Around the World in 80 Plates: Cheddar, England

Since it is National Grilled Cheese Month, Captain Create has traveled all the way to southwesteren England to visit the town of Cheddar. Guess what they make here?

That’s right! Cheddar cheese is named after the town of Cheddar, in Somerset, where it was originally made. It has hills for cows to roam and eat grass, and cliffs with caves that are perfect to age cheese because the temperature inside the cave stays the same all year long. They they have been making cheese there since at least the 12th century; there is a record that in the year 1170, King Henry II purchased a total of 4,640 kg (10,240 lb) at a farthing per pound of cheese from the village of Cheddar1. That is a lot of cheese in a year!

Now there is only one family making cheese in the town of Cheddar, and a few others in villages nearby. There are no rules in England or the United Kingdom that say cheddar cheese has to be made in Cheddar, so it is made all over the world in a similar way, and is a favorite cheese around the world. Canadians, Americans, Australians, Scots, and Kiwis (New Zealanders) all eat loads of cheddar cheese.

When they aren’t making cheese in the town of Cheddar, they play and cheer for various sports like football (soccer), rugby, tennis, golf, and swimming, as well as stay active with lower-impact activities like working in gardens, walking through cities to see the sights, and footpath walking. The United Kingdom has a nationwide footpath system, often following paths that are hundreds of years old!2 Its possible that knights and kings followed a few of those same paths! They are open to walking only, and are usually marked with a sign or trail marker. They cover nearly the entire countryside, and you can walk all the way across the country if you’d like to!

After a game, walk, or big day taking in the historical sights in one of the cities, a cheese toastie might be just the way to recover! What is a cheese toastie? Its another name for grilled cheese! …. But Captain Create, we know how to make grilled cheeses already?! How are they different in the UK?

Mustard! Folks in the UK (the ones that Captain Create has spoken to, anyway, so not all of them) like to add mustard to their cheese toasties, but not that bright yellow mustard we have here in the USA, they usually have Dijon mustard. The UK is much closer to Dijon that we are; its in France, so they use it more than American mustard, but we have Dijon in the USA too! Try it out and see which kind of grilled cheese or cheese toastie you like best! (And, just like we do, they go wild and add all sorts of tasty vegetables and meat to their cheese toasties too; there are no rules!)

  1. Cheddar cheese – Wikipedia. En.wikipedia.org. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cheddar_cheese. Published 2022. Accessed April 6, 2022.
  2. List of long-distance footpaths in the United Kingdom – Wikipedia. En.wikipedia.org. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_long-distance_footpaths_in_the_United_Kingdom. Published 2022. Accessed April 8, 2022.

Nutrition Tip of the Week: Top 5 Ways to Upgrade a Grilled Cheese Sandwich!

Did you know April is National Grilled Cheese Sandwich Month?!

Grilled cheese sandwiches are one of the most famous comfort foods in the United States, and lots of kids grow up eating them. They’re a quick and easy lunch or dinner with tomato soup and a salad, but there are lots of ways to add more nutrition to them. Whole grain bread is a great place to start, and summer time means lots of fresh fruits and vegetables are easy to find! Tomatoes right off the vine can add a bright bite to a toasty grilled cheese, not to mention all the vitamin C and fiber!

There are also a variety of cheeses that melt well and taste great in a hot grilled cheese sandwich! Switch up your cheeses to match the veggies (or fruit) you add to your sandwich. Brie is a soft white cheese that is melty and tastes great with green apples or sliced fresh pears, and cheeses like provolone or muenster melt really well over sauteed mushrooms and bell peppers!

You can also pair a grilled cheese sandwich with a crisp salad or tasty vegetable soup to be sure you can add as many MyPlate food categories to your meal as you can. Try out some new sandwiches today and share them with your family. Do you have a family grilled cheese recipe?

Recipe of the Week: Dragon Noodles with Lime Shrimp

Ready for an easy weeknight meal that is a little bit different, but not so different the whole family will be too chicken to try it? Today, Captain Create has a recipe for Dragon Noodles! They originated in the Shandong Province in China, and are named that because the long thin noodles look a bit like the beard on a Chinese dragon, and are spicy like the fire the dragon can make.

Dragons are a very important part of Chinese history, culture, and mythology. They are often used to symbolize luck, power, and strength so the Emperor’s put them on their buildings and flags to show the power they also had. Sometimes the dragons have wings and sometimes not, but they always have long beards!

The noodles we can get most often in the US that most closely look like the beard of a dragon are instant packet ramen noodles! Other shops, like Asian food markets, would have lo mein noodles or vermicelli that could also be used because they are long and thin.

If you don’ t have or like shrimp, chicken works well in this recipe too, and you can use any fresh or frozen veggies you have handy, and the frozen stir-fry blend works well in a pinch.

Try this recipe out and let Captain Create know how spicy you make it! The Garlic Chili sauce in the recipe is most often in the Asian section of grocery stores, with a green lid and is red paste you can see through the sides of the jar. Its spicy, so feel free to change the amount you use, depending on how spicy your family likes their food.

Recipe of the Week: Asparagus Pasta Salad

Spring is officially here! Lots of new vegetables are starting to grow and one of the easiest to eat is asparagus! Its crunchy and green tasting when its raw, like fresh peas, and cooks quickly on the grill, in the oven, or in a frying pan. If you’re one of the lucky ones, you can find it growing wild! Otherwise, lots of farmers markets and grocery shops will have it for the next month or so.

Because it cooks quickly and tastes great, asparagus makes cooking for friends and family a little easier. Today’s recipe is a choose-your-own-adventure recipe: it has pasta, but you can choose any shape you like, asparagus because its tasty, and whatever other tasty spring veggies you have or like to eat! Be sure to choose a rainbow when you can! More colors means more vitamins for your body to use while you run, jump, and play in the warm spring weather.

Around the World in 80 Plates: Making pasta in Italy

Pasta has been around for so long that nobody really knows when it started; its been recorded in history as far back as the Ancient Greek diets, as well as recorded in China for centuries before that. It can be made with any number of starchy plants like flour, rice, barley, and buckwheat. Italians make dried pasta into lots of different shapes and colors, though they all provide about the same amount of energy per bite, even if they’re shells or twisties. At the last official count, there were over 400 different pasta shapes! From shells, elbows, and bowties to the filled shapes like ravioli, tortellini, and cjalsons (half-moon shapes filled with greens and cheese!) there is always a new pasta dish to try. Some folks have even written big books that explain each Italian pasta. Check one out at your library if you want to learn more! (Librarians love to help you find books!)

Italians are famous for making pasta, and have been sharing their traditions for generations. Different parts of Italy traditionally preferred different types of pasta; in the northern area they use more dried pasta, and in the south they make more fresh pasta. (All shapes and sizes of pasta are sold all across Italy though.) The pasta masters are usually the “nonnas”, or grandmothers, of each family and they are the ones that teach the young people how to make the traditional shapes of pasta.

You can try it too! All you need to know is that it is okay to make a mess and get your hands dirty, as long as you clean up when you are done! There are lots of recipes for sauce you can use on this blog, and over at createbetterhealth.org, to serve your fresh pasta. Consider using lots of veggies, meatballs, and cheese to cover all of the MyPlate food groups in one dish!

Recipe of the Week: Spinach Pesto Pasta

Today is St. Patrick’s Day, and in the USA, that means GREEN THINGS ALL DAY! Today’s easy pasta recipe is bright green, full of flavor, and quick to make! You can use any shape of pasta, whether its a fun shape or a long noodle, and you can add in any and all veggies you’d like.

Does Spinach Pesto Pasta have anything to do with St Paddy or Ireland? Not at all, but it is a bright green meal, and fits the theme if you’re making a green supper for tonight! Irish folks have been known to eat pasta, although its not part of traditional Irish cuisine, but they will forgive us.

Try this quick and easy pasta recipe today, and report back if you create a new dish from this starting point; Captain Create loves to know what recipes are your favorites!

Nutrition Tip of the Week: Eat in Season // Spring Vegetable Pasta Salad

The clocks have changed and spring is coming closer and closer! This means new-grown vegetables, longer days, and more time outside to play! Easy and healthy meals that you can make ahead and enjoy all week are a spring and summer staple. Spend more time outside and less time in the kitchen with a little bit of meal prep. Adding whichever seasonal vegetables you have handy is a great way to eat simply, with seasonal and healthy fruits and vegetables.

Eating seasonally means that you eat what is growing at the time as often as you can; eating radishes, asparagus, and peas in spring counts as eating seasonally, but pumpkins are not in season in the spring because they are ready to eat in the fall. Pumpkin pie is not a spring food! Grocery stores work hard to fly in fresh fruits and vegetables from all around the world, so that you can eat anything you want to any time of year, but the prices are usually a lot higher when that food is not in season.

It will take a bit of planning, but eating seasonally can be simple. Farmers markets and home gardens, even little gardens in pots in the window, are a great way to add some seasonal eating to your life! Check out the CREATES recipes series on CreateBetterHealth.org for tips to create your own recipes based on the foods you have at home or in your garden.

Captain Create has an easy spring pasta salad recipe to share, and remember that there are no rules, you can use any vegetables you’d like, or change the herbs for different ones too! Be creative!

Recipe of the Week: Peanut Noodles

Try these easy peanut noodles this weekend for a plate full of tasty protein and whole grains. Whole wheat noodles are packed with vitamins and minerals from the bran, and energy too! You can swap out the meat for anything you like, including non-meat protein options like beans or tofu, though the peanuts are a protein food too. Don’t forget that while hot sauce may not have its own place on the MyPlate, there is space for it if that is something you like!

Around the World in 80 Plates: Chinese Noodles // Veggie Chow Mein

It is National Noodle Month and National Nutrition Month and celebrating both of these means Captain Create is floating his balloon around the world looking for healthy and tasty noodles to share with you! Today he is exploring Chinese Noodles, which were first recorded in their history during the Eastern Han Dynasty, which was approximately 202 BC – 9 AD.1 That is a really long time ago!

China is a really big place, which means the people that live in different parts make their noodles differently, and from different ingredients. They can use wheat, rice, or even beans to make noodles.

In Mandarin (one of the main languages in China), miàn, also pronounced “mien” or “mein”, is the word used to mean to noodles made from wheat flour, while fěn (or “fun”) is the word used when noodles are made from other things, usually rice flour and mung bean starch. Each noodle type in Hong Kong, and neighboring region of Guangdong, will be known by its Cantonese pronunciation (“meen” or “mien” for wheat noodles, “fun” for non-wheat based noodles).1

Many types of noodles are still made the traditional way in China, and the recipes and techniques have been passed down to younger generations for thousands of years. Have a grown -up help you find videos of these traditional methods (and maybe you can try making them that way too!)

Instant, pre-packaged dry noodles are also made in China, and lots of people eat them because they are easy to cook and taste pretty good! Be sure to add lots of veggies and a little bit of protein from beans or tofu (like they serve them in China) when you choose to make them!

Captain Create knows that some ingredients from around the world can be hard to find, but others are pretty common, and finding the closest thing to the original is okay to do! Gather the cooks in your family and try out this veggie-filled Chow Mein recipe. Do you remember what the worn “mein” means the noodles are made from? Scroll back up to see!

Resources:
1- Chinese noodles. Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinese_noodles#:~:text=Chinese%20noodles%20are%20generally%20made,more%20typical%20of%20southern%20China. Published February 23, 2022. Accessed March 9, 2022.
2- Parkinson R. Loaded vegetable chow mein with egg noodles. The Spruce Eats. https://www.thespruceeats.com/vegetable-chow-mein-694337. Published January 5, 2022. Accessed March 9, 2022.

March is National Noodle Month! // Handmade Meatballs & Spaghetti

National Noodle Month is certainly worth celebrating with your favorite noodle recipe, and a few new ones too! Trying new things is a great way to add variety to your life and your diet. But how many different noodles could you try in a month? There are so many kinds; long ones, flat ones, fat ones and thin ones. Some are green, some are gold and some are gray! You can eat them by themselves or mixed with other tasty foods, and they can cooked many ways!

Across our amazing planet, many cultures have made noodles of their own, and trying them all would take a lifetime! China has the highest number of different kinds of noodles in the world! Italy has many different shapes and you can even make them by hand on your table, but your hands will get all covered in flour! Noodle making is probably a good reason to make a mess!

What kind of noodles would you like to try this month?!

Captain Create has an easy, all American noodle recipe to share today, and check back through all of March for more about noodles!

Fun Fact: You can’t get Spaghetti & Meatballs in Italy! That is a dish that Italians who had moved to the United States invented once they got here!

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