Growing & Cooking food together

Allowing the children to add spices and herbs, whether it is simply salt and pepper, to their meals is very important. Not only does it add flavor, it also allows kids to experiment with different types of seasonings and cooking methods. For example, most young kids get the idea that adding salt makes something salty, pepper makes it spicy, but there is so much more to discover.

Having fresh herbs and tomatoes growing in our backyard is pretty cool for the kids, but it's not that exciting if they don't know that these herbs are often found on and in their meals.  One way to ensure that they are a part of the growing and feeding process, is to have them gather the herbs and actually prepare a dish with said herbs. 

Last week we made this chili...
Veggie (Mock Meat) Chili
about 2 Tbsp vegetable oil, or another kind of cooking oil
1 12 ounce package Yves original veggie ground round (pic below)

1 cup onion, chopped
1 cup red pepper, chopped
1 cup celery, sliced
1 15 ounce can chick peas, drained
2 16 ounce cans tomatoes

1 6 ounce can tomato paste
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 tbsp ground cumin
3 tsp salt

sprig of thyme
child's handful of oregano
child's handful of cilantro 
we also added 1 small tomato from our garden - chopped up

What we did
 First, heat a large pot over medium heat and warm a bit of oil, about one teaspoon.
Once the oil is hot, add the ground meat substitute (crumbling it as you go if it's all stuck together), chopped onion, red pepper  for 2-3 minutes, just until onions are lightly translucent.
Next, add the chick peas, canned tomatoes, tomatoes paste, garlic, cumin and salt, stirring to combine well.
Once the ingredients are well combined and simmering, reduce the heat to low, add fresh herbs, cover, and allow to simmer for 40 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Taste, and adjust seasonings to taste.

Note: It's important to teach the kids about safe and "not" safe tasting. In this case we weren't using raw meat, and it's not often that we have an issue with this, but all it takes is one child to "try", and all the others want to join in.

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“A hundred years from now, it will not matter what kind of car I drove, what kind of house I lived in, how much money I had in the bank…but the world may be a better place because I made a difference in the life of a child.”
~ Forest Witcraft

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