Cooking Magic for Kids

Kid Chef Rainbow Slaw

Kids can harvest organic veggies from their raised bed garden or visit the Farmer’s Market to make this Rainbow Slaw incredibly crisp, crunchy, and healthy. Nutritionists agree that eating a rainbow of raw organic veggies fresh from the garden is the panacea for good health. The combination of these veggies make this slaw a broom salad to help sweep toxins out of the body. Cabbage has been known for thousands of years as a miracle food for good health as it improves digestion, detoxifies the stomach and upper colon, kills bacteria and viruses, and stimulates the immune system. Each different color of veggie adds up to a kaleidoscope of different phytonutrients, vitamins, and minerals for a power packed slaw. Fresh raw organic veggies are especially sweet and full of flavor.

Kid can chop ¼ green cabbage, ¼ purple cabbage, ¼ cup red onion, ¼ red bell pepper, and 1 celery stick into a bowl. Kids can carefully grate 2 carrots and 2 radishes into the bowl. Finely cut 2 tsp fresh herbs from the garden (like tiny sprigs of basil, mint, cilantro, dill, rosemary, oregano, and thyme) to add to the mixture. Toss and mix the herbs and veggies throughly. Kids can make this salad and store it without dressing in the refrigerator for a week. 

In a small bowl, mix a dressing of 1 tsp organic apple cider vinegar, 1 tbsp organic extra virgin olive oil, and a dash of sea salt and cayenne pepper. Pour the dressing on the individual salads and mix. Rainbow Slaw is great to give extra crunch inside a sandwich or burger.  Serve at a family meal, a picnic, or school lunch.

Kids Healthy Tea Party

A cup of tea as an afternoon energizing and relaxing break has been enjoyed world wide since Emperor Shen Nong of China included it in his garden five thousand years ago. The bioactive compounds in a cup of green, black, white, or oolong tea impact every cell in the body to help improve the body’s health. The antioxidants, flavonoids, amino acid, and caffeine in organic tea creates a state of calm alertness. My grandmother would serve a cup of tea during an emergency to settle everyone down. Evidence indicates that the antioxidants in tea reduce the progress of cancer, liver disease, heart disease, and mental function. Tea is a great replacement beverage for sugary sodas and offers an opportunity for family conversation. 

Preparing for an afternoon family tea time is a good way to introduce toddlers to cooking basics. Teachers have found that a weekly or monthly tea party increases attention spans and good attitudes during reading time. Kids of all ages love to create an afternoon tea party with friends at home or school. Get out a special teapot and cups and pour hot water into the them for a minute and then discard it. Adding organic loose leaf tea to a warmed teapot allows the tea leaves to unfurl and gives the best flavor, 2 – 5 tsp (less for green and more for black) brewed for 2 – 8 minutes (depending on the tea). Prepare a healthy fruit dish or bake some organic oatmeal cookies to make it an occasion. A relaxing cup of tea is a soothing way to improve health, lighten moods, increase metabolism, and boost energy. 

Kids Companion Garden

Certain plants perform better when in the presence of other plants. Companion planting cultivates veggies that grow well together, nourish each other’s roots, and enhance their flavors, nutrients, and resilience to pests and diseases. Plants send out natural chemical signals, like when radishes are planted with lettuce to enhance its flavor. Food combinations like tomatoes and basil, potatoes and bush bean, or carrots and peas are good companion plantings. When the Native American Three Sisters, corn, squash, and beans, are grown together, their roots nourish each other with compatible nutrients and when eaten together they provide a balanced meal. Kids can grow companion plants close together and rotate the plants in the same family to different planting beds each year to increase growth, flavor, and nutrition of the veggies. 

Some plants can be planted as a border to help repel pesky bugs. When carrots are partnered with leeks, the strong smells of the partner plant repel harmful insects from the other plant. Herbs, like chamomile, lemon balm, coriander, marjoram, and oregano, and pretty edible flowers, like nasturtiums and marigolds, are particularly good companion plants, attracting pollinators and beneficial insects to the garden. Kids can plant these perennials along the edge of the bed so they need not be disturbed when the bed is replanted.

There are a few plants that don’t mix well together, needing all the available water and nutrients in the soil or attracting the same pests and diseases. Certain plants, like cucumbers and potatoes, are affected by mildew and blights and should be planted far away from each other.

Kids can plan their organic vegetable garden better when they understand that certain plants enjoy growing together. Companion planting is planting different veggies close together for mutual benefits, attracting beneficial insects, nourishing each others roots, and helping to eliminate pests and diseases.

Kid Chef Cacao Beet Cupcakes

In England, during the Victorian era, beets were often added to cakes for a natural boost of moisture and sweetness. Beets contain more natural sweetness than other veggies. The lovely color of the beets plus the intense flavor of 70% dark chocolate makes these cupcakes a hit. Preheat the oven to 350°. Line a 12 cupcake pan with parchment liners. Steam 12 oz of chopped organic beets until tender. Kids can place 2 oz of organic 70% dark chocolate candy in a small bowl in a steamer set in another pot of simmering water.  Allow the chocolate to melt, stirring often.  Whisk in ½ cup Trader Joe’s Organic Cacao Powder and ⅓ cup organic canola oil until smooth. Pour the beets and chocolate in the blender and mix until smooth. Add ¾ cup organic cane sugar, 2 tsp arrowroot starch, 4 tbsp organic almond milk, 1 tsp vanilla, ½ tsp baking soda, and ½ tsp sea salt, and blend until the sugar is dissolved. Add ¾ cup organic whole wheat pastry flour and mix. Divide batter between the prepared cupcake holders and bake 20 to 22 minutes, rotating cupcake pan half way through baking. Cool in the cupcake pan 15 minutes and remove from pan and cool 1 hour. 

For a fluffy topping, refrigerate a 14 oz can of Trader Joe’s Organic Coconut Cream for 24 hours. Chill a mixing bowl 10 minutes and pour in the thicken cream. Whip with cake mixer 30 seconds and add ¾ cup powdered sugar, and ½ tsp vanilla and mix 1 minute until fluffy and creamy. Frost cupcakes and refrigerate to set. Serve with organic chocolate syrup.

Kids Beet Tattoos

Beets come in a variety of colors and the different colored beet juice can temporarily stain the skin, red, golden yellow, pink, and purple. Kids enjoy making and wearing temporary tattoos. Wash a fresh beet, slice off the root end half, put the beet in a shallow pan of water with the greens sticking upward, and boil for 4 to 6 minutes. Let cool. Kids can use a mini cookie cutter, like a star, heart, or spade to create their tattoo. We used a spade for little gardeners. Press the cookie cutter into the tender beet half, remove it, leaving an imprint of the shape. Cut away the beet around the shape to leave a raised stamp pattern for the tattoo. Kids can lick the beet stamp, press on it their hand, and let the pattern dry a minute. For face painting kids can use different colored beets and different shaped cookie cutters. To erase a mistake, cut a piece of raw potato, put it under running water, and rub away the beet juice. All the beet tattoos come off in the bathtub when kids are done. This is a fun project for kids to get that first sweet taste of beets. Playing with food prepares kids for liking new tastes. 

Kids grow Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes are tubers that grow from a vine that come in over 400 varieties and in different shades of white, cream, yellow, orange, pink, or deep purple. Each color adds its own phytonutrients. Sweet potatoes belong to a different food family than either yams or potatoes and bring more nutrients to the table. Sweet potatoes are the best source of beta carotene, with antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and blood sugar regulating nutrients. What Americans call a yam is really a different type of sweet potato, as true yams are larger, native to Africa, and grow from one embryonic seed. Kids can eat organic sweet potato skins as they are filled with nutrients.  

Kids can propagate them by putting match sticks in an organic sweet potato and allowing roots and vines to grow, like in the picture. When the shoots form, kids can divide the tubers into pieces with shoots attached and plant them in their raised bed garden. To get more established plants, place the divided pieces in a shallow pan of water to develop roots before planting. Tubers are the food storage area grown from the plant stems beneath the ground. Sweet potatoes grow well in rich organic soil and love warm weather. Plant them along side beans, eggplant, and nasturtiums. Kids can harvest the sweet potatoes in the fall when the foliage has yellowed. Kids can lift them from the soil and let dry out for several days before storing them.

Kid Chef Spiced Nuts

Nuts make a terrific snack and are yummy in steamed rice, veggies, and baked goods. Organic raw nuts are heart healthy, weight loss helpers, and excellent sources of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. Kids can find organic raw nuts unshelled, such as almonds, pecans, walnuts, cashews, or peanuts. Raw nuts last longer, but the deep fragrant flavors and essential oils of nuts are released when they are toasted. The texture also changes, making the nuts crunchier and crisper. Nuts in the shell will last about 3 months in the pantry, about 6 months in the refrigerator, and over a year in an air tight container in the freezer.

Kids can preheat the oven to 400°and cover a rimmed baking sheet pan with parchment paper. Sprinkle a single layer of peanuts on the pan, add 2 or 3 minced sprigs of fresh herb leaves from the garden, 1 tbsp organic extra virgin olive oil, and sea salt and roast for 10 minutes. Kids can stir them with a wooden spoon every 2 to 3 minutes to ensure even golden browning and watch closely to prevent over browning. When the kitchen fills with a warm, toasty fragrance, kids can take them from the oven, let them cool, and lift the parchment paper to pour the nuts into the recipe or storage container. Or kids can spread cashews on the parchment covered baking pan, and roast for 10 minutes. Drizzle 1 tbsp melted organic extra virgin coconut oil on the cashews, sprinkle with ¼ tsp of curry powder, ¼ tsp sea salt, and toss to coat. For sweet nut treats, walnuts can be glazed with 1 tbsp maple syrup, ⅛ tsp ginger, and ⅛ tsp cinnamon and roasted 10 minutes. Pecans can be coated with cinnamon and sugar and roasted. Almonds can be sprinkled with truffle oil and sea salt before roasting. Kids can make nutrient rich nuts shine by roasting and mixing them with spices and serving them in pretty dishes at their next party.