Kids can grow a handy container of organic salad greens by the door to pick for dinner as lettuces like some shade. A secret to making great salads is less is more. Too many ingredients muddle the flavors and not all ingredients go together. First wash all the greens in a salad spiner, a plastic strainer kids can use to spin the leaves dry. Kids can taste each leaf to decide which type of greens will be the bases of their salad. Some lettuces and greens have complementary flavors and a mix of greens adds texture and visual appeal. Kids can add one or a variety of veggies that are especially yummy in salad, such as, radishes, carrots, broccoli, peas, celery, corn, or asparagus. Kids can slice or grate raw veggies, tasting each ingredient to make sure it doesn’t become too busy. Kids can also roast or grill veggies for their salad. For texture and protein, kids can add nuts, seeds, croutons, beans, or chickpeas. For sweetness, fresh or dried fruits can be added. Capers and olives add saltiness, pickles add sharpness, and peppers add spice. Just before serving, kids can dress the salad sparingly, as overdressing drowns the leaves and masks their delightful flavors. For delicate greens, kids can dress it lightly with organic vinegar or lemon and extra virgin olive oil. For sturdier greens or cabbage, kids can use a richer and thicker dressing with tahini or soy yogurt. Kids can toss the salad in a large bowl, making sure all of the leaves are coated very lightly with dressing and sprinkle sea salt from above to distribute it evenly. There are so many choices; kids can make a different salad every day with what is in season in the garden.
Kids love the enchanting flavor of coconut and cinnamon blended together with organic brown basmati rice, wild rice, and dried super berries. Wild rice is the same rice that Native Americans were growing for thousands of years. Goji berries contain the 8 essential amino acids and are rich in vitamins A, B, C, and E, minerals, omega 6 fatty acids with anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, and anti-fungal properties. Kids can easily make this rice dish by putting ½ cup of organic Wild Rice Mixed with Basmati Rice in a pot with 1 cup coconut milk, ¼ cup water, and 1 tsp organic virgin coconut oil and bring to a boil. Add ¼ cup dried goji berries, ½ tsp cinnamon, ¼ tsp sea salt, 1/8 tsp cloves, 1/8 tsp nutmeg, and 1/8 tsp turmeric. Simmer for 35 minutes, remove from heat, and let sit 5 minutes. Kids love this nutrition rich rice dish that is both sweet and savory.
Coconuts are nutritional powerhouses, with electrolytes in its coconut water, antimicrobial properties in its heart healthy coconut oil, and nutrient and enzyme rich in its coconut meat. Coconuts can be substituted for butter, cream, and milk in recipes. Coconut products, such as coconut oil, flour, yogurt, sugar, and milk can be used to make breads, soups, entrees, desserts, and skin moisturizers. To get the water from a mature brown coconut, puncture the softest of the three “eyes” at the coconut’s top with a paring knife and drain the water into a glass. This coconut water makes a perfect sport drink for kids. Coconuts have a very hard shell and it takes practice to crack it open. Kids need an adult to open a coconut with a cleaver tapping around the middle until it splits in half. Fresh coconut is the meat from a mature brown coconut and can be grated to add to many recipes. The most common form of coconut milk for cooking comes in a can, not in the carton next to the soy and almond milk. To make coconut milk at home, kids can put the chopped meat of one coconut in an industrial food processor and puree until smooth. Strain this mixture through a fine-mesh sieve. The pulp can be ground into coconut flour and the milk can be stored in the refrigerator. Many people around the world consider coconut oil to be a cure for all illnesses. Organic virgin coconut oil is a medium-chain fatty acid that gives the body an instant source of energy, is nutrient dense and boosts immunity. Kids can use coconut products with fresh, dried, or roasted fruit in many breakfast or dessert recipes. Kids will delight in the creaminess of coconut milk and ice cream and the crunchy texture of dried coconut and coconut chips. Coconut is an ideal ingredient as it can be creamy, crunchy, sweet, or savory and kids love the flavor.
With a simple rimmed heavy gauge aluminized- steel baking sheet, kids can roast, bake, or broil a delicious, healthy one-pan meal in minutes. The low sides and flat surface of a sheet pan allow the heat to seal and crisp the outside of the ingredients, drawing out the natural sugars, keeping the insides tender, and intensifying the flavors. The rim of the pan seals in the flavorful juices and reduces the chance of hot liquid spilling as the pan is removed from the oven. An entire meal can be prepared quickly on one commercial-quality pan making the clean up simple. For a party, the ingredients can be prepared ahead on the sheet pan. Kids can simply pop the pan in the oven at any time and still enjoy the party.
Kids need to cut the foods to about the same size and thickness so they will all cook evenly spread in a single layer on the sheet pan. Most veggies need to be brushed with organic oil or tossed into an oil based marinade before cooking on the baking sheet. Kids can add different ingredients in batches to allow for different cooking times. Heavy metal tongs are perfect for turning over the ingredients in the pan and for transferring foods to the serving platter.
Textured aluminized-steel rectangle sheet pans with at least a 1 inch rim distribute heat evenly for perfect browning. When acidic ingredients, like tomatoes, are cooked in pans made of aluminum, copper, or unseasoned cast iron, trace amounts of molecules from the metal can leach into the food. Aluminized-steel does not leach into the food, is very strong, can resist damage from cooking, and keeps its shine. Nonstick pans are easy to clean, but they are toxic to your health and to the environment during their manufacturing process. The fumes from a smoking nonstick pan can kill a pet bird in the kitchen. No scouring or abrasive cleaning products are needed as they scratch the surface of the pan. For easy clean up after baking, roasting, or broiling, kids should line the sheet pan with parchment paper before cooking and afterwards wash the pan by hand in soapy water.
Cast iron skillets have been used by many cultures around the world for generations. Families can take cast iron skillets camping and prepare down home meals in the rough. Griddles, waffle irons, and flat top grills have been made from cast iron for hundreds of years. Well seasoned cast iron has great nonstick properties and the heavy pan can withstand high heat and improves with age and use. The high heat gives cornbread that crunchy crust. Cast iron skillets can amass more thermal energy per pound, getting hotter and staying hotter longer than other types of pans. The high heat and an unsaturated vegetable oil, like canola, corn, or safflower, cause a chemical reaction that changes the fats molecules to form a polymerized coating that repels water and makes cast iron nonstick. Kids may find in the basement an old rust free cast iron skillet that needs to be seasoned before using again. To season the skillet, wash the pan in hot, sudsy water and dry it thoroughly. Using a thick pot holder, kids can put it on the stovetop over low heat and add a teaspoon of unsaturated vegetable oil. Rub the oil with a paper towel over the entire pan. Take it off the stove and rub the exterior of the pan with the oil. Place the pan in the oven and set the temperature to 450 degrees. Leave the pan in the oven 30 minutes after the temperature reaches 450 degrees; turn off the oven leaving the pan inside the oven until it cools. To get a well seasoned pan, do this process 3 or 4 more times until the skillet is well blackened. Kids need to preheat their cast iron skillet with unsaturated vegetable oil before cooking in it by starting on low heat and gradually increasing the temperature or putting it in the oven as it heats up. After using the cast iron skillet, kids can wash it with dish soap after it has cooled using a stiff vegetable scrub brush, dry it completely, and rub it down with flaxseed oil to prevent rust. Kids can make delicious flatbreads, crepes, pancakes, and crumpets on top of the stove in their cast iron skillet and cornbread, biscuits, scones, and focaccia in the oven to get that terrific crunchy, caramelized crust.
People have been slow cooking food in closed ceramic vessels since ancient times. The Crock Pot of the 1970’s was a hit for working women as a home cooked meal was prepared while they were at work. Solar ovens, another slow cooking method using only the sun, come in handy on hot days when kids can slow cook dinner on the patio and keep the house cool.
The longer cooking time allows the flavor of the ingredients to develop a delicious complexity and the nutrients to concentrate in the food. The slow cooker is an ideal way to cook beans from scratch, as well as grains, soups, and stews. At the end of a hard day, instead of eating at a fast food place or putting packaged processed food in the microwave, families can have a healthy, well balanced, economical meal with the slow cooker. Slow cookers come in many sizes, colors, and shapes with programmable timers and temperature settings. Slow cooked dishes are also great for potlucks, where the cooking unit can be plugged it and sit on the serving table, keeping the dish warm. Slow cookers are a convenient way to prepare healthy home cooked meals by filling it with ingredients in the morning and having a delicious meal ready at the end of the day.
Kids can bring flavor and health to the table by creating quick and easy homemade organic condiments. Processed catsup, mustard, and mayonnaise are filled with fats, sugar, salt, chemicals, preservatives, and additives with addictive properties. Kid Chefs can make these standard condiments plus experiment and try one different new condiment each week. Many condiments are made with fresh raw ingredients and do not need cooking, such as relishes. Basil pesto can be made in a blender with fresh 2 cups organic basil, 1/3 cup organic extra virgin olive oil, 1 tsp fresh lemon juice, 1 clove garlic, and ½ tsp sea salt and is great on almost any sandwich. Kids can make salsa with all organic ingredients by mincing a deseeded and deveined chili pepper, and adding 1 chopped tomato, ½ chopped avocado, ¼ cup red bell pepper, 2 tbsp red onion, 2 tbsp fresh lime juice, 2 tbsp fresh cilantro, and ¼ tsp sea salt. Olive tapenade is made with 1 lb mixed olives, 3 tbsp organic extra virgin olive oil, 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice, 2 tbsp fresh basil, and 2 cloves garlic mixed in the blender. Some condiments can be easily made on the stove like quick pickled veggies or barbeque sauce, or in the oven like roasted veggies for eggplant caponata. Kids can make a delicious organic hummus spread by putting 1 cup cooked organic chick peas, 1 garlic clove, ¼ cup organic tahini, 1 tbsp fresh parsley, 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice, ½ tsp cumin, 1/8 tsp cayenne, and ½ tsp sea salt in a blender and puree until smooth. Peaches, plums, or mangos are favorites for fruit chutney which is delicious served hot or cold. Kids can simmer two peaches in small saucepan with 2 tbsp organic rice wine vinegar, 2 tbsp chopped green onion, 1 tbsp fresh grated ginger, and ¼ tsp sea salt for 15 minutes. Kids can add zing to any meal by making healthy, flavorful condiments from scratch with all organic ingredients.