Six Part Plant Fest – Kids Eat Veggie “Burritos”

Did you know there are six parts to an edible plant and they all have different health benefits?  Neither did I.  I went to a great event at my kids’ elementary school where the garden teacher discussed the parts of the plant, their use, and how we eat all parts by having the kids make salad burritos.  I thought they looked more like lettuce cups, but hey I was there to prep, serve and learn.  In case you’re wondering the six parts and their uses are:

1. Seeds – essential for reproduction.  Makes new plants.

2. Stems – part that carries leaves.

3. Roots – underground structure to hold the plant and soaks up water.

4. Leaves – offshoot of the stem, here “food” is made for plant.

5. Flowers – colored and usually scented.  Attracts insects.

6. Fruit – product that follows the flower.  Holds and protects the seeds.

Makes sense.  But I never really realized how we eat different and multiple parts of produce.  It was a tasty visual to understand the plant parts.  And many of the offerings came right from the school garden.  All the plant parts were chopped and grouped together so kids knew wheat they were eating.  The leaves started the burrito wrapper with big leaves of romaine.  At the stems table there was celery and green onion.  At the flower table there were nasturtiums petals to eat as well as broccoli tops.  The seeds were popular with an array of sunflower and pumpkin seeds.  The fruit was a variety of berries and sugar snap peas.  For roots there were carrots and radishes.  There were even sauces to choose and flavor your creation.  Kids realized too that on the same plant we can sometimes eat multiple parts.  This is helpful in thinking how to serve, prep and cook these parts as well for a diet in a variety of color, taste and vitamins.

The kids (and a few of us helpers) had a great time.  The only downside was there was only one to a customer.  Feeding 600+ students doesn’t lend itself to second helpings as many of the kids were hoping.  We make a lot of burritos and lettuce cups at home and this just gives me more ideas for using all the plant for a variety of textures and flavors.


Ode to my Rice Cooker – Plus Lettuce Wrap Ideas

Rice Cooker
25 Years Young

I pulled out my rice cooker to make forbidden (we like to call it “forbeeeden” in a scary voice) black rice and my son asked “How long have you had that?”  I remembered that I got it as a gift for my 21st birthday from my college roommates.  No, really.  That was almost 25 years ago.  It’s hard to believe this $40 appliance has seen me and now my family through 25 years of rice and quinoa meals.  It is low tech.  There are no switches and timers other than cook and warm.  Rice and water go in and you press to “cook” then the cooker clicks to warm when the rice is cooked.  Couldn’t be easier.  I wish more things in life lasted as long and were as simple and reliable.  So here’s a sexy picture of my rice cooker in all it’s glory.


We’ve been on a lettuce wrap/cup kick with the warm weather.  Here I made asian cups by offering the forbidden rice and added tofu or chicken, chopped peppers, broccoli and mangoes.  I also made rice noodles for layering and added some peanuts for crunch.  Fresh mint and cilantro brought some great freshness.  Kids love to make these.  Each person can assemble themselves to suit their own tastes.  This means no complaining!

Asian Lettuce Wraps
Asian Lettuce Wraps


A few nights later we made mexican themed lettuce wraps.  I didn’t have time to make spanish rice (and maybe I should give my workhorse cooker a break) but had everything for a quick meal with left-over ground turkey, olives, cilantro, black beans, guacamole and salsa.  My husband even suggested doing lettuce instead of tortillas on burrito nights because he felt less full.  The kids thought Dad was crazy suggesting no tortillas, but it’s a good option for us, sometimes.

Mexican Lettuce Wraps 

I’m sure I can think of other lettuce cups themes and ethnic variations to use up left-overs.  Maybe next up will be mediterranean.