Monday, 20 January 2014

Eggcellent omelettes - easy food prep fun

Kids love to cook.  It's creative, often a little messy, and there's ingredients to eat and often a cake mix covered bowl to 'clean' afterwards.  It's a way of exploring quantities and measurements, and of experiencing new textures and smells.  It does children the world of good to be put in charge from time to time, even if it's just choosing which filling to put in their picnic sandwiches.  It's also a skill they need if you want to avoid pushing them out into the world as hopeless 18 year olds unable to fend for themselves beyond sticking a microwave slop meal into an oven and waiting for the ping.

We incorporate a lot of raw food into our meals, but with the weather quite chilly as it was today it's nice to pair the raw food with a warm and protein omelette (Americans will be laughing at this point - we just had a little ground frost this morning in the UK).  omelettes are really good for growing bodies too since eggs are a source of omega oils which are important components of our brains, and lutein which is great for eye health.  They do contain cholesterol, but a little cholesterol in your diet from eggs is probably a good thing - it's deep frying pizza that you probably want to avoid.  I also add milk and cheese for the calcium but they're not essential if you're avoiding them.

As soon as your little one is old enough to wield a fork to stir they can help with this recipe, but try to keep that fork out of their mouth as uncooked eggs can (albeit rarely in the UK these days) be contaminated with salmonella.

You will need:
Eggs (we use woodland, free range or organic in the hope it's not just greenwashing and the hens are better treated and the eggs nutritionally superior) - 2 per adult, 1 per child
Splash of milk (nut milks work fine too, or leave it out completely)
Portion of grated cheese per person (lactose free cheese works fine or just leave out if intolerant)
Mushrooms - always a favourite because the boys can chop them with a plastic knife
Mixed veg - whatever you have to use up - we added green pepper and sweetcorn, this part is a good opportunity to let the kids make the decisions

We also added Maldon sea salt, freshly ground black pepper, paprika, nutmeg and a quarter teaspoon of thyme - again the seasonings are a good place for kids to choose, working their way down the spice rack sniffing and trying - I just make sure the hot stuff is out of reach.

Ollie at 4 years old is really good at breaking the eggs himself without getting shell into the mix, Toby at 2 years old is helped to tap and pull open the shells.  I tend to do the grating myself unless I just have one little one helping and can supervise really closely to avoid grated fingers.  Both boys  helped by chopping the mushrooms, adding ingredients to the bowl and mixing them up.  Both boys also helped to eat a lot of the ingredients before they made it to the mixing bowl, in a 'one handful for the mixing bowl, one handful for my face, repeat' manoeuvre.

When it comes to the actual cooking part, I find it safest to sit the boys down at the kitchen table before turning the hob on to avoid accidents involving small people trying to climb up to help and hot pans.  I'm not sure at what age I will introduce stirring hot pans, but I'm erring on the side of caution at the moment.