Plant Powered Kids & A Delicious Square Recipe

I recently had the pleasure of presenting a workshop to an awesome group of parents and children. It was called Plant-Powered Kids and I transformed my living room and kitchen into 5 different food-making stations so that I could get the gang busy chopping, grating, stirring, wrapping, blending and baking.

What a fun afternoon! I gave a quick chat when everyone first arrived and appealed to their athletic lifestyles to introduce foods that would power up their activities. I encouraged the kids to become detectives when it comes to the food they eat and asked them to think about 3 things: How do particular foods make them feel when they eat them? What the heck is actually in the foods we eat? And are the glitzy food advertisements in the media telling us the truth?

I also chatted briefly about some foods to avoid like refined sugar (did you know a bottle of Gatorade has a whopping 9 tsp of sugar!), nasty trans fats and toxic MSG and touted the benefits of plant-based protein, healthy fats and fiber. After about 15 minutes I noticed the kids staring at the floor and dreamily looking around the room so I knew it was time to stop talking and get them up and cooking.

kaden kale chips

And I’ve gotta say – they really rose to the challenge! Not only did they do a bang up job of preparing the foods I had planned for them but they were brave about sampling pretty much everything they made. In addition to an All-Natural Hydrating Sports Drink and some Kale Chips that I whipped up myself – they prepared Raw Spring Rolls with Dipping Sauce, Fresh Veggie Salad with Zucchini Noodles, Homemade Hummus Dip, Granola Bar Squares and a Protein Rich Chocolate Shake. It was a feast!

I wandered around the stations with my husband and daughter to make sure everyone was on track and comfortable with the equipment. It made me smile to see the kids and parents talking and working together to make incredible healthy food. And I was able to overhear some of the funny things the kids said as they cooked- here are a few of my favourite quotes from the afternoon:

“I don’t know how to cook but I want to learn. It’s a life skill.” Liam age 10

“So is this like food? Are we going to eat it?” Lucas age 11

“Remember if you eat the beets your poop is going to be bright red tomorrow.” Izzy age 11

It was the first time I tried out this particular workshop and I think everyone had a good time. I was very impressed with the way the kids jumped right in and were willing to try new things. And I feel so fortunate that I had such an adventurous bunch for my first attempt…..I will definitely do it again!

And now for a recipe: of all of the things we whipped up together – the granola bar squares were by far the biggest hit. And I have to admit they are delicious. Super easy to make and the kids and parents alike gobbled them up. So here is the recipe in case you’d like to give them a whirl:

Granola Bar Squares

granola bar

1 cup almonds (or nut of choice), chopped
1 cup rolled oats
1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1 ½ cups crispy rice cereal
1 tsp sea salt
1/3 cup dried cranberries, chopped
1/3 cup raw honey
¼ cup maple syrup
½ cup raw almond butter
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 and line a square pan with parchment paper.

Place nuts and coconut on a rimmed baking sheet and toast in the oven for 5-8 minutes, stirring once or twice to avoid burning.

Combine oats, cereal, salt and cranberries in a large bowl. Add toasted nuts and coconut.

In a saucepan, heat honey, syrup and almond butter on medium high heat and bring to a gentle boil. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.

Pour over dry mixture and stir to combine.

Press firmly into pan and bake for 20-25 minutes.

Remove from oven and cool. Once cooled completely, place squares in the fridge for at least 1 hour or overnight before cutting. (they are very soft and will fall apart if you try to cut them before they set in the fridge – although the kids didn’t mind at all and ate the warm crumbles straight from the pan : )

Enjoy!

P.S. Intrigued by this workshop? Wondering what other awesome classes I offer? Wanna come to my kitchen?  Drop me a line in the comments and I’ll hook you up!

 

Talkin’ About A Revolution

“Cooking skills used to be passed down from generation to generation, but now millions of people lack even the most basic cooking skills. We need to get back to basics: to cook and eat fresh local produce; to share cooking skills and food knowledge; to join forces within communities and get as many people involved as possible. Food Revolution Day is our opportunity to get the world to focus on the importance of good food and essential cooking skills, by rallying our efforts to empower people with better cooking skills and to inspire them to cook fresh food from scratch.” Jamie Oliver

food revolution 6

Friday May 17th is Food Revolution Day around the globe. Renowned chef and passionate real food activist Jamie Oliver has rallied an army of volunteers to spread the word about the vital importance of food education and cooking skills and it’s an amazing opportunity to participate in free local events or plan your own special food celebration.

In my community, fitness expert Sue Abell has organized cooking classes and free seminars around the city and you can follow this link to find out exact times and locations. You can also head over to Jamie Oliver’s site to find out what events are planned in your neighbourhood.

And in case you can’t find a scheduled activity nearby – you can always celebrate this revolutionary day your own special way. Here are a few suggestions:

Research a local CSACommunity Shared Agriculture has developed a real groundswell of support over the last several years and chances are you have a farm in your area that is part of this movement. In return for purchasing a share in their farm, you receive a portion of the harvest. It’s a wonderful way to support a local farmer and to enjoy a bounty of locally grown food.

food revolution 3

– Scout out a Farmer’s Market– most communities have at least one market where local farmers can set up shop and sell their beautiful home-grown produce. There is nothing better than a juicy tomato fresh off of the vine or a box of newly picked strawberries. Make sure you bring your children along to help pick out their favourite fruits and vegetables and to introduce them to the people growing their food.

food revolution 4

Plant a Garden – whether you have a huge yard or a small balcony, you can set up your own garden using a small plot of land or a variety of containers. It’s so much fun to watch your little seeds grow into plants overflowing with tomatoes, beans, herbs and a variety of fruits and vegetables. And most children love being a part of the growing process and will take pride in eating the fruits of their labours.

food revolution 8

Try out a new Whole Foods Recipe with your Family -challenge yourself to cook everything from scratch using only real food (nothing processed). Why not set up a huge salad bar on your kitchen table with a wide variety of toppings and let your family serve themselves? Or enlist the help of your kids to whip up some homemade pancakes and a giant fruit salad?

food revolution 7

Get your Kids Involved in Preparing a Meal or Snack– and talk to them about the ingredients and where they come from. Use this as an opportunity to introduce them to foods they may not know about and teach them why these foods are healthy for their bodies. This is great time to try out quinoa, beets, avocado, mango, zucchini, couscous, goji berries and countless other amazing foods that are sometimes  overlooked. Be adventurous and your kids will follow suit.

kitchen helper 2

– Host a “Food Revolution” Dinner Party– ask everyone to bring one dish that is prepared from scratch and the recipe to share with the group. And don’t forget the local organic wine!

food revolution 9

Jamie Oliver is a dad, a chef, an activist, a teacher and an inspiration- and his message is a powerful one: “the rise of diet related illness has become the biggest killer on the planet and we need to take action.” This Friday, let’s honour our bodies, our health and our children by buying, cooking and eating real whole foods. Join the revolution!

Kids Cook Night #1

Sometimes I get a tad resentful of all of the things I do for my family that they seemingly take completely for granted. Do you ever feel that way? Grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning, laundry, planning, and on and on. It can really get me down. Yes the kids are responsible for their bedrooms and for a few other small chores around the house but the bulk of the work is really done by my husband and myself.

Instead of complaining and whining (tactics I’ve definitely tried in the past), I decided I would do something about it and thus “Kids Cook” night was born! We chatted about it as a family and the kids were actually quite excited to give it a try. The deal was that they come up with the menu (I would grocery shop for their items) and then they had to prepare it all and clean up the kitchen afterwards. We agreed that 1 night per week was their turn to be set loose in the kitchen.

Since my children are 11, 9 and 2, the older two are quite capable of reading recipes, prepping and chopping food and working around the stove- and the toddler is super helpful if you are looking for someone to taste test while sitting on the table and/or make a huge mess ; )

kids can cook 3

On night #1 their menu was as follows:

Nachos and Cheese
Guacamole
Spanish Rice
Edamame

Not too shabby and since most of the items would work on my cleanse I was quite excited to see it all come together. When their night rolled around my daughter got right to work on the Spanish Rice. She totally rocked at following the recipe and she even chopped the onion by herself- while sporting a snazzy pair of her dad’s safety goggles to protect her eyes. She enlisted the help of her little brother when it came time to make the guacamole because she knew he would be a good avocado musher and he was only too pleased to sample the dip as she adjusted the seasonings. My older son got busy steaming edamame and grating cheese for the nachos and was happy to learn how to work the broiler in the oven to get the cheese perfectly melted. They all set the table and were thrilled to bits to sit down to a meal of their own creation.

kids can cook 2

And guess what? It was really good! We gobbled it down and enjoyed every bite (I skipped the cheese because of the cleanse but everything else was yummy). I was quite sure I was going to get some serious push back when it came time to clean but they stepped right up and even swept the floor after the dishes were all washed. It was fantastic!

kids can cook 1

So Kids Cook night was a resounding success. I can hardly wait to see what they come up with next week! Now if I can just get them doing the laundry I’ll be all set…..

Nachos & Cheese

1 bag of tortilla chips (preferably an organic corn variety)
1 small block of medium cheddar (I like L’Ancetre brand)

Turn on the broiler in the oven. Dump the bag of chips onto a cookie sheet. Grate cheese and sprinkle over top. Pop in the oven and broil for 5 min or until cheese is melted.

Izzy’s Guacamole is posted here.

Steam frozen organic Edamame according to package directions.

Spanish Rice

1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 medium carrot, diced
1 cup long grain rice
1 3/4 cups water
1 tbsp. tomato paste
1 tsp sea salt
1/3 tsp black pepper

Heat oil in a sauce pan over medium heat. Add onion and cook approx. 3 minutes until soft and just starting to turn translucent. Add garlic and carrot and cook for 2 more minutes. Pour in rice and stir to coat. Add water, tomato paste, salt and pepper. Bring mixture to a boil, stir once and reduce heat to low. Cover and let simmer for approx. 17 minutes until water is absorbed. Remove from heat and let sit covered for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork and serve. Enjoy!

***Cleanse Update: Day # 10 and I’m almost halfway there! I feel clear-headed, strong and confident that I can see this cleanse through to the end. I have noticed a slight dip in my energy after dinner the last couple of days so I’m going to up my water consumption around that time and see if it makes a difference. I had a crazy sugar craving on Day 9 so I whipped up an impromptu “almond milk shake” that totally hit the spot. I just threw some homemade almond milk, a handful of strawberries, a frozen banana, a few dates and some ice in my vitamixer and slurped up the sweet creamy goodness. I’ll post the exact recipe soon.

milkshake 1