Ethnic foods for children – In My Kitchen

Amy O’Neill Houck

Vegetarian children can be more adventurous than other children when it comes to food, but nearly all kids go through phases where they seem to eat the same thing all the time, or don’t want to try anything new. Offering a wide variety of foods on a regular basis can help children get used to new flavors and help them remain open to different tastes and textures. Here is a sampling of recipes from around the world that are kid-tested. You may just want to make them a regular part of your recipe collection!

Swiss-style Muesli

Breakfast is a great meal to introduce new foods, as we seem to all get into ruts from one time or another, eating the same cereal for weeks on end. This recipe is reprinted with permission from Raising Vegetarian Children, by Joanne Stepaniak and Vesanto Melina, published by McGraw Hill, 2002.

3/4 cup rolled oats

2 Tbsp. raisins

2 Tbsp. chopped nuts or sunflower seeds

1/4 tsp. cinnamon

1 cup fortified nondairy milk

2 Tbsp. frozen fruit juice concentrate

1 small apple or pear (peel if not organic),

grated or finely chopped

In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients, cover, and refrigerate overnight. Alternatively, the fresh fruit may be stirred in just before serving. Makes 2 1/2 cups.

Hashwe Roz (Middle-Eastern Rice Pilaf)

My family has adapted a very old family recipe for vegetarians. This recipe used to be made with turkey or chicken giblets, and we have found that plain or “chicken-flavored” seitan make a great substitute.

1 small onion, diced small

1/2 cup celery leaves and heart, diced small

2 Tbsp. margarine (non-hydrogenated)

2/3 cup plain or chicken-flavored seitan diced small

1 cup long-grain white rice

1 1/2 cups water

1 cup vegetable broth

1 tsp. cinnamon (to taste)

Salt and pepper

Saute onion and celery in margarine. Add seitan and rice, salt and pepper, and saute for 5 minutes. Add broth and water. Simmer until rice is cooked through. Stir in cinnamon just before serving. Makes about 4 cups.

Nori Rolls

This recipe is a great, kid-friendly introduction to sushi. Once you master the preparation of the rolls, you and your family can dream up endless variations. These rolls are reprinted with permission from The Accidental Vegan, by Devra Gartenstein, published by The Grossing Press, 2000.

2 Tbsp. grated ginger

3 Tbsp. rice vinegar

2 cups short-grain brown rice cooked in 4 cups water

3 Tbsp. tahini

3 Tbsp. soy sauce

10 sheets nori (seaweed sheets)

3 carrots cut into thin sticks 3-5 inches long

20 green beans, trimmed

3 Tbsp. umeboshi (pickled plum) paste *

Soak the ginger in the rice vinegar for 15 minutes. Mix the cooked rice with tahini, soy sauce, ginger and vinegar in a large bowl. Spread it as thinly as possible, then put it in the refrigerator to cool. When the rice mixture is cool, place a sheet of non horizontally on the sushi mat. Spoon about one half cup of rice mixture onto the sheet and spread it into a thin horizontal layer, starting about an inch from the edge of the non closest to you. Place 2 carrot sticks and 2 green beans in a horizontal line in the center of the rice. Roll the mat tightly around the non, using the mat to press the roll together. The mat will end up in the center of the roll. Unroll it and remove the mat, then form the roll again. Seal the roll with about 1/2 tsp. of umeboshi paste. * Cut each roll into 8-12 pieces. This will be easiest if you have a sharp or a serrated knife. Serve with soy sauce, wasabi horseradish, and pickled ginger.

* Author’s note: if you can’t find umeboshi paste, you can lightly brush the edge of the non with water to seal.

Soaked Green Gram Salad

This Indian recipe was adapted from a submission from reader Radha H.S., who says that when lentils are split and the skin, or husk, is removed, they’re called dahl, otherwise they’re called Gram. Radha also says that this simple dish is good made with chickpeas or other lentils.

1 cup whole green lentils

1/2 tsp. lemon juice

1/2 cup peeled, seeded and diced cucumber

1/2 cup diced tomato

1/2 tsp. cilantro, finely chopped

Wash the gram. Soak it in 4 cups of water overnight. Drain the excess water and rinse again. Toss with remaining ingredients and serve. Makes about 2 cups.

Rice Pudding

Many different countries around the world have versions of this comforting desert. This one gets its inspiration from Mexico. Since rice is so familiar to children, this dish is a great place to experiment and introduce new aromas and spices. Feel free to change and adapt the seasonings as you’d like.

1 cup short-grain brown rice, rinsed

3 cups soymilk

1 cup water

1 cup orange juice

3/4 cup Sucanat or Rapadura sugar

1 tsp. cinnamon

2 tsp. vanilla

1/2 tsp. sea salt

Zest of one orange

Optional: raisins or other diced fruit, or nuts.

Bring soymilk, water, and orange juice to a low boil. Add rice, sugar, cinnamon, sea salt, zest, and vanilla. Maintain simmer, stirring often, until rice is soft and sauce is thick (40-50 minutes). Add nuts and raisins while cooking to soften, if desired, or just top as a garnish. Makes about 6 cups.

* Amy O’Neill Houck is currently living in Washington with her husband James and daughter Selma. She’s a vegan chef a Web developer and the new food editor for VBC.

COPYRIGHT 2003 Vegetarian Baby and Child

COPYRIGHT 2003 Gale Group

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