Cookery class for children and grandparents
Story and photo by Carol Novis
Young children aren’t generally known for their adventurous tastes in healthy food. In fact, if your grandchildren are anything like several of mine, their attitude to unfamiliar food is characterized by suspicion and a reluctance to swallow anything that isn’t white in color.
How then do we introduce our children to healthy eating?
Avital Sebag, expert in nutrition and certified natural therapist, specializing in nutrition and ancient Chinese medicine as well as author of Five Seasons in the Kitchen: Zen Inspired Vegan Cooking, has an answer. She runs grandparent-grandchild workshops out of her professional kitchen in Zahala, Tel Aviv, where youngsters from the age of six, as well as their grandmothers, can discover that healthy also means delicious.
I took my granddaughter Maayan along to a workshop to see what we could learn. She joined three other grandmothers and eight granddaughters for a two and a half hour session in prepping, cooking and eating a selection of foods that, it’s fair to surmise, they had never tried before. We grannies, in addition, got a glass of white wine to mellow us out.
We started with granadillas, also known as passion fruit or passiflora. The children cut them in half and scooped out the seeds and pulp. What does it taste like? Avital asked. “Sweet.” “Sour.” “Like honey.” “That’s right – sweet and sour together,” Avital noted. “Do you like it?” They did.
Salad making can be a bore, but not here, where Avital introduced a slew of fun vegetable chopping devices for the children to prepare vegetables in curls, julienne strips and other aesthetic shapes. The veggies, including raw corn kernels that the children cut off the cobs, were tossed into a huge bowl, and dressed simply with olive oil, lemon juice and salt. Everything, of course, was organic.
Chapatis were kneaded from whole wheat flour and stuffed with a mashed chickpea and fried onion filling before being cooked without oil in a frying pan. They were tasty and not a crumb remained. Chickpeas also figured in a soupy humus, (mashowsha) flavored with olive oil, lemon juice and tehina.
Dessert was “ice cream”, which contained neither ice nor cream. What it did contain was soaked cashew nuts, peanuts, lemon juice, maple syrup, coconut oil, vanilla and tofu. Blended into a smooth paste, it rested on a base of chopped dates and nuts, which the children patted into a mold. It was then popped into the freezer, resulting in what you might call a ‘fro-Zen treat’. It wasn’t my cup of (organic) tea, but Maayan liked it.
In between her demonstrations, Avital kept up a flow of informative chatter about food. Turmeric, she maintains, is good for treating infections, flu and pain. You can gargle it to relieve a sore throat. Walnuts are like lungs in appearance; an indication, she claims, that walnuts influence that body part. They contain magnesium and can counter muscle cramps.
In addition to workshops for children, Avital also holds workshops for adults, weekend juice cleanses, and gives private lessons.
Workshop for grandparents and children, NIS 490. Tel: 054 810 3810 / 054 431 7255.