Tag Archives: rice

Japanese Food for Kids

kidThere are so few children whose parents can honestly describe as willing to eat anything that I imagine these omnivore kids are something like the parenting version of the Loch Ness Monster or Big Foot.

We’ve heard tell of them; some have even been caught on camera, but no one we know accurately fits that description.

Certainly the children in my family are – let’s just say “choosy” about what they will and won’t eat. Here’s a brief run down:

  • They will not eat anything that can be described by any stretch of the imagination as “spicy.” This is further confused by their over-reliance of “spicy” as an adjective. For example, ice cream has been described by one three-year old nephew as “spicy.” Go figure.
  • They will eat pizza pretty reliably, so long as there is nothing more interesting than pepperoni (see, a “spicy” loophole) and cheese on it. But they will complain bitterly and even refuse to eat if the pizza’s shape, size, sauce, spices, or cheese deviates in any way from that which they prefer.
  • If Mom worked all day on a special meal, you can guarantee that a wail will arise just as the family sits down with a demand for: macaroni and cheese, chicken nuggets, or peanut butter sandwiches because they just can’t possibly eat that. Ew.

Interestingly, I’ve had some of my greatest successes with getting kids to eat Japanese food. I promise to really sit and ponder this at some point in the future and give you my professional opinion for why this is so but in the meantime, take my experience for what it’s worth.

  • I know have a seven-year old son who routinely asks for, eats, and raves about simple sushi rolls that involve shrimp, avocado, crab, and vegetables.
  • A four-year old niece who will sing a song that she wrote and arranged herself about how much she loves edamame. Seriously. Give her a bowl of cooled edamame and a spoon and that child is occupied. Please note: I’ve gotten the shelled edamame as well as the kind in shells and she does equally well with it. But I prefer giving her the shelled version.
  • A four-year old nephew whose appetite for Japanese dumplings, also known as gyoza, is legendary. He can wolf down those little wonton packets of yumminess as efficiently as one of those competition eaters!

I also do well with noodles and rice. As long as the veggies and sauces aren’t too intimidating, I have a shot at success.

I’ve also found that the more enthusiastic I am about a food – and therefore am less inclined to share it – the more likely it is that I will be asked to share it. I don’t know if it’s Murphy’s Law or some arcane economic theory at play, but it almost never fails.

So keep eating the stuff you like and see if the kids in your life aren’t clamoring to pick up a spoon or a set of chopsticks of their own.


Filed under Asia, Eat

Burkina Feast 3: Riz Gras

Riz gras was one of the first meals I learned to cook in Burkina. The principle is simple: it’s a one-pot dish that starts with a little oil and vegetables. You can add meat but I made a vegetarian version for my son to try. Once the vegetables cook down a bit, add water and bring it to a boil. Then add rice, lower it to a simmer, and allow the rice to absorb the water. It’s healthy and delicious.

Riz Gras (vegetarian)

1 medium onion, diced

1 green pepper, diced

2 tomatoes, diced

2 medium carrots, sliced thinly

1 1/2 c. rice

1/4 tsp. salt

3 cloves garlic

2 Tbsp. canola or vegetable oil

Heat oil in a medium-sized pot. Add garlic, onion, and green peppers. Saute 5 minutes. Add carrots and tomatoes. Saute until softened, about 5 minutes. Add salt. Add 3 cups water and rice. Cover. Bring to a boil then lower to a simmer. Heat for 20 minutes. Water should be absorbed.

* If you like spicy food, add one habanero pepper when you add the carrots and tomato. But be careful – it can be VERY spicy!

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Thanksgiving Around the World


Photo UC Davis Health System

Few holidays have more of a food-focus than Thanksgiving.  

Ask any child what the most remarkable thing about Thanksgiving is and they’ll tell you it’s the quantity of food that is consumed around the dining room table, from the massive turkey to the creamy pumpkin pies.  

But it is important to remember that the real message of Thanksgiving – for harried parents and hungry kids – is gratitude, and gratitude is a common sentiment across cultures.  

While there may not be Pilgrims or cranberries fresh from a can, many nations have some sort of “thanksgiving” celebration in which they show their gratitude for a successful harvest. 

Pongal is a harvest festival in South India that celebrates the contributions of people, the sun, the rain, and even the cattle in providing a successful harvest.  

The Pongal Festival lasts for four days in mid-January.  On the first day, old clothes are thrown away or burned to indicate that a new life has begun.  

On the second day, rice or milk is boiled in new pots until it boils over.  This signifies the hope that the new harvest will produce plenty of food for everyone.  

On the third day, families wash and adorn their cows and buffalo to show their appreciation for the animals’ labor in producing a good harvest. 

Finally, on the fourth day families celebrate with a picnic.

In China and Vietnam, families celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival, also known as the Moon Festival, in September with a feast.  

The highlights of the meal are mooncakes, spongy cakes made from bean paste or lotus and imprinted with designs.  

The holiday is also marked by carrying lanterns and revering the moon.

Many people in Africa celebrate in late August when the first crop of the season, the yam, is harvested.  

People wear masks, often made from grass and leaves, listen to music, and dance.  

In Ghana, the celebration is called the Homowo Festival and it literally means “hooting at hunger.”

However and whenever you celebrate, it’s always worthwhile to give thanks and share with others. 

Moon Festival

IndoChina Oddyssey Tours

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Filed under Africa, Asia, Eat, Holiday