Here at Red Rabbit, we love to try new flavors and cuisines. Dishes like Sancocho (South American chicken and root vegetable soup), Potage aux primeurs (French spring vegetable soup), and Dolmades (Greek rice wrapped in a grape leaf) get our mouths salivating and our brain wheels spinning with recipe ideas. How can we create these international dishes in our Red Rabbit kitchen for all of our students to try, and how can we experiment at home with our family and friends?
When we read sweetgreen’s recent blog post “School Lunches Around The World,” we were thrilled that this salad company, with similar values as Red Rabbit's, believes just as strongly as we do in highlighting nutritious school lunches, wherever they may be. These multifaceted lunches are packed full of the nutrients that help power our brains, build our muscles, focus our minds and fight off sickness.
Then our Red Rabbit brains got to thinking even beyond school lunches. The big question each team member asked was, “How can the Red Rabbit children share with their family and friends the new flavors they are eating during Red Rabbit meals?” Eureka! Children can help cook these international dishes for their family dinners.
Dinners can be tough. Gathering the whole family and working with so many different schedules can make cooking something that everyone likes a challenge -- not to mention making the meal in the first place. Children like to cook - just look at Master Chef Jr. They like the autonomy they get from being in the kitchen that lets them feel more like an adult. It gives them the opportunity to contribute to the family, and an added benefit is that they are more apt to eat the food they have just cooked.
If time is an issue, try this new situation during the weekend, when schedules are less likely to be rushed. Have the children search through magazines or on the internet for meals served around the world. The dishes do not have to be elaborate 20 ingredient, 3-day affairs. In fact, the less complex the dish, oftentimes turns out to be as tasty or better than the more time-intensive meals. Borrowing tips from other cuisines presents the perfect learning opportunity for curious minds to find out about various cultures around the world. Perfect discussion topics could include how children just like them live in other countries, and what they eat for dinner. Learning to cook at a young age furnishes an excellent outlet for burgeoning creativity, potentially becoming a hobby that could turn into a career.
- To get started, try steering your child’s attention to the following:
- To a country (France, Greece, Brazil).
- To a type of dish (pasta, vegetarian, soup-or-stew).
- The number of ingredients (maybe start off with 5 ingredients).
- Time it will take to prepare and cook (total 1 hour).
- Set out the cooking tools and ingredients (or what is called “mise en place”).
Then, let the magic happen! Be close by for questions or in case of emergency, but allow your child the freedom to learn on his/her own. Mistakes will most likely happen and it may not turn out exactly as planned, but it’s the effort that counts. Who knows, you may be in the midst of the next big chef: the next Gabrielle Hamilton, Marcus Samuelsson or Jacques Pepin!
Let us know about the international dishes your family tries, and the favorites you are cooking up at home. We love to hear food stories and what children are choosing to eat!
Kristin Hurley, Red Rabbit Account Specialist/Education Liaison