Kids & Nutrition
When my child was in preschool, she used to eat everything. Fast forward a couple of years, and the healthy foods we offered were met with pouty defiance. I can’t even blame Happy Meal marketing or commercials for dinosaur nuggets (those would be a favorite later) because we had ditched cable. Somehow and suddenly, any food that contained a measurable amount of nutritional value was given a thumbs down. How did this happen?!
I don’t know the answer to that, but these days I put my energies into finding healthy foods that my child won’t veto. What I’ve discovered is that there’s a sweet spot somewhere in between presentation and content. In other words, the food has to be visually appealing as well as flavorful. Bonus points for giving her options (think: toppings) to choose from.
One of our go to lunch dishes is homemade ramen. In fact, my child will often make this for herself for breakfast! And when I say “make this for herself” I mean that I do the entirety of the prep ahead of time, and she puts the ingredients together. Just to be clear. Because teenagers, bless their hearts, are Captains Of Convenience.
The beauty of ramen is that it’s flavorful, noodle-y (this really should be a word), and—with quality ingredients—healthy. It’s also pretty to look at when it’s done. So, it checks a lot of boxes, besides being easy to put together.
The basic idea is this: a nutritious bone broth (vegan option: miso or vegetable broth), noodles (GF peeps can use rice noodles), numerous colorful raw veggies sliced thin, and a sliced hard boiled egg (or cubed tofu) for extra protein. The deliciousness of the seasonings and the allure of warm noodles outweighs my child’s general distaste for vegetables. Also, raw veggies seem to go over much better than cooked in my experience, so this dish is actually one of her favorites.
Maybe your kiddo will give this a try…please let us know!
- Your local Asian food market will have better prices on certain ingredients like tamari and dry noodles.
- Slice up enough veggies for a few servings and store in a container in the fridge so you can grab and go during the week. Ditto on the eggs—boil and peel. With the prep done in advance, this meal is done within five minutes.
- If you sauté fresh garlic and ginger rather than using powdered, the dish will be yummier, but for teenage cooks—or if you’re short on time—powdered may be more realistic.
Kathryn’s Kid-Friendly Ramen
(Makes one serving)
Ingredients: (seasonings are adjustable +/- according to preference)
- 1 serving dry Asian style noodles*
- 1.5C organic bone broth^
- 1 tsp low sodium tamari or coconut aminos
- A couple of sprinkles (about 1/8 tsp) of Trader Joe’s “Mushroom & Company Umami Seasoning Blend”
- A couple of sprinkles of ginger powder (or 1/4 inch fresh peeled & minced ginger)
- A couple of sprinkles of garlic powder (or 1 small clove fresh peeled & minced garlic)
* GF option: rice noodles (King Soba makes an organic brown rice ramen.)
^ Vegan option: vegetable or miso broth
Toppings: (Can be presented in ramekins or arranged on a tray so that your child can choose their own)
- Assorted raw vegetables, sliced thin: Carrots, celery, mushrooms, red pepper, snow or snap peas, bean sprouts, broccoli, baby bok choy, shredded red cabbage, baby spinach…
- 1 stalk chopped green onion
- A drizzle of dark sesame oil
- 1 peeled hard boiled egg, sliced in half (vegan option: cubed tofu)
- Black sesame seeds
- Ramen bowl (any deep soup bowl will do)
- Chopsticks (There are training chopsticks for kids or adults like me who haven’t mastered regular ones.)
- In a small saucepan, heat broth on medium heat. (If you are using fresh ginger and garlic, sauté those in a small amount of sesame oil for 2-3 minutes prior to adding the bone broth to the pot.)
- Add Umami seasoning blend to the warm broth. If you going with powdered garlic and ginger, now is the time to add those as well.
- Once broth comes to a boil, add dry ramen noodles and cook according to package directions. (Usually about 4 minutes, depending on thickness)
- When the noodles are done, turn off heat and stir in tamari.
- Pour into a deep bowl, add a drizzle of dark sesame oil and let your kids arrange their veggie and protein choices on top.
- A dash of black sesame seeds and green onion add fanciness, if your child approves.
-by Kathryn Yingst, QFH Front Desk