Mini Chef Cooking Classes

Back in June of 2014, I started Back 2 Basics Cooking. One of the services that I offer is cooking classes for children between the ages of 18 months and 12 years old (13 years and up attend the adult classes). For this mini chef class, we made the Flourless Zucchini Brownies from Lindsey over at Delighted Momma and we had children from 4-8 years old. I know that some people in the Paleo community are not fans of Paleo Desserts, but I think this is one of the amazing examples of a great use for them! Anytime you can get children to cook with (and eat) more whole foods is a win in my book. Even if that food happens to be a brownie.

We had such a blast! One of the little girl’s actually said, “This is the BEST time I’ve ever had in my life!” And while I suspect that to a 7 year old, a lot of things are probably “the best”, this completely melted my heart and reaffirmed my decision to start my business in the first place. Since we had so much fun, I thought I would briefly go over the class for anyone who might be wondering what a mini chef cooking class at Back 2 Basics Cooking looks like.

Set-Up & Zucchini Prep

After we all put on our nametags and aprons, we washed our hands. I explained how I had already preheated the oven. Then each mini chef got their own zucchini. They then washed, peeled and cut their zucchini into large chunks. And don’t worry, they used a knife I purchased from Pampered Chef that will cut, but will not cut them. The kids all did such a great job and really enjoyed this task!

brownie2brownie4brownie1

Zucchini Shredding

After this we all took turns pushing the button on the food processor (because we, of course, ALL had to push it!) and then scraping the zucchini into the bowl. The kids were very excited to see how we were going to make a brownie out of zucchini. They did not think this was possible.

brownie 5         brownie 6        brownie 7

Remaining Ingredients

We then took turns again, adding in the remaining ingredients. We talked about how we were doubling the recipe, and took the time to figure out what the doubles of each ingredient were.

Fresh Farm Eggs

Fresh Farm Eggs

Pure Vanilla Extract

Pure Vanilla Extract

Ground Cinnamon

Ground Cinnamon

Almond Butter

Almond Butter

brownie 11

Raw Honey

Enjoy Life Dark Chocolate Chips

Enjoy Life Dark Chocolate Chips

Baking Soda

Baking Soda

Mixing

And then we stirred, stirred, stirred it all up!

  mixing2                                                stir2   mixing4                                                stir

Greasing the Pan

And while some where mixing, others were taking turns greasing the pan with extra virgin coconut oil:

mixing 3greasinggreasing 2

Pouring

Then came the pouring:

pouring3pouring1pouring

Fun Activities While Waiting for Brownies to Bake

While the brownies were in the oven, each mini chef got to decorate their very own cookbook. We talked about how this was their own very special cookbook, and that if they did not like a recipe then they did not have to leave it in their book. They each gave their cookbook a personal touch with some stickers and a few markers.

bronwies24bronwies 23bronwies22brownies22

The kids were each proud of their personally designed cookbooks!

The kids were each proud of their personally designed cookbooks!

We also played simon says, red light-green light and talked about our favorite foods! Then these amazing kids all lined up at the sink and worked together, as a team, to wash all of the dishes (except the sharp food processor blade off course). All I did was get them set up and then they did the rest!

Teamwork

dishes

The teamwork that these children displayed was nothing short of impressive and better than many adults I have seen!

Are they done yet?!?

brownies23

Before we opened the oven, we talked about how hot it was and how careful we all needed to be so no one would get burned.

After much suspense, the brownies were finally finished!

done done2

Since we doubled the batch, we should have stirred once about 10 minutes into baking and the middle wouldn’t have been lighter than the outside. Lesson learned. However, the taste wasn’t affected in the least. These kids make some super yummy brownies!  The two “eye” holes are from me making sure the brownies were done with the knife and the “mouth” baked into the brownies itself. Some of the kids thought the brownies looked like a face and found a lot of humor in this!

We did not get any pictures of eating the brownies, because everyone was busy filling their tummies! All of the children and parents said the brownies were very tasty.

What Did The Parents Think?

So, by now you can probably tell that the children had lots of fun and enjoyed themselves. But you may be wondering what the parents (grandparents,etc) thoughts were. Let’s take a quick look:

“We did our first kid’s class today and it was GREAT. Ashley was engaging, friendly, and knowledgable. The recipe was delicious, and the kids had fun! We’re looking forward to next month’s class!” -Rebecca Johanning QA/Control Technician

“It was lots of fun and very well organized. Fun for kids.” -Leanne Lake, Administrative Associate

I love how hands on it is. The entertainment during the cook time was great. I love the personalized cookbooks. This is a hands on event, full of family value. It is a great way to spend some one on one time with your child, and you get a healthy tasty treat at the end!” -Jenifer Smith, Mother of 3

Other Mini Chef Classes

I hope that this post has helped answer any questions you might have about the mini chef classes. If not, please do not hesitate to ask me! Also, some classes won’t require such a long baking time so the extra activities will be less.

Please Note:At the time of this class, I have all the mini chef’s (ages 18 months to 12 years) in one class; however, as enrollment continues to pick up, I will be added an junior chef classes. At that point the mini chef classes will be for children ages 18 months to 6 years and the junior chef classes will be for children 7 years to 12 years old. If your child is 13 or above they will attend the adult classes (unless they wish to come to a junior chef class).

leanne

Conclusion

Getting your child (or grandchild/niece/nephew) excited about eating whole foods is only one of the many benefits of the mini chef cooking classes at Back 2 Basics Cooking. In this class alone, in addition to the actual cooking, the children worked on teamwork, sharing, fractions, fine motor skills, and patience! So if you want your child to learn a skill that will last a lifetime, along with practice of many other skills, sign up for a mini chef class today! Seating is very limited.

BIG THANK YOU to Jenifer Smith for taking all of these awesome pictures while her daughter was attending this class.

What I Have Learned After The 1st Week Of Hosting a Whole30 Challenge

On October 1, 2014, me and 25 other people started out on a Whole30 challenge, which my business Back 2 Basics Cooking is hosting. Even though I have been eating (95%) Paleo since April of this year, this will be the first Whole30 program that I personally have completed, as well as the first time I have hosted a challenge. I put a lot of effort and time into organizing this event, and was worried that no one would sign up or that no one would complete the challenge.

Sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, coconut flakes, and rasiasns.

Sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, coconut flakes, and raisins.

While it has given my business some positive exposure, I did not organize this challenge to raise profits. Therefore, it would have been quite the bummer if no one signed up, or if everyone only participated half heartedly. Not only have many of the participants continued to participate, many of them are taking extra time out of their day to help support each other!

Chicken sautéed with some spinach and coconut oil and tomatoes with roasted brussel sprouts-all covered with fresh lemon juice~Submitted by Jessica

Chicken sautéed with some spinach and coconut oil and tomatoes with roasted brussel sprouts-all covered with fresh lemon juice~Submitted by Jessica

On top of that, I have been learning a lot myself from hosting the challenge. I am already figuring out ways to make the next challenge more helpful. Considering that about a week before the challenge I was very down and ready to throw in the towel, this is very exciting to me! A few people have dropped out of the challenge, but I am still very happy that they even attempted it. I hope that the time they participated helped open their eyes to how food affects them, which will help them to make more whole food choices in the future. There are even people who have asked to follow the group, so that they can learn more!

Apples, almond butter, and kombucha~Submitted by Jen

Apples, almond butter, and kombucha~Submitted by Jen

Since we have officially made it through the one week mark, I thought I would take a moment to write a quick post about some of the things participating and hosting this challenge has taught me:

Hamburger mixed with carrots, zucchini, and onions ~Submitted by Ambra

Hamburger mixed with carrots, zucchini, and onions ~Submitted by Ambra

1. Support is CRUCIAL for some when it comes to change. I am one of those someones. If I had not put together this challenge I know I would have given up on this already, even though I am 100% aware of how much it will help my health. But it would be kind of messed up of me to give up now though, since I am encouraging everyone else to continue. haha

Batch cooking some roast, potatoes, carrots, and onions~Submitted by Jessica

Batch cooking some roast, potatoes, carrots, and onions~Submitted by Jessica

2.I thought that since  I have been grain, soy, dairy (with the exception of grass-fed butter), and food-dye free since April, that I would not have much to learn from participating in the program….silly me! Sugar is a hard habit to kick, and just because you are eating honey instead of table sugar it still doesn’t mean you aren’t still addicted to sugar.

Tuna, celery, and raisins over spinach ~Submitted by Jen

Tuna, celery, and raisins over spinach ~Submitted by Jen

3. I need to have my own kitchen by the time I have the next challenge, so that I can have the support meetings there. Then I could give small demonstrations also. I also want to have a meeting either the day before or the first day of the next challenge. My sister was in from Canada and I had to take her to the airport in KC on Oct 1, so that just wasn’t an option this time.

Baked sweet potato chips with cinnamon and ginger~Submitted by Jerale

Baked sweet potato chips with cinnamon and ginger~Submitted by Jerale

4.Having a support group on Facebook, has really helped some of us out. For example, I was not aware that we couldn’t have any extracts on this program (even though I am the “leader”), but because of the facebook group I was able to find out before we were too far in. Others have thought they needed to be low carb, but I was able to explain that isn’t necessary. You CAN be low carb, but you do not have to be. Simply eat the RIGHT carbs. It has also helped out with people asking me the same questions. This way I can just refer them to the post instead of saying the same thing over and over.

Baked pears, coconut milk, and walnuts ~Submitted by Cassandra

Baked pears, coconut milk, and walnuts ~Submitted by Cassandra

5.Being able to share recipes and meal ideas is also great! I would have never thought to put apples, tuna, and cucumbers together on my own. Someone else shared the idea so I gave it a shot and wow!  I was already aware of what a wide range of meals and snacks would be available, I talked about it in this post. But I believe sharing ideas with each other has helped to speed up everyone’s learning curve. As you can see by all of the food pictures that I took from our Facebook group, we haven’t had a shortage of meal ideas. 🙂

Tuna mixed with cucumbers, onions, apples, olive oil, and avocado.

Tuna mixed with cucumbers, onions, apples, olive oil, and avocado.

6.Food can be very addictive and we should not downplay that. In my opinion, it is like a drug for many of us and should be treated as such. (Only drugs don’t line the shelves of every gas station and grocery store around!)

Chicken topped with mango and tomato with a side of roasted potatoes ~Submitted by Jessa

Chicken topped with mango and tomato with a side of roasted potatoes ~Submitted by Jessa

7.People are noticing how much better they are feeling, how they are staying full longer, and how amazing whole foods taste when you clean up your body much faster than I had anticipated. This is awesome to me!

Hamburger with greeen beans, onions, and green peppers with roasted broccoli and sweet potato fries~Submitted by Kara

Hamburger with green beans, onions, and green peppers with roasted broccoli and sweet potato fries~Submitted by Kara

For all of my Whole 30ers who are reading this: Please take a moment and comment below. Give a short explanation of how the first week has went for you. what you have learned and why you are continuing with the challenge. It is ok to add the good and the bad. I am hoping to help motivate others to start eating more whole foods and your feedback will help tons!

Ground turkey, marinara sauce & spaghetti squash ~Submitted by Jessica

Ground turkey, marinara sauce & spaghetti squash ~Submitted by Jessica

(If you are not part of our challenge, but have completed a Whole30 Program before, please feel free to comment as well.)

Frozen Grapes

Frozen Grapes

20 Simple Changes You Can Make Today To Start Eating Healthier

When I was first starting out on my journey to healthier eating, I was very overwhelmed. Just trying to figure out what “healthy” really meant was tricky. When I finally had some kind of idea what I felt was healthy, the thought of giving up most of the food that I had been eating for years was even more overwhelming. I knew I would feel better, but no matter how hard I tried, I could not walk away from these foods. I felt so WEAK! Why could I not just walk away? Afterall, it was just food. If I had known then what I know now, I would not have felt that way.

A large percentage of food that sits in our grocery stores is NOT food, but more of a food-like product.

These foods are made in labs and packed with refined sugar, bad fats, salt, food dyes and other additives. These ingredients are not like anything we would encounter in a human diet found in nature. It is important to realize that these ingredients make these food addictive.

Check out this blog from the Organic Authority about being addicted to processed foods:

http://www.organicauthority.com/blog/organic/are-you-addicted-to-processed-food-new-research-says-you-might-be/

Another important thing to understand, is that it will take your taste buds a little time to adjust to your new way of eating, so things won’t necessarily taste fantastic right away. When I finally gave up Dr. Pepper it took a few weeks, but one day I remember drinking some cold ice water and for the first time, maybe in my entire life, it tasted good! I mean, there were always those times during softball or when I was out in the summer heat, that water was nice and refreshing. This was different though. I wasn’t in the heat, I was in the air conditioning. Even though I still mix up a smoothie or some lemonade from time to time, I truly enjoy water as a refreshment option, where I used to only find it boring and tasteless.

Check out this blog from The Nourishing Gourmet about adjusting your taste buds:

http://www.thenourishinggourmet.com/2008/04/adjusting-your-tastebuds-part-one-2.html

So remember, many foods you are currently eating are unhealthy and addictive, but it can take your taste buds several days to adjust to a new way of eating.

Eating healthier when you have been eating a SAD (standard American diet) most, or maybe all, of your life is like pulling off a bandaid. Some people need to pull it off quickly, because pulling it off slowly is too painful to them. Other people want to pull it off very very slowly, knowing this will draw out the length of discomfort, however the pain level will never be as high. In the end, it does not matter HOW you went about it, the bandaid is still gone. So here are 20 examples of fairly simple changes you can start making today for those of you that pull your bandaids off slowly. You can do one a day, one a week, one every two weeks. Whatever works for YOU.

  • Buy Some Fresh Free Range Farm Eggs Eggs from chicken that have been allowed to eat grass and bugs and roam free are much healthier for you than conventional store eggs. Find someone local or hit up the farmer’s market. Some grocery stores carry local eggs, but beware of impostors from big corporation made to look like farm eggs.
  • Buy Local Buying local not only supports your community, but can also add health benefits when it comes to local food. The food is much fresher, because it did not have to travel long distances. Plus it tastes amazing!
  • Try New Herbs & Spices If variety is the spice of life, then you better have a wide selection in your kitchen cabinet. Be bold and try a new spice or herb every few grocery trips or so. You should be able to find fresh herbs & spices at your local farmer’s market.
  • Drink Some H20 Already drink water? Great! Drink some more. If you are a big time soda pop drinker, try drinking one glass of water for ever soda you have. As most of you probably know, adding squeezing some fresh lemon or orange juice into your water can get it a refreshing taste as well as give you some extra vitamin C.
  • Swap a serving of candy for a serving of fruit. This one seems easy to me now that  I haven’t had candy in so long. Fruit tastes so amazing now. It is so sweet! It is my candy. Start small, work your way bigger.
  • Cook one more meal than normal at home. Again whatever you can make work for you, one more a day, one more a week, one every two week. It can be simple. Just cook more, because you will never learn to cook if you do not practice. And as always, the more you practice, the better you WILL get! Remember the less of your food that comes from a box, the better.
  • Eat More Wild Caught Fish Fish is crazy good for you and tastes fantastic, so why not eat some more?! Fish is an excellent source of omega-3’s and if you are on a low budget you can take up fishing to keep costs low. Even one extra serving a week or even a month would be more than you are getting now. (Unless, of course, you suffer from an allergy.)
  • Pay attention to your thoughts and mindframe. Really! If you are trying to lose weight, and you are always saying, or even just thinking, that you are fat, then you probably will be. However, if you think instead that you are a healthy person who has a few pounds to lose, then you will be much more likely to keep the weight off when you do lose it, as well as being able to be happy once you reach a healthy weight. If you want to stop drinking soda, but are always saying that you can’t quit soda, then you are right and you probably can’t….
  • Cook Extra Even if you only cook once a week, if you double your recipe, then you will have 2 meals instead of one. Cooking extra saves time not only because you don’t have to cook another meal, but also because you do not have to clean up afterwards.
  • Swap out your industrially raised beef for some grass-fed, or better yet, grass-finished beef. Yes, it is more expensive, but if you can not afford it all the time, you will still receive health benefits from eating it once a week or even once a month.If this is the first time you have heard the term “grass-finished” beef, please check out the link below for an explanation from Altai Meadows, a local farm that I get most of my beef from:

http://altaimeadows.com/?page_id=20

  • Add another vegetable to your meal. If you do not eat any vegetables, then try adding one a day to your plate. If you eat some make sure you have one each meal. Or try for two each plate. Whatever your goal, just get more veggies! Keep in mind that corn is a grain, not a vegetable, and white potatoes are awesome, but don’t let that be the only “veggie” you are eating.
  • Try a new veggie or fruit. With so many different fruits and vegetables to try from, why are you eating the same ones over and over? Parsnips, Kiwi, Brussel Sprouts, Star Fruit, Cherries, Asparagus, Mangoes, Bok Choy, Peaches, Kohlrabi, Blueberries, Leeks, the list goes on and on….
  • Pick a recipe and perfect it. If you lack cooking skills like I use to, all you need is some practice. Pick one recipe you want to know how to cook. Make sure and cook it at least once a week until you feel like you could cook it in your sleep. Then move onto a new recipe. Before you know it you will have mastered an entire week’s worth of meals!
  • Swap your industrial seed oils for coconut oil, animal fat, and grass-fed butter. Not all fat is created equal. Instead of using vegetable and seed oils, try using extra-virgin coconut oil, some grass-fed butter, or some animal fat for your cooking. It will leave you much more satisfied and is much healthier than the industrial seed oils that are used in the Standard American Diet.
  • Add avocados to your regular diet. Avocados are an excellent source of good fat, plus they taste amazing! You can use them in place of mayonnaise in many recipes, add them to smoothies, eat them plain, make guacamole, make salad dressing, and lots of other ways. You do need to limit them if you are trying to lose weight, but that does not mean avoid completely. Remember, the fat in them will leave you feel full longer.
  • Start reading labels. Even if you are not ready to make any changes to your diet, this is something that is pretty easy to start doing today. It does, of course, require a little bit of time, but it will help make you more aware of what you are actually putting into your body. You might be surprised at how many times you see certain ingredients, such as milk and wheat. The huge selection of supermarket items are actually made up of mainly just milk, corn, wheat, and soy. If you do not know what an ingredient is then a quick google search will tell you.
  • Add cod liver oil to your regular diet. There are many sources that will confirm just how great cod liver oil is for you, probably including your grandma (or great-grandma depending on your age). It is not only an awesome source of long chain omega-3 fats EPA & DHA, but it is one of the highest dietary sources of vitamin A. It also has more vitamin D per unit weight than any other food. For generations, it was considered a sacred fertility and pregnancy food. If you like lemon, there is a kind we get from our local health food store Clover’s, which tastes just like lemon. I mix it into a coconut milk smoothie for my toddler and he loves it!
  • Swap out your table salt for unrefined sea salt. Ditch that iodized salt and get some unrefined sea salt. The correct salt is not only good for you but necessary. Don’t be afraid of salt! I prefer the pink sea salt myself, but only for taste.
  • Clean out your fridge often. If you currently cook at all, cleaning out your fridge often will help to ensure that you are eating your leftovers before they need to be thrown out.
  • Read, research, educate, and experiment. Never take anyone’s word for anything (even mine!). Always continue trying to learn and educate yourself about what is a healthy diet. Experiment for yourself, but just keep in mind that some foods, such as gluten, take up to 15 days to get out of your system. Until then it may be hard to tell how they are truly affecting your body. Have an educated conversation with other people about it. Keep an open mind and be willing to step outside of your comfort zone!

Please remember, these are just ideas to get you going. These are only meant to be examples, and this is in no way the complete list of things you can start changing. There are tons of other things you could do as well. It is not necessary to do everything on the list at once, (although the more you change the quicker you should see results). The point of this blog post is simply to show you that it does not have to be all or nothing.

Just take it one bite at a time….