Kids in the Kitchen: A little Cooking Competition is Healthy

Kids in the Kitchen: A little Cooking Competition is Healthy

Kids in the Kitchen: A little Cooking Competition is Healthy

Parents rarely get to brag that their children regularly make the family meals using lots of new ingredients. However, TV cooking competitions for kids give the illusion that they often whip up complex meals quicker than their parents can google the recipe.

Some cooking competitions pit kids against each other, give blistering critiques and drop them into professional line cook jobs or catering events. While it may work as entertainment, it doesn’t send a message that cooking can be a relaxing and healthy way to bond with other kids or adults.

Cooking Competitions for Kids-Not Just for TV

Kids can cook and compete in ways that encourage them to try new foods and have fun creating meals. I was reminded of this during a cooking event I organized for 100 kids participating in Fuel Up to Play 60, a healthy eating and fitness program run by the Dairy Council of Arizona. During the one-hour cooking session, they:

  1.  encouraged each other to taste new ingredients with no adult intervention,
  2.  bonded over “foreign foods” that they adventurously tried,
  3.  helped each other with techniques and cooking tools,
  4.  learned cooking skills or shared skills they had, and
  5.  cooperated to name their dish and meet the deadline.

Tips for Simple Competitions

Home-based cooking competitions can have the same benefits and involve as few as 4 kids in teams of two. Here’s some tips to create simple competitions that promote creativity and enjoyment of nutrient-rich foods: 

  1. Remind kids that people have different tasting skills and perceive food tastes, flavors and textures in different ways. Place a ban on “yuck”, “gross” or “disgusting” comments.
  1. Like many adults, kids can’t describe why they like or dislike certain foods. Review the five taste qualities (sour, sweet, bitter, salty and umami) and show which ingredients fit those qualities.
  1. Share that flavor and texture also influence food preferences. Encourage tasting recipe ingredients such as spices, herbs, condiments or vegetables and fruits.
  1. Provide some combination of known ingredients with new ones. This relates to the concept of “flavor pairing” or “associate conditioning” that can reduce food neophobia (fear of new foods).
  1. If they are to make a meal that’s new to them, select ones that feel familiar, like flatbread, or describe it in ways that connects them to other foods they’ve enjoyed.
  1. Select the same meal to cook so kids can compare the finished versions and be exposed to other taste and flavor choices.
  1. Suggest kids take photos of their final creations rather than taking photos during cooking as it’s a distraction and cell phones are a food-safety hazard.

Cooking competitions for kids are entertaining without the stress of elimination or having an apron taken away for failing to meet the TV judge’s standards.

Home-based cooking competitions for kids create supportive peer environments that promote trying new foods, build skills, increase interest in cooking and make for good play dates, birthday events or a way to get your kid to make dinner that night.

Tartines Cheesy Melt Cooking Competitions

August is Kids Eat Right Month: This is a dedicated time to celebrate and promote ways to encourage kids to cook and eat well. Culinary nutrition expert Sara Hass, RDN organizes a month-long effort called “Kids in the Kitchen” to promote different ways that kids can get engaged and interested in cooking.

Find more information at Sara’s website and Kids Eat Right. Post photos of your kids cooking and use the hashtag #kidsinthekitchen to celebrate their efforts and get practical and fun information from culinary nutrition experts who love to get kids in the kitchen having fun.

    About Me

    The pleasure of food, good health and well-being through simple habits for eating well and flexitarian low-key cooking.
    Michele Redmond

    Michele Redmond

    French-trained Chef, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist & Food Enjoyment Activist

    It's about Making Food First

    Get Taste Workshop periodic updates on easy ways to choose and cook foods that satisfy your appetite, nurture your body and make eating well a pleasure.

    Salsa! Dance it or Eat it—Both Burn Calories

    Salsa! Dance it or Eat it—Both Burn Calories

    Salsa! Dance it or Eat it—Both Burn Calories

    Dance it or eat it, but either way salsa boosts your mood, makes you hot and burns extra calories. Chile peppers in salsa contain chemicals that trigger heat sensations and cause your body to expend more energy–a metabolic effect called diet-induced thermogenesis (DIT). Embrace salsa as a quick condiment or ingredient to make sassier foods that give your body a metabolic boost for burning calories.

    Making Salsa & How Chile Peppers for Burn Calories

    Fermented salsa made from my garden serrano chile peppers

    Popular in the United States as a dip, in many dishes it’s the sauce, no surprise since salsa is the Spanish word for sauce. It typically relies on savory, umami-rich tomatoes as the base, but fruits add fresh, sweet flavors that complement many dishes.

    Salsa ingredients can be grilled, raw, pureed, diced or pounded out in a molcajete. The only rule to making salsa? You must include chile peppers–not spelled chili (a meaty dish).

    Salsa “Burn”–Blame the Vein

    Contrary to popular myth, the spicy heat from chili peppers caused by capsaicinoids, is not concentrated in the seeds, but primarily in the inner fibrous veins, or the ribs of the peppers. Chemicals in capsaicinoids, like capsaicin, induce thermogenesis causing your body to expend more energy.

    Diet-induced thermogenesis occurs when specific compounds in foods (capsaicin in chile peppers) or beverages (such catechins in green tea), help the cells convert energy into heat which burns calories. Depending on the mix of nutrients, such as carbohydrates, fats and protein consumed at meals, diet-stimulated energy expenditure can range from 5-15% of total energy expenditures for the day.

    Consider making salsa a weekly part of your menu by stocking up on:

    Serrano Chile peppers and burning calories by diet-induced thermogenesis

    Serrano chile peppers from my desert garden

     

    • Salsa base ingredients: Raw tomatoes, raw tomatillos or grilled, braised, roasted versions of either and canned fire-roasted tomatoes can be a nice option.
    • Chile peppers: Serranos are my favorite choice because of the size and fruity profile they have compared to jalapenos which tend towards grassier, bitter notes. Serranos have more capsaicin (3-4 times more) than jalapenos and both come in red and green but serranos also are available in orange and yellow. Gauge the amount of chile peppers by taste, but also check out the Scoville levels as a guide.
    • Aromatic or savory ingredients: Garlic, ginger, yellow onions, red onions, sweet onions, shallots, scallions, cilantro
    • Sweet ingredients: Corn, pineapple, watermelon, mangos, apples, peach, strawberries, cherries, etc.
    • Tangy ingredients: lime, grapefruit, lemon, vinegar, pickled veggies

    Want to get some hot tips on handling chilies and creating fast, flavorful salsas? On my Facebook Live cooking show, I’ll demo how to make a quick canned salsa that doesn’t taste canned and a fruit salsa that is flexible for many different dishes.

    Live Salsa Making on my Make Food First Cooking Show:

    Facebook Live IconJoin us on Facebook Live May 23rd 1 pm PT or 4 pm ET

    Where? @TheTasteWorkshop Facebook page

     


    Want a beverage twist on chile peppers? Click here to get my cranberry citrus chili spritz in Food & Nutrition Magazine.

    For more on how to spell Chile Peppers, Check out the Chile Pepper Institute N.W. University

    For more info on Diet-Induced Thermogenesis: DIT & total energy expenditure estimates

      About Me

      The pleasure of food, good health and well-being through simple habits for eating well and flexitarian low-key cooking.
      Michele Redmond

      Michele Redmond

      French-trained Chef, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist & Food Enjoyment Activist

      It's about Making Food First

      Get Taste Workshop periodic updates on easy ways to choose and cook foods that satisfy your appetite, nurture your body and make eating well a pleasure.

      Happy Cooking: Jacques Pepin American Masters

      Happy Cooking: Jacques Pepin American Masters

      Happy Cooking: Jacques Pepin American Masters

      Jacques Pepin Lifesized Cake at IACP 2015

      Life-sized Oven Cake in Honor of Jacques at IACP 2015

      Jacques Pepin American Masters Culinary Icon

       

      Julia Child, Albert Einstein, George Lucas, Bob Dylan and now, Jacques Pepin, headline a PBS American Masters series. Pepin’s edition portrays his evolution from 13-year old apprentice to respected, influential chef turned popular TV cooking teacher, speaker and writer.

      Past IACP president Barbara Fenzl, close friend of Jacques Pepin, was interviewed for the documentary along with culinary professionals including José Andrés, Anthony Bourdain, Tom Colicchio and Marcus Samuelsson.

       

      From Chef to IACP Founder to TV, Teacher and Author

      One of the original founders of IACP (International Association of Culinary Professionals), Jacques was honored at the D.C. conference for his 80th birthday with over 100 cakes driven to or flown into D.C., including a cake the size of an oven.

      Jacques cake flower

      Incredibly edible cake for Jacques Pepin’s birthday at IACP

      Barbara was interviewed during the D.C. conference for Pepin’s American Masters edition to provide a personal and professional perspective on his career. During her career, she worked with Jacques in many professional culinary venues, and when he started as traveling cooking teacher, he made multiple visits to teach at her Les Gourmettes cooking school in Arizona.

      I met with Barbara recently and she shared how Jacques is a natural teacher who may have gravitated towards teaching even if a serious car accident had not ended his professional chef career. His evolution from high-end chef to teacher and author of nearly 30 cookbooks includes:

      • personal chef of three French heads of state including President Charles de Gaulle,
      • an offer to be the “first chef” of the white house under President John F. Kennedy, and
      • turning down the white house to learn more about and contribute to American cuisine for the Howard Johnson hotel chain as the Director of Research and New Development.

      French Immigrant Embracing & Evolving American Cuisine

      Jacques arrived an immigrant from France who embraced American culture and has influenced how we eat. Barbara knew him from his days of creating caramel cages to decorate dessert plates and saw his evolution to a food and culinary educator who made food and cooking approachable.

      “even when he cooked with tongue, he pulled people into the food” says Fenzl.

      Don’t miss this preview of an esteemed culinary compatriot and model for creating good food and engaging Americans to cook. PBS summed Jacques attitude towards food and cooking well: “Jacques’s catchphrase of “happy cooking”: honesty of ingredients, simplicity of approach, and a joy for sharing good food with loved ones”.

      IACP Pepin Fenzel 400

      Fenzl and Pepin at IACP 2011 Culinary Demo in Austin

      Pepin’s fooditude can be promoted by anyone who loves food and shows how cooking can bring us all together as people and Americans.

      “Jacques’s catchphrase of “happy cooking”: honesty of ingredients, simplicity of approach, and a joy for sharing good food with loved ones” (PBS)

      Where to Watch:

      PBS American Masters Jacques Pepin

      Chef Michele with Jacques IAPC 2012

      Favorite Pepin Quotes:

      “Cooking is the art of adjustment.”

      “You can’t escape the taste of the food you had as a child. In times of stress, what do you dream about? Your mother’s clam chowder. It’s security, comfort. It brings you home.”

      “When you become a good cook, you become a good craftsman, first. You repeat and repeat and repeat until your hands know how to move without thinking about it.”

      “Just because I am a chef doesn’t mean I don’t rely on fast recipes. Indeed, we all have moments when, pressed for time, we’ll use a can of tuna and a tomato for a first course. It’s a question of choosing the right recipes for the rest of the menu.”

        About Me

        The pleasure of food, good health and well-being through simple habits for eating well and flexitarian low-key cooking.
        Michele Redmond

        Michele Redmond

        French-trained Chef, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist & Food Enjoyment Activist

        It's about Making Food First

        Get Taste Workshop periodic updates on easy ways to choose and cook foods that satisfy your appetite, nurture your body and make eating well a pleasure.

        From Bubbly, Burpy Beast to Sourdough Bread

        From Bubbly, Burpy Beast to Sourdough Bread

        From Bubbly, Burpy Beast to Sourdough Bread

        In our household, National Sourdough Bread Day is a reminder to be generous.

         

        My mom’s habit of giving a loaf of sourdough bread to new neighbors or someone needing comfort became our family tradition.

        Bread makes a practical edible gift, but offering someone a scoop of sourdough starter promises them a future of fresh-baked treats. Starting with yeast captured in a desert garden, our 10-year-old starter, has made over 1,000 loaves of bread for meals, parties and gifts.

        Keeping sourdough starter alive and healthy takes minimal effort and gives our family a nutrient-rich, flavorful ingredient for making sandwich bread, baguettes, buns, pizzas and more.

         

        Sourdough bread loaf slice

         

        Start with StarterSourdough bread starter

         

        Even a minimalist kitchen has starter ingredients—water and a grain-based flour. The base ingredient in many doughs, it’s a goopy mass created from mixing nearly equal amounts in weight of flour (which naturally includes yeast) and water. Leaving this sludge uncovered will also expose it to wild yeast present in the air.

        The type of yeast for bread products affects flavor, texture, shelf life, nutrient content and even digestibility. Commercially packaged dry or instant yeast rely on the Saccharomyces Cerevisiae yeast strain. Unlike starters that involve natural or wild yeast, it’s a monoculture yeast bred to speed up carbon dioxide (CO2) production for fast or mass-produced dough.

         

        Flour + Water = Starter Base

        Yeast starter sourdough bread explode

        Rogue Sourdough Starter = Overactive fermentation

        Fermenting and Feeding Little Beasties

        To create a mature, bubbly starter, some starter is removed before it’s fed flour and water. Starches breakdown and yeast creates alcohol and CO2 while bacteria, like lactobacillus, develop flavorful acids and lower the pH. It’s preferred fermentation temperature is around 70°F but it can go rogue and explode (see picture) if too warm.

        Within a week of this microorganism throw-down, a bubbly burping mass emerges ready to become bread.

        Starter base + Fermentation & Feeding

        = Active Starter

        To make bread, flour is added to active starter along with other basic bread ingredients, salt (affects texture and flavor) and water, then it’s left to proof. The starter is then refed and stored, often in the refrigerator, to control the fermentation until the next use.
        Some bakers confess to traveling with their starter or hiring a sourdough sitter to feed it, but once starter is active and healthy, it can last ten plus days in the fridge while you’re on a no-yeast pet vacation.

        Scoop of Starter + Flour + Salt + Water = Dough ready to rise (Proofing)

        Sourdough bread starterSourdough Bread Benefits

        Home-made starter doesn’t guarantee tangy bread products, these develop from fermentation and result from lactic and acetic acid from specific yeast such Candida milleri and bacteria strains including Lactobacillus sanfranciscensis.

        The production of fermentation acids and other compounds result in longer shelf life without additives or preservatives–see example below.

         

        Stone soup sourdough bread ingredients

         

        Unlike quick-rise or industrially-produced loaves which force breads to rise fast, longer rises create complex flavors and better structure (crust texture and chew density) which enhances flavor perception.

        Longer rise times also give yeast and bacteria more opportunities to digest gluten and are linked lower and slowed glycemic response for long-fermented sourdough breads. A gift of sourdough bread isn’t just food, but an intention to share the nourishing and pleasurable experience of eating it.

          About Me

          The pleasure of food, good health and well-being through simple habits for eating well and flexitarian low-key cooking.
          Michele Redmond

          Michele Redmond

          French-trained Chef, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist & Food Enjoyment Activist

          It's about Making Food First

          Get Taste Workshop periodic updates on easy ways to choose and cook foods that satisfy your appetite, nurture your body and make eating well a pleasure.

          No Cell Phone Zones and Digital Dining Etiquette for Healthier Habits

          No Cell Phone Zones and Digital Dining Etiquette for Healthier Habits

          No Cell Phone Zones and Digital Dining Etiquette for Healthier Habits

          Gaps in my childhood memories are like holes in Swiss cheese, yet recollections of meals evoke a solid sense of belonging and comfort.

          Feeling gushy about meals is easy when you nourish yourself, nurture friends and family and take a break from daily busyness to listen, share, laugh, commiserate and connect.

          Commensal vs Convivial Eating and Cell Phones

          Eating together, or commensality, is common—anyone, even animals can do it, but convivial eating, or fully engaging with someone during a meal is becoming rare.

          Conviviality, a conscious social choice, separates dining together from simply eating food.

          No cell phone zones Digital dining couple“The shared meal elevates eating from a mechanical process of fueling our body to a ritual of family and community, from mere animal biology to an act of culture.” Micheal Pollan

          Often, at restaurants, I see tables full of diners, heads bent over their glowing laps. They’re being commensal, but where’s the conviviality?

          Most adults (82 percent) surveyed by the Pew Research Center, felt cell phone use during social gatherings hurt the atmosphere or conversations of the group.

          Yet, despite their concerns, 38 percent felt it was generally okay to use cell phones at restaurants. But family dinners? No.

          Cell Phone Digital Dining Table setting with phoneDon’t set a place for phones since only 12 percent felt they belonged at a family dinner.

          Physical and Emotional Health

          Multiple studies link commensal family meals with positive benefits ranging from:

          • better food choices,
          • more moderate portion sizes,
          • improved food recall and enjoyment,
          • better school outcomes,
          • lower risk of obesity, and
          • less drugs or alcohol abuse by teenagers.

          Studies focusing more on conviviality, link social interaction at meals as one key component in strengthening family ties and teaching children empathy and how to notice and interpret facial, eye and vocal tone cues.

          Tech experts and psychiatrists can connect cell phone use to elevated stress levels and changes in how we interact with people IRL (text for In-Real-Life). Children and young adults, in some studies, shared feeling insecure and neglected because of adults dining with devices at family meals.

          No Cell Phone ZoneFamily Dining Al Fresco

          Making a meal a mobile event or inviting the phone to the table can weaken social ties and ruin opportunities to create an environment of comfort and support.

          “Your dinner table can be a sanctuary from the outside world, with its angry cries for and against. It can be a place to process the events of the day, the week, the month, the year, and always to celebrate the delicious.” Sam Sifton 

          Rebecca Wheeler, culinary instructor, food tour guide and mom, treats their family dinners as sacred times since work schedules or events limit the number of sit-down family dinners during the week.

          “So, we take that time to light a candle, say what we’re grateful for, and talk and listen to each other.”

          Along with her husband, they’ve achieved a no-phone zone (or other electronics) at the table. Their concern was that even picking up or glancing at a phone or device was a distraction and a subtle message that something else was more important than eating together.

          As parents, they’ve resisted their own tech temptations at the table, instead modeling their message to teach their kids good habits around technology.

           “for this reason there are no exceptions. It’s just easier to have some family rules be black and white.”

           

          Mobile Meal Etiquette for Healthier Dinner HabitsNo cell phone zone digital dining time for change

          For people who commonly invite their phone to dinner, the idea of a no-phone zone at meals may trigger stress, even nomophobia—elevated anxiety due to “nomore-phone” access. In the case of periodic use of phones at meals, consider adopting some basic phone etiquette to help create healthier and more socially considerate habits.

          Icon fork knife spoon whiteExamine your motivations and priorities. Is that phone call, text, email, social media post critical or does just feel like it? What’s behind the need or desire to respond? Can it wait until after the meal? Will a crisis evolve if you take break to prioritize people who want to enjoy your company and a meal?

          Icon fork knife spoon whiteNuke the Notifications: Don’t tempt yourself. If you decide to devote your attention to socializing with others, turn off your phone or notifications and place it out of sight. Its presence on a table signals to your IRL friends or family members that more virtual distractions are likely.

          Icon fork knife spoon whiteDon’t look distracted or disengaged: Even a text, short email or glance at the phone to check for updates immediately communicates that someone else who is not at the meal is more important. Don’t buy into the myth that you can multi-task conversations in meaningful ways; no-one’s brain does this outside of science fiction movies.

          Icon fork knife spoon whiteAcknowledge your fellow eaters. If a potential phone distraction is likely or feels unavoidable, share that you have a time-sensitive or important issue which may require your attention and apologize, in advance.

          Icon fork knife spoon whiteDon’t invite a virtual-third party to the table: If you must take a call, leave the table to talk without being overheard. This practice avoids disrupting the meal and making your priority everyone else’s business.

          Icon fork knife spoon whiteProtect against Pathogenic Phones: Clean your phone often and wash your hands after using it. Over 90 percent of phones carry common bacteria such as Bacillus (think dirt) or viridans streptococci (mouth and throat) and some harbor worse pathogens like e-coli (poor bathroom washing behavior) or even the antibiotic resistant MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus).

          This year’s National Nutrition Month theme is “Put your best fork forward”. Eating well isn’t just nutrients, but how you think about eating. Consider the month of March a time to adopt new cell phone habits. A no-phone zone or better meal phone habits can pay-off with better health, well-being and relationships. At the very least, your memories of engaging with friends or family over a meal last forever, unlike your latest cell phone.


          Geeky Resource List:

          Pew Study: Americans Views on Mobile Etiquette
          https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3042390/   Mobile phone use and stress, sleep disturbances, and symptoms of depression among young adults – a prospective cohort study
          NBC News cellphone and distracted parenting
          https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2014/07/the-importance-of-eating-together/374256/
          http://www.eatright.org/resource/food/nutrition/eating-as-a-family/family-meals-small-investment-big-payoff
          http://www.todaysdietitian.com/newarchives/100713p30.shtml
          http://www.medicaldaily.com/distracted-eating-front-your-tv-or-your-phone-makes-you-fat-more-likely-snack-later-336438
          Scientific American study nomophobia or fear-of-being-without-a-mobile-phone
          https://www.statefoodsafety.com/Resources/article/category/Resources/article/the-dirty-cell-phone-25-107-bacteria-per-square-inch
          http://www.thehealthsite.com/diseases-conditions/how-dirty-is-your-phone/

            About Me

            The pleasure of food, good health and well-being through simple habits for eating well and flexitarian low-key cooking.
            Michele Redmond

            Michele Redmond

            French-trained Chef, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist & Food Enjoyment Activist

            It's about Making Food First

            Get Taste Workshop periodic updates on easy ways to choose and cook foods that satisfy your appetite, nurture your body and make eating well a pleasure.

            Purse Crêpes (Aumônières de Crêpes)

            Purse Crêpes (Aumônières de Crêpes)

            Purse Crêpes (Aumônières de Crêpes)

            Beggar’s Purse Crêpes Aumônières

            Purse Crêpes

            Purse Crêpes (sometimes called a Beggar’s purse) are an ironic description for a crêpe-based dish given that these elegant, plump flavor packages allow for an extra cha-ching to that restaurant bill. For the home cooks, this food bling bling upgrades your status as a chef de maison and offers fun ways to showcase what is truly a “fast-slow food”. Purse crêpes are versatile and can be stuffed with savory or sweet ingredients.

            Crêpe batter is easy to prepare (5 ingredients in 5 minutes)

            After learning a couple simple tricks, crêpes are easy to make—see my take on crêpes.

            Aumônières de Crêpes

            My chefs in Paris had me adding some chopped chervil into the batter and calling the recipe Crêpes Celestine without any mention of the “purse” food styling. Celestine refers to in the style of and often includes green, leafy herbs. Typically the French version is called aumônières de crêpes where aumônière means purse in French.

            The tasty morsel above is from Amarosa vineyard and restaurant in Tuscany, Italy. The herbed version below I made in Paris where the chefs had us stuffing them with a creamy scallop filling.

            Beggar’s Purse Crêpes Aumônières

              About Me

              The pleasure of food, good health and well-being through simple habits for eating well and flexitarian low-key cooking.
              Michele Redmond

              Michele Redmond

              French-trained Chef, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist & Food Enjoyment Activist

              It's about Making Food First

              Get Taste Workshop periodic updates on easy ways to choose and cook foods that satisfy your appetite, nurture your body and make eating well a pleasure.

              Start with downloading this guide

              3 Ways to Resist Doubt During Meals

              By downloading you'll receive periodic updates and recipes on best ways to cook simply, eat satisfying meals and make food enjoyment your path to health and wellbeing.

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