Little Passports: Israel

LP Israel (9)

Travis latest package from Little Passports was all about Israel; the activities for this particular country were less hands-on than previous packages he’s received. Still, Travis is always excited for the latest from “Sam and Sofia”!

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Through the booklet, he learned about ancient artifacts that have been found in Israel, sea creatures of the Red Sea, shuk shopping markets, and more. Most were age-appropriate for a 1st grader except a tough mystery to solve using Hebrew letter characters.

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Souvenir:

I wish Travis had received this particular kit back in December, because the souvenir was a game of dreidel, complete with a spinning top and a set of felt gold coins. Even though it wasn’t Hanukkah, Travis loved playing a few rounds!

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Further Activities:

Of course next we needed to color in the flag of Israel, and there was also a coloring page to teach about the holiday of Tu B’Shvat (new years for the trees), which Travis colored quite carefully.

Next up was a science experiment to see what salt does to objects in water, as with the salty Dead Sea. The original instructions were to do this activity with an egg, but we used carrots to make it vegan. Fill each of 2 glass cups with 3/4 cup warm water. Add 1 baby carrot to the first cup. Ker-plop, it sinks!

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Next, add 1/4 cup salt to the second cup, stirring until it dissolves. We added a second baby carrot… and it floats!

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From here, we turned to Little Passport’s blog for a DIY Hanukkah Menorah. To start, cut a large paper plate in half, then mark 8 notches at the top with blue marker. Use the marker to connect these, so you have a series of increasingly smaller U shapes.

Next, we colored 9 clothespins with blue marker and decorated with silver glitter glue; let dry, then twist a small piece of yellow or gold pipe cleaner and use hot glue to attach to the open end of each clothespin. Cut a small paper plate in half; make slits in each half, as well as two slits in the bottom of the larger plate so they notch together to form a stand. Finally, attach the clothespins as the candles!

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Recipe:

It was time to end the exploration with dessert. We prepared a recipe for traditional Hamantaschen, a triangle-shaped pastry eaten during the holiday of Purim. Pinching the cookies into triangles took a bit of practice, but soon we had a knack for it!

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Ingredients:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 8 tablespoons Earth Balance butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon ground flaxseed
  • 3 tablespoons warm water
  • 1 cup jam, any flavor
  1. In a bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter, sugar, and orange juice.
  3. Whisk the flaxseed into the warm water to make 1 flax egg. Add to the butter mixture and beat until combined.
  4. Stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, then wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours.
  5. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough and use a 3-inch round cookie cutter to make circles. Spoon a scant tablespoon of jam into the center of each, then pinch the dough into a triangle, forming three corners with your fingers.
  6. Bake at 375 degrees F for 18 minutes. Let stand at least 5 minutes before serving.

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Three Cheeze Ravioli

Three-Cheese Ravioli (8)

Thanks to a ravioli mold as the gift in his latest Raddish Kids crate, Travis was able to make fresh pasta for the first time! I love how Raddish’s recipes allow kids to step up to culinary feats like this, ones that might daunt even grown-ups. Note: we made everything from scratch today, but if you’re short on time, you can take a few shortcuts like purchasing vegan ricotta or a jarred marinara sauce.

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Ingredients:

For the tofu ricotta:

  • 3 tablespoons fresh-squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 (14-ounce) block firm tofu
  • 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 marinara:

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 minced garlic cloves
  • 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 4 minced basil leaves
  • 1 teaspoon salt

For the pasta dough:

  • 7 tablespoons warm water
  • 1 and 1/4 cups flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

For the remaining ingredients:

  • 1/4 shredded vegan mozzarella
  • 2 tablespoons vegan Parmesan
  1. To prepare the ricotta, combine the lemon juice, tofu, 2 tablespoons olive oil, garlic powder, oregano, basil, nutritional yeast, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a blender; Process until smooth and creamy. Refrigerate until ready to use.Three-Cheese Ravioli (3)
  2. To prepare the marinara sauce, heat 1/4 cup olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the canned tomatoes, basil, and 1 teaspoon salt; continue to simmer for 15 minutes, then keep warm on low heat as the rest of the recipe comes together.Three-Cheese Ravioli (2)
  3. To prepare the pasta dough, place the warm water in a medium bowl. Add the flour, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and 1 tablespoon olive oil, stirring until the dough comes together. Turn out onto a floured surface and knead for about 8 minutes. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest for 30 minutes at room temperature.Three-Cheese Ravioli (1)
  4. Meanwhile, combine 1/3 cup of the prepared ricotta with the vegan mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses.
  5. Divide the dough into 6 portions. Roll 2 portions into rectangles, and place one over a ravioli mold. Spoon 1 teaspoon of the filling over each ravioli square. Cover with a second rectangle of dough and use a rolling pin to flatten. Three-Cheese Ravioli (4)
  6. The mold now flips over and each ravioli pops out. Raddish made this tool so intuitive and easy to use! Repeat with the remaining dough and filling.Three-Cheese Ravioli (6)
  7. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add the ravioli and cook for 3 minuets, until they float to the top. Serve with the warm marinara.

That wasn’t all! The recipe card featured a few fun phrases in Italian to learn as we dined, including e delizioso, which hardly requires translation!

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Apple Pear Crisp

Apple Pear Crisp (1)This easy dessert lets the natural sweetness of the fruit shine. Serve with your favorite vegan vanilla ice cream if your kids like their dessert served a la mode!

Ingredients:

  • 3 pears
  • 3 apples
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 1/4 cup melted Earth Balance butter
  • Cooking spray
  1. Peel, core, and thinly slice the pears and apples; set aside.
  2. In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar, vanilla, flour, oats, and butter.
  3. Spoon the fruit into a 13×9-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray, then top evenly with the brown sugar mixture. Bake at 400 degrees F for 40 minutes and let cool slightly before serving.

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Restaurant Play with Italian Bruschetta

Italian Bruschetta (1)

Not only did the kids help make an elegant Italian appetizer today, but they opened up their own “restaurant” to serve it! This was all part of Travis’s latest Italian-themed kit from Raddish Kids. Before opening up that restaurant, though, it was time for some cooking!

To prepare the bruschetta, slice 1/2 a baguette into 1/4-inch thick slices and arrange on a baking sheet. Brush evenly with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Bake at 400 degrees F for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, chop 2 large tomatoes and thinly slice 6 fresh basil leaves. Combine the tomatoes and basil in a bowl with 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cut a garlic clove in half; rub the cut sides over the warm baguette slices, then top evenly with the tomato mixture.

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Before we sat down to enjoy, Travis and I went over the concept of a restaurateur, and the idea of creating a restaurant from the ground up. He’d need to think about location, name, decor, and more! Travis immediately had an idea, although admittedly it was a 1st grader’s idea of a restaurant.

He proudly wrote the sign for: Darth Vader’s Bistro. He then planned out a nearly all-black menu, including black tomato soup and chocolate ice cream with chocolate sprinkles for dessert. The exception was our bright red bruschetta!

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The decor was predictably Darth Vader-themed.

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The kids loved dining at this “restaurant”, and pretending to take each other’s order.

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Of course, older kids can take this idea much more seriously, creating a whole restaurant concept and layout, carefully selecting the restaurant name, designing a logo, or even making a banner before welcoming family members as guests.

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Consider adding tablecloths and fine dinnerware and then let your little chefs cook and open up shop! I leave you with this image of Darth Vader enjoying his bruschetta. Who knew?

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Antipasto Salad

Antipasto Salad (2)

Welcome to Travis’s very own Italian restaurant! Thanks to his kit on this theme from Raddish Kids, he has a few yummy Italian recipes to make. First up was this appetizer salad and Travis was a big help with all the vegetable prep. And everything needed a taste-test along the way of course!

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Ingredients:

  • 6 cups chopped romaine lettuce
  • 1/2 English cucumber, chopped
  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • 4 basil leaves, chopped
  • 1 (8-ounce) package vegan mozzarella (such as Violife), cubed
  • 1 (2.25-ounce) can sliced black olives, drained
  • 1 (6-ounce) jar artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
  • 1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon agave nectar
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  1. To prepare the salad, combine the lettuce, cucumber, tomato, basil, mozzarella, black olives, artichokes, and chickpeas in a large bowl; set aside.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar and agave nectar, then add the oregano and salt. Slowly pour in the olive oil, whisking constantly.
  3. Drizzle the dressing over the salad and toss to coat.

Thanks to the chickpeas and cheese, this salad is almost hearty enough to be a main meal. That said, the recipe card listed 8 courses in a traditional Italian meal, a reminder that a salad like this would only be your second dish in that line-up, with lots more to come! Travis also took the recipe card’s quiz on restaurant roles like head chef and busser as we dined. And for a little added ambiance, we even played a Spotify list of Italian tunes!

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Oatmeal Cookies

Oatmeal Cookies (1)

These sugar-free oatmeal cookies are soft and chewy and a huge hit with the whole family. If you want to add a little variation, try stirring in 1 cup chopped apple or 1 cup chocolate chips in the final step before baking.

Ingredients:

  • 1 and 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 and 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup applesauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 cup apple juice
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  1. In a bowl, combine the flour, oats, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt; set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the applesauce and baking powder.
  3. Add the apple juice, maple syrup, and canola oil to the applesauce mixture, then add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, stirring just until combined. Let stand for about 5 minutes.
  4. Drop the dough by spoonfuls onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Bake at 350 degrees F for 12 minutes. Transfer to wire racks to cool.

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No-Bake Banana Cookies

No-Bake Banana Cookies (4)

These sweet treats aren’t actually cookies at all, but sugary bananas are a wonderful secret imposter in many desserts. This particular sweet treat is so easy that your toddler can help with every step!

To start, I poured about 1/2 cup Annie’s bunny grahams into a zip-top plastic bag ((or use regular graham crackers) and showed Veronika how to tap with a rolling pin until crushed.

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Next, we added slices of ripe banana to the bag. Seal the bag and shake shake shake!

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Arrange the bananas slices on a plate and your “cookies” are ready. Even better, there’s no wait for the oven required!

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Roasted Carrots and Grapes

Roasted Carrots and Grapes

Roasting fruits and veggies together makes for a surprising flavor combo that’s sure to delight little taste buds!

Ingredients:

  • 1 (10-ounce) package baby carrots
  • 3 cups red grapes, quartered
  • 1 pear, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon Earth Balance butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon agave nectar
  1. Steam the carrots in the microwave for 3 minutes; let cool, then slice into thirds.
  2. Combine the carrots in a bowl with the grapes and pears; set aside.
  3. Meanwhile, heat the butter in the microwave for about 20 seconds, until melted. Stir in the cinnamon and agave nectar. Pour the butter mixture over the carrot mixture, tossing to coat.
  4. Spoon the mixture onto a baking sheet lined with foil. Bake at 450 degrees F for 15 minutes.

We served these alongside a simple lentil and rice curry!

Sweet Potato Cakes

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There’s a lot going on in this recipe, and it’s a great way to introduce foods or flavors that your kids might never have tried before, such as red lentils or pumpkin seeds.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup red lentils
  • 3 cups boiling water
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped red onion
  • 4 slices vegan bacon
  • 2 cups peeled and shredded sweet potato
  • 1/2 cup chopped pumpkin seeds,
  • 4 Ener-G eggs
  • 1 cup shredded non-dairy cheddar
  1. Place the lentils in a bowl and cover with the boiling water. Let stand for 20 minutes, then drain and return the lentils to the bowl.
  2. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the red onion and bacon; cook for 6 minutes.
  3. Stir in the shredded sweet potato, followed by the softened lentils, pumpkin seeds, Ener-G eggs, and cheddar.
  4. Line a 13×9-inch baking dish with parchment paper and spoon in the lentil mixture. Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake a final 10 minutes.
  5. Cool completely, then cut into squares or fun shapes with cookie cutters! We tried circles and hearts for a little bit of whimsy at dinner.

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Coconut Chocolate Chip Muffins

Coconut Chocolate Chip Muffins (2)

These sweet-but-good-for-you muffins hit the spot for breakfast, snack, dessert, or anywhere in between.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons baking powder, divided
  • 1/2 cup applesauce
  • 1/2 cup flaxseed
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup light coconut milk
  • 3/4 cup non-dairy chocolate chips
  • 2/3 cup shredded coconut
  1. In a bowl, combine the flour and 1 teaspoon baking powder; set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the applesauce and remaining 1/2 teaspoon baking powder. Add the flaxseed, canola oil, brown sugar, and coconut milk to the applesauce mixture.
  3. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, then stir in the chocolate chips and coconut shreds.
  4. Divide the mixture evenly among 12 muffin cups lined with paper liners. Bake at 350 degrees F for 25 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes in the pan before transferring to a wire rack.

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