Archive for What the kids eat in…

What the kids eat in… Mexico (part 2)

Recently we were having all sorts of discussions about quick summer dinners and the challenges of vegie smuggling in salads. Hiding vegies in salads is much harder and these dishes are best for kids further along on the smuggling scale (ie, they’ll tackle vaguely identifiable stuff).

If you’re lucky enough to have herbivorous kids like that, then you’ve got a great range of tasty dishes awaiting you. Including these Mexican-inspired side dishes. They’re perfect in tortillas (jumbled together, with or without some grilled chicken or fish) or dollop small amounts on crackers for pre-dinner snacks. They’re even good on burgers and on top of hotdogs.

Adults can top theirs with some pickled jalapenos or fresh chilli and before you know it, dinner is served. Quickly, freshly and packed full of nutrition.

I’m giving you my guacamole recipe here. For the salsa and mexi-beans recipes…. well you’ll find them on page 121 of the cookbook.

guacamole salsa recipe

Margaritas, sombreros and a bit of goodness on the side


1 avocado, peeled, diced
2 spring onions, finely diced
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 garlic clove, crushed (optional, but recommended)
1/2 cup cottage cheese
1 tbsp finely chopped coriander (optional)
Salt & pepper

Combine everything in a small bowl. Season to taste.

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What the kids eat in… China

Actually, I suspect more folks outside of China might actually eat this dish. But let’s not worry about pesky facts and just enjoy this delicious messy mass of tasty goodness. I did try to research the origins, but perhaps it’s one of those ‘from everywhere’ dishes with no particular source, although I did see claims of origin from Thai to Cantonese to the good ol’ USA. One cute internet fact (and maybe even true) is that the name translates as ‘lettuce delights’, which sounds so lovely!

I got thinking about this dish after my 14-year-old niece whipped up a version at a recent family get-together. At 14 I could melt cheese onto corn chips in the microwave, she can whip up a meal for 12 people. Very impressive stuff. The kids LOVED having her cook for them and ate up every little morsel. So I’m naming this dish in her honour.

Apparently teenagers aren’t necessarily too fussed on vegies either, so I’ve built on her recipe quite a bit, smuggling in a stack load more vegies. Use iceberg lettuce to wrap the mixture up as tightly as possible. The result is hot/cold/crunchy and absolutely delicious. Just keep a washer handy and lettuce delight indeed…

Chicken mince in sang choy bow

Lettuce delights for your munching pleasure

Sarah’s sang choy bao

2 tbsp shao hsing wine
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp oyster sauce
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp corn flour

Lettuce leaves (iceberg or cos both work well)
1 tbsp peanut oil
1 onion, finely diced
500g chicken mince
1 tsp garlic, minced
1 tsp ginger, minced
4 green onions, finely sliced
225g tin water chestnuts, drained, finely diced
1 cup mushrooms, finely diced
1 carrot, peeled, grated
125g can corn kernels

Combine all of the sauce ingredients together and set aside. Carefully remove whole lettuce leaves, wash and drain on clean tea towels.

Heat the oil in a wok or large frying pan over medium/high heat. Add the onion and stirfry for 3-4 minutes until translucent and turning golden.

Add the chicken mince and stirfry until it changes from pink to white. Break up lumps as you go to ensure there are no hidden raw bits.

Add the garlic, ginger, green onions, water chestnuts, mushrooms, carrot and corn. Stir-fry for 3-4 minutes until the green onions are tender and the mushrooms are nice and soft. Pour the sauce over the top and stir-fry for another minute or two until everything is piping hot and cooked thoroughly. (NOTE: if you are making this to reheat later, leave everything slightly undercooked)

Spoon -1 cup quantities of mixture into the lettuce leaves, wrap up carefully and enjoy!

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What the kids eat in… Mexico

Rest assured Victorians, I’m not talking about you, but that colourful, warm territory to the south of that big scary country (the bossy one that cruises the world picking fights with little countries, pushing freedom and the right to eat donuts for breakfast, get morbidly obese then craned out of our house by emergency services). The territory of Dora and Frida Kahlo, where there’s a fantastic cuisine that stars in the Vegie Smuggling atlas. It’s healthy, with lots of legumes and salad, often served snugly in tortillas that hide the worst of the healthy stuff and leave the kids seduced by cheese and guacamole.

This Australian/Mexican quesadilla recipe warms my heart for many reasons – 1. It’s quick to make. 2. It’s fun to eat. 3. You can pretty much keep everything you need long term in the pantry, which makes it a perfect last minute/after work meal.

Another factor which makes it a VS winner is that it can be easily adapted to suit various members of the family which means you can get everyone eating the same meal with a minimum of fuss (add chillis or bottled jalapenos, leave out the coriander or add extra cheese).

Here’s a tip – the first time you make it, the flipping can be a bit nerve wracking. Mini tortillas make it much more manageable.

Tuna quesadillas

Dora eats these tuna quesadillas, and so should you!

Tuna Quesadillas

185g can tuna in springwater
185g can tuna in olive oil
125g can corn kernels, drained
2 green onions, finely chopped
2 tbsp finely chopped fresh coriander
125g can four bean mix, rinsed, drained
¼ red capsicum, deseeded, finely diced
Black pepper
1 cup grated cheddar or mozzarella
10 ready-made tortillas

Drain the tuna in springwater and place in a mixing bowl. Add the undrained tin of tuna in olive oil and the rest of the ingredients except for the tortillas. Mix until combined.

Heat a large non-stick frying pan over medium heat.

Carefully separate the tortillas (heat for a few seconds in the microwave if they are sticking). Place one on a chopping board, cover generously with the tuna mix and top with another tortilla.

Slide the tortilla sandwich carefully into the pan and cook for 2-3 minutes. Using a spatula, ease out of the pan onto a large plate, hold the top with your hand and flip over. Carefully place back in the pan to cook for 3-4 minutes on the other side until the tortillas are crisp and the cheese is melted. Repeat with remaining mix and tortillas.



Like this recipe? Check out my cookbooks to find a bunch more meals that your family will love.

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What the kids eat in…. Japan (part 1)

Let’s trawl the recipes of the world to come up with some new ideas about how to get vegetables into our children. Known as “Japanese pizza”, the basic okonomiyake is a delicious cabbage pancake. It’s a great lunch option – healthier than a toasted ham sandwich and as quick to make.

Okonomiyaki recipe

Sneak cabbage and carrot in with this super-quick dish.


4 tbsp self-raising flour
3 tbsp water
1 egg
¼ cup diced ham (optional)
½ cup grated Chinese cabbage, finely shredded
¼ cup peeled, grated carrot
1 spring onion, finely sliced
Canola oil cooking spray

Mayonnaise, to serve
BBQ sauce, to serve

Put the flour in a bowl, add the water and stir well to remove any lumps. Add the egg and mix well. Stir in the ham (if using), cabbage, carrot and spring onion.

Heat a small non-stick frying pan over medium heat. Spray with cooking spray. Add the amount of mixture you want to get the pancake size you desire. Keep pancake 1cm-thick or less (otherwise it will be soggy in the middle).

Cook 3-4 minutes each side until golden. Place on a plate. Cover with a thin layer of mayonnaise and a swirl of BBQ sauce. Serve immediately.


MAKE IT PRETTY by cooking the mixture in silicone egg rings which come in a variety of shapes.

This recipe is from my Kitchen Collection cookbook!

This recipe is from my Kitchen Collection cookbook!

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