Cooking with Kids: Homemade Pasta

The kids enjoyed a delicious lunch of homemade pasta this week. As always, they helped make it and if you’d like to try this at home with your kids, here’s the recipe. The lines in italics are for grown-ups only.

2 stalks of celery
2 carrots
A packet of cherry tomatoes
A clove of garlic
A handful of basil
A can of beans – roman, cranberry, kidney or chickpeas
Store-bought sheets of fresh pasta

Chop up the celery, carrots, tomatoes and basil.
Place these in a pot and start to cook them. Add the beans and basil as the sauce begins to boil. We used red beans.
Slice the pasta sheets into shapes of your choice.
Add the pasta to the sauce and let it cook for three minutes.


Cooking with Kids: Pizza

Pizza is a favourite lunch of ours at school. We relied on a trusty recipe, which you can find here. Instead of tomato sauce, we diced tomatoes and mixed in some basil. On one pizza, we scattered diced zucchini and mozzarella cheese and the other was just sauce and mozzarella cheese. It was delicious and made for a cozy meal on a winter’s day!


It’s 2017!

Happy new year! We hope 2017 is full of happiness, good health and all things wonderful for you and your family.

We’re very excited to have you back here at Life At Elements, the official blog of Elements Preschool.

We are an urban nature preschool on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. Inspired by the Forest School System, we aim to connect children to themselves, nature and the community around them. This sense of connection, in turn, leads to the development of crucial social, emotional and thinking skills. At Elements, we are creating a community of children who learn by doing, and who understand themselves and their world better.

Drawing inspiration from nature, we offer an environment rich in artful materials and experiences. Staying aware that children’s brains are like sponges and incredibly receptive, our goal is to stretch their minds. We do this via outdoor play, natural materials, art, music, movement, dance and yoga, cooking and drama. We also grow our own vegetables in our custom-landscaped garden, and cook with them, introducing children to the farm-to-table philosophy, as also to newer tastes and cuisines. To know more about us, please get in touch – we’d love to hear from you!

We started Life At Elements last January, with the aim of giving all of you a window in our world. It’s been really fun and instructive to record our activities here for a whole year and we’re so looking forward to starting this new year.

To make it easier for you to navigate the blog and find the posts you like, all our food posts are now categorised under Cooking with Kids. Do try our recipes at home with your children – it’s a great way to educate their palate and teach them about healthy eating. Our other posts are categorised under Try This At Home, Around The School and Learning At Elements.

We will be posting every Wednesday and Friday this year, and you can follow us on Facebook, as well. If you’re a WordPress user, please do follow us. We’d appreciate it so much.

Thank you, again, for being here. We’ll be back on Friday, with a great recipe post, so be sure to check in.

Cooking with Kids: Cauliflower Soup

A bowl of warm soup is comforting and healthy. We made a batch for lunch this past week, and you might like to try this at home over the weekend. Remember that the steps in italics are for adults only.

You will need:
1 head of cauliflower
2-3 cups vegetable broth
1 yellow onion
3-4 garlic cloves, smashed
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary
Olive oil

To make the soup:

Clean and chop all the vegetables and herbs.

Add 1 tablespoon olive oil to a medium pot over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and a pinch of salt.

Cook garlic and onion, stirring occasionally until soft and beginning to brown.

Add cauliflower and rosemary

Turn the heat up just a little bit and cook the veggies for another 3-5 minutes. Add just enough vegetable broth to cover the cauliflower. Bring to a boil and reduce the heat so the broth is simmering.

After about 5 minutes, remove the soup from the heat. You can also choose to blend the soup until it’s creamy and smooth in consistency.

Taste for seasoning

Cooking with Kids: Rice Bowl

We had a lovely afternoon recently cooking with Reo, the mom of Thomas, one of our students. She helped the kids make a yummy rice bowl, and was kind enough to share the recipe for others to try out. The steps in bold are for adults only. 

Bon appetit!

Peel and chop 2 bulbs of garlic.
Chop 2 bunches of asparagus.
Chop some salted black beans.
Set aside cooked rice.
Break 12 eggs in a bowl but do not beat them.

In a wok, heat oil and fry the garlic until aromatic but not brown.
Add the asparagus and stir fry. Then, add the eggs, and stir gently to start cooking.
Add the black beans, and cooked rice.
Cook until the eggs are done.
Serve in a bowl.




Cooking With Kids: Pizza

We made pizza for lunch and it was delicious. As always, the kids helped out, and if you’d like to try this at home with your children, here’s the recipe we followed. The steps in bold are for adults only – the kids can help with everything else. Have fun! We sure did.


Pizza dough
Olive oil
Back pepper
Tomato sauce.

Pre-heat oven to 550 degrees.

Slice all the vegetables.

Sauté the peppers and onions with olive oil and black pepper.

Roll out the pizza dough.

Spread the tomato sauce and top with the vegetables and meat. Sprinkle black pepper, cheese and olives.

Bake in the oven for 5-10 minutes.


Cooking with kids: Bruschetta

We made a delicious lunch with the kids this past week, and thought you might like to try making it at home with your kids. So here is our child-friendly recipe for bruschetta. The steps marked in bold are for adults only. 

3 baguettes
6 tomatoes
2 or 3 stalks of basil
Medium-sized bunch of parsley
1 or 2 cloves of garlic
1 packed mozzarella cheese
2 to 3 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
Butter and olive oil

Peel and mince the garlic.
Mince the parsley.
Cut the mozzarella into rounds.

Wash the tomatoes, and halve them.
Mince them into small dice.

Pick the basil leaves off the stem.
Mince them the same size as the parsley.

Slice the baguette and butter the slices.
Lay a round of mozzarella on each slice.

Mix all the other ingredients together, and add a couple of spoons of olive oil to bind.

Place the mixture on the slices.

Enjoy this summery meal!


Cooking with Kids: Pasta with Pesto

We made a delicious lunch of pasta with spinach basil pesto with the children and we thought you’d love the recipe, too. Children can help make this recipe, and the steps in bold indicate what the adults need to do.  

Spinach Basil Pesto

1 1/2 cup baby spinach leaves
1 cup basil leaves
5 cloves of garlic
1/2 cup roasted pine nuts or walnuts (this is optional – we don’t add nuts to meals at school)
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

Let the kids smell the leaves and tell you the color. We also let them smell the lemon, and identify its colour.
Wash the leaves.
Squeeze the juice of the lemon out using a citrus juicer.
Put the spinach, basil, garlic, nuts (if using) in the food processor with the salt, pepper and 3/4 of the oil.
Blend until nearly smooth scraping the sides of the bowl with a spatula if necessary.
Count the pasta and may be separate by color to make it more fun.
Add pasta to boiling water. Drain when cooked. 
Toss it with the pesto, the rest of the olive oil and Parmesan cheese and serve.



Make This At Home: Spinach Wraps

We made a delicious lunch with the Elements kids that we thought you might like to try at home.

Encouraging your child to help make their meal is a great way to teach them about nutrition and introduce them to different tastes. It gives them a chance to take charge, and with your help, be brave about trying new things. 

Feel free to use the kind of meat and vegetables you enjoy at home. This was our list of ingredients, and how we made the wraps. 

We used:

  • Spinach wraps
  • Mayonnaise
  • Honey turkey
  • Provolone cheese
  • Spinach leaves
  • Chopped tomatoes



Start by asking the child to spread mayonnaise on the wrap.



Get them to add in cheese and the meat.



This is followed by the spinach and tomatoes.



Help them roll the wrap up.



And they have made themselves a yummy, healthy lunch!


Why you must cook with kids


Not all kids like leafy green vegetables, but by encouraging our students to help make their lunch of pasta with kale, we got them to eat it, too. Staying involved in making a meal is fun and very beneficial.

This story in The New York Times lists these five advantages to having your kids in the kitchen, and we agree with each one of them:

Children who cook become children who taste, and sometimes eat.
Involving children in the process of cooking — picking out the watermelons and tomatoes and plucking the herbs to add to a tomato and watermelon salad, for example — greatly increases the chance that they’ll actually try the finished dish. And hey, they may discover a new favorite. Or not. But cultivating a welcoming and open-minded approach to food can grow adults who approach life similarly. Arms open and mouth wide to new tastes, cultures and attitudes.

Children who cook say “I can,” not “I can’t.”
Sliding a spoonful of raw chicken or a piece of breaded fish into hot oil (as K J’s children did making ketchup chicken and an outdoor fish fry)? Daunting. Making dinner for six people at age 9 (A 9-Year-Old Makes Pasta With Tomatoes and Mushrooms)? Intimidating. A child who can do those can look at any restaurant dish and say, “I could make that.” That’s an attitude that can carry a child beyond the kitchen.

Cooking is a way to talk about health.
Experts say that the single most important thing you can do for your health is to cook at home. Inviting children into the kitchen and involving them at a very young age fosters a habit that will have lifelong benefits. Also, it gives you an opportunity to discuss with a 3-year-old how fish (like broiled fish with chermoula) can help make you smart (fatty acids), how “eating a rainbow” ensures that you get a wide variety of vitamins and minerals, and how eating plenty of fresh vegetables and drinking lots of water will “keep your poop from hurting when it comes out.”

Cooking is a way to talk about healthy ingredients.
Children who have made ice cream and caramel (like strawberry-rhubarb ice cream with a caramel swirl) know what is supposed to be in ice cream. They know they didn’t add any guar gum. If they’ve made no-knead bread, they’ll know that good bread doesn’t need sugar. When you flip over packages in the grocery store, they’ll understand that you’re looking for things you can’t pronounce, and they’ll join you. (They may, in fact, police your shopping more than you’d like.)

Cooking brings cooks of all ages closer.
For better or worse, you will get to know your children, and they you, more deeply when you cook with them. For better, you will share recipes, techniques and anecdotes that you learned at the elbows of mothers, grandmothers and great-grandmothers long gone. For worse, you will huff and puff and whine and lose your patience when they accidentally spill heavy cream all over the kitchen table while making mini-shortcakes with berries, but they will love you anyway, teaching you, the one who’s supposed to be the grown-up, about unconditional love and ready forgiveness.