Finding the Right Rice

When there are so many types of rice at the grocery store, it can be hard to decide which one you need. Here’s a cheat sheet:

Short-grain rice is short and wide. It’s softer and stickier than other rice when you cook it up. So it goes best with foods like sushi. Use short-grain rice to make recipes like our Adorable Onigiri.

Medium-grain rice is slightly longer and thinner than short-grain rice. This type of rice is less sticky too, and tastes tender and chewy when cooked. This is the kind of rice in risotto or paella.

Long-grain rice is long and thin, sometimes more than double the length of short-grain rice. It stays more spread apart when cooked, and that makes it good for saucy dishes. Basmati is a popular long-grain rice you might be familiar with. Try it with our Mexican Rice recipe!

Not sure which is which? Stack your rice grains side by side on the counter. The longest and thinnest is the long-grain, and the shortest and widest is the short-grain. And here’s a fun fact: wild rice is not actually rice! It’s a member of the grass family but is called “rice” due to its appearance. Who knew?

If you enjoyed these foodie facts, check out our monthly kits for more fun learning.

Noodle Tips

Do you know your noodles? They come in so many shapes and sizes. Next time you go to the supermarket, try to see how many kinds you can find! 

Soba – thin and made from buckwheat flour. Deep in color and flavor, it has extra protein and tastes great hot or cold. 

Udon – thick and chewy, these are popular in soup and so satisfying to slurp!

Somen – these thin white noodles are springy in texture and often served cold. 

Ramen – medium-thick and wavy. What is traditionally used in a ramen soup. 

Rice – unlike the others, these are made from, you guessed it, rice! Making them a great gluten-free alternative. 

Now you’re ready to get slurping! Check out our Mouthwatering Miso and Oodles of Noodles recipes, and mix it up with different noodle pairings to find your favorite. Be sure to check out our soup-making tips before you get started, and work on a Soup Scramble as your dish cooks! Just follow the package directions for exact cooking times.

For more fun learning and foodie facts, subscribe to our monthly kits.

How to Grate Fresh Ginger

A Chef’s Secret: How to Grate Fresh Ginger

Introduce your young chefs to ginger, a zesty ingredient that will give a boost of flavor to any dish. This all-star ingredient featured in our Bento Box kit pairs perfectly with Asian dishes, like our Oodles of Noodles and Baked Salmon. Here’s a pro tip: you can also add it to any entrees, smoothies and drinks, or desserts for an added kick! 

Ginger might appear intimidating, but it’s simple to prepare. A grown-up can help peel with a veggie peeler, then simply rub the ginger against the shell of our Turtle Grater, or a standard grater. Depending on the recipe, you may also dice up the ginger root with a paring knife.

This plant is chock-full of benefits, it’s practically medicine. It can help reduce nausea, soothe tummy troubles, and boost immunity. Who knew something so tasty could be good for you! 

If you’re looking for other ways to lend some Asian flair to your dishes, consider these delicious add-ins: bok choy, tofu, mirin, miso, sesame oil, bean sprouts, or nori (seaweed). Don’t forget to subscribe to our monthly kits for more tips on how to cook up culture right in your kitchen!

Onigiri

Onigiri

Onigiri, or rice balls, are a popular snack in Japan. Some people even eat them for breakfast! These little rice shapes take many forms and have been around for hundreds of years. Starting in the 1600s, many people began adding nori to the rice, to keep their hands from getting sticky while eating. 

Nori would grow to become a popular way of decorating, too, and today, creative folks make all kinds of creatures and shapes out of this delicious dish. Who says you can’t play with your food? 

Try recreating some of these fun onigiri for yourself:

  • Use your nori to make eyes and a mustache for a little onigiri man
  • Surround your rice with ramen to give a mane to your onigiri lion
  • Drop in some food coloring and add sesame seeds for onigiri watermelon slices

Kawaii

Photo of Kawaii Food

Have you ever heard the term “kawaii”? If not, you’ve probably seen it. This term loosely translates to a “culture of cuteness” that Japanese people hold dear. It’s the reason why so many characters, designs, merchandise, and cartoons that come from the island nation are so, well, adorable. 

Interestingly, the word kawaii originally comes from “kao hayushi,” which means “blushing.” Characters that are considered cute within Japanese culture are often shy or bashful, which means people tend to care for them more.

You might have spotted a few kawaii characters hidden throughout our Bento Box cooking kit. Can you name other examples of these loveable designs?

 

Baker’s Secret

It’s time to take your Choc Full o’ Chips Cookies to the next level! Remind you little bakers to follow these oven-savvy tips for best results:

  1. Check cookies at 8 minutes, and watch closely from there. Oven temps and personal tastes vary, and cookies bake fast!
  2. Remove cookies just when they start to turn a touch golden on top. Or if you like them crunchier, keep going! (In our team some folks took them out at 10 minutes while others waited longer.)
  3. Encourage kids to write notes in their cookbook pages about timing, ingredients and any other preferences they discover along the way. Happy baking!
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Rethink Your Drink!

Use the “Download Here” link above to print out a nice version of the sugar estimation formula included below:

Rethink Your Drink!

Before you grab a bottled drink, look out for hidden sugar on the label. The more sugar you drink, the less hungry you’ll be for good foods (like veggies, protein, and whole grains).

4 grams of sugar = 1 teaspoon of sugar
Look at the typical amount of sugar in the drinks below. Color one spoon for every teaspoon. Then check the labels of other drinks. You’ll find that content varies by flavor, ingredients, brands, and serving size!

  • Cola – 10 teaspoons (40 grams)
  • Sports drink – 5 teaspoons (20 grams)
  • Juice box – 7 teaspoons (28 grams)
  • Total # grams divided by 4 = ____ teaspoons

Breakfast on the Run

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In the rush to get out the door in the morning, it might be easy to skip breakfast. But be sure to make time for the most important meal of the day. Here are some tips for quick meals on the run.

1. Set up a cereal station
On a weekend day, mix up some crunchy granola so that you have plenty of cereal for the week ahead. Set out a buffet with fresh berries and yogurt or milk. Let the kids help themselves to a bowl of cereal and fruit, or build their own breakfast sundaes.

2. Pack a power smoothie
If your kids don’t have time to sit down for a bowl of cereal, mix up a smoothie with bananas, fruit, and juice or milk. For a yummy healthy recipe, try our Green Dragon smoothie. Pour the smoothie into a travel mug and they can sip up some nutrition on the go.

3. Make an apple sandwich
Slice up an apple into rounds. Spread one apple round with a little nut butter and top it with a spoonful of cereal or granola. Top with a second apple round and enjoy your apple sandwich!

4. Try avocado toasts
While your bread is toasting, cut up an avocado, following our easy tips. Spread it on the toast and top it with a sprinkle of salt. You can also add a tablespoon of pomegranate seeds.

5. Eat an egg sandwich
For a protein-packed breakfast, fry up an egg and top it with a little cheese. Then place it the middle of a toasted english muffin. Add fresh snipped herbs, a slice of tomato, and salt and pepper to taste. Wrap it up and eat on the way to school.

Stove Safety For Kids

 

The best way to help kids get excited about eating, is to involve them in the cooking!  It’s important to remember though, that the kitchen can be a dangerous place for little chefs who aren’t prepared.  That’s why we suggest taking some time to walk them through our tips for  making cooking safer.  It’s always a good idea to supervise your kids as they cook and revisit our list with them each time you plan to tie on an apron.

  • Always ask a grown-up to cook with you.  The best chefs always use an assistant.
  • Always use pot holders or oven mitts when handling hot pans, pots or baking sheets.
  • Turn pot and pan handles to the side to avoid knocking them over.
  • Never try to relight a pilot light on a gas stove without an adult.

Ready to get started? Check out our tips for cooking with kids and discover ways to get them excited about heading in to the kitchen.    Then get going with some recipes which are guaranteed to please such as our scrumptious spaghetti and eyeballs and our totally tasty cauliflower pizza! Remember that safety is just one of the many skills kids will conquer in the kitchen.  For more creative brain games, review our summer learning tips which are relevant all year long.

And of course, be sure to read our baking safety tips before you start warming the oven.  Now that you’re prepared, get cooking, eat up and enjoy!

 

 

5 Fun Ways To Cook With Kids

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Teaching kids to cook is important for a number of reasons.  For one, it’s a basic life skill. Being comfortable enough to make a simple meal is invaluable.  It’s also healthier.  Having a couple “easy go-to’s,” even if it’s just scrambled eggs, is better than rummaging through the cabinet for snacks.  Cooking also improves a number of skills without kids even knowing, like math, reading, comprehension and fine motor coordination.  Most of all, it’s fun and it makes them feel good to be able to create something from scratch.  Convinced? Here are 5 great ways to start getting them involved.  

1. Let Them Plan 
Ask them what they’d like to try so that they’re a part of the process from the start.  Have them flip through some cookbooks and websites to see if anything sparks interest.  Take them with you to the grocery store.  Chances are they’ll find some inspiration there… especially in the baking aisle.

2. Start Off Easy 
Build their confidence by giving them a challenge they can tackle without much of a problem.  Rice Krispie treats, omelets, and french toast are all great places to start.  They involve few ingredients, are hard to mess up, and are easy to enjoy!

3. Do Some Prep 
Set things out beforehand, especially if your kids are brand new to the kitchen.  For example, pre-measure ingredients so that they can just pour them into a bowl and stir.  Cut up veggies in advance and have all the ingredients out of the pantry and on the counter so they’re easy to find and ready to go.

4. Don’t Stress Out 
Things are going to get messy.  It’s okay.  Recipes may not turn out as well as if you’d made them yourself.  It’s okay.  Be ready for mishaps and know that it’s all part of the learning process.  The more they do it, the better they’ll get.  Take a deep breath and have fun experimenting.

5. There’s More To It Than Cooking
If your child still isn’t ready, don’t force it.  Have them get involved in other ways like setting the table, picking out placemats or even licking the spoon. Every kid is different and any way you can get them engaged is a step in the right direction.