Chef Amanda Curry at the Center for a Healthy Lifestyle is silly in the kitchen. Surrounded by pint-sized chefs, she lobs jokes, asks goofy questions and gets giggles out of even the most serious kid. Meanwhile, kids are doing the unthinkable: eating their vegetables.
Amanda is the kind of chef we all wish we could be at home with our kids: relaxed, patient and sensible. She’s also more daring than I’d be, allowing the kids to use knives and open cans, and teaching me a lesson in the process: kids can do more than I think they can.
- Teach kids to engage all their senses, especially touch, by having them grind spices in their hands.
- It’s okay to let kids cut onions, garlic, etc. Just give them a plastic kid knife or even an everyday flatware knife.
- Ditto for opening cans, although with little hands you may need to hold the can while they turn the wheel of the opener.
Engage kids by asking questions. But not boring questions. Silly questions! Like “If you were a vegetable, which one would you be?” or “What food would you take to the moon?” Questions are great time fillers, and who doesn’t need more laughing in their life?!
Get little bodies moving around. Kids can’t sit still for long, so it’s important to remember to squeeze in wiggle time here and there. If it’s too cold to go outside and peek around the garden, lead a quick round of “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes” before attacking the next task.
Let kids take turns performing each task. If you’re cooking at home with a kid or two, I encourage you to still ask questions. Kids love to raise their hands and be noticed, especially at home. Try something like “Who wants to work the food processor?”
If you’re local to San Diego, be sure to check out Chef Amanda’s cooking classes, held at The Center for a Healthy Lifestyle behind the Boys & Girls Club of Solana Beach. If you’re out of town, get a taste of Chef Amanda’s kid-friendly fare with her Football Hero Nachos; get the recipe, below.
Football Hero Nachos
Recipe by Amanda Curry
For the Salsa Verde:
4 large tomatillos (husk and boil for 5 minutes)
½ cup chopped fresh cilantro
½ cup chopped green peppers
¼ cup chopped onion
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
2 garlic cloves, chopped
Place all ingredients into a food processor, pulse into small chunks and place in bowl.
For the black beans:
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
½ cup onion, finely chopped
2 teaspoons oregano
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup water
Add all ingredients to a pot over medium heat, bring to a boil, reduce to simmer and cook until water is gone. Remove from heat and place in a bowl.
For the nachos:
Blue corn tortilla chips
½ cup grated cheddar cheese
- Preheat oven to 350°.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place tortilla chips on paper and cover with grated cheese. Bake until cheese is melted, just a few minutes. Remove from oven.
- Place tortilla chips on a large plate and cover with black beans and salsa verde. Serve immediately.
Reprinted with permission from Amanda Curry.