Foods from Different Cultures

In school, your children learn about other parts of the world, how other people live, and learn to respect and celebrate the differences, or diversity, of all people. What better way to help children learn more about others than through food?

Simple Steps
Choose a day for the whole family to be together. If possible, include your children in the menu planning phase. Take them with you for a special grocery shopping trip to buy the foods for the meal. When children are involved in meal preparation, they often are more willing to try new foods. Think about each part of the meal planning and assign duties to each child based on their age and abilities. Even young children can help set the table, while older children can help wash, tear, toss, or chop foods.

Mexican Night
One of the easiest cultural meals to make features Mexican food. Plan taco night, make tortilla wraps, or prepare red beans and rice. You can go meatless by using canned beans or non-fat refried beans for your protein. Include lots of shredded lettuce and chopped tomatoes and you’ll have a healthy, tasty meal in no time!

Asian Fusion
Many of us have eaten at Chinese restaurants, but you can bring that experience home! Look for recipes that include stir-fried veggies that keep them crisp and flavorful. An Asian Coleslaw includes soy sauce and peanuts mixed with shredded cabbage and canned mandarin oranges. Everyone can enjoy this tasty side dish! Our Chinese Chicken Salad uses an old stand-by, Ramen noodles, with diced cooked chicken—that’s a great way to use up leftover chicken from a meal earlier in the week. Also, since Asian food encompasses other cultures and not just Chinese, try planning a meal with an Indian or Thai food theme.

Go Italian
Skip the pizza and make your own Italian feast with Lasagna Roll-Ups! Quick Minestrone Soup is great for a chilly autumn meal and uses frozen and canned vegetables and beans for an inexpensive, but filling, meal.

Whatever type of food you decide to feature, encourage your children to do some research before your family meal. They can talk about what they’ve learned about the country and culture they explored while you all enjoy a cultural feast.  Most importantly, have fun and enjoy cooking together.

See our EatSmart web site for more recipe ideas
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This institution is an equal opportunity provider. This material was funded by USDA's Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – SNAP. The University of Maryland Extension will not discriminate against any person because of race, age, sex, color, sexual orientation, physical or mental disability, religion, ancestry or national origin, marital status, genetic information, political affiliation, and gender identity or expression. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) provides nutrition assistance to people with low income. It can help you buy nutritious foods for a better diet. To find out more about Maryland’s Food Supplement Program (SNAP), contact the Maryland Department of Human Resources at 1-800-332-6347 or apply online at https://mydhrbenefits.dhr.state.md.us/.
© Eat Smart, Be Fit Maryland!Maira Gall