As we say good-bye to 2011, a leave-taking filled with holiday cookies and sweets no less, it’s only natural to look toward the New Year. It’s also time to realign your family’s eating habits for a prosperous 2012 and fresh start. As Executive Chef of Four Seasons Resort Lana’i and a parent of two young children, I’m a firm believer that good nutrition begins at home. So let’s start the New Year with a healthy bite.
Between work, play and school, most busy families have trouble fitting three healthy meals into a day. For most parents, coming up with healthy food options is a daunting task—especially if your child is a foodie connoisseur (AKA picky eater.) It happens to the best of us, even chefs!
In my experience, when kids are hungry, there’s no time to prepare a gourmet feast. Whether a snack or meal, you have to give them something they’re going to eat—and it has to be fast. But there has to be a balance between healthy and quick, especially when you’re on the go or traveling. Having easy-to-prepare, healthy options on hand at home, such as whole-wheat pasta or fresh fruit and vegetables, makes this much easier.
Just like grown-ups, kids like to know where their food comes from. My cooking philosophy is “know your farmer, know your food.” My family and I visit local farmers’ markets, buy fish from local fisherman (or catch it ourselves!) and also grow our own veggies. These experiences—even as simple as taking the kids to the grocery store to pick out fruit—helps them gain a better understanding of what’s on their plate, or as I like to call it, “food for thought.”
My two biggest food critics, Sophia, two, and Carter, five, were the inspiration for the new Keiki (kids’) menu at the resorts. My mini-sous chefs Sophia and Carter have been known to don a chef’s toque and lend a helping hand in the kitchen. Together, we’ve incorporated healthy and fun recipes for nutritious meals that include the various food groups. The incentive for the kids to partake in the action? Making a mess in the kitchen, of course!
• Trail Mix – This is a great snack that is easy to make at home, plus it’s perfect for on-the-go. For my kids, I add dried fruit—such as raisins or blueberries—together with Cheerios, almonds and granola to a Ziploc bag. It’s quick and easy. By adding my own ingredients, I avoid the sugar found in pre-made varieties.
• Whole-wheat Pasta – Based on the needs of our guests, Four Seasons Resorts Lana’i has recently incorporated whole-wheat pasta into the regular and kids’ menu. For parents, swapping your starch with whole wheat at home is a great alternative, and it’s not a drastic change for the kids. Add some fresh veggies to the pasta to keep the meal colorful, but most importantly, for a well-balanced diet.
• Pizza – Make your own pizza at home using whole-wheat pizza crust and organic tomato sauce. Let your kids help by sprinkling the cheese and then adding fresh veggies for the toppings. Pizza is a brilliant meal to disguise veggies, plus it’s fun for kids to help make dinner.
• Stir-fried Teriyaki Chicken & Vegetable Rice Bowl – This item is on our keiki menu under “Parents’ Favorites.” It incorporates a protein, plus veggies, and kids tend to love rice. I recommend using brown rice, instead of white, for added nutrition.
• Farmers’ Markets – Visit a local market with your children and let them select the produce. On Lana’i, my family goes to the Saturday Farmers’ Market in Lana’i City. Sophia and Carter select anything from fresh fruit to beautiful flowers.
• Little Anglers – In Hawaii, we are fortunate to have the Pacific Ocean at our doorstep. On weekends, one of my kids’ favorite activities is to go fishing. We spend the day by the water and catch our dinner. It’s a great way for Sophia and Carter to learn where their food came from and they take pride in knowing they caught dinner that evening.
• Home Garden – My family and I have a small garden at home. The kids have been involved with every aspect: from planting the seedlings to watering and weeding. We are growing a variety of veggies: corn, Romaine lettuce and snap peas, which we incorporate into our meals.
Healthy eating can be fun for the entire family—and the philosophy goes beyond just the kitchen. By incorporating a sustainable approach and farm-to-table practices, kids can be involved and establish healthy eating habits at an early age. Making wise food decisions now will set them up for success later in life… and who knows? You may even have a future top chef under your roof. Cheers to the New Year!
1 package dry yeast
1¼ cups lukewarm water
1½ cups whole-wheat flour
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 teaspoon salt
First, make the dough. Mix yeast with lukewarm water in a mixing bowl.
In Kitchen Aid mixer with the hook attachment, add whole-wheat and all purpose flours, yeast and oil; mix with honey and salt. Turn on mixer to first speed to combine all ingredients. Then process until the dough forms a ball on the dough hook. (If you don’t have a Kitchen Aid, mix by hand and then knead for five minutes.) Remove the dough. Lightly oil the bowl, then place the dough back in the bowl and cover with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel to rest.
Let the dough rise in a warm place for 45 minutes or until the dough has doubled in size.
Punch down the risen dough and transfer to a floured board; knead briefly. Divide the dough into four equal portions and roll each piece into a ball. Place the balls of dough, covered, on a floured board and let rest for one hour.
After an hour has passed, punch down the dough with fingers and knuckles, or roll and stretch each piece of dough into a 7- to 8-inch circle.
Place each circle on a wooden pizza baking board with corn meal sprinkled on it; or use a pizza stone or place on a pizza pan.
Top with healthy ingredients (for example, grated mozzarella cheese, grated Parmesan cheese, feta cheese, sliced tomatoes and chopped spinach leaves) as desired.
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F and bake 7 to 8 minutes per pizza. Let cool slightly, then cut into slices with a pizza slicer. Freeze any additional dough and save for another night. Serves four to six people.
Read more about Lana’i in Four Seasons Magazine.
As Executive Chef of Four Seasons Resorts Lāna’i, Chef Kevin Erving oversees all culinary operations at Four Seasons Resort Lāna’i at Manele Bay and Four Seasons Resort Lāna’i, The Lodge at Koele. An active supporter of local, organic farming and sustainable ingredients, Chef Kevin brings a new approach to the culinary scene on Lāna’i with his farm-to-table expertise. He lives in Lāna’i City with his wife Jennifer and two young children, Carter and Sophia. When not in the kitchen, he enjoys playing the guitar and outdoor recreation.
View all posts from Chef Kevin
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