Mealtime is not just about sitting around the table with your family, but should also be about cooking together in the kitchen first. This special time is an opportunity for you and your kids to bond, while working as a team to create a delicious meal together. Instead of cooking alone, cook with your kids! Whether it’s measuring, stirring, chopping, or tasting, spend the time together in the kitchen exploring new foods your whole family can enjoy.
Don’t be scared to go outside your comfort zone. Think outside the box and get the family to try new and adventurous foods. Don’t assume just because your kids are kids that they can’t appreciate good food and unique flavors. My five year old loves eel, octopus and believe it or not, sardines. Exposing your children to new and distinct recipes, along with various ethnicities of food at a young age, will pave the way for great and beneficial eating habits for them in the future.
I recently celebrated sushi night at our house and it was a HUGE hit! If you are saying to yourself, “I could never do that”, you are WRONG! Sushi is one of our favorite foods but heading to our local sushi restaurant is expensive and dining out with kids (as you know), is not always a good time. I decided to create a Japanese themed dinner at home that we would all love!
To start, I purchased pre-made miso soup, which is a staple at sushi restaurants, made of miso paste, tofu and scallions and all I had to do is add hot water. It was so much fun shopping for these items, knowing the surprise that awaited my kids for dinner. Next I picked up seaweed, sushi rice, imitation crab sticks, some veggies and other items to make the perfect restaurant night at home. By perfect, I mean seeing the kids enjoy their food, hearing them laugh and smile, and producing (not so perfect) sushi rolls that are made with love).
Our sushi themed night had begun and the sushi rice was cooled, flavored with a touch of rice wine vinegar and ready to be molded. I laid out all of my ingredients and the kids and I started to create our masterpieces. First, we spread out the sticky rice on the seaweed (wet hands first with water for easier handling) and invited our fillings to come on over.
First, it was grilled salmon and crispy salmon skin. If you don’t think your kids would go for salmon skin, and you want to start out more basic, you can put chicken, veggies, steak, shrimp or whatever protein you have on hand. I do invite you to try it though as it’s quite delicious and super healthy. In fact, my kids fight over who gets the last piece. Remember sushi doesn’t have to be raw, so start out with food that is more familiar and slowly introduce new, more adventurous options.
Next I rolled the seaweed into the form of a log and took a sharp knife dipped in water (so it didn’t stick) and cut into pieces. Even I was pretty impressed with how it came out.
Next it was time for the California roll (a popular choice amongst kids and novice sushi or non-raw fish eaters). All my ingredients were ready to go and looked fresh, colorful and delicious. I would attempt to produce an inside out roll (rice on outside and seaweed on inside) where as the salmon skin roll was more traditional (seaweed on outside and rice on inside). Once I placed the rice on the seaweed sheet, I turned the seaweed over and placed my items directly on the seaweed.
Does mine look like it does at the restaurant? Absolutely not! Did my kids think the rolls were amazing, perfect and delicious replicas? YES THEY DID!
Behold…my California roll:
If you are wondering what my kids thought of sushi night, here you go:
Next sushi night, I will be adding edamame, ginger, wasabi (Japanese horseradish), and some ice cold sake (for Mommy & Daddy). As you get more comfortable with your preparation, you can try different and more adventurous items.
Whatever ethnic foods your family loves, experiment and re-create the restaurant at home. If are a not a great cook, have no fears. As with parenting, it does not have to be perfect. Your kids will appreciate your efforts, get excited about switching up mealtime, and enjoy spending time with you.
TOGETHER WE CAN MASTER MOTHERHOOD…and mealtime!