Kids think it’s fun to grow organic tomatoes from seed in a raised bed garden. Large organic Red Brandywine Heirloom tomatoes are juicy sweet sliced thick for a summer sandwich with basil and drizzled with organic extra virgin olive oil. Tomatoes are rich in fiber, antioxidants, vitamin C, beta-carotene, B vitamins, potassium, iron, and phosphorous. When harvesting a lot of tomatoes at once, kids can make an amazing fresh tomato soup. Wash and rough chop 5 Brandywines, 1 organic bell pepper, 1 organic sweet yellow onion, 1 organic carrot, and 1 organic celery stick with tops. In a pot on medium heat, add 1 tbsp organic extra virgin olive oil, pour in the chopped veggies, and sprinkle with sea salt. Stirring occasionally, bring to a boil and simmer for 20 minutes. In a blender add ¼ cup fresh basil leaves, ¼ tsp sea salt, 1/8 tsp cumin, the tomato mix and blend until smooth.
Freshly cooked organic dried beans are more nutritious, firmer, less expensive, and more flavorful than anything from a can. Kids can check the date on the package of organic dried beans to make sure they are fresh. As dried beans are not washed before packaging, kids need to rinse and sort them before cooking. For most bean varieties, 1 cup dried beans makes 3 cups of cooked beans. Kids can make wraps, tacos, and quesadillas with them all week. To make them easier to digest, kids can strain and cover the beans with water. By soaking the beans in water, the enzymes that cause intestinal gas are leached out. Kids can soak the beans overnight or, to make them even healthier, soak them for a couple of days to encourage them to sprout before cooking them. After soaking, drain and rinse the beans. Use fresh filtered water to cook the beans, as hard water causes the beans not to cook through or to cook unevenly. Cover the beans with 1 – 2 inches of water, bring to a boil, and slowly simmer. Smaller beans like navy beans will be done in an hour; larger beans like chickpeas can take 1½ to 3 hours of simmering over the low heat. Kids can have the beans simmering while they are doing homework in the afternoon, happy to get up and stir the beans occasionally. When the beans are almost cooked add sea salt and herbs to infuse the beans with flavor. After the beans have finished cooking and let them sit in the salted water for at least 30 minutes before serving and refrigerate them in their cooking water for a week and in the freezer for 2 months.
Kids can be responsible stewards of the earth by starting in their own yard. Creating a sustainable landscape with low water usage and low maintenance where we live is an attainable goal. Ninety percent of insects are beneficial and aesthetically beautiful native plants are their food and shelter. To make a landscape sustainable the plants must be climate appropriate, be planted with awareness of their future growth, grouped with plants with the same water needs, and arranged for wildlife habitats. Birds, butterflies, and bees need certain plants, shrubs, and trees for food, water, and shelter. To encourage wildlife, kids can plant a balanced ecosystem, with plants that repel pests and attract friendly insects, birds, and critters. Kids can get their Wildlife Habitat certified by The National Wildlife Federation by going to www.nwf.org.
Kids can plant native plants in the right place for their sun and water needs instead of lawns. Raised beds and planter boxes for organic herbs and veggies filled with rich organic soil are attractive, wildlife friendly, and provide the best tasting, healthiest food for the family. Kids can keep water run-off on the property with land sculpting to add water features, which can solve drainage and erosion problems, as well as bring needed water for a wildlife habitat. Kids can plant fruit trees that grow well in their climate around the perimeter of their yard. The sound of running water, the smell of fresh fruit and herbs, and the cheerful colors of the flowers attract birds and butterflies, as well as turning the yard into a tranquil garden retreat.
Kids discover that the best tasting treat is fruit that is fresh, local, in season, and organic. Eating cherries while picking them make a great snack! Cherries also delicious juiced, in sauces, in oatmeal, in preserves, in lemonade, and salads. Cherries are rich in antioxidants, fight inflammations, and relieve stress. Kids can make cherry scones that are great for breakfast, snack or dessert. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Kids can wash, cut in half, and remove the pits of fresh organic cherries to fill 1 cup. In a small bowl, mix the cherries with ¼ cup organic chocolate chips, 1 tsp organic maple syrup, 1 tsp cane sugar, and ½ tsp vanilla. Add ¼ cup of organic whole wheat pastry flour, stirring to cover the berries. In a large bowl combine 1 ½ cup organic whole wheat pastry flour, ¼ cup organic sugar, 1 tbsp baking powder, 1 tsp arrowroot starch, ¼ tsp sea salt. Cut into this mixture 1/3 cup cold organic vegan butter. Kids can mix with a fork until mixture has a coarse crumb consistency. Add the cherry mixture. Mix ½ cup organic almond milk into the flour mixture and stir until well blended. Turn dough onto a floured bread board and knead gently 8 to 10 times. Roll into a 6” round and cut into 8 equal wedges. Place wedges 1” apart on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake 15 – 17 minutes, until lightly browned.
Kids that grow organic red bell peppers in their raised bed garden can harvest peppers that are rich in Vitamin C, E, carotenoids and other essential nutrients that will increase as they ripen. Ripe organic red peppers have ten times more vitamin C than green peppers; one red pepper can fulfill the daily requirement. For a rich creamy pasta sauce, kids can preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Deseed, devein, and chop into quarters 2 organic red bell peppers and place on a flat sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Slice lengthwise 1 organic eggplant, chop 3 shallots, and mince 3 garlic cloves and arrange on the sheet pan. Drizzle organic extra virgin olive oil over the veggies and sprinkle with sea salt. Roast the veggies in the oven for 25 minutes. On a small sheet pan toast ¼ cup organic walnuts for 3 minutes. Pour ¼ cup organic extra virgin olive oil into a blender, add 1 tbsp fresh thyme, 2 tbsp fresh basil, 2 tsp organic lemon juice, ½ tsp sea salt, ¼ tsp red pepper flakes, and the toasted walnuts and blend. Slowly add the roasted veggies to the blender, pulsing and scraping with a rubber spatula. This sauce goes great on ravioli, pasta, flatbread, or pizza and can be made ahead and frozen.
“Rainwater, the cleanest and healthiest water for our gardens,” said Laura Maher, an organic seed saver and Ventura County water saving expert pictured above, “but this wonderful water is dispersed and lost into rivers, lakes, and oceans.” Kids can harvest water right where they live and use the water for their fruit and veggie gardens by attaching a rain barrel to the down spout from their roof. Rain barrels usually hold 60 gallons, but fill quickly in a rain storm. Gutters, downspouts, and pipes can be installed from the roof to various sizes of tanks and cisterns, even placed at some distance from the house, as long as the tank inlet is at least one foot lower than the bottom of the gutter. Tanks should use screens to keep out insects and be dark colored to discourage algae.
Native plants used in a home’s landscape require the least amount of water and offer food and shelter for beneficial insects and wildlife. By using native plants rather than a lawn, contouring the landscape, making curb cuts from the street, and building swales, homeowners can harvest an abundance of rainwater on site. Swales are recessions in the soil or low tracts of marsh land that hold water and keep organic matter on site. To create a swale, dig down six inches and use the dirt to make a berm on the downhill side. This swale will manage water runoff, filter pollutants, and increase rainwater infiltration. By using mulch and cover crops, the flow of rainwater during a storm can be slowed and encouraged to percolate into the soil.
Families can also divert gently used water from their shower, bathtub, bathroom sink, and laundry to water trees and shrubs. However, greywater users must switch to plant friendly laundry soap as salts and Boron are micro-toxins that can build up and kill their plants. One simple reuse option is using a bucket in the shower to catch the cold water before it heats up. This can often be the right amount to water patio plants and veggies or flush a toilet in an apartment. Families can harvest and store the most water by creating swales and by sculpting their landscape to keep the water on site.
All in One Bowl meals are popular in high end restaurants and local food trucks. Kids can make a tasty One Bowl Meal at home with this hearty, comforting dish with organic veggies fresh from the garden. Kids can cook ½ cup organic whole grain brown rice, which retains the nutrient-rich bran and germ. Organic peanuts are a good source of Vitamins E and B, protein, and a plethora of antioxidants including resveratrol. Kid Chefs can make a tasty peanut sauce by heating 2 tbsp organic extra virgin olive oil in a sauce pan, adding 1/3 cup finely chopped organic red onion, and sauté until the onion is soft. Add 2 tbsp fresh peeled and grated organic ginger, 1 clove minced organic garlic, ¼ tsp cumin, 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper and continue to sauté 2 or 3 minutes. Remove from stove and add 1 tbsp organic soy sauce, 3 tbsp water, 3 tbsp organic peanut butter, the juice of 1 lime, and ¼ tsp salt and whisk until smooth. Wash, chop, and steam 1 organic zucchini, 4 organic crimini mushrooms, 1 organic carrot, and 1 cup organic pak choi. Add the veggies and peanut sauce to the rice and mix thoroughly. This quick, yummy, nutrient rich dish is a kids’ favorite that the whole family will enjoy.