Sunday, July 03, 2011

Quesadillas for Breakfast?: Dora and Diego's Let's Cook

Vamonos! Cooking can be an adventure for small kids, and Dora and her cousin Diego, those merry explorers of Nickelodeon fame, have a handy little cookbook in their backpacks to map the way to good meals.

Dora and Diego Let's Cook (Nickelodeon, 2010) begins with some good advice:


Nickelodeon's editors open with a word to youngsters and adults about safe practices--washing hands carefully before, during, and after handling foods, keeping pot handles in safe positions, letting adults operate devices and handle activities around the stove that could hurt a child, and using knives and other kitchen tools safely. The editors also point out the skills--math, vocabulary, patience, attention to detail, and planning and preparation, useful in many life activities, and certainly in cooking.

The book concentrates on healthy, kid-friendly foods. The first chapter, Buenos Dias, offers favorite morning recipes adapted for nutritious eating: for example, breakfast quesadillas are made with whole wheat tortillas, low- or non-fat cream cheese, and fresh strawberries, the French toast uses the same cream cheese filled with fruits and nuts, sandwiched between slices of whole wheat bread, and their "bird's nests" are a lightly sauteed version of shredded hash-brown potatoes, low-fat cheese, and cherry tomatoes.

The chapter titled "Mighty Bites" features "Estrellitas," little star-shaped open-faced sandwiches of wheat bread with peanut butter dressed up with bits of dried mango and apricots and "Silly Snake Sticks" rolled and shaped from bread dough, homemade or store-bought. "Dinner Time" offers adaptations of such kid favorites as homemade chicken fingers (skinless breast slices coated with crushed tortilla chips and oven-fried) with mango/pineapple salsa on the side, "Meatball Mountain," "Backpack Salad Wraps," and an intriguingly golden "Potato Mash" which includes cooked and whipped Yukon Gold potatoes and carrots, all with plenty for little hands to do in the preparation process and tips for adults in streamlining the procedures for short attention spans. And, of course, with Dora, there is always provision for responsible clean-up practice.

Dora and Diego Let's Cook is a good way to get youngsters involved in their own meals with in a variety of healthy food choices along the way.

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