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How to choose a recipe to cook with kids

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Mardi Michels: So you want to cook with kids? How to choose a recipe.

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You might have read my post from last week talking about why I cook with kids. You might have even been inspired to head to the kitchen with your kids. And then you might have stopped and wondered on earth you would make…

Sound familiar? The old “what’s for dinner” dilemma in a different iteration – “what shall I cook with my kids to get them excited about cooking?” For many people the idea of cooking with kids can be overwhelming. A little scary, even!

But if you stick to a few basic rules of thumb, you’ll be well on your way to helping get kids in the kitchen and teaching them some basic cooking skills that will serve them well all through their lives!

1. Keep it simple – but not too simple!

If kids are not challenged (in the classroom or the kitchen), they will be bored. And boredom in the kitchen can lead to mischief ;) Don’t choose recipes that are overly simplistic. You want a recipe that has a lot of “moving parts” (i.e. lots of things for them to be actively “doing” at all times). P1150115(Photo via  eat. live. travel. write.)

A soup like a minestrone is a great example of a “simple” recipe that is complex because of all the chopping it involves – the perfect way to get kids started in the kitchen!

Kids can definitely do a lot more than we sometimes give them credit for so choose recipes that you think will keep them busy and you’ll be surprised how well they do!

2. Try something new!

If your goal is to get your kids to try new foods – having them help in the food prep is definitely one way to kick start an interest in trying something different. Kids are so much more likely to try something they have had a hand in making.  DSC_6577(Photo via  eat. live. travel. write.)

Just this week, I introduced fruit and veggie smoothies to my boys’ cooking clubs and even though there were doubters (“There’s SPINACH in this?”) and boys who didn’t think they liked some of the components, I can safely say that a few mindsets were changed.

3. But don’t forget old favourites…

A surefire way to get kids excited about cooking is to choose some dishes they really like to eat and show them how to make them from scratch! DSC_6480(Photo via  eat. live. travel. write.)

Pizza, pasta, mac and cheese, burgers, even chicken fingers and oven-baked potato wedges are great choices to cook with kids. Because you know a homemade version will be better for them than the store-bought (plus, you know exactly what’s going into them!).

4. Teach the basics!

If you teach a child a basic recipe, you’re teaching them not just one dish but many… An omelette can have so many different iterations and, like a quiche, it is a perfect place to use up “bits and pieces” from your fridge. A decent pastry can go a long way too.

A roast chicken can serve one well – it’s not just one meal but many!  Think about the meals you make often and teach your kids those. P1150109(Photo via  eat. live. travel. write.)

Today, I’m sharing a recipe for a quick 15-20 minute meal that you can make with your kids (or have them make it for you – it’s totally kid-friendly!). 

It’s a delicious, healthy meal wrapped up into a pita sandwich and a fruity parfait – because a meal – even a 20 minute one – isn’t a meal without something sweet at the end! DSC_2295(Photo via  eat. live. travel. write.)

Lemony Chicken Pita Sandwiches and Granola, Berry and Greek Yoghurt Parfaits

Serves: 6

Ingredients for the sandwiches

Chicken:

  • Zest of 4 lemons
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 generous pinches black pepper
  • 4 generous pinches coarse salt
  • 6 thin boneless skinless chicken breasts

Sauce:

  • ½ cup plain Greek yoghurt
  • 1 cup chick peas (drained with about ¼ cup of the liquid reserved)
  • Zest of 2 lemons
  • 8 mint leaves
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

To assemble the sandwiches:

  • 6 pita breads
  • 2 medium tomatoes, diced
  • ½ seedless cucumber, diced
  • 8 Romaine lettuce leaves, shredded
  • Aluminum foil for wrapping the finished sandwiches

Ingredients for the parfaits

  • About 3 cups of Greek yoghurt
  • About 3 cups berries or seasonal fruit
  • About 1 cup granola
  • Honey for drizzling

Directions

To make the sandwiches:

  1. Wrap the pita breads in foil and place them in an oven. Set the oven at 350˚F. The pita breads will be warm by the time you finish the dishes!

Cook the chicken:

  1. Combine the lemon zest, olive oil, salt and pepper in a small bowl.
  2. One by one, place the chicken breasts into the oil mixture and use your hands to coat well.
  3. Heat a medium skillet over medium-high heat.
  4. Pan fry the chicken until it’s cooked through – 3-4 minutes per side.
  5. Remove from pan and immediately slice diagonally into 6-8 strips. Set aside.
  6. Meanwhile, dice the tomatoes and cucumber and shred the lettuce. Set aside.

Now make the Yoghurt chick pea sauce:

  1. In a food processor, combine chickpeas, yoghurt and lemon zest.
  2. Using kitchen scissors cut the mint leaves into small strips directly into the food processor.
  3. Blitz until smooth.
  4. Add enough of the reserved chickpea liquid to make a slightly more liquidy sauce.
  5. Taste and add salt and pepper if desired.

Now, make the parfaits:

  1. If you are using strawberries, halve them. Otherwise, berries like raspberries can go in whole.
  2. In individual sized glass dishes or tumblers, alternate layers of granola, berries and yoghurt.
  3. Drizzle each yoghurt layer with a little honey.
  4. Make sure the final layer is berries.
  5. The parfaits can go in the fridge now until you are ready to eat them.

Now assemble the sandwiches:

  1. Remove the pita breads from the oven.
  2. Place lettuce in the middle of the pita breads.
  3. Place chicken on top of lettuce.
  4. Place tomatoes and cucumbers around the chicken.
  5. Drizzle over a little bit of the sauce
  6. Roll the pita bread and fold the bottom of the roll to seal it.
  7. Wrap the bottom of the sandwich in foil to hold it together.
  8. Serve with the yoghurt chickpea sauce, to taste.

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