“Mom don’t forget I need to buy a birthday present for my friends party this tomorrow!”
My daughter’s high-pitched yet mighty voice bellowed from her bedroom as I completed loading the dishwasher in the kitchen. This was the 3rd time this week that my daughter provided last-minute reminders for something she required. Is it just me or do our kids get a kick out of seeing us scramble around like a chicken with its head cut off? The past weekend has been one of the busiest weekends to date since the start of the new year. To top it off, I had a slight injury to my wrist last week from falling on the ice and landing on my arm (which thankfully didn’t result in anything more serious). This meant, I needed some additional support from my family, including the kids!
My children typically enjoy helping out in the kitchen, especially when it comes to cooking. My daughter, who is eight, has always had a love for cooking and baking since she was a wee little one. More than ever now, she is always asking how she can assist me in the kitchen and helping to conjure up her own unique recipes. Most recently, she created the most delicious batch of zucchini dark chocolate brownies topped with pink himalayan salt. I know, right? Who is this kid? 🙂
To say she has a passion for culinary arts is an understatement.
One of the main reasons I appreciate when my children help out with cooking is because they remind us that food doesn’t need to be complicated to taste amazing. Simple ingredients, usually even whatever you have on hand, can come together to produce a delightful edible masterpiece. Another huge plus is that fact that my kids tend to eat more of what they help to create. One of the things I learned in motherhood is the importance of being inventive and thinking “outside and around the box”, especially when it comes to meals. What we may find appealing on our plates, our kids may find bland, drab or disgusting. So, if I wanted to persuade my kids to try healthier and newer foods, I had to be a bit more creative in the kitchen.
To do this, it meant jazzing up meals with fun, flavorful marinades and condiments to make bland food more appealing and tasty, or playing around with shapes, colors, and textures to liven up their plates. Some tips include:
- Serve cut-up raw veggies with a fun dip, like low-fat ranch dressing or hummus. If your kids like only one or two veggies, it’s okay to repeat often. Serve fruits with a sweet, low-fat yogurt dip — just like fondue!
- Top poultry or veggies, such as broccoli, cauliflower, and green beans, with your favorite jarred marinara sauce and/or part-skim mozzarella or Parmesan cheese.
- Cut vegetables or fruits into fun shapes with small cookie cutters. This works really well with red and yellow bell pepper, raw beet (which is actually really sweet!), cucumber, apple, pear, and melon.
- Take it a step further by using veggies to create fun objects, like celery boats. Fill celery stalks with low-fat cream cheese and top with red pepper “sails.” Cut veggies into strips and other shapes and use to design faces or artwork on whole-wheat mini pitas spread with low-fat cream cheese or ranch dressing.
- Mix chopped or grated veggies (zucchini and carrot work well) into meatloaf, soups, chili, marinara sauce, casseroles, or other mixed dishes.
- Dump extra veggies (frozen, bite-sized mixed veggies are ideal for this) into canned soup or frozen dinners at lunchtime. Your kids will hardly notice the extra vegetables!
This weekend, I decided to hand over the reins to my eldest to see what she comes up with for dinner and to say I was impressed with her final pièce de résistance would be a complete understatement.
As you know, another extremely important thing I want to develop in my household is cultural diversity. This includes being open to trying foods from other parts of the world and also continuing to learn and love the delicious fare from our cultural backgrounds, including familiar and comforting family recipes.
One of my children’s favourite foods, especially my four-year-old because of the shape, are meatballs! Simple yet tasty, she cooked up a quick and easy recipe that fused a cultural family favourite called Bola-Bola which is Sweet and Sour Meatballs. Bola-bola (bola means ball) as we call it in the Philippines is not that difficult to make and you can use all sorts of ground meat. And how fun is it to say too?
With the help of her brother making and rolling the meatballs, and my help to carefully chop up the veggies, she also prepared the sauce and then completed the recipe by making the perfect addition to her dish, fluffy white rice, using Minute Rice® Premium Instant Long Grain White Rice (which was SO convenient and easy to make!).
I couldn’t have been more proud of my munchkins for putting this together and even more so seeing how quickly they ate it up! Get your kids cooking in the kitchen with you this week and whip up my daughter’s delicious Bola-Bola recipe for dinner!
- - 1lb ground pork (or any other meat you prefer like chicken, turkey or beef)
- - ½ cup of bread crumbs
- - 2 tsp of salt
- - 12/tsp ground black pepper
- - 1 raw egg
- - ½ cup onion, minced
- - 1 tbsp garlic, minced
- - 1 can of pineapple chunks (with juice)
- - 1/3 cup of vinegar
- - 1 cup of bell pepper (red, green or both)
- - 1 medium onion, quartered
- - 1 carrot sliced, grated in strips (or in fun shapes!)
- - 1 cup water
- - 4 tbsp brown sugar
- - 2 ½ tablespoons of tomato ketchup
- - 1/3 cup of rice or white vinegar
- - ½ tsp of soy sauce
- - 2 tsp of cornstarch, dissolved in 5 tsp of water
- - Minute Rice® Premium Instant Long Grain White Rice
- 1) In a large mixing bowl, combine ground pork, minced onion, salt, ground black pepper, egg, and bread crumbs. Mix thoroughly. Scoop about 1 to 2 tablespoons of mixture and form into a ball shaped figure. Set aside.
- 2) Heat a frying pan then pour-in 6 tablespoons of cooking oil. When the oil is hot enough, pan-fry the ball-shaped mixture until the outer side turns brown. Once done, turn off the heat and transfer the fried meatballs on a serving plate or bowl. Set aside.
- 3) Heat a separate cooking pot then pour-in remaining 2 tablespoons of oil. When the oil is hot enough, sauté the garlic. Add the quartered onion, sliced carrot, and bell peppers then cook for 2 minutes. Add pineapple chunks and cook for 1 minute. Put-in the tomato ketchup, brown sugar, and vinegar then stir. Pour-in water and let boil. Add the cornstarch diluted in water and cook until desired thickness is reached.Turn off heat then ladle the sauce over the pan-fried meatballs.
- 4) Serve hot over a bowl of warm Minute Rice® Premium Instant Long Grain White Rice.
- Share and enjoy!
- - Feel free to add whichever additional veggies you'd like to the dish
Do you get your kids involved in the kitchen when cooking? What are your own tips on getting your picky kids to eat try new foods or eat their veggies?
If you do get to try my daughters Bola-Bola meatballs, I’d love to hear your thoughts (or your childrens thoughts!) and if you made revisions or additions to suit your family’s tastes.
Disclosure: This is a sponsored post in collaboration with Minute Rice Canada. All opinions expressed are entirely those of the author.