free of chemicals that can pollute nearby waters or poison wildlife. Rich organic soil contains many kinds of bacteria that help plants grow.  Locally grown produce is fresher and uses less fossil fuels to get the food to market. “All Natural” food labels contain no human made ingredients, but they are not organic and may contain GMO products. 

To discover that cooking fresh organic produce from scratch is the healthiest and most delicious way to prepare food, kids can check the “Nutrition Facts” food label on the packages of processed food. It tells how many servings are in the package, how many calories are in each serving, and how much nutrition this food provides. Kids can also check for the ‘Use by Date”, chemical additives and preservatives, allergy advice, and cooking times.    

When kids grow their own organic veggie garden, they not only get healthy organic food, but they discover their connection to the natural world around them.

Kids Heirloom Apples

There are thousands of cultivars of apples. Heirloom apples are older varieties with a wide diversity of seasons, flavor, and texture, produced in open pollination, and grown in small batches that have adapted to their local environment. Warmer winters and cooler summers in Washington State has made it the largest producer of apples nationally. However, kids can find an organic heirloom apple tree that grows well in their climate at a local nursery. Kids can grow apple trees in the school garden, the backyard, or in a planter box of rich organic soil on the patio by choosing a variety and dwarf rootstock that is hardy in their climate. To grow fruit, the apple rootstocks need to grow eight years, to experience cold weather in the winter, and to cross pollinate with another apple tree. A locally grown heirloom dwarf apple tree rootstock can be planted in a container and do well on sunny patios, balconies, and roof tops.

Apples are nature packed for the perfect energy rich, on the go snacks for kids. Kids can eat the skin of an organic apple as the apple skin contains a powerful antioxidant that protects brain cells and lowers cholesterol. Some apples are better for eating fresh, like Red Delicious or Gala, some are better for baking, like Granny Smith or Golden Delicious, some are good for storing, like Fuji or Rome, and others are best for juicing, like Cider apples. Apples range in flavor, as sun, temperature, and harvest time affect their taste. To bake the best apple pie, kids can mix their favorite tart apple with their favorite sweet apple. A fall harvest of organic home grown apples is a Super Food snack for kids.

Kid Chef Apple Bundt Cake

The central hole in the bundt pan lets the middle of this moist apple cake cook perfectly. Apples are a nutritious source of fiber, rich in antioxidants and phytonutrients with vitamin A and C and potassium. Organic apple cider adds that extra apple flavor to hit the spot. Bring 4 cups organic apple cider to boil in a skillet over high heat and cook 20 – 25 minutes to reduce it to 1 cup. Preheat the oven to 350°. Spray organic extra virgin olive oil on the 12 cup bundt pan and sprinkle with flour. Tap pan to evenly distribute the flour. In a large bowl, whisk 3 ¾ cup organic whole wheat pastry flour, ½ tsp sea salt, 1½ tsp baking powder, ¾ tsp baking soda, ¾ tsp cinnamon, and ¼ tsp allspice. Place ¾ cup confectioners’ sugar in small bowl and add 2 tbsp cider reduction and whisk to form smooth icing. Cover with plastic and set aside. Set aside 6 tbsp cider reduction in another small bowl. 

Put the remaining ½ cup cider reduction in a large bowl with 16 tbsp melted vegan butter, 1½ cups of organic brown sugar, 3 tsp arrowroot starch, 2 tsp vanilla, and whisk until smooth. Pour the cider mixture over the flour mixture and stir with rubber spatula. Peal and shred with a grater 1½ pounds (3 cups) organic Granny Smith apples into a bowl. Stir the apples and any juice into the flour mixture. Pour the mixture into the prepared bundt pan. Bake 55 – 65 minutes with a baking sheet under the bundt pan and rotating the pan half way through. Cool 10 minutes on wire rack placed in baking sheet. Brush the exposed cake with reserved cider reduction. Invert cake onto rack, remove pan, brush top and sides of cake with the rest of the cider reduction. Let cake cool 20 minutes. Stir icing and drizzle it evenly back and forth over the cake. Let cake cool 2 hours before serving. This cake can be stored at room temperature for 3 days.