New Ways of Looking at the Same Old Foods

One of the most amazing lessons kids can learn at camp is how to look at the world with a different perspective. The boys who are “dorky” during the school year become cool because of their ability to win an eating contest or go the longest without changing their socks, the absence of TV and other electronic distractions opens a world of imagination and interpersonal connectedness, and living in a Jewish environment allows campers to bond with their tradition on a meaningful, intense, and personalized level. Camp opens possibilities for campers in ways that would otherwise not be possible.

When kids view the world through a new lens they are awakened to opportunities of change, renewal, and deeper connections to their surroundings. However, this ability to see differently often ends when the last bus pulls away from camp. How can we keep this profoundly important thought process alive between summers in a way that feels both authentic and important?  One way can be through food, and another through creating new traditions. Let’s talk about the food first, and next month I’ll share my thoughts on what is now widely known as “Thanksgivukah.”

One thing that is most amazing about healthy eating is that there are always new ways of understanding food, new possibilities for how to understand the taste, flavor, texture, and composition of foods. Although your campers have likely been home from the eye-opening world of camp for many weeks now, they are likely left with the desire to continue to see and understand their world in new ways. So, this month I encourage you to open your kids’ eyes to some surprising, exciting and interesting ways of looking at common foods. Hopefully in the process you will give them a new understanding of spaghetti (or spaghetti squash!), apples, or tofu, to name a few.

Savory Sautéed Apples
Serves 8

1 large yellow onion
4 medium sweet, crisp apples, such as fuji
2 cloves garlic
3 sprigs thyme
1 sprig rosemary
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste
4 ounces sharp cheddar cheese

  1. Peel and thinly slice onion.
  2. Peel and cut apples into ½ inch slices.
  3. Mince garlic, thyme and rosemary.
  4. Heat olive oil in large sauté pain over high heat.
  5. Add onions and cook until they begin to soften.
  6. Add apples, garlic, rosemary and thyme and cook 5-8 minutes, until the apples onions are nicely browned.
  7. Remove from heat and season with lemon juice, salt and pepper.
  8. Top with cheese.

Spaghetti Squash with Mushrooms and Spinach
Serves 6-8

1 spaghetti squash (3-4 pounds)
8 ounces cremini mushrooms
4 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
½ pound baby spinach

  1. Prick squash all over with a fork or knife, like you would a potato.  Microwave on high for 5-8 minutes, depending on the power of your microwave. Turn over and microwave another 5-8 minutes or until the squash feels tender to the touch. Alternatively, roast the squash in the oven at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes, or until soft.
  2. Meanwhile, thinly slice the mushrooms and mince the garlic.
  3. When the squash is done, cut it in half and gently scoop out the seeds. Scrape out the strings of squash into a bowl with a fork.
  4. Heat olive oil over high heat in a large sauté pan.  Add the mushrooms and sauté until browned and almost fully cooked, about 5 minutes.  Add the garlic, thyme, salt, and pepper and cook 2 more minutes, or until garlic is lightly browned.
  5. Add the balsamic vinegar to the pan and cook until all of the liquid cooks off.
  6. Add in the spinach and cook until it wilts, about 1 minute.  Combine the mixture with the spaghetti squash, season with additional salt and pepper if needed, and serve.

Mocha Mousse
Serves 4

1 (12.3 ounce) package silken tofu
½ cup semisweet chocolate chips
¼ cup Dutch process cocoa
¼ cup strong coffee
1 tablespoon soy milk
½ cup sugar

  1. Puree the tofu in a food processor until it is very smooth.
  2. Fill a small saucepot with 1 inch of water and bring to a simmer.  Put the chocolate chips, cocoa, coffee, and soy milk in a bowl that fits in the pot of water but does not touch the water.  Stir continuously until the chocolate chips are melted.
  3. Remove the chocolate mixture from the heat and slowly add the sugar, mixing well.  Add to the pureed tofu and puree until smooth and well blended.
  4. Spoon the mousse into serving dishes and refrigerate at least 2 hours to allow the mousse to set.

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