Friday, July 10, 2015

How to Cook Healthy Food for Kids : Amazing Rice Paella on an Outdoor Charcoal Grill


In my line of work, I am constantly encouraging my patients to cook for themselves. I tell them that they should cook as if their lives depend on it...literally. Food is our most powerful medicine, and cooking for yourself and your kids is the single best thing you can do for the health of your family.

Sometimes my recommendations meet with some degree of resistance. Work, time, and energy are all common excuses. Another reason people don't cook is they may be afraid of trying something new. On average, people cook about twenty-five things, which are on heavy rotation. It's understandable that people tend to cook comfort foods and food that they are comfortable making.

Before I became invested in cooking for health, I would get nervous about entertaining. I feared that I would serve something inedible. I feared I would undercook something and make my guests sick. I tended to stick with familiar dishes that I had done before.

Then, I read Man With a Pan, by John Donohue. One of the inspirational stories in this book was written by Manny Howard. Howard, known for extravagant high-wire cooking feats, shares his tale of roasting a whole pig in an underground pit. The fact that he had never done so before, or that he was preparing a meal for a small army of guests did not faze him in the least. Nor was he fazed when he pulled the hog out only to find that it wasn't properly cooked. He simply pulled the meat and finished it off in the oven. In the end, his guests had a great meal and a great time.

This story inspired me to try a new way of cooking paella for my extended family. After cooking the chicken, onion, and aromatics on the stove, I added the rice and chicken broth, then transferred the pan to a hot outdoor grill. The charcoal grill gave the paella an even distribution of high heat and a smoky flavor. It was the first time I cooked paella on a grill, but it won't be the last.


Donohue, John. 2011. Man with a pan: culinary adventures of fathers who cook for their families. Chapel Hill, N.C.: Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill.

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