Saturday, May 30, 2015

How to Cook Healthy Grilled Vegetables Directly on Charcoal For Kids

What makes us human? In order to answer that question, Richard Wrangham asks, "What made us human?" In Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human, Wrangham argues cooking not only transformed food, it transformed us. By learning how to cook their food externally, our prehistoric ancestors greatly increased their access to the energy within food. As a result, they developed uniquely human, shorter intestinal tracts. Because they didn't need to devote as much energy towards digesting their food, they also evolved larger brains, the most energy hungry organ in the human body.

If cooking made us human, then why don't humans cook anymore? Because they don't have to. Our lives used to depend on cooking. Now, our processed food and restaurant industries do the cooking for us. But cooking not only made us human, cooking also makes us human. In Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation, Michael Pollan credits cooking for connecting humans and strengthening relationships.

One way you can enrich your kids' lives with more human experiences is to invite more humans to eat with your family. A cook out is a great way to simultaneously get back to your roots by cooking with fire and gathering friends and family together for a meal.

Recently, I tried a novel technique of cooking vegetables directly on hot charcoal that I read about in Every Day With Rachel Ray. I placed zucchini, eggplant, red onions, and bell peppers right on top of hot coals and cooked them until soft and blackened. Then, I peeled the skins away, chopped the vegetables up, and added a little salt, black pepper, and fresh herbs. The vegetables were delicious, but what really made the meal special was sharing the experience with our friends. That's what made it a truly human experience.


Pollan, Michael. 2013. Cooked: a natural history of transformation.

Wrangham, Richard W. 2009. Catching fire: how cooking made us human. New York: Basic Books.

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