I try to get my son in the kitchen to help me cook dinner as often as possible. I have to admit, sometimes I can get a little frustrated when my cute little bundle of joy makes a huge mess when he’s trying to help, but it’s all part of the learning process for him. Family dinner is more than just getting the food to the table as soon as I can, it’s about the process.
Uncle Ben‘s understands too that family dinner is more than just food, it’s our family time. They’re committed to getting kids and families into the kitchen together. They’ve started a movement to change the way families of the world eat and bring some excitement back into the kitchen called Ben’s Beginners. It’s a program about inspiring kids and families everywhere to make healthier choices about their meals, diverse their cuisine and spend more family time together. Angie Harmon, an advocate of kitchen exploration, has helped them kick off the movement with Ben’s Beginners Cooking Contest, a playful nationwide cooking competition in which children ages 5-12 and their parents created home videos introducing a rice-based dish they’d prepared and discussed their experience.
I also recently was able to interview Angie Harmon about some of her best tips. Here’s the answers to her questions:
1. What’s your best tip for mom’s of picky eaters?
One of my girls is a “sweet-aholic,” so I try to make things that are healthy but that have a sweet tinge to them, like teriyaki salmon. Things like that. Then that kind of introduces her to other things like teriyaki chicken, then she moves into bolder flavors. You have to stick with it, if mine had her way she would eat macaroni and cheese and ice cream sundaes all day long. It’s unbelievable, she’s just like her father.
2. What’s your best tip to get kid’s excited about cooking in the kitchen?
When I’m excited about something, then they get excited. I put on my best game face and give an Oscar worthy performance about how excited I am to make Jello, or hamburgers, or a salad or something. But I find that if I’m excited, they’re excited. They feed off of my excitement.
3. Do you have any tips for moms who want their kids to help in the kitchen, but feel they don’t have time to spare by letting the kids help out?
Yeah, that’s a hard one because there is a lot of truth in that. When you’re rushing around, trying to get dinner done and bless their hearts, their little hands and motor skills and things like that, but just wish everyone would get out of the kitchen and let me do what I need to do. So I choose the meals that they can help with. I don’t do it on a school night. If they want to help, they can help on a Saturday or a Sunday. It’s less pressure then and I’m not under the gun with getting them to bed and getting them bathed. Or when we’re going to make cupcakes or something fun like that, then yes not a problem. Not during the school week, it’s too difficult.
4. Do you have any favorite quick and easy snack recipe ideas for kids to make?
Yeah, my girlfriend Kathy Kaehler, she’s a trainer who does “Sunday Set-up” she showed me a couple the other day, that my kids really like. You just roast cauliflower and put whatever kind of spices you like on it and cauliflower is really interesting because it’ll just support whatever it is that you put on it. So you can just put cinnamon and sugar on it, if you wanted to and it would be just fine. Kind of weird that you’re eating cauliflower with cinnamon sugar, but hey your kids don’t know that. Another thing is, I like to make home-made ranch and then I just cut up a bunch a veggies and leave a plate out of it, even my little one with the sweet tooth is now getting her veggies and dipping it in the ranch. Now, I’m not saying to smother everything in ranch, it’s just to give them a little snack and they like it, they really like it.
After more than 700 videos submissions and 45,000 votes, Uncle Ben’s have chose the Grand Prize Winner of $20,000, a $50,000 school cafeteria makeover and a guest spot on the Rachael Ray show.The lucky winner was Sydney Fialkow, 10, of Atlanta, Georgia.
I recently got to interview Sydney too. Here’s the answers to the questions I asked:
1. Favorite food to cook with:
Besides Uncle Ben’s Rice, my favorite food to cook are eggs. Omelets & breakfast sandwiches are my specialties.
2. What grosses you out:
Brussel Sprouts gross me out- the way they look and their smell.
3. Favorite dessert:
My favorite dessert is New York Style Cheesecake.
And here is that award winning recipe from Sydney:
Sydney’s Rice & Chicken
(Serves 4 to 6)
1 cup chopped onions
4-6 boneless skinless chicken breast filets (about 1½ lb.)
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. coarse-ground black pepper
½ tsp. garlic powder
2 cups chicken broth
1 cup UNCLE BEN’S® ORIGINAL CONVERTED® Brand Rice**
½ cup chopped red bell pepper
½ cup chopped green bell pepper
1 cup frozen green peas
1 tsp. chopped fresh cilantro
1 tsp. dried oregano
as needed yellow food coloring (optional)
** could substitute with 1 cup of UNCLE BEN’S® Natural Whole Grain Brown Rice
1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. Spray glass baking dish evenly with cooking spray.
3. Place onions in baking dish; top with chicken filets. Season the chicken evenly with salt, black pepper and garlic powder.
4. Pour chicken broth into baking dish and bake for 20 minutes.
5. Remove baking dish from oven. Transfer chicken breast filets to container and reserve.
6. In baking dish, add rice, bell peppers, peas, cilantro and oregano. If desired add 2 shakes of yellow food coloring. Stir rice mixture.
7. Arrange reserved chicken breast filets over rice.
8. Cover and bake for 25 minutes.
9. Remove from oven, gently stir rice mixture, cover with foil and bake an additional 10 minutes or until chicken is fully cooked and rice is tender and all liquid is absorbed.
With converted rice:
Calories: 270, Protein: 28g, Carbohydrates: 30g, Total Fat: 3.5g, Saturated Fat: 0.5g, Cholesterol 75mg, Sodium: 620mg, Fiber: 2g
With natural brown rice:
Calories: 270, Protein: 28g, Carbohydrates: 30g, Total Fat: 3.5g, Saturated Fat: 0.5g, Cholesterol 75mg, Sodium: 620mg, Fiber: 3g
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Recipe and photo courtesy of Sydney Fialkow and Uncle Ben’s