Food, culture and love are things that shape us and this never changes from generation to generation. We may lead modern lives and may not live near our families but there are always close friends nearby and they become our families too. I try to cook dinner as often as I can with friends and their children and I find we all learn something cooking and eating together.
It is the beginning of the year and I have many of the same resolutions as others — lose weight, reduce stress and see more of my loved ones. I have been thinking about fun family meals to make with children so that you can get more fun time with them and also get them involved in their own nutrition. Last night I had “build your own” taco night with my best friend’s children. I find that interactive cooking is exciting for children because they can make their own decisions and be creative. Austin wanted cheese and carrots in his taco, Aly wanted tomatoes and Kelly wanted rice. Since a lot of the prep (and time) is in chopping and all these kids are under eight years old we used butter knives so that they could help. Austin cut cheddar cheese into tiny bits (in lieu of grater which I do not recommend for children-ever) and wanted to add a bag of mini carrots he had left over from lunch which he cut up himself. Aly cut the tomatoes and other veggies and Kelly stirred the tumeric and olive oil and salt in the rice. With supervision, it should be ok for children to learn to use a knife without hurting themselves. With clear guidelines they will follow safety instructions or risk not participating. If they don’t follow instructions I don’t let them cook and they want to cook!
So give taco night a try, cooking together, eating together, loving together. Yum.
Recipe and instructions
If you are having rice, start your rice and simmer on low flame or in a rice cooker. In the meantime you can start your ground turkey meat and the chopping extravaganza.
1 lb. ground meat (we use turkey)
1/2 lb of mixed veggies of choice (this is a great way to incorporate veggies in the meal–we used broccoli, zucchini, cauliflower and red pepper and the kids ate it)
1 teaspoon of your favorite seasoning mix or your own mix (we used a combination of garlic and onion along with some cumin)
pinch of salt and pepper
1 tablespoon of EVOO for sauteeing all ingredients together
The fixins’ aka “Taco builders”
Taco shells of choice, I like soft corn but you will find many opinions. Buy a variety and make it a party. Flour tortillas, soft corn, crunchy corn and let everyone choose what they want.
Cheese (I don’t allow the kids to use a grater but they can cut the cheese into tiny bits)
Guacamole (use your favorite recipe)
Lettuce (chopped or torn)
Rice (use your favorite yellow rice recipe or brown rice). My favorite is the the recipe on Natalia de Cuba’s blog, Hot, Cheap and Easy. She is a single mom, writer (author of Eating Your Way through Puerto Rico, travel and food articles and blogger) and educator who is quite handy in the kitchen and her five year old son is her sous chef.
Place all ingredients in small bowls and a plate with the taco shells. Let everyone fill their own taco and enjoy.Share on Facebook