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Simple Sides: Carrots

While many of these recipes may seem very basic, this is by design. It is hoped that these simple preparations will lay the culinary foundation necessary to inspire kids to try more challenging recipes as their confidence in the kitchen grows. Parents should always read through each recipe carefully to decide the division of labor based on age and ability as well as to identify where help might be especially needed.

The competing schedules of today’s busy modern family make it difficult to share a home-cooked meal together but not impossible. In fact, with a little planning, cooking together can even be great fun. Melissa’s encourages parents to find the time to gather as a family unit at least once a week for a dinner that everyone pitches in to prepare. It’s a wonderful way to teach your children some basic cooking skills and, more importantly, cooking with your kids will build memories that remain in all of your hearts forever.

Carrots are the perfect kid food; they are chuck full of vitamin A, vitamins C, D, E, K, B1, and B6, plus powerful anti-oxidant Carotenes. Eaten raw, they make a great hand snack for the active child and have a sweet-as-sugar taste to boot! Carrots are also a staple ingredient in cuisines around the world. Here are two easy recipes for the family to prepare together that will familiarize your aspiring young cooks with this versatile vegetable. The first is a whimsical dish that combines a few unlikely ingredients together for a deliciously different salad. The second is really the Carrots-101 recipe of Americana cooking.

Roasted Carrots & Grapes is a simple, fun and absolutely scrumptious dish that your kids will enjoy making and the whole family will do a group double-take at the number of flavors just a few ingredients can create in the first bite. The combination may sound strange, but it works – warm grapes, red onion and baby peeled carrots slathered in cumin and olive oil, then roasted at a high heat for 15-20 minutes. Best of all your kids made it and you are going to want seconds! The only thing that your kitchen assistant might need help with, depending upon age and culinary skill, is slicing the onion; the rest of this recipe needs no kitchen tools to accomplish. This is truly one of the simplest and tastiest recipes that have appeared in this article!

“Eat your peas and carrots” is a mantra very familiar to many parents trying to get a few veggies into their children’s diets. So how about asking your kitchen helpers to “cook your peas and carrots” instead? For that finicky eater, who we all know has decided that he or she does not like peas or carrots or both without ever tasting them, this strategy of getting a child involved in the preparation this iconic America dish will always tempt the first bite towards a more open mind about new foods. Of course the buttery herb and onion sauce certainly contributes to that temptation. There are a several ingredients in this one that will need slicing and dicing to this one that is best done by an older child; let your youngest sous chef do the measuring and mixing.

Recipe I
Roasted Grapes and Carrots
Yield 4-6 servings
Image of Roasted Grapes and Carrots
2 pounds organic red seedless grapes
1 (16 ounce) package Melissa’s Sweet Baby Carrots
1 medium organic red onion, sliced small
2 Tbsp. olive oil 1 tsp. ground cumin
4 Tbsp. organic flat leaf parsley

What kids can do:
  1. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.
  2. Wash and separate grapes from vines into a large bowl.
  3. Toss together the grapes, carrots, and red onion in olive oil to coat.
  4. Sprinkle with cumin and toss to evenly distribute.
  5. Spread mixture on baking sheet.
  6. Once done sprinkle with salt, dish up individual servings on small plate or bowl.
  7. Garnish with parsley leaves.
What supervising adult should do:
  1. While kids are stemming the grapes, steam carrots for five minutes to soften slightly
  2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F
  3. Pop roasting sheet in oven for 15-20 minutes or until carrots are cooked through.
  4. Supervise young sous chef in testing carrots with fork
Recipe II
Peas ‘n Carrots with Onions
Serves 6
Image of Peas ‘n Carrots with Onions
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1 small organic red onion, finely chopped
3 large organic green onions, finely chopped (greens only)
1 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
1¼ cups water
½ pound organic carrots, diced
¾ tsp. salt
½ tsp. freshly ground pepper
½ tsp. fresh thyme leaves
1 pound frozen petite peas

What kids can do:
  1. In a large saucepan, melt the butter over moderately high heat.
  2. Add the onion and scallions and cook, stirring, until softened.
  3. Stir in the flour.
  4. Add the water, carrots, salt, pepper and thyme and bring to a boil.
  5. Cover, reduce the heat to moderate and cook until the carrots are just tender, about 8 minutes.
  6. Add the peas. Cover and simmer until the carrots and peas are tender, about 5 minutes longer.
  7. Serve hot in a small bowl.
What supervising adult should do:
An older child can probably accomplish all the steps to this recipe with diligent supervision, especially in fine chopping the veggies. Again, a younger child can always be put to work measuring each ingredient as it is prepared – a practical math lesson in itself!
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