Friday, January 30, 2015

How to Cook Healthy Food For Kids : Use Spiralizer to Make Easy Zucchini Pasta

In my last post, I extolled the advantages of Asian stir fry.  Not only is Asian stir fry quick and easy, it is very flavorful.  Why is Asian stir fry so flavorful?  Sure, the salty goodness of soy sauce and the complex spices og ginger and garlic help, but the primary reason Asian stir fry is so flavorful is surface area.

By dicing up food into tiny morsels, you increase the total surface area of the food you are cooking.  More surface area means more flavor from all those Asian spices evenly coating your food.  Surface area is also the reason why so many pasta and noodle dishes are so tasty.  Pasta is a great vehicle for delivering flavorful pasta sauce into your mouth.  Furthermore, if you slurp up your pasta, it tastes that much better because the aeration adds to the flavor, much like the practice of aerating wines does.  

On my never-ending quest to get my kids to eat more vegetables, I realized that increased surface area was the answer.  My cousin Selene thoughtfully gifted a spiralizer to us.  This handy dandy kitchen tool creates noodles out of vegetables.  Brilliant!  I recently used the spiralizer to make this spicy bacon and roasted tomato zucchini pasta.  This dish is a tasty way to get your kids to eat their vegetables!

Saturday, January 24, 2015

How to Cook Healthy Thai Chicken Basil Stir Fry for Kids

Last week, I discussed the health advantages of working for your food.  For instance, chewing your food helps you to regulate your calories much more so than drinking your food does.  That's also why it doesn't hurt to use your hands and break apart your food on occasion rather than letting someone else process your food for you.

On the other hand, there are some advantages to planning ahead and doing as much prep work before it's time to actually cook or eat your food.  When I come home from work and prepare dinner for the kids, I've got a very tight time window before all hell breaks loose.  If I spend that time window doing prep work, my kids are bound to get hungry and I won't be able to get dinner out on time.  That's why, whenever possible, Cassie and I try to do prep work the night before.  That way, when either of us returns home from work, we can immediately get right to work cooking.

One type of cuisine that lends itself to prepping in advance and cooking quickly is Asian stir-fry.  In Asian stir-fry, all the knife work is done in advance of cooking and eating.  Not only does this enable fast cooking times, it conserves cooking oil, and increases the surface area of the tiny morsels so that every bite gets an even coating of flavor.  Try this easy Thai basil chicken stir fry, based loosely on the following recipe:


Wilson, Bee.  Consider the Fork: A History of How We Cook and Eat.  New York: Basic Books, 2012.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

How to Cook Healthy Food for Kids : Medieval Times Chicken Recipe


I just completed a fascinating book called, "Consider the Fork: A History of How We Cook and Eat", by Bee Wilson.  The author details the history of how man has adapted tools to make cooking easier.  For instance, she discusses how the hearth used to be the central element of the kitchen, but overtime this was replaced by the refrigerator.  Although not a central point of her work, I couldn't help but see how advances in cooking technology have simultaneously helped and hurt us.

While kitchen tools make the work of cooking easier, advances in technology also separate us further and further from food in general.  Taking out the work of cooking naturally results in a loss of skill and knowledge about food preparation.  Taking out the work of cooking also has health implications.  For instance, in her chapter, "Grind", Wilson relates how we used to use a mortar and pestle to grind our food.  Now that work is largely done for us.  Not only do we lose out on getting some useful arm exercise, but we have easy access to finely ground grains that are highly absorbable and high in glycemic index.    

Technological advances also take work out from the process of eating.  Wilson makes an argument that the development of the overbite was not an evolutionary development so much as an anthropological one.  In medieval times, we used to grab hunks of meat with our bare hands, grasp it between our top and lower teeth, then tear chunks off.  However, with the advent of the table-side knife and fork, we could neatly cut up our meat before putting it into our mouths.  The introduction of the table-side knife and fork cut out some of the work of chewing and resulted in the development of the overbite.

I don't want technology to distance the relationship my kids have with food.  I want my kids to understand how food grows and how food is harvested.  I want my kids to learn how to handle, wash, chop, and cook food.  Sometimes that means getting down and dirty and eating chicken with their bare hands.  And that's exactly what we did on our recent trip to Medieval Times:


Wilson, Bee.  Consider the Fork: A History of How We Cook and Eat.  New York: Basic Books, 2012.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

How to Cook Healthier "Fried" Chicken For Kids : Spicy Korean Wings


Crunch, crunch, crunch.  Why do we like crunchy foods?  In her best-selling book,  Gulp, Mary Roach writes, "Crispness and crunch appeal to us because they signal freshness…To a certain extent we eat with our ears."

My kids are especially fond of eating foods that pack a crunch.  That's one of the reasons they are so drawn to savory snacks like chips and crackers.  Another thing they like crunching on is fried chicken.  Unfortunately, most conventionally prepared fried chicken is dipped in a high glycemic batter then deep fried in a pool of saturated fat.

I have long been on the search for a substitute to crisp up chicken without all the unhealthy batter and saturated fat.  My search ended when I came across a tasty technique to make spicy Korean chicken wings.

In this recipe, the chicken wings are first tossed in a thin coating of egg white, salt, and baking soda.  Then, they are dried out in the refrigerator overnight.  Instead of using a deep fryer, the chicken is then simply baked in the oven.  Afterwards, the wings are slathered in a sauce made from gochujang, a Korean fermented chili paste.

My kids thoroughly enjoyed these spicy Korean chicken wings, but you may have to adjust the gochujang if your kids don't like things too spicy.  Best of all, it satisfied their craving for something crispy.  Now I just need to figure out why they don't like chomping on crunchy raw salad.


Roach, Mary.  Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal.  New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2013.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

How to Cook Healthy Food for Kids : Spice is the Variety of Life Recipe


Learning how to cook is like learning a new language.  Words alone don't carry a lot of meaning, but put them together and you create a beautiful language of communication.  A single ingredient tasted by itself is one note, but when you combine different ingredients together, you can create a complex dish that speaks to yourself and to the kids you are cooking for.

Before I started learning how to cook, I would stick to basic recipes with familiar ingredients.  More than four ingredients?  Not for me!  Strange spices?  Not for me!  And then I realized that not only was that incredibly limiting for my taste buds, but it was incredibly limiting for my life.  After all, spice is the variety of life.

The sensation of taste can be categorized into five basic tastes: sweetness, saltiness, sourness, bitterness, and umami.  The problem is so much of our food is overpowered with sweetness.  It's because sweetness is cheap and easy to add to food.  An overemphasis of sweetness in our food is also the predominant cause of our obesity and diabetes epidemics.

Simply relying on sweetness to flavor your food is like speaking in one word statements.  On the other hand, using spices to flavor your food increases their complexity and transports you to other worlds.  For instance, start with a simple and delicious chickpea chicken stew.  Add cumin, paprika, and cinnamon and you've taken a Moroccan twist.  Alternatively, add ginger, garam masala, and tumeric, and you've got an Indian chickpea masala.  In addition to providing flavor to your dishes, spices like turmeric may have added health benefits such as reducing inflammation.

So don't be intimidated by new ingredients, new spices, or new recipes.  Embracing the novelty of these tools is the key to creating health and variety for yourself and your kids!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...