Shakshuka from The Kids Cook Monday

By Diana K. Rice of The Kids Cook Monday

In my experience, it’s pretty well-established that kids love tomato sauce. Whether it’s pizza, spaghetti or anything that can be dunked in ketchup, “bring on the sauce” should be the official mantra of childhood dining.

As the registered dietitian on staff with The Kids Cook Monday, that’s certainly fine by me. Certainly, I prefer for the pizza to be made with whole-wheat crust and the pasta to feature a healthy dose of chopped veggies, but on the whole, tomato products are a great source of many of the nutrients children need during their formative years.

At the Kids Cook Monday, we encourage families to cook together on Mondays because our research shows that when we engage in a healthy habit at the beginning of the week, we’re more likely to stick with it. Getting children involved in the cooking process is a healthy habit not only because it teaches children about nutrition and healthy eating, but also provides them with a sense of self-worth and sets families up to enjoy the many benefits of regular family dinners. To help make this a reality, our website features an extensive collection of quick, healthy recipes that are perfect for child involvement. Tomato products appear frequently in our recipes, of course. We know quite well that no parent on the planet has time to cook a pasta sauce from scratch on a weeknight, whether or not the kids are helping out!

I encourage parents to keep a variety of tomato products on hand so that these healthy weeknight dinners cooked together are never more than a peak into the pantry away. And in addition to their value as a healthy pantry staple, tomato products happen to be an excellent food to use when teaching children to cook. Young children can easily practicing slicing soft whole canned tomatoes, and older children can use the products to practice safely using a can opener.

I also consider savvy shopping to be an integral part of the healthy cooking experience, so I encourage parents to use shopping for tomato products as an exercise in label reading. Does the sauce have added sugar? Too much salt? Identifying the healthiest tomato products in your store helps to teach children that while whole, fresh foods are a critical part of healthy eating, processed foods are a reality of modern life and learning to read labels and choose healthy options is an important part of eating a well-rounded diet.

So this Monday, when you drop your handbag by the front door and begin to ponder the question of what in the world you’re going to make for dinner tonight, consider getting the kids involved with this recipe for shakshuka, an easy, crowd-pleasing dish featuring whole eggs and a simply seasoned tomato sauce. I bet your kids will ask not just for another helping of sauce, but whether you can cook together next Monday, too!

Shakshuka (Israeli baked eggs)

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset

This recipe comes to The Kids Cook Monday from the ready-to-cook recipe delivery service Sweet Roots.

Adult: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Adult: In a large oven proof skillet over medium heat, add olive oil.

Together: Add the garlic, onion, tomato paste and spices and sauté for two minutes. Reduce heat to medium low.

Together: Stir in the crushed tomatoes, apple cider vinegar and chickpeas. Simmer for 3-4 minutes, until the sauce slightly thickens.

Together: Remove skillet from heat.

Kid: With the back of a spoon, make an indentation for each egg in the sauce.

Together: Crack an egg into each indentation, then drag the spoon gently through the egg whites so it swirls through the tomato sauce, but keeping the yolks intact.

Together: Bake for 15-17 minutes.

Kid:  Top the shakshuka with the feta and basil. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

dianakrice_photoDiana K. Rice, RD is the registered dietitian on staff with The Kids Cook Monday, a non-profit initiative of The Monday Campaigns. In her role as RD and recipe editor, Diana writes and speaks on the many benefits of introducing children to culinary and nutrition education in the home environment and works to provide parents and educators with high-quality resources to aid in the process. She is also an advocate for the many social and health benefits of regular family dinners. At The Monday Campaigns, Diana also contributes to the organization’s largest initiative, Meatless Monday.

Prior to joining The Monday Campaigns, Diana implemented children’s cooking programs with organizations such as Spoons Across America, HealthBarn USA, Allergic to Salad and the YMCA of Greater New York.