“Childhood obesity is an epidemic that’s setting up children for shortened lifespans and chronic illnesses, including type 2 diabetes, heart disease, asthma and cancer,” said Joe Adams, president of Discovery Cube Orange County. “With our ability to reach half a million visitors every year, we have the responsibility to give families tools to stem this epidemic and create a generation of consumers who prioritize their health. We’re emphasizing food science because making informed decisions for eating, shopping and preparing meals can be a family activity disguised as play.”
One important element of that goal is being accomplished in the Petersonville Healthy Kitchen through live cooking demonstrations and interactive classes. By becoming chefs for the day, kids add to the food science lessons taught in other exhibits by preparing fun, healthy and easy-to-make snacks and simple dishes that are good for the whole family.
Besides learning to make healthier versions of classic dishes like the Savory Turkey-Ricotta meatballs featured on our cover (recipe on page 19), visitors learn kitchen and food handling safety tips such as refrigeration and food temp issues and proper use of hot or sharp kitchen items. Partnered with the Discovery Market, where they learn how to read nutrition labels, kids head home with all the tools for a healthier future.
Healthy Kitchen will also host cultural food classes to introduce healthy flavors from countries around the world, an Orange County celebrity chef series, Mommy & Me classes, homeschool group activities, advanced teen classes and seasonally inspired classes.
Foodie Jr. Lauren’s Big Break
This fall, eleven-year-old Lauren Van Auken entered the Ben’s Beginners Cooking Contest, a national contest by Uncle Ben’s, which promoted cooking healthy meals at home. Children in grades K-8 were invited to submit a home video of them preparing a rice-based dish and discuss their experience cooking together with their family. While Lauren’s video of a comfort food dish her mom and grandma would make when she was sick — Vietnamese Rice Chicken Porridge — didn’t net the grand prize of a $30,000 cafeteria makeover for her Anaheim Hills elementary school, she did make it into the top 25 entrants in the country!
We decided her achievement deserved a little recognition and invited Lauren to be our “Healthy Eating” cover model and to dish on her budding love of cooking.
When did you start cooking? What was the first thing you made?
“I helped my mom with making cookies when I was younger…maybe 7 or 8 years old. The first thing that I made on my own was a quesadilla. I like making that for afterschool snacks.”
What were you hoping they might have done with the cafeteria makeover?
“I would love to have won a soft serve ice cream machine and a popcorn machine for our school. We could use it for our fundraising events like the school carnivals or even our jog-a-thons. I thought it would have been a great way for our school to raise money for our afterschool activities like Vex Robotics, Destination Imagination, and Musicals.”
Bean Sprouts Café
Cofounded by two mompreneurs, Bean Sprouts is a leading healthy kid-focused café chain that landed at the Discovery Cube last fall to offer creative and tasty options to see kids through their long day of play and exploration.
Bean Sprouts’ Imaginibbles children’s menu not only drew our attention for its adorable presentation and wholesome ingredients, but for the lowered kids’ counter with a picture menu that allows children to order on their own.
For adult visitors, Bean Sprouts offers sandwich and salad choices as well as an organic espresso bar. For families facing allergies or sensitivities, there are vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free, casein-free, nut-free and egg-free options available on the menu.
T-Fal 10-in-1 Multi-Cooker
If you want to include your little one in dinner prep, but worry about the stovetop, this multi-cooker offers a safer way for kids to release their inner chef. Ideal for rice and risottos like Lauren’s dish — with a clear window for watching the progress — additional cooking programs work for making baby food, soups and stews and even dessert baking.
Savory Turkey-Ricotta Meatballs
Prep Time: 15 Minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Yield: 18 meatballs
- 1 lb ground turkey breast
- 1⁄2 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
- 1 egg
- 1⁄2 cup dry breadcrumbs
- 1⁄4 cup chopped fresh basil
- 1⁄4 teaspoon fresh ground
- Black pepper
- Marinara Sauce(Optional)
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- Combine ground turkey breast with the other ingredients in a bowl and then shape mixture into about 18 meatballs.
- Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.
- Coat pan with cooking spray.
- Add meatballs, and brown on all sides.
- Remove from skillet; transfer to a broiler pan coated with cooking spray, and bake for 15 minutes or until done.