Taco Tuesday

Posted by on Jan 24, 2013 in Blog, Dinner | 1 comment

Taco Tuesday

 

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I am so excited to share with you my cooking class I did with a group of kids.  I had five girls total in the class (two boys were sick).  The lesson couldn’t have gone better.  The girls were excited the moment they walked in the door.
Before we got started I told the girls we were going to make tacos.  This got them enthusiastic before we had even gotten underway!  One of the most important things when working with kids and food is to get them enthusiastic about what they are familiar with.  This makes it easier to slip in the healthier, unprocessed options without anyone noticing.  One the girls heard “tacos” they were so pumped it was like they already decided they were going to love what it tasted like.

We started off the class talking about whole foods vs. processed foods.  No one really knew how to describe whole food (without mentioning the grocery store), but they knew exactly what processed food was. One girl used the world “chemicals” to describe processed foods.  That got the conversation going about the difference between the two, and why this is important to know.  I even gave them the challenge to go a whole day without processed food; they all seemed excited about the challenge, and said they thought they could do it.

We also talked about the colors of the rainbow and how it is important to fill your plate with different colors.  The girls took turns and named many different fruits and veggies of different colors, I was impressed they came up with a better list than I did! I made sure to ask them if I could eat a plate of skittles since they are different colors, they said no, that’s processed!  I LOVE that they recognized the difference between a plate of fruit and veggies, and a handful of skittles.

After our conversation we headed over to the kitchen to start chopping.  I had the girls help me with all of the veggies (with the exception of cutting onions, they smartly assigned that job to me!)  I was very impressed with their knife skills and patients.  One girl was chopping at a time; we worked it like an assembly line.  I would show them how to cut a bell pepper, and one by one each girl would try it.

After all of our veggie chopping we started on the guacamole.  I let the girls decide what we were going to put in it. They all agreed lots of garlic, tomatoes, cilantro, onion and some salt and pepper.  Each girl added different ingredients as they took turns stirring and mashing the avocados.  Then came time for the “taste test”, one of the THE most important concepts in the kitchen if you ask me(if you don’t check to make sure it tastes right, then how will you know if you seasoned it properly).  Each girl grabbed a bell pepper and dipped it in the guacamole bowl (no double dipping of course), and shared with the group of they thought it needed anything. They all said it tasted perfect, one girl even said it “tastes like heaven”.

After chopping and preparing the veggies, we got to sautéing.  We had one pan on the stove with three different colored bell pepper, onion, garlic and spices.  Then we had another pan going for the turkey meat, which a few girls decided we should add some sautéed onions and garlic to for extra flavor (I loved the way these girls were thinking!)

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Throughout the cooking I made sure to ask the girls questions about whether the food was processed or not.  And we even talked about what we could do to the meal if we wanted to add more colors of the rainbow (they agreed a fruit salad would go perfectly).

I loved the passion and excitement the girls had for what we were cooking.  They loved being able to pick what went into each dish, they even got to choose how we cut the veggies (diced, sliced, minced).  It’s important to let kids feel their opinions and ideas are valued, especially in a setting like this where not a lot of kids usually get to pick the meal that is made each night.

I made a lot of observations during this lesson but two things stood out the most to me.  As we were preparing the veggies I brought out a bag of baby spinach to be torn and used as a topping, if the girls chose.  One girl immediately told me she did not like spinach, and I said “that’s okay you don’t have to eat something that you don’t like, as long as you try it once, that’s all I ask.”  I didn’t make it a big deal, or go off on how I love spinach and it’s so good for you.  I kept it short and sweet validated her feelings and moved on.  When it came time to pick her toppings for her taco she loaded it with spinach!  I didn’t make it a big deal or say anything but inside I did a little dance because I was so excited to see her eating it!  Another girl had told me she never had bell pepper before, and we were all eating it raw because we sliced some extra to munch on while cooking.  At first she was a little taken aback by it, and only tried some with guacamole.  About 30 minutes later she came up to me and said I never knew I liked these, but they are so good!  It’s all about giving kids an option and not making a big deal about it.  Put healthy choices in front of them and they won’t have a choice but to eat it!

Here are some tips to get your children (for the most part) to eat less processed and more whole foods:

  1. Don’t buy the JUNK!  If you have it, they’ll eat it, simple as that.  It’s the reason why I don’t stock red velvet cupcakes at my house; I’d be eating them all the time.  Buy healthy foods and keep the processed snacks for a special occasion.  Not sure about some health options watch me on The CW  discussing easy healthy snacks!
  2. Get your kids involved in cooking.  As adults we tend to underestimate kids capabilities.  Don’t hesitate to ask your child to help you make dinner.  If they are really young start off with tearing lettuce, or even just voicing their opinion on how you should cut something.   This will make them feel important, and getting them to help cook dinner gets them excited about eating it!
  3. Introduce new foods without the drama.If you decide to introduce a new food your child isn’t familiar with don’t make it a big deal.  If they aren’t sure about it, compare it to something they ARE familiar with, this will make it seem a little less intimidating. Don’t tell them they HAVE to try it, just be enthusiastic about it and let their curiosity lead them to try a bite.
  4. Make Cooking FUN. Most importantly kids need to be enjoying themselves or they lose interest almost immediately.  Make the kitchen a fun space to be in.  This is a rule I use for myself too!  Play some music, do a little dance, get silly, high energy excitement in the kitchen will have kids wanting more.  All that excitement will have them work up an appetite so they will be ready to dig it when it’s time to eat!

Below you can find the amazing taco recipe that the kids loved so much, they wanted to take extra home for the their parents to try!!! I love this recipe because everyone gets to choose exactly what goes in their taco without you becoming a short-order cook!  Just set up all your veggies and let the kids have fun adding their own toppings!

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound ground organic turkey meat
  • 3 red bell peppers colors of your choice, diced
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 8 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp cumin
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp paprika
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp garlic salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • about 1/4 cup water
  • soft or hard taco shells

Preparation:

  1. Heat two medium pans over medium heat  IMG_3601
  2. Add the bell pepper and 1/2 of your chopped onions to one pan, add the rest of the onions to the other.  Let the veggies saute for about 5 minutes until they start to become soft.
  3. Split the minced garlic into two piles, add one pile to the bell pepper mixture, and the other pile of garlic to the sautéed onions.
  4. As your bell pepper mixture becomes soft lower the heat and let it simmer, add salt and pepper to season, and sprinkle with some garlic powder if desired.
  5. In your onion pan add your ground turkey and start to work it with a spatula so it starts to separate.  As the turkey starts to cook add the cumin, paprika, garlic powder, and cinnamon, and a little water as needed.
  6. Once meat is fully cooked turn off stove and set the rest of your taco toppings out on the counter.  Create an assembly line where your child can choose exactly what they put in their taco!

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Optional Taco Toppings:

I asked the girls to pose for a photo and show their excitement for how much they loved making and eating their tacos.  Below are the results!

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1 Comment

  1. Wonderful! So adorable and I love all the info.

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