Sweet Potato Gnocchi

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For the final recipe from Raddish KidsHarvest Party crate, it was time to turn to the earth for sweet potatoes!

Before Travis joined me in the kitchen, I prepared a batch of vegan ricotta. You can also purchase non-dairy ricotta at the store, but it can be hard to find. In a blender: combine 1 (14-ounce) package firm tofu, 3 tablespoons lemon juice, 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, 1 teaspoon dried oregano, and 1 teaspoon dried basil; process until smooth and refrigerate until ready to use.

To prepare the gnocchi, place 1 large sweet potato in a pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil, then continue to cook for 30 minutes, until very tender.

Immediately transfer to bowl of ice water until cool. The peel will now slip right off. This was a neat way to show Travis how quickly different temperatures can transform an ingredient!

Travis loved the next step: grating the sweet potato. Save 1 cup for this recipe and reserve any remaining potato for another use.

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In a bowl, combine the 1 cup sweet potato, 1 and 1/4 cups flour, 1/4 cup vegan ricotta, 1/3 cup vegan Parmesan shreds, 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, and 1 teaspoon salt.

We were skeptical this would form into a dough, but it comes together almost like magic once you begin to knead it.

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Divide the dough into 4 portions. Roll each into a rope that is about 18 inches long (practically like playing with playdough!) and cut into about 18 pieces.

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Bring a pot of water to a boil and add half of the gnocchi pieces. Cook for 3 minutes, until they float to the top.

Meanwhile, melt 4 tablespoons Earth Balance butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add 3 sage leaves; cook for 1 minute and then discard the sage.

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Add the cooked gnocchi to the sage butter with a slotted spoon. Repeat with the remaining gnocchi, then serve!

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The verdict was unanimous: Travis and little sister Veronika both loved them. Although the buttery sauce is plenty on its own, the kids also liked dipping the gnocchi in a little marinara sauce.

Intro to Entrepreneurship: Apple Cider Stands & Donut Shops

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Raddish Kids changed their lesson plan format recently, from one lesson to correspond with each recipe into more of an overarching theme for each month’s package.

The change hasn’t worked well for Travis. The scope of the lesson now seems aimed at older kids, and it’s difficult to engage a first grader in the activities. This month’s theme was: what is an entrepreneur and how do you turn an idea into a business. Here’s I engaged Travis in that!

As a warm up, I asked him to imagine his favorite restaurant and describe what he liked best about it. But since we don’t go out often, he couldn’t come up with much more than that it was fancy. The idea is that kids now take their answers and design a donut shop, in conjunction with the Apple Cider Donut recipe.

We watched an online read of The Donut Chef, a cute book, but Travis couldn’t really translate that into creating a shop or flavors of donuts. Older kids can use the provided Brainstorm Bubble Map (in the shape of a donut of course) to write out ideas for a store name, logo, menu, and more.

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Kids can also lay out the shape of their store using tangrams on grid paper. I simply had Travis use dollhouse furniture to create a little restaurant diorama.

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We also watched a quick clip on the history of the donut, and scrolled through images of successful donut chains around the country. Big kids can learn about innovations in donuts (the cronut!), or imagine a “donut of the future”.

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But I knew Travis needed something more hands on. So… we decided to open up an apple cider stand and put entrepreneurship into action.

Once we had the idea, Travis couldn’t wait for the big day. First we talked about a logo, and came up with a shiny red apple. This went on all of our cider stand materials, including an announcement poster, a price poster, and the jug we’d use to pour the cider. His color scheme was red, green, and brown.

He also watched Raddish’s provided clip of a child entrepreneur to get fired up for his own “business”.

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Kids can brainstorm what snacks to sell, or even invent one. We kept it simple with store-bought packets of candy corn. Time to open up shop!

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To put it simply, this was amazing. Travis was dismayed when the first few cars drove by without stopping. But once he had his first customer, the floodgates opened up. Within one hour he’d served ten customers, and we’d sold nearly all the cider.

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He loved waving down cars. And little sister Veronika helped!

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We finished with apple cider at home, warm with mulled spices. The perfect reward.

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Herb-Roasted Whole Cauliflower

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The second recipe from Travis’s Harvest Party Raddish Kids was a whole roast chicken, which needless to say is decidedly not vegan. As always, I appreciate the company’s inclusion of a vegan alternative and this one was quite clever: rather than offer up a faux-meat substitute, the recipe still allowed vegan kids to roast a whole something… In this case a whole cauliflower!

We queued up a Harvest Party playlist and it was time to get cookin’.

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Trim the leaves and cut the stem from a head of cauliflower; place in an 8×8-inch baking dish.

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Microwave 6 tablespoons Earth Balance butter for about 30 seconds, or until melted. Stir in 2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary, 2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme, 1 tablespoon minced fresh sage, 2 minced garlic cloves, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. As we added each herb, we stopped to smell and investigate. Travis loved the exploration and kept aside a sprig of each!

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Use a pastry brush to spread the herb-butter mixture over the cauliflower. Travis insisted on doing this step all by himself.

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Sprinkle with 2 tablespoon nutritional yeast, then cover the pan with foil and bake at 400 degrees F for 40 minutes. Uncover and bake an additional 10 minutes. The top should be golden brown and the cauliflower will be very tender.

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Let cool slightly before serving. You can cut into quarters for big kids, or smaller florets for younger kids. Everyone in the house declared this the best cauliflower ever!

Apple Cider Donuts

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Travis dug into his latest Raddish Kids crate today, this month with a timely theme all about the harvest. The recipes are laden with harvest goodies, and this first one relies on apple cider. We were ready, with a recently-purchased pint of fresh cider from a local orchard! Travis was so excited when he saw all the ingredients. “This one needs lots of spices!” he declared

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Ingredients:

For the donuts:

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon ground flaxseed
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 3 tablespoons melted Earth Balance butter
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup apple cider
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

For the topping:

  • 4 tablespoons melted Earth Balance butter
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  1. To prepare the donuts, combine the flour, baking powder, salt, nutmeg, and 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon in a bowl; set aside.
  2. In a second bowl, whisk together the flaxseed and water to make 1 flax egg. Add 3 tablespoons melted butter, the brown sugar, apple cider, and vanilla.
  3. Divide the batter evenly among 6 donut molds and place on a baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees F for 16 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, place the remaining butter in a small bowl. Combine the sugar and 1 teaspoon cinnamon in a second bowl.
  5. Working with 1 donut at a time, invert the mold and gently pop out. Dip first in the butter, then in the cinnamon sugar, coating both sides. Repeat with the remaining donuts.

The family literally had to fight over these, everyone begging for more bites.

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So next time we might need to make a double batch!

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To finish up the delicious lesson, we read on the recipe card about how apples helped Newton discover gravity, plus more about all those fall spices.

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For extra fun, turn it into a blindfolded test; set out spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, allspice, and cloves, and see if your child can guess by smell alone.

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School Milk Flipbook

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Travis helped make several lunches this month thanks to his Raddish Kids Lunchtime Love crate, a perfect theme for back-to-school in September. We finished up with this lesson plan.

To start, we played “I’m going on a picnic” to get thinking about different foods in a lunchbox, particularly those that travel well. A basket of toy food as prompts helped initially, but Travis was bored after a few rounds of back-and-forth. Instead, we turned to the web for the next part of the lesson.

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Raddish provided links for a read-aloud about how common lunch foods get on the plate. Because the book was heavy on dairy, we also watched vegan-friendly videos about almond milk and soy milk.

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Next Travis got to be an author! The assignment was to make a flipbook about the journey of an almond from the tree to the carton at the store. I encouraged him to put on his imaginative cap and pretend the story was from the point of view of the almond, although this was a bit of a stretch for my first grader.

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He concentrated more on just drawing the pictures, and I added words.

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There were also fun videos to watch on school lunches around the world. Big kids can extend the lesson much further, here, perhaps by designing an international menu for their school cafeteria

For a hands-on extension, we returned to an old favorite: growing new vegetables from kitchen scraps. This works fantastically with green onions, so after we used a bunch from the store, we placed the bulbs in a small dish of fresh water. You should see new growth by morning!

Regrow Food Scraps

Finally, Travis was in charge of designing his own perfect after-school snack in Raddish’s Create-a-Snack Challenge. I showed him the list of possible ingredients, and he selected: hummus, cheese slices, tortillas, strawberries, and tomatoes. The possibilities were growing already.

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After a trip to the store, he created the following: Hummus-Cheese-Tortilla Bites.

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I loved watching him turn into a little chef as we layered hummus on small squares of tortilla, topped each with a piece of Violife cheddar, and then topped that off with tomato.

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He got fancy and added strawberries to a few. An interesting flavor combination!

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I haven’t seen him enjoy snack so much in ages, so this was a great activity on the part of Raddish.

Pizza Pockets

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Today is one of those wacky random holiday, National Kids Take Over the Kitchen Day! It was the perfect excuse to prepare the final recipe from Travis’s Lunchtime Love set from Raddish Kids. Travis and Veronika sure did take over with this one, including a messy buffet of all the different types of vegan cheese we needed to make the recipe!

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We needed to make a few vegan adjustments to Raddish’s original recipe, including the use of prepared pizza dough instead of puff pastry, whipping up a batch of vegan tofu ricotta, and using tempeh bacon in place of pepperoni.

Ingredients:

For the ricotta:

  • 1 (1 pound) package firm tofu
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 2 teaspoons nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

For the pizza pockets:

  • 1/2 cup chopped baby spinach
  • 1/4 cup shredded non-dairy mozzarella
  • 1/4 cup vegan Parmesan
  • 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 slices tempeh bacon
  • 1 pound pizza dough
  • 1/4 cup tomato sauce
  1. To prepare the ricotta, combine the tofu, lemon juice, olive oil, garlic powder, oregano, basil, nutritional yeast, and salt in a blender; process until smooth and creamy. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
  2. To prepare the pizza pockets, spoon 1/3 cup prepared ricotta into a large bowl; reserve the remaining ricotta for another use.
  3. Stir in the spinach, mozzarella, Parmesan, garlic powder, oregano, and salt.
  4. Cut the tempeh bacon into 12 pieces; set aside.
  5. Divide the pizza dough into 6 portions on a lightly floured surface. Roll each into a rectangle.
  6. Top each portion of dough with 2 tempeh pieces, 1 heaping tablespoon ricotta mixture, and 2 teaspoons tomato sauce. Fold in half, and press a fork around the edges to seal.
  7. Transfer the pizza pockets to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake at 425 degrees F for 15 minutes. Let cool before serving.

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Chickpea Caesar Wraps

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Travis cracked open his Lunchtime Love kit from Raddish Kids today, just in time for the era of school lunches that’s about to dawn once more. The keepsake this month was his very own set of travel utensils, which he loved.

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For our first lunch, we put together this vegan spin on a chicken salad wrap recipe.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 (15-ounce) drained and rinsed can chickpeas
  • 2 tablespoons panko
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon + 1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 2 tablespoons + 1/2 cup vegan Parmesan, divided
  • 1 tablespoon + 1/4 cup olive oil, divided
  • 1 minced garlic clove
  • 2 tablespoons fresh-squeezed lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons vegan mayonnaise
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon Annie’s Worcestershire sauce
  • 6 cups thinly sliced romaine lettuce
  • 6 (8-inch) flour tortillas
  1. To prepare the chickpeas, place in a large bowl and mash with a potato masher or fork. Add the panko, parsley, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 2 tablespoons Parmesan, and 1 tablespoon olive oil; set aside.
  2. To prepare the dressing, whisk together the garlic, lemon juice, mayo, mustard, Worcestershire, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt. Whisk in 1/4 cup olive oil, then stir in the remaining 1/2 cup Parmesan.
  3. Add the romaine to the chickpea mixture. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss with tongs to coat.
  4. Spoon 1 cup salad into each of 6 warmed tortillas. Wrap up burrito style and serve!

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For a little history lesson with that “school” lunch, we read up about the Caesar whom the salad was named for on the recipe card: Caesar the restaurateur, that is, not the emperor!

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Homemade Sushi Rolls

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I didn’t make sushi until I was in my thirties, so needless to say, I was impressed and thankful to Raddish Kids for introducing this recipe to my 6 year old in this month’s Ticket to Tokyo kit. Travis was so proud to receive a bright red sushi mat as this month’s souvenir, and absolutely adored both the making of and eating of this recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups sushi rice
  • 3 cups water
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 6 sheets nori seaweed
  • 1/2 cup shredded carrot
  • 1/2 English cucumber, julienne-cut
  • 1 avocado, julienne-cut
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, julienne-cut
  • 1/2 cup hearts of palm, chopped
  • Soy sauce, for serving
  1. To make the rice, combine the sushi rice and water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, then cover, reduce heat, and simmer on low for 20 minutes.
  2. Spread the warm rice on a baking sheet. Stir in the rice vinegar with a fork and let sit for about 10 minutes to cool.Homemade Sushi (2)
  3. Meanwhile, prep all the vegetable fillings. Travis loved the mise en place, as well as taste-testing all the veggies! Homemade Sushi (1)
  4. Place a sheet of nori on the sushi mat. Add 1 cup sushi rice, and use moistened fingers to press into an even layer, leaving 1 inch at the top.Homemade Sushi (4)
  5. Select your fillings, then roll the mat up over the nori until the bottom edge meets the rice. Homemade Sushi (5)
  6. Tightly roll up by hand, then roll the mat over the completed sushi roll one last time to squeeze it tightly into a cylinder. Cut into slices, and repeat with additional nori, rice, and fillings.Homemade Sushi (6)
  7. Serve with soy sauce on the side for dipping!

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The recipe card featured fun extra tidbits, including various types of sushi and sights to visit in Tokyo. To complete the immersive experience, we listened to a playlist of Japanese music as we cooked!

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Even little sister Veronika was eager to try out chopsticks, and devoured this recipe.

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Teriyaki Tofu Skewers

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After making Japanese noodles, tonight Travis moved on to another classic from Japanese cuisine: teriyaki skewers! We made the recipe vegan with a block of tofu for an adaptation to Raddish Kid’s original chicken recipe. Because we were nearly out of regular length skewers, we used toothpicks for mini skewers instead!

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Ingredients:

  • 1 (1-pound) package firm tofu
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons sesame seeds
  1. Drain the tofu and pat dry. Cut the tofu and bell pepper into 1-inch pieces. Thread onto skewers.
  2. Arrange the skewers on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake at 350 degrees F for 15 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, prepare the teriyaki sauce: whisk together the soy sauce, brown sugar, water, cornstarch, and garlic powder in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, then continue to cook for 30 seconds, whisking frequently.
  4. Brush the cooked tofu skewers with the teriyaki sauce using a pastry brush. Sprinkle evenly with the sesame seeds.

As we dined, Travis practiced some of the Japanese words on the recipe card, and learned about other components of a traditional Japanese meal. You’ll have leftover teriyaki sauce, so consider it over veggies or rice later on in the week!

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Japanese Travel Guide

Japan Travel Brochure (4)After preparing a Japanese meal for dinner, Travis got to learn more about Japanese culture today. This lesson plan from Raddish Kids was a fun extension to the culinary journey we’ll be on this month.

First up was locating Japan on a map. Once Travis pinpointed that it was an island, we discussed how geography can influence culture. Raddish provided talking points like how this has given Japan a strong sense of identity, and a unique culture.

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Now it was time for fun videos; Travis loved one about the shinkansen (high speed trains) so much that he insisted on watching the full thing, even parts I thought might bore a 6 year old!

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You can extend the lesson by looking at a map of the rail system, or even turn it into a math lesson for older kids by calculating costs or distances between stations on a pretend journey.

Next up was a video clip of Japanese baseball, and we discussed similarities and differences to games we’ve attended in the U.S.

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Finally, we learned about the popular genre of anime. Travis picked one to watch before bed, and chose Pokemon! You might also consider renting a classic from your library like My Neighbor Totoro or Ponyo.

Or check out how-to books to draw your own anime!

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I was so proud of Travis following along with one we checked out.

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Now it was time for Travis to pretend he was a travel writer explaining this country to another person, and he put together a travel brochure. He was so proud spelling out Japan on the cover. Inside, he drew high speed trains…

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…baseball players (I thought this one resembled a Japanese calligraphy character!)…

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…and lots of noodles of course.

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