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Child-Proofing Your Meal
EDITOR'S NOTE: We are delighted to introduce a new food column to the pages of the Jewish Exponent that focuses on cooking with children.
In this column you can expect to read about “Cooking With the Kinder.” My hope is that you’ll learn a few new tips and tricks, and create chances to teach our next generation about the culinary delights of cooking.
Spending time in the kitchen with children has many wonderful benefits. Not only is it an unforgettable experience — think back to the days with Bubbie when you were young — but it also helps promote many useful skills for your children. For example, you can:
• Practice sensory skills by cracking eggs, punching dough and making shapes
• Advance math skills with measurements and conversions
• Teach about the connection between healthy foods and a healthy body
• Promote portion control
• Create cultural awareness of Jewish foods and customs
• Support an adventurous palate
• Explain science through chemical reactions
• Develop creativity on many levels
We often shop for “convenience” while juggling careers, carpools and everything in between. At times, it can be easier to just pick up some take-out on your way home or grab a few processed and/or frozen foods at the grocery store.
My definition of a good recipe is one with a few quality ingredients that’s not only fun to make but also fun to eat!
Some of these recipes below are quick and easy, while others are better for a rainy day. If nothing else, they keep the kids away from the TV and iPad for a little while and encourage alternative ways to learn.
Preheat oven to 350˚.
Mix the first four ingredients (the dry stuff) into the bowl.
Next, add the sugar, oil, honey and vanilla.
Last, add the water and egg.
Knead (or squish) the dough in the bowl with your hands. Let it ooze between the kids’fingers for some sensory fun.
Once the dough is formed, drop rounded spoonfuls onto the clean baking sheet.
Bake in the oven for 10 to 12 minutes. (By 8 minutes your kitchen will be filled with the aroma.)
When the cookies are finished, take out of the oven and cool. Turn on your broiler to 500˚. (This is for adults only. It’s extremely hot.)
While the cookies are cooling, place the chocolate chips in a microwave safe glass bowl and melt on medium heat for 30 seconds.
Remove and stir and place back in microwave for an additional 15 to 25 seconds until fully melted. (If the chocolate is stubborn, you can add a pea-sized amount of coconut oil.)
Spread the melted chocolate on the cookies (I use a teaspoon for this) and place 1 to 3 marshmallows on top — depending on the size of the cookie.
Put the cookie under the broiler for 1 to 11⁄2 minutes until marshmallows turn golden brown. Watch them the whole time. Every broiler is different. If they burn, you can scrape off the marshmallows and try again — I promise it won’t entirely mess up the cookies.
This step is the hardest part, but let them cool in the fridge for at least 20 minutes — or the freezer for 10 minutes if you just can’t wait.
Enjoy — and keep the wet paper towels close by!
Makes 24 to 30 cookies per batch.
Adapted from Our Customers’ Favorites, by Paula Weinstein
This is a great side dish to accompany dinner. We like to serve it at large family gatherings or on holidays. It’s easy to prepare and provides a generous serving of protein and vegetables in one bite. You can adapt this to make it pareve. As always, leftovers can be frozen.
I like this recipe for older children because it’s something they can make by themselves. This practice instills a sense of confidence and responsibility. And don’t be concerned, it’s impossible to ruin.
A few hours prior, or the night before, marinate the tofu in 3 tablespoons of onion soup mix. Let it sit in the fridge and soak up the flavor.
Turn the oven on convection bake and preheat to 350˚. This allows it to cook from the inside out.
Spray a 9x13-inch glass baking dish with cooking spray.
Cut the marinated tofu into squares and place in the bottom of the greased baking dish.
In your mixing bowl, combine eggs, sour cream and milk.
Add your vegetables and stir until combined.
Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of onion soup mix and flour to the mixture.
Pour on top of the tofu in the dish. Cover with foil and cook for 30 minutes.
Take the foil off and cook for an additional 15 to 20 minutes until top is golden brown.
Let cool and cut into squares. You can serve straight from the dish.
Makes 16 squares.
Take the ground meat out of the fridge and let it come to room temperature on the counter before you start working with it.
Preheat the oven to 350˚ and spritz the cupcake tins with cooking spray.
Open the package of raw meat and mix — or as we like to say “smush” — the meat into the veggies a few handfuls at a time.
Add remaining ingredients and smush well.
Shape the meat/veggie mixture into balls — larger than a golf ball but smaller than a tennis ball.
Place one ball at a time into each cupcake tin.
Once all the tins are filled, gently pat the tops to flatten.
Science tip: Meat will shrink in the oven whereas regular cupcakes (with flour) will rise. The fats become liquid at these high temperatures and render out at the bottom.
Bake for 25 minutes.
Let cool on a wire rack and eat — or you can freeze the leftovers for another time.
Bonus tip: Kids can “frost” or decorate the top with ketchup, BBQ sauce or even mashed potatoes.
Makes 12 cupcakes/individual servings of meatloaf.
Popcorn is always a healthy and filling snack for children. It’s great to pack in lunches, or to snack on before Hebrew school and soccer practice.
The problem with those microwave bags of popcorn is that they are filled with toxins, chemicals and manufactured preservatives — yuck!
Here is a foolproof, easy and budget-friendly way to make popcorn naturally:
Remember to always check the expiration date. The older the kernels are, the more dried out they can get and the faster they will burn. Always store your kernels in an airtight container for a longer shelf life.
1⁄4 cup plain popcorn kernels (Yields approximately 2 grams of fat, 5 grams of protein and a whopping 8 grams of dietary fiber. It’s also gluten-free, sugar-free and cholesterol-free if you don’t add butter and salt as toppings.)
Fill the bottom of a brown paper lunch bag with the kernels. Fold the bag over twice to secure shut.
Place the bag in a microwave on high for 21⁄2 to 3 minutes. Remember to watch and listen. All microwaves cook at a different speed. When you hear the popping slow down to 1 or 2 pops per second, your snack is complete.
Ta Da! You’ve just made a healthy, easy and chemical-free snack.
Makes 6 cups.
Taylor Orlin, who works as an account executive for the Jewish Exponent, is a lifelong foodie. She has spent years developing and modifying recipes to adapt for specific dietary needs, including her own Crohn’s Disease. She also believes in instilling healthy eating habits at a young age.