(10 seconds each to read and are almost that quick to prepare)
By Lisa Messinger
Food and Cooking at Creators Syndicate
No matter how much you love your kidlet, if you're in the middle of a long school summer break, do you sometimes wish he or she could go and explore space for a while?
Google, the non-profit educational organization the Khan Academy, and NASA made that wish come true for children and parents everywhere. Google Camp each summer day is no further than the huge search engine's Internet home page. Just below the familiar logo and search bar is a link. Recently a blue moving rocket illustration was there alongside text: "It's Space Week at Camp Google. Learn how to defy gravity and make space food at NASA."
Varying subject matter is offered weekly, including videos and how-to projects. Lists of supplies are offered and colorful virtual badges (a la the Boy and Girl Scouts) are earned. For the space food project, kids receive a Google Camp Space Chef Badge.
During Space Week (available archived at Google Camp as well), kids who like building and crafting can learn to put together a constellation for their bedroom ceiling (which parents or other adults can help to hang up). The text introduction to the space food part of the camp tells kids: "Blast off to NASA's Johnson Space Center and participate in a cook off between two junior chefs competing to create a signature dish for astronauts in space. You'll get a front row seat for all the fun and learn about how space food is made and what's needed to survive in space."
A 17-minute video tells kids that space food has come a long way from squeezing "meat out of tubes like toothpaste" and that virtually anything eaten on Earth can be adapted for space meals. They then go on to show and explain some of "the unique challenges of eating in [the weightlessness of] Zero-G."
NASA astronaut Don Pettit is along for the ride, as are the two competing child chefs, one of whose winning dishes will actually eventually blast off with astronauts into space.
Of course, your own explorer needs sustenance on hot summer days. Laura Fuentes, founder of Momables.com, recently gave summer camp lunch ideas in an article at the Huffington Post that "will help you get out of the PB&J rut." A few tips inspired by and adapted from Fuentes' suggestions:
- Wrap turkey bacon (that's fully cooked, but not too crisp) around fresh, crunchy vegetables. "It's easy to sneak in some veggies when that meaty flavor is shining through," notes Fuentes.
- Use round apple slices instead of bread for "sandwiches." Stuff baked ham and cheddar cheese between them with a drizzle of honey mustard.
- Revamp that PB&J sandwich: Make a sandwich with leftover multigrain pancakes stuffed with almond or cashew butter and one hundred percent fruit spread.
Fun fare like this also proves food preparation can be easy, nutritious, inexpensive, fun - and fast. They take just 10 seconds each to read and are almost that quick to prepare. The creative combinations are delicious proof that everyone has time for creating homemade specialties and, more importantly, the healthy family togetherness that goes along with it!
Another benefit: You effortlessly become a better cook, since these are virtually-can't-go-wrong combinations. They can't help but draw "wows" from family members and guests.
Here are a few camp-inspired lunch ingredients to enjoy in between learning, crafting or playing.
1 cup carrots, washed, peeled and grated
1 cup zucchini, washed, peeled and grated
8 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
1 teaspoon oregano
1 tablespoon soy sauce
Yields 10 servings.
Preheat oven to 350 F. Place all of the ingredients in a large bowl and stir well.
Grease a 9-inch square pan. Spread the mixture into the pan and bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Cut when cool. FRUITY WHOLE-GRAIN BAGEL SANDWICH
2 whole-grain bagels, split and toasted
3 ounces softened cream cheese
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 peach, thinly sliced
1 banana, thinly sliced
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 strawberries, hulled and sliced
Yields 4 servings.
Spread bagels with cream cheese and sprinkle with cinnamon. Dip the peach and banana slices in lemon juice. Layer the peaches, bananas and strawberries on the bagels.
-Recipes from 365 Foods Kids Love to Eat.QUICK TIP OF THE WEEK:
A way to lighten up your favorite stroganoff recipe, suggests Rose Murray in her classic cookbook, 125 Best Chicken Recipes
, is to use chicken breast. Chicken goes just as well as beef does with the creamy sauce and mushrooms in stroganoff. Murray, who has written about 50 cookbooks, advises to save time to look for chicken pre-cut for stir-fry strips and prepackaged sliced mushrooms. Lisa Messinger is a first-place winner in food and nutrition writing from the Association of Food Journalists and the National Council Against Health Fraud and author of seven food books, including the best-selling The Tofu Book: The New American Cuisine with 150 Recipes (Avery/Penguin Putnam) and Turn Your Supermarket into a Health Food Store: The Brand-Name Guide to Shopping for a Better Diet (Pharos/Scripps Howard). She writes two nationally syndicated food and nutrition columns for Creators Syndicate and had been a longtime newspaper food and health section managing editor, as well as managing editor of Gayot/Gault Millau dining review company. Lisa traveled the globe writing about top chefs for Pulitzer Prize-winning Copley News Service and has written about health and nutrition for the Los Angeles Times Syndicate, Reader's Digest, Woman's World and Prevention Magazine Health Books. Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com.