- Created on September 3, 2015
- Written by Lisa J Lowery, Dip NT, PG Dip, BSc (Hons)
The summer holidays are great – if you have good weather and plenty of money to entertain the kids. With just a week into the holidays we have been to the cinema, gone on a coastal walk, been to the park, joined the library, visited Nanny and had a play date with a school friend. What's next?
Well, I decided that I would let my (just) seven year old twins loose in the kitchen with me. It is always something I have been reluctant to do, not least because of the hot oven and sharp knives, but also because with siblings there often comes arguments. However, I wanted to make some spring rolls and I thought that this would be a fun thing for them to help with.
I had all the ingredients on hand – a pack of spring roll pastry sheets, variety of mixed vegetables, noodles, Chinese 5 spice, soy sauce and patience! I explained to the kids that I would be doing the cutting but that they could help stir the vegetables in the pan, and take turns making spring rolls. I pulled up a bench from the kitchen and they both knelt on it to give them a little more height.
It worked out quite well. I explained what I was doing as I went along, and checked that they knew what each ingredient was. I also explained why crushing the garlic prior to chopping it and letting it sit for 5-10 minutes was better for releasing its anti-cancer properties – explaining that two chemicals in the garlic come together to form a 'super' chemical. They love this sort of information and enjoy eating foods that are beneficial for them. Don't get me wrong – they love chocolate and cake too, but I try to educate them on what is in foods and how they can affect us in both positive and negative ways. They know chocolate is to be eaten in moderation, and they have experienced the dip in blood sugar that comes after eating cake so know that it is not something that is going to satisfy their hunger for long.
We added some dry thyme to the spring rolls and I spoke about how it can help increase the iron levels within our blood, which brought us onto a discussion about how iron helps with the transport of oxygen around the body and what can happen if you are low in it.
Surprisingly, the kids took turns well and were even helping each other. The best part was wrapping the rolls – which is a skill in itself. They soon learnt that they needed to keep everything together tight when rolling and could see a difference between their first and last attempts. I wasn't totally convinced that they would want to eat the spring rolls when they were done, but to my surprise, they loved them!
Here was the recipe we used:
Pre-made spring roll wraps
Dash of soy sauce
Pinch of Chinese 5 spice
Small amount of fresh ginger, chopped
1 clove of garlic, crushed then chopped
Large carrot grated
Half a small onion sliced thinly or some sliced spring onions
Half a courgette sliced in strips
Pak Choi leaves, shredded
Handful of brown rice vermicelli noodles (or other noodles)
Coconut oil for cooking
Dash of lemongrass oil
Pre-heat the oven to around 200 degrees. Boil some water, turn off and place noodles in for 5 minutes then drain and rinse with cold water and put aside. Use a small amount of organic coconut oil to fry the onion/shallots, carrots, courgettes, Pak Choi and garlic. Add some fresh ginger, thyme, paprika, Chinese five spice, and fresh coriander and stir for 3-4 minutes. Add the noodles and soy sauce and stir. Add a dash of lemongrass oil towards the end of cooking.
Take an individual spring roll wrap and with one corner pointing towards you, add one or two large spoonfuls of the mix. Roll over once and then turn in one side, roll again and turn in the other side and continue rolling up. Seal the top edge with a little water.
Place each spring roll on a tray with edge down and brush with coconut oil or alternative.
Cook for approximately 20 minutes, checking halfway through.
(These spring rolls are suitable for vegans)
There is always something you can let your child help with in the kitchen, starting with pretend potato peeling when they are very young. Put your young child in a high chair in the kitchen with a potato and toy potato peeler and they can copy what you do. When they get a little older they can be involved in mixing, such as flour and water in a big bowl, or mashing bananas. As they get to school age they can progress onto sandwich making, peeling boiled eggs or buttering toast. Children usually love to make pizzas too. You can buy pre-made bases and put small bowls out with different toppings in for them to choose from to start with, and then work up to making the dough and tomato sauce when they get a bit older. It is really important for them to know that the best food for them is the type they make from scratch.
The more that children are involved in the decision making of what food they eat the happier they usually are to eat it. Helping in making the food is a personal achievement for them – a little bit of independence.