Yakisoba Noodles

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Tonight Travis journeyed to Japan in the kitchen! This recipe kicked off his Ticket to Tokyo kit from Raddish Kids. I thought it a bit strange that Raddish called for spaghetti instead of true soba noodles, but perhaps that was for simplicity when grocery shopping.

Either way, Travis loved helping with components of this recipe, like grating the ginger on a microplane and smashing the garlic cloves.

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  • 8 ounces spaghetti
  • 8 Napa cabbage leaves, thinly sliced
  • 2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
  • 2 minced garlic cloves
  • 1/2 cup shredded carrots
  • 4 sliced green onions
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons vegan Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  1. Cook the spaghetti according to package directions in a pot of boiling, salted water; drain in a colander and set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, combine the cabbage, ginger, garlic, and carrots in a bowl; set aside.
  3. To prepare the sauce, place the green onions in a small bowl. Add the brown sugar, ketchup, sesame oil, and soy sauce, whisking to combine.Yakisoba Noodles (2)
  4. Heat the canola oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the cabbage mixture; cook for 2 to 3 minutes, tossing with tongs.
  5. Add the cooked noodles and the sauce; continue to cook for 2 to 3 minutes until heated through.

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I love when my kids get to “travel” through their palates, trying new recipes like this. Even little sister Veronika loved it!

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The recipe card featured information on Japan’s geography, as well as on the various kinds of noodles in Japanese cuisine. Travis is eager to try them all!

Pita Faces

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Even young chefs will dig putting this lunch together because they can do the slicing all by themselves. The secret? Don’t hand them a knife, but a piece of dental floss instead! Make sure you’re using unwaxed and unflavored floss for this activity, or you might wind up with a mint-flavored sandwich.

First, I showed Travis how he could slice easily through a few items, if he held the string of dental floss taut enough. It slid easily through tofu…

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…and a wheel of Miyoko’s soft cheese!

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Once he had slices, I let him decide how he was going to decorate a face for lunch. We toasted a pita, then added the following:

  • circles of the cheese for eyes
  • an avocado smile
  • a cucumber slice for a nose
  • celery for eyebrows
  • shredded carrots for hair

If your family eats eggs, the dental floss trick will work on those, too, and those would make fun eyes on the pita. What else goes on your Pita Face? Please share in the comments!

Watermelon Agua Fresca

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A water-based drink was the perfect bonus recipe for Travis’s Edible Elementskit from Raddish Kids, and that’s exactly what agua fresca (“fresh water”) is; a refreshing blend of water and fruit.


  • 1/2 mini watermelon
  • 1 lime
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 cup water
  1. Cut the watermelon into cubes and discard the rind.
  2. Add the watermelon to a blender. Cut the lime in half and juice; add to the blender.
  3. Add the sugar and water, then puree until smooth.
  4. Serve over ice!

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Treasure-Map Pizza

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This pizza was so fun to put together, complete with a tropical island background, an X-marks-the-spot, and golden treasure! You can prepare your edible mini maps on individual pita pockets, or do as Travis did and make a full-size pizza.

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To start, pat pizza dough onto a pizza pan, then spread with tomato sauce, leaving a 1/2-inch crust. Sprinkle with your favorite non-dairy mozzarella.

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Travis loved assembling a little pirate island that included the following: two bell pepper strips to mark an X for treasure; palm trees made of orange bell pepper trunks and green bell pepper fronds; mushroom rocks; olive footprints leading to the treasure; and corn kernels as nuggets of gold.

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The kids had so much fun peaking while it baked!

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Bubbles in the crust after baking even meant that we had some fun topography, like a little “hill” now below our X.

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Then it was time to gobble up the treasure.

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Ice Cream Science

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Although this is pretty much a repeat of homemade ice cream that Travis shook up back in March, we had no qualms doing it again on a 95 degree day! The recipe was a fun addition to Travis’s Edible Elements kit from Raddish Kids.

For variation, we decided to make two different flavors this time, turn the project into a blind taste test, too! We poured 1/2 cup non-dairy creamer and 1 tablespoon sugar into each of two small zip-top bags. Then we added 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract to one and 1/4 teaspoon mint extract to the second.

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We placed both these small bags in a gallon-sized zip-top bag filled with 4 cups ice and 1/2 cup coarse salt. Seal and shake!

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Travis took a few shakes, but then he passed it my way for some mama muscle.

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Get ready, because you may need to shake for as long as 10 minutes. Luckily, by the five-minute mark, our liquid creamer had turned into ice cream. (Note: we used oat milk creamer, and we’re curious to hear if other plant-based milks take less time or more, so please share in the comments!).

During all that shaking, we talked about the science behind what was happening; because salt lowers water’s freezing point, it makes the ice melt. As the ice melts, it absorbs heat from the cream. The cream, conversely, becomes colder. And here’s the important bit: because it’s churned, not just resting still on the ice, tiny ice crystal form. These give you smooth ice cream instead of a big chunk of ice.

All that aside, now it was time for the taste test! I spooned a scoop of each flavor into Travis’s bowl, and he proudly deduced which was which.

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If your child prefers, you can add other toppings, too, like sprinkles, crumbled cookies, or candy. However you flavor it, this project is sure to beat the heat.

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Little Passports: South Africa

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There was lots to like in the latest from Little Passports, all about South Africa. With an emphasis on the country’s amazing animals and safaris, there was also plenty to learn about the country’s history, crafts, archaeological significance, and natural wonders.

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Travis enjoyed this kit’s booklet, including a color activity to learn some Afrikaans, a bit about Nelson Mandela, and a tricky safari animal count! It was all quite doable for a 6 year old, with grown-up assistance.

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This month’s package from “Sam and Sofia” included not one but two souvenirs. The first was a dehydrated washcloth in the shape of an elephant. Travis was agog with the way it expanded into a square after we placed it in a dish of warm water, and it featured a beautiful indigenous print. He seemed so touched by the gift!

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The second souvenir was more of a craft, a basket to weave. Travis did the first round of weaving the provided raffia around the cardboard frame, though I did then jump in to help out (there was a lot of raffia!).

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As I wound, he was fascinated to learn that many cultures still make baskets like this, and by the idea that in some places you can’t just go to a store to buy a basket. He wanted to know what these villages might look like, or how the doors and houses would look.


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Further Activities:

There were fewer crafts suggested in the booklet and online than with previous countries we’ve explored, but Travis enjoyed learning to draw a crocodile step-by-step, a pattern activity about traditional Zulu baskets, and coloring in the country’s flag for his garland.

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Finally, I surprised Travis with this month’s add-on: 3-D puzzles of safari animals. He not only loved piecing together the giraffe, lion, and other animals the first time through, but then wanted to take them apart and do it again.

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And then again!

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As a bonus, the puzzle comes with an informative book from Nat Geo kids. There was true quality to this product, an excellent add-on option from Little Passports.

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Now all that was left was to explore the country with our bellies! We learned that this particular recipe is the national dish of South Africa, with regional variations throughout the country. Unfortunately, as with previous recipes from Little Passports, it wasn’t very kid-friendly either in preparation or taste (this one is spicy!).

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But Travis enjoyed helping shred the apple, and bravely gave it a taste test before deciding it had too much curry powder.


  • 2 slices of bread
  • 3/4 cup plain almond milk
  • 1 tablespoon Earth Balance butter
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 and 1/2 cups chopped onion
  • 2 tablespoons curry powder
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 (12-ounce) packages meatless crumbles
  • 2 Ener-G eggs
  • 1 peeled and grated apple
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/4 cup blanched almonds
  • 6 bay leaves
  1. Crumble the bread into a small bowl and cover with the almond milk. Let stand for 10 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, heat the butter and canola oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for about 5 minutes, until softened.
  3. Stir in the curry powder, brown sugar, and salt. Add the meatless crumbles into the pan, breaking apart into pieces, and cook for 5 minutes, until browned. Remove from heat and set aside.
  4. Meanwhile, remove the bread from the bowl of milk, squeezing out the excess milk. Set the bread aside, and whisk the Ener-G eggs into the milk.
  5. Add the bread crumbles, grated apple, raisins, and almonds to the skillet. Spoon the whole mixture into a 13×9-inch baking dish. Pour the milk mixture on top, and top with the bay leaves.
  6. Bake at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes.

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Campfire S’mores Pie

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This decadent pie riffs on the classic summer trio of graham crackers, marshmallows, and chocolate. For vegan marshmallows, look no further than Dandies. We originally wanted to make our own graham cracker crust, but I couldn’t find vegan grahams in any store in town. That meant we used Mi-Del’s pre-made graham crust, and although I’m thankful to the company for this vegan product, I was sorry that Travis and I missed out on preparing some of this Raddish Kids recipe together. At least we still had the filling to prepare!

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If you do find vegan graham crackers, start with the following: Heat 6 tablespoons Earth Balance butter in the microwave for about 30 seconds, until melted; set aside. Place 12 graham cracker sheets in a zip-top plastic bag and crush with a rolling pin until you have fine crumbs. Add the crumbs and 1/3 cup sugar to the melted butter, stirring until combined. Press the crust into the bottom and up the sides of a pie pan.

Here’s where we picked up with the filling! In a saucepan, whisk together 2 cups plain non-dairy milk, 1/4 cup sugar, 3 tablespoons arrowroot (or cornstarch), 4 teaspoons cocoa powder, and 1/4 teaspoon salt.

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Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat. Continue to cook for 1 minute, whisking frequently.

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Remove from heat and stir in 2/3 cup non-dairy chocolate chips, 2 tablespoons Earth Balance butter, and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract. Spoon the filling into the crust; cover and chill for at least 4 hours.

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Just before serving, remove from the fridge and top with 2 and 1/2 cups mini marshmallows. You’ll notice my very proud and excited sous-chef!

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Bake at 450 degrees F for 6 minutes. The marshmallows were puffed and just lightly browned, exactly as Raddish’s recipe card feature on the “three stages of roasting marshmallows” said they should be.

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We loved that this recipe used both cold and heat, two different “elements” to transform the ingredients. And of course we also loved the taste. Don’t expect slices to come out neatly, but do expect them to come out delicious!

Fire and Flavor

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Travis has been exploring how to cook with different elements (air, ice) thanks to his latest Raddish Kids, and today we did a quick test: would the same ingredients taste different, if cooked using 3 different “elements”? We chose corn on the cob for the experiment and tested out the following: air (roasted in the oven), water (boiled on the stove), and fire (cooked on the grill). Unfortunately we weren’t truly using fire for the last, since I only have an indoor grill pan. But we still had interesting results!

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Of course first comes the fun of shucking corn. Then for “air”, roast the corn in a 400 degree F oven for about 30 minutes. Boil the “water” version for about 5 minutes in boiling water. Grill the “fire” version over your barbecue or grill pan for about 10 minutes.

Once the three methods of corn had cooked, Travis first wanted to smell them. I had never realized how different these three cooking methods smelled, but it was so apparent when they were lined up on the plate! The oven method had roasted caramel notes, the boiled one smelled sweet and fresh, and the grilled one had a toasty aroma.

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Once they cooled, it was time for a taste test. Travis far and away preferred the sweet tenderness of the boiled corn. Air (oven) was his second favorite. “It’s sweet and tart!” he declared.

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He decided he didn’t like the grilled one, which may again be the fault of the grill pan versus a real grill. Which method do your kids prefer? Please share in the comments!

Earth Burgers

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These black bean burgers (part of the Edible Elements kit from Raddish Kids), come from the earth, and make a hearty vegan entree!


  • 1 (15-ounce) can black beans
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 Ener-G egg
  • 1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 4 slices Daiya cheddar cheese
  • 4 burger buns
  • 4 lettuce leaves
  • 4 slice tomato
  1. Drain and rinse the black beans. Arrange on a double layer of paper towels on a baking sheet and let dry for 10 minutes.Earth Burgers (1)
  2. Meanwhile, combine the cilantro, cumin, chili powder, garlic powder, and salt in a bowl. Add the black beans; mash with a potato masher until chunky (not completely smooth).
  3. Stir in the Ener-G egg and panko, stirring until the mixture is combined. Divide into 4 portions and shape each into a 3-inch patty.Earth Burgers (2)
  4. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the patties and cook for 5 minutes. Carefully flip with a spatula (this was the cooking skill highlighted on the recipe card!). Top each burger with a slice of the cheddar and cook for an additional 4 minutes.
  5. To assemble the burgers, place each patty on a bun, then top with a lettuce leaf and a tomato slice.

Travis loved these so much he devoured two! We talked about the meaning of the recipe’s name as we dined, and how beans and other plant-based foods come from the earth. We loved that Raddish had such a plant-focused recipe card!

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Air Science

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Having recently prepared a recipe reliant on air to cook (a.k.a. a recipe that needs a leavener), today Travis played around with two different kinds of leaveners to see which worked its magic faster.

In one empty water bottle, combine 1 cup warm water, 1 packet active yeast, and 1 teaspoon sugar. Put on the lid and shake, then remove the lid and place an uninflated balloon over the opening. Set a timer for 20 minutes.

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Meanwhile, fill a second empty water bottle with 1/2 cup water and 1 cup white vinegar. Working quickly, add 1/4 cup baking soda. Add a balloon as fast as you can over the top of the bottle; it will immediately inflate with air.

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This was fantastic fun for Travis, since the second bottle will be exploding a volcano of vinegar as you attach the balloon.

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The results were immediately obvious; baking soda acts much faster than yeast. In fact, our yeast balloon took longer than the 20 minutes we had set on the timer, but after about an hour the balloon was beginning to inflate.


I explained to Travis that this was part of the difference between a slow (yeast) bread and a quick bread (like banana bread), which comes together must faster. Now he understood why!

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Stayed tuned for more elemental food science soon!