With Sweet Potato and Crunchy Kool Kohlrabi Fritters
What if I told you that with only one hour a week you could make big changes in the way your family eats–AND you would have fun in the process?
With a family food approach like cooking recipes, “easy enough for a five-year-old to make,” I knew something great came across my desk the day I received an email from Jennifer Tyler Lee about her new book, The 52 New Foods Challenge.
Like so many other parents, Jennifer was faced with a challenge of how to get her kids to eat healthy meals, and she took that challenge and made it a fun game, Crunch a Color®, that her kids not only embraced but mastered. Jennifer’s philosophy was that for change to stick, it had to be simple. And that’s exactly how The 52 New Foods Challenge came to be. In helping her own family take the positive changes they’d already begun to the next level, Jennifer created a yearlong challenge. Every week of the year, they’d take one hour a week to discover and cook together one new food–with every delicious brussel sprout, sweet potato, and persimmon they’d discover along the way.
When Jennifer asked me to be a part of her 52 New Foods blogger challenge and create a recipe that embraced her seven Core Principles, my taste for a fun food adventure was ignited! Through my Sweet Potato and Crunchy Kool Kohlrabi Fritters I’d love to share with you just a few of the principles I adore in her book and how you can embrace them, too, in your own kitchen.
I adore and use this principle often in my own teachings–those favorite foods that create safety when trying to branch out and try something new!
What’s an example of a gateway food?
- In my fritter, the gateway food is a potato, in this case sweet potatoes. Other times I’ll make fritters with carrots and beets. The carrots are the gateway food, and the yellow beets are the new food we’re exploring.
How do you use gateway foods in your own home?
- Jennifer suggests you pick those six Gateway Foods that will become your “culinary keystones” when you plan your meals and cook those gateway foods along with the new food your family tries each week.
Principle #7: Let Kids Lead
You know it’s true–the changes that last are those that we initiate ourselves. Kids are no different!
What does letting Kids Lead look like?
- It all starts with discovery. Jennifer shares a wonderful story in the book of how a basket of figs and a desire to make a fig bar recipe, but with no scale, led her son to use his own creativity to come up with a solution that was both playful and effective.
- Encouraging kids to explore food with all their senses: smelling, touching, and tasting each ingredient in the recipe creates positive experiences for kids with fresh foods. It’s not just the final taste of the dish that matters!
- Kids come up with wild and wonderful recipes when they are left to explore on their own. In the case of these fritters, I’d let them decide whether they want to add both the brussel sprouts and the kohlrabi to the sweet potato fritter or just one or the other. Maybe they’d rather choose another green option, like green onions instead of brussels sprouts!
Principle #2: Cook Together
As Mark Bittman recently said in a talk I attended, “maybe the most radical thing you can do to help a person improve their health through food is to teach them to cook.”
- I love reading Jennifer’s pre and post accounts of how she approached cooking with her kids: the former way was tidy and barely involved them in the prep, just the assembly. But her 52 New Foods way was about getting them involved in every step–not worrying about messes or perfection–just good old fashioned learning.
- Measuring out ingredients, cracking eggs, or even stirring counts when it comes to cooking with kids. In my experience, kids love to grate veggies, which is why I love making fritters.
- As Jennifer wisely outlines in this chapter about cooking together, start and end with safety and set rules, just like you would if teaching your child the safe way to use scissors for the first time!
Cooking really is a team sport!
- I love that Jennifer suggests finding time the whole family can cook together. When I taught kids in the New York Housing Authority for six weeks at a time, often what I’d find was that there were so many other things the kids learned besides the skill of cooking. They learned teamwork, respect, time management, math, science, and the joy of preparing a beautiful and tasty dish that was good for them. What could be a better family activity than that?!
If you can’t already tell, I’m sold on The 52 New Foods Challenge. Jennifer wrote such a beautiful line in her intro that I’d love to share to hopefully inspire your family to take her challenge, purchase the book, and and begin to allow healthy habits to sink in and take root in your own family–one new food at a time.
The 52 New Foods Challenge planted the seeds of change at our family table. It has the power to seed change at your table, too.
-Jennifer Tyler Lee
- sweet potato, 1
- kohlrabi, 1 (green or purple)
- brussels sprouts, 1 big handful (about 1 cup)
- eggs, 2
- all purpose gluten free flour, ½ cup
- salt, ½ tsp
- chinese five spice, ½ tsp
- coconut oil, 2-3 TBS (divided)
- sour cream with chives or organic unsweetened apple sauce (optional)
- Take 5 minutes to get out all your ingredients, measuring and cooking equipment needed, and place them on a cookie sheet within easy reach.
- Wash all ingredients.
- Preheat oven to 300F and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
- Peel kohlrabi and sweet potato.
- Grate all the veggies on the large holes of a cheese grater into a bowl. Then, put vegetables in a colander and press with your hands to drain out any excess moisture. The kohlrabi is naturally quite moist!
- Beat eggs in a bowl.
- Mix together the grated vegetables, eggs, chinese five spice, salt and flour in a bowl.
- Use a soup spoon to scoop out a fritter into your hand, smash it down to a flat circle and then transfer to the pan, using the spatula you used to mix the batter together.
- Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a non-stick pan on medium high heat. You'll cook the fritters in batches (2-3 fritters at a time).
- Cook fritters in pan for 2-3 minutes on medium high heat and then flip. Cook another 2-3 minutes on the other side.
- Transfer finished batches to the lined cookie sheet, sprinkle a pinch of salt on the hot fritters and keep warm in the oven while you cook the rest of the batter in batches. Note: each time you're finished cooking a batch, turn the heat down while you're getting ready to scoop out the next batch so your pan won't smoke. Also add a little more oil to your pan before you cook the next batch and before you turn the heat back up to medium high. With each batch, the fritters will absorb some of the oil from cooking.
- Enjoy with a dollop of sour cream or applesauce and top with cut chives.