One of the best lessons my mum and grandmother ever taught me was how to cook. Granted, my favourite dishes were not complicated (and not healthy to be honest) but learning to cook has not only been a skill I’ve used ever since, it also led me to develop an interest in cooking and food that has turned into something of a hobby. Plus, knowing how to cook has saved me a lot of money versus eating out, as well as given me a great deal of confidence when it comes to having friends over for dinner or a casual evening.
Cooking skills and a knowledge of food and nutrition is something I have also endeavoured to teach my kids. One of the keys in teaching your kids to cook is to make it fun. I never went into the “I’m teaching you a life skill” mode, nor did I even venture into the “home-made is better for you” arena.
Fortunately one of my kids’ favourite type of food is Chinese which is both easy to cook and surprisingly healthy. I started my kids’ home chef careers on a whim rather than by design. We had a lot of left over rice in the fridge one day and, being that fried rice is one of my kids’ favourites, I asked if they would like to learn to cook it.
Fried rice is without a doubt the easiest of Chinese foods to make and using day-old rice is one of the secrets to making restaurant quality fried rice. Most fried rice dishes call for peas and corn, both of which can be frozen, canned, or fresh. However the beauty of fried rice is that you can add any vegetable you wish. Fried rice is equally good as a vegetarian dish or with beef, shrimp, or chicken. You can find lots of fried rice recipes, but feel free to experiment a bit.
The first run worked out really well. For our next attempt I waited until one of the times when ordering Chinese takeaway was suggested. I opened up the Hungry House app and we looked over the menu and once the kids had selected what they wanted, I suggested that we cook it ourselves.
Since then “Chinese nights” have become a regular event, with the kids doing a lot of the preparation.
Here are some of the best dishes to get your kids started cooking.
Beef and Broccoli
This is an amazingly simple dish and one that is really healthy. If the kids aren’t the biggest fans of broccoli, it is easy to substitute any other vegetable and get the same tasty results. To get the beef really tender, make sure you slice it against the grain.
Chinese Chicken Salad
Chinese chicken salad is extremely simple and fast to make and has only four ingredients; lettuce, chicken, oranges, and won ton strips. This recipe has a sweet peanut dressing that kids tend to like.
The beauty of stir-fry is that you can make it with almost anything you have in the cupboards/fridge. Serving stir fry dishes over rice or egg noodles is fine, but my kids had fun using thin rice noodles, the ones that instantly puff up when you add them to a hot wok.
Wrap Your Own Spring Rolls
I heard about this recipe on a BBC programme and gave it a try. It takes a fair amount of pre-preparation to be honest, but it was actually a fun project and gave me a chance to teach the kids about other cooking techniques.
Disclosure – this post is inspired by One Media