Want a terrific dish that’s healthy and fun for the kids to cook up? Try these options, courtesy of Ann Butler’s Richmond, VA-based cooking school for kids, Edible Education.
1. Ann Butler’s Favorite Classic: The Hamburger
What you’ll need:
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1 T. olive oil
- 2 T. ketchup, divided
- 2 T. mayonnaise
- 2 tsp. pickle relish
- 1 tsp. white vinegar
- 1 lb. ground beef
- 2 T. Worcestershire sauce
- And, of course, a bun, lettuce, and tomato
- Sauté the onions, oil, and 1 T. ketchup in a medium saucepan — cook until tender.
- Combine the remaining 1 T. ketchup, mayo, relish, and vinegar in a small bowl — for sauce.
- Add beef and Worcestershire sauce to the onion mixture and form into four patties, about 3/4-inch thick.
- Prepare on a hot grill or hot fry pan, turning burgers only once and cook until internal temperature reaches 165º — about 4 to 5 minutes for each side.
Nutrition information: 393 calories per serving, 18g fat,
4g sugar, 27g protein, 41% vitamin A, 39% zinc, 26% iron
Want to try a healthier version?
- Chop up your favorite mushrooms to match the consistency of ground meat.
- Cook and season the mushrooms the way you would the meat.
- Combine with sautéed onion mix and sauce, form into four patties, and cook as directed above.
2. Chicken Cordon Bleu Burger
What you’ll need:
- 1/4 cup mayonnaise
- 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
- 5 T. finely chopped shallots, divided
- 1 ½ T. fresh thyme, chopped and divided
- 1 lb. ground chicken
- 1/3 c. diced ham
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 1/4 tsp. pepper
- 4 slices of Swiss cheese
- 8 slices of pumpernickel bread
- 12 large spinach leaves
- Combine mayonnaise, mustard, 1 T. shallots, and 1/2 tsp. thyme in a small bowl for sauce. (Spread the sauce on the buns after the burgers are cooked.)
- Combine remaining shallots, thyme, chicken, ham, and salt and pepper in a medium bowl, and form four patties.
- Cook each burger 4 to 5 minutes on each side, until temperature reaches 165º.
- Top each burger with cheese and cook until the cheese is melted.
Nutrition information: 368 calories per serving, 19g fat, 1g sugar, 29g protein, 2% vitamin A, 160% potassium, 25% folate, 23% vitamin C
3. Fourth of July Sweet-Potato Fries
Ann Butler asks: Do you say sweet potato or yam? Another great American debate. “In fact, the colorful potato we eat in America is a sweet potato, which comes in a variety of shades — including white, orange, and purple.”
Yams, she explains, are actually grown in Africa and Latin America, and can get really huge, “like 3 feet long. They have scaly, thick skin and have to be pounded out and boiled for a long time to be prepared correctly.”
For un-wimpy sweet-potato fries:
What you’ll need:
- 4 T. olive oil,
- 4 tsp. sea salt
- Ground pepper to taste
- Sweet potatoes, unpeeled, sliced into “fries”
- 3 T. powdered sumac (This is not the wild, poisonous stuff from the woods!)
- Preheat the oven to 425º — you will need the high heat to get a good crisp.
- In a large bowl, toss together olive oil, sea salt, and ground pepper.
- Lay the potatoes flat on a baking sheet — be sure to leave those washed skins on, for this is the most nutritional part of the potato.
- Brush the olive oil mixture on the sweet potatoes.
- Bake in the oven for about 30-40 minutes until they are slightly caramelized and brown. You will want to flip them a couple of times during the baking process. Tongs work very well.
“Upon removing them from the oven, I love to sprinkle powdered sumac on the fries,” Butler shares. “I had this once at a German restaurant, and it was so good I had to try it for myself at home.”
She notes that powdered sumac “can be a little difficult to find, so check out your specialty spice stores or order it online.”
4. Fruity American Flag
Need a super easy, delicious, all-American side dish? Try this fun, fruity American flag.
Butler says: “With blueberries still seasonal, and watermelon in abundance — all you need in addition is a good-quality feta cheese to create this dish. Get the kids involved, add toothpicks, and enjoy!”
Did you know: Blueberries are actually one of America’s few indigenous foods, grown here for the last 13,000 years — quite fitting to serve on Independence Day! Click here to learn more about blueberries from the US Highbush Blueberry Council.
About the Better Burger Project
From June 1 to July 31, Edible Education is participating with chefs around the country in The Better Burger Project with the James Beard Foundation. The Foundation is blending ground beef and finely chopped mushrooms to introduce a more delicious, healthier, and sustainable burger to:
- Improve flavor, texture, and juiciness
- Reduce calories, fat, and sodium
- Add vitamin D, B, and potassium
- Add vegetables to your meals
- Go green!
Enjoy your burger, take a picture of your burger, #betterburgerproject to Instagram and tag @edibleedu. The winning chef gets to cook at the James Beard House!
For more information, visit betterburgerproject.org.
Ann Butler Dishes About Edible Education
On my first day of teaching cooking in a public, middle school, I asked the students to raise their hands if they knew how to cook dinner for their family. All hands shot up instantly! “Wow, this is going to be a breeze! These kids are well versed in the culinary arts,” I thought. Then upon additional questioning, I learned that “cooking dinner” to them meant ham and cheese sandwiches, cold cereal, or (my least favorite) Ramen noodles.
“And where do you enjoy your culinary creations?” I continued to query. Their answers dismayed me: “In our rooms watching TV, on the sofa watching TV, in the car on the way to practice.”
And so began my adventure to introduce kids (and adults) to real dinners — the kind with real food and real place settings and real conversation at an actual table. Seven years and thousands of students later, I am still amazed at how little our children know about food. And, perhaps even more amazed by how unadventurous they are with menu choices.
That’s where Edible Education comes in.
We are not doctors or gourmet chefs. We use everyday kitchen equipment mixed with a lot of fun and a passion for eating what is good for us (without being all “organicy” or health-nuts about food) to introduce students to fresh, home-cooked food. Hands-on learning about fresh, seasonal food, prepared with the intention of sitting with our families and enjoying one of life’s greatest pleasures is what we are all about.
In a society where 35 percent of adolescents are overweight or obese, with an 80 percent chance of becoming obese adults, I knew I had to get more involved in making a difference outside of my school district, and so I started Edible Education.
One of my favorite authors, Robert Fulghum, said: “Don’t worry that children never listen to you. Worry that they are always watching you.” I hope you’ll join us on our path where hands-on lessons for all ages lead to a healthy life.
Learn more at edibleedu.com.