Cooking Magic for Kids

Kids Rose Hip Syrup

Roses are edible flowers that kids can use to dress their salads or desserts. Roses are exquisite as decorations on a cake. Edible rose petals make fanciful ice cubes for a party punch on festive occasions. Rosewater as a facial toner has been a favorite since ancient times with the calming scent of the roses and the soothing anti-inflammatory properties of an astringent. In the garden, roses attract pollinators and have an intense perfume making them the flower queens.

Rose hips are the fruit of the rose and can be harvested when they are bright red or orange. They contain lots of vitamin C, have the tartness of crab apples, are good for the skin, and blend well with hibiscus for an herbal tea for colds and flu. Kids can make Rose Hip Syrup to drizzle over desserts or add to drinks for a delicious tropical tasting treat. 

Kids can gather two pounds of organic rose hips, mince them, add them to 7 cups of boiling water, bring to a boil again, and set aside for 15 minutes. Pour the syrup through a muslin cloth, allowing it to drip into a bowl, put it back in the pan and add 13 cups of water, stir, and let sit for 10 minutes. Pour the mixture through the muslin cloth into a bowl, getting rid of all the fine hairs. Kids can pour it back into the pan and boil down the juice until it measures about 3 ½ cups. Add 2 ¼ cups of organic cane sugar and boil 5 more minutes. Pour into jars and seal the hot syrup. It will keep in the refrigerator several weeks after it is opened. 

Kid Chef Acorn Squash and Apple

Kids can plant organic acorn squashes in their raised bed garden in the spring and harvest them in the fall. Acorn squash is rich in fiber, Vitamin C and B6, beta carotene, and minerals. Apples, also harvested in the fall, are a tasty companion, making this dish a kid’s favorite.

Kids can deseed, peal, and slice 1 organic acorn squash, leaving the middle slice with its skin and stem still attached. Preheat the oven to 400°. Slice 1 organic apple with the skin on, as the skin is particularly rich in nutrients. In a glass baking dish, line the pan with slices of acorn squash and apple. Cut the end piece of the apple and place it is the middle of the stemmed piece of squash. In a small bowl mix 2 tbsp organic extra virgin olive oil, 1 tbsp organic maple syrup, 1 tsp fresh lemon juice, ¼ tsp cinnamon, and ¼ tsp sea salt. Brush the mixture over the squash and apple. Roast 30 minutes, add ¼ cup organic walnuts, and roast 5 more minutes. Remove from the oven and add ¼ cup organic dried cherries. Arrange on a serving platter for a delightful fall dish. 

Kids Good Cooking Habits

Some families set aside one day a week for kids to join their parents in planning and preparing a meal. Kids think its fun to chose a recipe, check the pantry for the ingredients, visit the market with their folks, and harvest the fruit and veggies from their organic backyard garden. First kids can read the recipe carefully all the way through. Then they can find and organize the tools, equipment, and ingredients on the counter before cooking. Use what is called for in the recipe as the slightest change can cause problems, especially in baking. Start with all fresh local organic ingredients and cut the veggies uniformly so they will cook evenly. 

Always plan 15 minutes to preheat the oven fully and position the racks in the oven as directed. Also preheat pans on the stovetop, as the temperature of the cooking surface drops when food is added. Kids can check the doneness of their dish 5 to 10 minutes before the recipe says the food will be done as oven and stovetop temperatures vary. Taste and season the food throughout the cooking process and taste again before serving to adjust the seasoning. Some times kids need to look up words or techniques in the recipe they don’t understand or ask for help. A good cook is always learning. Kids find even the simplest cooking tasks can be fun and they get a feeling of accomplishment and pride in preparing a meal their family enjoys.

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.