By Chef Kenzie Osborne, Rooks to Cooks

Last week, we taught a group of young chefs some of our favourite basic sweet and savoury recipes – but we had WAYYY more than just a week’s worth of recipes to share! So, we decided to host a Sweet and Savoury Sr. camp – with a few extra techniques in our back pockets, we took our recipes to the next level (and boy were they tasty!).

Homemade hamburger buns

Day 1: We kicked off the week with a few “oldies but goodies”. We repeated some of our crowd favourites including; homemade hamburger buns, black bean-and-corn patties, baked sweet potato fries, and caramel corn. The kids absolutely LOVED the hamburger buns, and were surprised by the intense flavours from the vegetarian burgers! Of course, no one was disappointed with the caramel corn – the sweet and salty treat was an easy crowd-pleaser. YUM! 

Day 2: We discovered some warming Moroccan flavours. Our Lentil and Butternut Squash Moroccan Stew was a nice little surprise – not only is it packed with flavour, but it’s also filled with nutrients! Let’s just take a quick minute and look at the nutritional value of one serving of this deliciousness. (Nutritional Information was calculated using myfitnesspal.com)

  • 31g fibre – that’s 125% daily intake!
  • 272% Vitamin A
  • 73% Vitamin C
  • 22% Calcium
  • 60% iron
  • 26% potassium
  • 25g protein
  • 3g monounsaturated fat

Honestly, with all of that goodness packed into such a delicious bowl of stew, it’s no wonder our young chefs gobbled it all up! For some, it was a tad on the “too-spicy” side, but after I added a dollop of 2% Greek yogurt, they were alllll gooood! 

After tasting the nutrient-filled Moroccan stew, I asked our campers what their favourite part of the dish was. Surprisingly, many of them said they really liked the LENTILS.  I was expecting them to like the sweet butternut squash or the warming spices – but not the lentils! This made me so happy because lentils are SUPER nutritious and great for those who are vegetarian and gluten-free. Lentils can replace ground meat in many dinner recipes, and they can sometimes replace flour to make ooey-gooey brownies and cookies. I could easily write an entire book on the health benefits of lentils, but I’ll save you the reading and just lay out the major points…

  • Protein – One serving of green or red lentils provides 12g of protein (BONUS: pair lentils with rice and you have yourself a complete protein!)
  • Iron – One serving of green lentils has 10% of your iron, and one serving of red lentils has 15%. Iron helps carry oxygen to the cells (this is why low iron levels cause fatigue and tiredness).
  • Fibre – One serving of green lentils has 32% of your fibre, and one serving of red lentils as 14%. High fibre intake is associated with low blood cholesterol and a lower risk of diabetes.
  • Potassium – One serving of green or red lentils has 6% of your potassium. Potassium helps counteract the negative effects of sodium, and helps to keep your heartbeat regular!
  • Folate – One serving of green lentils has 10% of your folate, and one serving of red lentils has 15%. Folate helps form blood cells and assists in nerve function. It also helps reduce the risk of damage to arteries, and reduce the risk of anemia, cancer, heart disease, and dementia!

Since our young chefs enjoyed the nutrient-rich the lentils, I decided to challenge them to think of other ways to use them. I was surprised by their amazing suggestions, and I’m definitely looking forward to trying a few out at home. Check out these ideas from our campers: 

  • Chicken soup with lentils
  • Lentil salad
    • Caesar salad with lentils
    • Root vegetable lentil salad (with assorted potato varieties and beets)
  • Lentil “meatball”
  • Lentil tacos
  • Lentil penne with tomato ragu
  • Lentil stuffed ravioli
  • Lentil stir fry with rice and assorted vegetables
  • Chef Larissa: Lentil dal (with yellow split peas), topped with cilantro 
  • Chef Rebecca: Lentil risotto 
  • Chef Kenzie: Lentil gluten-free fudge brownies (add a little kick of nutrition to those ooey-gooey brownies!)

Is it just me, or do these meal ideas sound sooo good!? I know I’ll definitely be trying them in the weeks to come (and I really think you should too!). Each one has some great nutritional benefits, and could possibly be an easy lunch/dinner to prepare ahead of time for the work (or school) week!

Enough talk about lentils – the stew certainly wasn’t the only nutrient-rich and tasty recipe on the menu! Here’s a rundown on some of our other creations: 

  • We paired the stew with our simple one-bowl Cucumber, Mint, and Red Onion Salad. This salad is a refreshing summer side dish that has a subtle flavour with a cooling hint of mint! 
  • Our young chefs were very excited to make their Lemon Meringue Pies. This recipe is made entirely from scratch – homemade dough, lemon creme and, of course, a whole lot of meringue topping! 
  • We also made homemade Coconut Coffee Gelato. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to taste this one, instead, we saved it for our lucky guests at the pop up restaurant. But now that they have the skills, they can certainly whip up this yummy treat at home to cool down on a hot summer day! 
Stuffed Pepper

This week sure whizzed by fast! Day 3 featured a Stuffed Pepper (Dolmeh Felfel), Herb kuku, and a Decadent Chocolate Cake. Although our chefs weren’t all on board with the dolmeh felfel’s strong tomato flavour, they all agreed the stuffed vegetable idea was a good one. So I challenged them to think of some other stuffed-vegetable (or fruit) ideas, and here’s what they had to say:

  • Stuffed zucchini with ground beef and onions
  • Stuffed potato with apple-carrot coleslaw
  • Stuffed pepper with beef, onion, green onion, and sharp cheddar cheese
  • Stuffed potato with chicken, tomato sauce, and Italian spices
  • Grapefruit “bowl” stuffed with oranges, blueberries, strawberries, and mango
  • Chef Rebecca: Baked jalapeno poppers (delicious! If they’re too spicy try stuffing them with a honey and ricotta mix for a sweet and spicy killer combo!)
  • Chef Kenzie: Roasted sweet potato with peanut butter (mash the peanut butter with the flesh of the sweet potato), trail mix (or toasted nuts and seeds), and extra peanut butter and coconut milk sauce (just bring the peanut butter and coconut milk to a boil on the stove – as soon as it boils, take it off and whisk quickly for a minute or so until thickened and combined – then drizzle over top of the roasted potato).

Stuffed vegetables are a great choice for a weekday lunch or dinner. Using a vegetable or fruit as a vessel for other ingredients is a quick way to incorporate more vegetables into your diet, without worrying about how to actually use them in a dish! Some other great vegetables to stuff include: eggplant, potatoes, zucchini, mushrooms, acorn squash, tomatoes, onions, cabbage cups, any variety of pepper and squash/zucchini blossoms. Experiment in your own homes to see what creative combos you can make – there are so many possibilities, and so many delicious creations to discover! 

Empanadas 🙂

Day 4: The chef’s treated themselves to made-from-scratch Black Bean Empanadas and Summer Corn, Tomato and Avocado Salad for lunch. The day ended with baking up some Chocolate Wafer Cookies (for our lucky pop up guests to try) and, of course, some Deep Fried Churros for the ride home. Our chefs enjoyed most of the food on days three and four, but they especially seemed to like the chocolate cake. The chocolate cake was ooey and gooey, and so much fun to decorate!! After talking wayyy too much about cake (and turning our chef whites into a chocolatey mess), the campers took their layered masterpieces home with huge smiles and hungry stomachs! 

CHEF KENZIE’s RECIPE: Lemon Coconut “Funfetti” Cake

While doing the cake demo at camp, I promised a few of our young chefs that I’d share a recipe for a Lemon Coconut “Funfetti” Cake. So, without further ado, here it is… 

Ingredients:

For Rooks to Cooks Vanilla Cake (or, use your own recipe – but let me warn you, this one is hard to beat!):

  • 390g all-purpose flour
  • 15g baking powder
  • 2.5g salt
  • 4 eggs (200g) room temperature
  • 113g unsalted butter, softened
  • 300g granulated sugar
  • 15ml vanilla extract
  • 120ml canola oil
  • 300ml milk room temperature

Icing:

  • Use your favourite buttercream icing! 

Filling: (this is my special berry jam – use any berry you want, it doesn’t have to be raspberries!)

  • 1 cup raspberries (frozen)
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup or honey
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds

Topping ideas:

  • Shaved dark chocolate
  • Toasted coconut
  • Toasted almonds
  • Candied lemon rind
  • Fresh raspberries
  • Or, serve with our coffee-coconut gelato recipe! (try baking the cake batter and making an “ice-cream sandwich” dessert by using two slices of cake with the coffee-coconut ice-cream in the middle – YUM!)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Grease two 8-inch cake pans.
  3. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt.
  4. In a separate mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until well combined. Whisk in the canola oil until fully incorporated.
  5. Whisk in eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in the vanilla.
  6. Alternate adding the dry ingredients and milk, folding together with a spatula between each addition. Mix the batter until JUST BEFORE combined – over mixing will lead to a tough dense cake.
  7. In a few separate bowls, use the food colouring to colour the shredded coconut. Once coloured, fold the coconut into the cake batter (again, do not overmix!)
  8. Pour into prepared pans and bake for about 30 minutes (check for doneness by touching the top of the cake – it should spring back when it is done)
  9. Invert the cakes while cooling – let cool completely before filling and icing! 
  10. Meanwhile, prepare the jam. Heat 1 cup of frozen raspberries in a saucepan until softened. Put in a blender with 1 tbsp honey. Pour blended raspberries into a bowl and mix in 1 tbsp of chia seeds. Let rest until thickened (about 15 minutes).
  11. Lay one layer of cake on a cake board (or clean table). Pipe buttercream on the outer ring of the bottom cake (to prevent the jam from leaking out of the cake). Spread the jam in the centre of the buttercream ring. Top the jam with a layer of fresh raspberries, if desired. Top with the second layer of cake. 
  12. Finally, spread buttercream icing to cover the cake layers. Top with whatever toppings you desire (some ideas are listed above) and ENJOY!

Alright folks, there you have it! Week 3 at Rooks to Cooks Cooking Camp was certainly a success! Our young chefs learned so many techniques and filled their bodies with a whole lotta nutrients. We couldn’t be more excited for our young chefs to share these healthy, delicious recipes with their families at home. Next week, we’re travelling around the world! Stay tuned for some AMAZING international flavours – different cuisines in the world have so much nutrition to offer and so many unique flavours! From all of us at Rooks to Cooks, have a fantastic (and food-filled) weekend!

** If you have any specific questions regarding the nutritional information of a meal (or you would like to know how to make substitutions for vegan, gluten free, or other dietary restrictions), feel free to reach out to me (Chef Kenzie) by sending an email to: Kenzieosborne08@gmail.com. If you are interested in more general nutritional information, head on over to my personal blog at:  thrivingonnature.wordpress.com!