What we Learned at “Thinking Outside the Lunchbox”

By Nutrition Student, Deanna Ronne and Laura Cipullo Whole Nutrition Services

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Are you at a loss when it comes to creative kid friendly food? Well, Dishing with the Media gave Mom Dishes it Out some fabulous new recipe ideas! We attended the “Thinking Outside the Lunchbox” event in SoHo a few weeks ago, kid’s cooking expert and professional chef, Cricket, along with 15 year old Season One winner of MasterChef Jr., Chef Alexander Weiss, introduced us to some fabulous recipes and parenting strategies. They shared ways to incorporate nutritious foods into more common kid-friendly recipes, and some new recipes for them to try! Most importantly they shared helpful ways to get kids, as young as 2 years old, excited about helping in the kitchen!

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The event began with samples of a refreshing green smoothie, “Nutribullet University Blast #2”, a delicious and nutritious summer snack for you and your kids. Even if you are dealing with picky eaters, you can show them how great it tastes by drinking it yourself! Cricket reminded us that the best way to promote healthy habits is to model eating behaviors yourself.

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Another great way to include unfamiliar foods in your kid’s diet is to incorporate them in recipes they are familiar with. Cricket and Alexander introduced us to two creative recipes using foods kids know and love with others they might be less comfortable with. Cricket’s “Broccoli Cheddar Mac and Cheese Cups” are the perfect way to sneak some veggies into a delicious bite of mac and cheese. They are fun to eat and easy to pack in a lunch box! You can even individually wrap them to freeze and use later on.

Tip from Cricket: Try cooking the broccoli in the same pot as the pasta (add it a few minutes after the pasta) to reduce dishes!

Chef Alexander uses a similar approach with his “Tofu Bao”, a recipe he created to mimic the Pork Sticky Buns many of us know and love. Instead of using pork belly however, he replaces it with tofu to create this tasty and easily packed lunch option.

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Chef Alexander explained how tofu is available in many varieties types of firmness, pre-baked, cubed, etc.  For those of you unfamiliar with tofu, it is a low calorie, high protein, soy-based product that can be used to replace protein and vegetables in many common dishes. Soft tofu can be blended and used to replace eggs in many recipes to make them healthier. (He advises not to use it in baking as it will make the desert too dense.) Because it is used to replace meat in this recipe, Chef Alexander recommends using a firm variety and to blot it to remove excess water before cooking. He also recommends a non-stick pan for searing tofu in his savory marinade. This sweet and salty dish was one definitely our favorite- delicious!

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Another one of our favorite recipes from this event is “Libby’s Veggie Confetti Dip.” It’s a great afterschool snack including a vegetable, protein, and dairy. Cricket showed us how Libby’s vegetable cups can be used to make a tasty dip using only a few simple ingredients: a microwavable Libby’s vegetable cup, yogurt, raisins, and herbs. During her demonstration, Cricket stressed the importance of getting kids involved in the kitchen and turning into a learning experience. Both Chefs agreed that “everyone can cook” so give your kids a task they can complete; an 8 year old can read the recipe out loud and measure ingredients, a 4 year old can use a plastic or butter knife, and even a two year old can help by tearing the herbs! Cricket believes that the more kids are involved in preparation, the more they will want to try the food. She also reminded us to give children “choice within your boundaries” by letting them choose the type of Libby’s vegetable cup!

Tip: This dip goes great with crackers, salmon, grilled chicken, burgers, and can also be blended in a Nutribullet to make a sauce.

We are so excited to get our very own Nutribullet and to recreate these recipes ourselves! All recipes from this event can be found here!

Bold and Fruity Chicken Tangine

BOLD AND FRUITY CHICKEN TAGINE
Credit: Executive Chef Rachel Reuben, Food Fix Kitchen  

We wanted to share a recipe with you that was made at the Dishing with the Media Harvest Celebrations Event.  They featured some delicious recipes including Carrot Curry Kale Chips and Lemon Seed and Pepper Crusted Grilled Pork.  With summer right around the corner, we thought it would be great to share this Bold and Fruity Chicken Tangine recipe to get your mouths’ watering for the tasty food summer has to offer!  

www.DishingwiththeMedia.com/recipes

 

Bold and Fruity Chicken Tangine Picture
Makes 4 servings, or 8 pieces

8 chicken thighs with bones and skin
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground coriander
2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, crushed whole
1 medium yellow onion, diced
2 strips fresh lemon peel
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
Pinch saffron threads
1/8 cup rosewater
¾ cup dry white wine
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1 cup pitted green olives
¼ cup dried pitted dates*
¼ cup dried apricots*
¼ cup dried figs*
1 whole wheat pita or other Middle Eastern flatbread, cut into thirds, warmed but not toasted
1/2 cup chopped roasted pistachios, optional for finishing
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro, optional, for finishing

*Fruit Bliss’s apricots, prunes and figs are recommended

  1. Remove skin from thighs and reserve. Trim fat and reserve with skin. Partially debone for easy removal after cooking, (make cuts around bone but keep bone in place for cooking; bones will impart more flavor but we don’t want to serve with bones).
  2. Combine the cumin, coriander, ginger, paprika and cinnamon and season the spice blend with pepper and salt (keeping in mind that the olives will be adding an element of salt). Using a large bowl, sheet tray or zip bag, sprinkle the spice and seasoning mixture over the chicken and toss to coat evenly on all sides. Set aside in the refrigerator to infuse for 1 hour.
  3. Set a large Dutch oven or pressure cooker over medium-high heat and add a thin coating of vegetable oil. Add the chicken skins and fat and cook, stirring occasionally, until several tablespoons of liquid chicken fat have rendered, about 10 minutes. Remove skin and any solids from the pan, once browned and rendered, and discard.
  4. Using the rendered chicken fat, brown (2-3 minutes per side) the spice/seasoned chicken on both sides in batches, careful not to crowd the pan, and then transfer to a platter and hold aside. Add a little more oil to the pot, if needed, and sauté onions until soft and translucent, but not browned, about 4-5 minutes. Add garlic and sauté for a minute until aromatic but not browned. Deglaze pan by adding rosewater and wine, scraping up the brown bits on the bottom of the pan. Cook at a boil for 1 minute. Add chicken stock. Add the chicken back to the pot along with the lemon peel, thyme, bay leaf, and saffron, if using. Bring to a boil.
  5. FOR CONVENTIONAL STOVETOP OR OVEN COOKING: Cover and reduce heat to a simmer, cook until the chicken is very tender, 30 minutes longer on stovetop, or in a 400 oven for 45 minutes. Add fruit and olives to mixture, and continue to cook for 5-7 minutes. FOR PRESSURE COOKER COOKING: seal pressure cooker and bring to full pressure over medium-high heat. Once pressure is attained, reduce heat and cook for 15 minutes. Release pressure, open cooker and add olives and fruit. Cover and bring to pressure once again, then remove from heat and allow pressure to release. Remove the thyme and bay leaf before serving. Sprinkle with chopped pistachios and cilantro and serve.

 

This recipe and others are available on Dishing with the Media