Teens can cook and eat vegetables

June 27th, 2015 1:21 am

First Posted: 5/14/2013

After two days with juniors and seniors, I am convinced that teens can cook and eat vegetables. Sometimes, all it takes is a bit of TLC and help from peers.

Some folks tell me I’m the eternal optimistic, even when it comes to motivating folks to learn how to cook. After spending 90 minutes with teens, I’m convinced that anyone can learn if given the opportunity.

Easy recipes are a must to begin with, along with learning some basic skills. Today, teens have youtube videos to learn how to peel, chop and dice an onion. But when it comes down to it, they still need to be given the opportunity.

Basic cooking skills include learning the different types of knives and which ones are best for which jobs. Chef knives have the wide blade, paring are the smallest in size and serrated have small semicircle blade like edges. Simply stated, when coring peppers, first use a paring knife to remove the core, then a chef knife for slicing and dicing. Serrated knives are used to slice bread.

It’s simple things like using the correct utensil which keeps the frustration down. For a chart on various types of knives and their uses, email LuzerneExt@psu.edu, attention Mary Ehret.

Next, it’s important to learn how to peel a clove of garlic and an onion. Many of us might say, of course, we know how to do this, however, do our teens? Many teens might not know that a head of garlic has many cloves. Folks have different ways to peel the skin off garlic. One way is to gently push down, holding the pointed side up. You will hear the garlic “pop.” Gently remove the papery skin.

Once again, many folks have different techniques to peel an onion. Some choose to leave the root end on before chopping, some not. Here is a video from the National Onion Association http://www.onions-usa.org/faqs/why-do-your-eyes-water-when-you-cut-onions.

Learning how to peel and chop garlic and onions are great basic cooking skills to start with.

Teens can learn to make vegetables taste good with a bit of garlic and onions. Girls age 14- 18 years old need a minimum of 2 ½ cups of vegetables a day, guys need 3 cups.

Over the course of a week, those 17 and 1/ 2 cups for gals and 21 cups for boys are grouped into five groups. They are dark green (1 ½ cups), orange – red (5 ½), dry beans and peas (1 1/2), and starchy (5 cups). Guys need slightly greater amounts.

Teens that only like French fries and corn, which are both starchy vegetables, may have difficulty in meeting the recommendations.

Here is the recipe that the teens liked. Even spinach and dried beans can be enjoyed as part of a dip. If you have a teen, try making this easy-to-make recipe with them.


1 cup thawed frozen chopped spinach, drained

1 cup cooked chickpeas i.e., garbanzo beans (canned, rinsed and drained)

¼ cup low-fat mayonnaise

2 cloves garlic chopped

½ medium onion chopped

1 Tbsp lemon juice or to taste

Optional pinches of cumin, garlic powder, sugar and/or dark mustard added to taste

Puree all ingredients in a bowl. Mash with potato masher. Serve with whole grain pita wedges. Makes 2 1/2 cups.

Adapted from: Simply in Season, a world community cookbook

Nutrient facts per serving (1/4 cup)

Calories 105

Total fat 2.4 g

Sodium 203 mg

Fiber 4.2 g