Kitchen Helpers

You can never start too early getting children involved in the kitchen. The holidays bring lots of food and endless opportunities for cooking time. Cooking is an exciting experience for kids to uses their creativity while learning new skills.

First, start by teaching your child the basics and as they progresses allow them to have more kitchen responsibility. Throughout their experience teach them about the time and patience involved in building a recipe. Introduce them to new flavors and textures and let their imagination go wild!

Don’t forget! While your child is becoming a chef master continually educated them on the number of hazards in the kitchen. Teach them about proper hygiene and how to correctly wash their hands.

The Basics (4-7 years old)

Measuring: Using small measuring spoons to measure ingredients into a bowl

Weighing: Spooning ingredients on to kitchen scales

Mixing: Using a whisk, spoon or hands to mix ingredients together

Kneading: Assist in kneading dough

Spreading: Spreading jam or butter on toast or icing a cake

Washing: Rinse fruits and vegetables

Picking: Have them pick fruits and veggies from a garden or at the store

Super Skills (8-11 years old)

Cutting: Begin teaching children knife skills, practice first with a butter knife the proper way to hold and use. Have them slice soft foods like berries, butter and bread until they are they become comfortable.

Measuring: Have them start measuring out larger quantities of ingredients. Practicing their math skills!

Beating: Teach them how to uses an electric mixer to beat eggs and cakes batter

Greasing: Have them uses butter and cooking spray on cooking pans

Cleaning: Help wipe down tables and counters, help rinse spoons and small dishes

The Little Chef (12 and up)

Recipes: Have them follow simple recipes. Let them brainstorm ideas for creative snacks and meals!

Heating: Teach them how to properly use the microwave, watch food on the stove, and place food in the oven.

Equipment: Explain the use of different kitchen equipment and how to safely use

Opening: Show them how to use a can opener and open a variety of containers

Shopping List: Have them look in the fridge and cupboards to help create a grocery list

Peeling: Show them how to uses a potato peeler on different items

Guide to Reading Nutrition Labels

SERVING SIZE is the first place to start when looking at the nutrition label.

All calorie and nutrient information is based on the serving size. Start by looking at the portion of food in one serving. This may be shown in cups, pieces, or package. This is always followed by the weight in grams.

Below the serving size is the amount of serving per container. Keep an eye out; many food items contain several servings.

Paying attention to the serving size is a good tool to avoid over consuming. If you consume two serving of food from the package you must double the calories and nutrients found on the label.

 

Tip: When comparing two similar products make sure that their serving sizes match. You may think one product contains more fat until you notice it serving size is just larger.

CALORIES are specified below the serving size. The calories listed on the label are based on the calories found in one serving.

 

General Calories Guide

40 Calories is low

100 Calories is moderate

400 Calories or more is high

Tip: Not all calories are the same. Calories from processed, high fat food should be limited, while calories from fruits and vegetables should not.

nutrition-facts-label

% DAILY VALUE is a general guide used to show how much a nutrient is contributing to your daily diet.

As a general rule, if the percentage is high (>20%) it is greatly contributing to the daily value, while if it is low (<5%) it is not contributing much.

NUTRIENTS are listed in grams and milligrams on the nutrition label.

Nutrients to Limit

When reading a nutrient label, keep in mind how much fat, sodium, sugar and cholesterol the product contains. Using the Dietary Guidelines for Americans you can make an informed decision if the product is right for you.

  • Reduce daily sodium intake to less than 2,300 milligrams
  • Consume less than 10 percent of calories from saturated fatty acids by

replacing them with monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids

  • Consume less than 300 mg per day of dietary cholesterol
  • Keep trans fatty acid consumption as low as possible
  • Reduce the intake of calories from added sugars

Nutrient to Increase

A product may be a good choice if it is rich in fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, potassium or iron. These are all important nutrient that are lacking in most American’s diets. Use the percent daily value found next to each nutrient to decide if it is a good source.

The higher the percentage the more of the nutrient the product contains- 20% or more being high and 5% or less being low.

Choose foods that are the most nutrient dense. This means you are getting the most nutrients for the amount of calories. Do this by comparing the calories with the percentage of each nutrient.

Tip: If a product is high in calories and low in fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, potassium and iron it is not a nutrient dense food.

For a more information on food labeling visit the FDA website http://www.fda.gov/Food/IngredientsPackagingLabeling/LabelingNutrition/ucm274593.htm

Today’s Superfood: Herbs

Herbs are a fresh and flavorful addition to any meal. There are 100’s of herbs all with their own unique taste and aroma. Herbs are amazingly good for our bodies. Many of them provide us with nutrients, aid with digestion and contain ant-bacterial properties. The best part about them is their intense taste, which can transform our food from bland to delectable. Thankfully, there are endless ways to uses herbs and you can even grow them yourself.

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Dill: Fresh dill is perfect for flavoring sauces, fish and of course, pickles

Thyme: Use fresh or dried thyme on meat, fish, in soup and stews to add an earthy taste

Tarragon: Add fresh tarragon in dishes with tomatoes and poultry

Rosemary: Use fresh or dried rosemary when cooking meat, poultry or potatoes

Mint: Chop fresh mint and use in fruits salad, sauces and tea

Parsley: Fresh parsley is a tasty garnish and ingredient in pasta, pasta sauces and salads

Cilantro: Freshly chopped cilantro pairs perfectly with tacos and spicy foods

Basil: Fresh basil can be used in any sauce or blended to make homemade pesto (see below)

Tip: Place fresh chopped herbs and olive oil into ice cub trays and freeze. Toss one cube in a saucepan when cooking to add flavor to any recipe!

Grow Your Own Herbs

Herbs are incredibly easy to grow and maintain. Having fresh grown herbs at your fingertips will add nourishing flavor to you and your family’s food

  • Choose a container- a small-medium pot with good drainage is all you will need.
  • Fill the container with potting mix. Potting mix is a light soil that allows herbs to grow and prevents drainages wholes from getting clogged.
  • Using your finger push small seeds into the top of the potting mix. Larger seeds can be placed slightly deeper. Remember- herbs are delicate and won’t be able to push themselves through thick soil.
  • Place the pot in a well-lit area. Sun is essential to for the growth of herbs. A window seal is the perfect place for them to flourish.
  • Plan to water your herbs whenever the soil becomes dry. Just enough water to keep the soil moist.

Try a delicious homemade, kid-friendly pesto recipe from Honest Cooking. Add pesto to whole grain pasta, grilled cheese sandwiches, pizza and even chicken!

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Ingredients

3 cups basil leaves (about 5 sprigs)

¼ cup olive oil

2 medium garlic cloves

¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese

1 Tablespoon sunflower seeds

Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

Coarsely chop garlic

Remove stems from basil

Place all ingredients in a food processor, and process until very fine

Add oil, salt, and pepper as needed

Serve on bread, pasta, or grated zucchini and summer squash.

Freeze extra in ice cube trays for pre-portioned servings to use later

http://honestcooking.com/kid-friendly-pesto-with-sunflower-seeds/

Food Art

Frozen Winter Penguins

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Ingredients

  • ½ cup dark chocolate (chips or bar)
  • 1 banana
  • Edible decorations

Instructions

  1. Peel the banana and slice in half
  2. Place ½ cup dark chocolate into a microwave safe dish
  3. Microwave until chocolate melts
  4. Dip the top and bottom of each banana half into the melted chocolate
  5. Begin placing on desired decorations
  6. Shown: orange M&M’s for the feet and nose and edible eyes
  7. Other options: blueberries, sliced frozen fruit, carrots, marshmallows, etc.
  8. Place finished penguins on a plate or cookie sheet
  9. Allow them to set in the freezer for 20mins

Did you know? The colors of a penguin are used as camouflage while swimming in the sea. From above the ocean, their black backs allow them to blend with the murky water. While below, their white stomachs blend with the bright ocean surface.

We would love to see your creations! Send them in, post them below, or post them to our Facebook page!

Today’s Superfood: Pomegranate

Pomegranates are truly a superfood superstar! The name pomegranate comes from a French word meaning “seeded apple”. The hundreds of edible seeds and pulp that fill each pomegranate are packed with nutritional value. Along with their nourishing benefits, the mouthwatering flavor makes pomegranates a juicy and enjoyable treat!

The Power of Pomegranate

The anti-bacterial properties combined with the antioxidant power and vitamin C content makes pomegranates a wonderful immune booster

The delicious pulp of a pomegranate is loaded with many essential vitamins and minerals. Including vitamin C, potassium, iron, vitamin K and several B vitamins

The abundance of polyphenols found in pomegranates is associated with better memory and disease prevention!

Did you know? Arizona’s dry and hot climate makes for an ideal growing place for pomegranates!

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Ways to eat pomegranates

  • Mix pomegranate seeds with yogurt
  • Blend with milk to make a quick smoothie
  • Sprinkle seeds on desert
  • Combined with oatmeal
  • Toss seeds on a fresh salad
  • Enjoy them raw

 

How to de-seed a pomegranate

  1. Score around the middle of the pomegranate-do not cut all the way through
  2. Pry the pomegranate apart using hands
  3. Hold one side of the pomegranate over a bowl
  4. Using a wooden spoon whack the back of the pomegranate till all seed fall into the bowl
  5. Use pomegranate seeds in desired way

Tip: Pomegranates can last two months in the refrigerator; stock up the next time you go to the store!

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Homemade Pomegranate Fruit Leather

Ingredients:

  • 1-cup pomegranate puree
  • 1-cup Greek yogurt

Blend pomegranate puree and yogurt together

Pour the blended mixture on to silicone mat (used for oven dehydrating)

Cook for 5-6 hours at 200 degrees

Today’s Superfood: Winter Squash

Winter squash is a very diverse fruit containing many varieties. All with different shapes, colors, and flavors. Winter squash is a wonderful source of omega-3 fatty acids. The diverse assortment of winter squash makes it a great addition to snacks, meals and deserts. The best way to find your favorite is to taste new flavors!

 

The Seeds

10,000 years ago winter squash were desired for their delectable seeds. All winter squash contain a hollow inside that holds their seeds. The seeds of winter squash make them the perfect snack.

After opening the squash, scoop out the center. Next, separate the inside pulp from the seeds. Bake the seeds at 160 degrees for 20 minutes. Bag the seeds to create easy snacks!

Varieties of Winter Squash

Here are some of the popular choices:

Winter Squash Appearance Flavor Recipe Ideas
Acorn Small, resembling the shape on an acorn. A dark green skin with golden blemishes Sweet Slice in half, remove seeds, sprinkle with brown sugar and a little butter for a delicious treat
Banana A long squash that resembles a banana with golden orange skin Sweet A tasty and popular way to uses banana squash is roasting it for lunch or dinner
Butternut Squash Bell-shaped and beige in color skin and deep orange flesh Sweet and Nutty Peel, slice and cook butternut squash, puree and add seasoning for a winter soup
Carnival Squash Cream, orange, green spots and stripes this squash will sure remind you of a carnival Lightly Sweet Stuff carnival squash with quinoa, pasta or yours favorite ground meat
Spaghetti Squash Watermelon shaped and bright yellow in color Nutty Whip up a quick lunch! Slice squash in half, bake for 30min at 400 F, scape out flesh, add butter and Parmesan cheese

Preparing

Winter squash are very diverse. They can be incorporated in both sweet and savory dishes. Also, many squash are interchangeable in recipes.

  • Rinse the squash under cool water to remove any debris
  • Helpful hint* microwave the squash for 1-2 minutes making it easier to peel and slice
  • Use a potatoes peeler to remove the outside skin
  • Slice the squash in half
  • Remove seeds and bake for a snack!
  • Continue slicing squash as desired
A fun and seasonal recipe from the Cupcake Project

Butternut

1 pound elbow macaroni

20 ounces butternut squash

2 cups fat- free milk

2 cups grated soft cheese

1/2 cup ricotta cheese

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon dry mustard

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

4 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 cup diced onion

1 cup grated hard cheese

1 cup Panko breadcrumbs

1/2 teaspoon olive oil

Instructions

Cook the macaroni according to the package instructions

Drain the macaroni and transfer it to a large bowl.

Place the squash and milk in a large saucepan and cook over medium heat. Stir occasionally and bring to a boil.

Transfer to a blender or food processor and combine until smooth.

Transfer back to saucepan and stir with grated soft cheese and ricotta until the cheeses are all melted.

Remove from heat and add salt, mustard, and cayenne pepper.

Pour cheese mixture over the macaroni and stir to combine.

Mix in the garlic and onions.

Fill cupcake liners with the mixture. Because this is mac and cheese and not cupcake batter, you don’t need to worry about the mixture rising.

In a small bowl, combine grated hard cheese, panko breadcrumbs, and oil.

Sprinkle mixture over the top of the mac and cheese cupcakes.

Bake at 375 F for 20 minutes or until topping is lightly browned.

http://www.cupcakeproject.com/

Pick the Perfect Produce and Cook Seasonally

Select Seasonal

There are so many benefits to choosing seasonal produce. All through out the year new flavors and colors of fruits and veggies are available. Eating with the seasons gives you and your family the opportunity to eat a rainbow of colors all year round.

The taste of seasonal produce is richer and more flavorful than non-seasonal. Non-seasonal produce is shipped from all around the world. During the transportation produces it often loses it taste and nutritional value.

Along with better flavor, another major benefit is the price! The abundance of crop and local distance allows it to be sold for less.

Winter Produce Guide

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Broccoli: choose broccoli that is deep green, with tightly packed heads. The heads should be firm and bigger than the stem. (See the super food benefits of broccoli here)

 

Cauliflower: choosing cauliflower is similar to broccoli. You are looking for a tightly packed head that is firm when touched. Unlike broccoli, you want your cauliflower to be pale with no visible dark sports

  • Tip: Cauliflower can spoil easily so keep it wrapped tightly in the fridge crisper drawer

Kale: select thick, crisp leaves- they should be dark green in color with no wilted edges. (See the super food benefits of leafy greens here)

Pomegranate: the heavier the pomegranate, the juicer! Select pomegranates heavy in size and deep in color. The color may vary across the pomegranate with no effect on its flavor

Beets: purchase heavy beets with minimal flaws

Brussels Sprouts: choose vibrant green sprouts that are tightly closed

Mandarins: pick deep orange mandarins that are firm. (See the super food benefits of citrus here)

Mushrooms: choose mushrooms that are not too wet and not too dry- perfectly moist.

Root Vegetables: root veggies should be firm with minimal discolored spots

Sweet Potatoes: choose orange sweet potatoes for a sweeter flavor and golden sweet potatoes for a creamy flavor. (See the super food benefits of sweet potatoes here)

Winter Squash: look for deep colors with no flaws, cracks or spots

Find in season produce at your local famers market! To find a farmers market close to you visit http://www.arizonafarmersmarkets.com/

Incorporate seasonal produce into your meals and snacks! Try a hearty winter recipe

by Eat Good Food.

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Sweet Potato Cauliflower Soup

1 large head cauliflower

Olive oil for drizzling

3 medium to large sized peeled sweet potatoes, cut into 1″ pieces

1 sweet onion, diced

2 cloves garlic

7 cups filtered water

First, preheat your oven to 400 °F and cut up your cauliflower into bite sized pieces.

Place cauliflower onto ungreased cookie sheet and lightly drizzle with olive oil.

Place in oven and let roast until golden brown on the tops and tender, but not mushy, about 20-30 minutes.

Remove from oven and let cool while you cook the rest of the soup.

In large stockpot, bring sweet potato, onion, garlic and water to a boil. Salt (abt 3/4 tsp) and stir. Reduce heat and allow to remain at a constant simmer until sweet potatoes are tender.

Add in cooked cauliflower and divide soup into 2 parts.

Let soup cool and then blend one part soup in blend.

Enjoy!

http://www.allysonkramer.com/