Chicken Udon Noodles to the rescue! As my children get older, time is even more precious and demands on time are somehow even greater than ever before. But eating meals together is still important. Sometimes as a family we battle finicky appetites and hormones. That can be challenging.
Very honestly, I can tell you that my tween and teen were so much less picky when they were small. As toddlers they ate everything I gave them. I never ever heard: “What’s for dinner?” or “Can I just make myself a sandwich instead?”
So cooking can be more challenging than ever. It’s deflating when someone comes to dinner and turns their noses up at what’s being offered. After all, making a meal, nourishing your family and then serving it to them is an act of love. There’s nothing better than a delicious meal served and enjoyed together.
As my kids grow into teenagers, my goal in the kitchen shifts a bit. My kids have always been great helpers in the kitchen. They loved to wash dishes, or chop food, or wash vegetables, and they often helped with easy crockpot meals even from the age of two years old. If they could stand at a stool in the kitchen and help, and they were interested, then I had them working with me. Cooking together was time well spent and it was also time spent nurturing pride in the kitchen.
So, now that my girls are older, the goal is to have them growing more independent in the kitchen. My daughters are both quite into Asian food, as long as it is not super spicy. Japanese food is something they adore. My sister-in-law is Japanese and she cooks amazing traditional Japanese food that the kids are always happy to try.
Many Ways to Make Udon
My one daughter has been asking me to make udon noodles for quite some time. But we didn’t want a soup and we didn’t really think that a fish based udon recipe would be a huge hit here. With a husband who has a seafood allergy we need to be a bit cautious with fish and we don’t cook seafood for family meals. (I only eat seafood when I am out at a restaurant) Everyone here loves chicken and everyone here enjoys Japanese, so why not start with chicken udon?
Why Not Opt for Chicken Udon?
I brought home some packaged udon noodles from the grocery store a couple of weeks ago and the kids were stoked. We brainstormed what to make together and then we also shopped for the ingredients together. We came up with something we all LOVED. In fact, we are making this chicken udon meal again this week. It was simple and tasty and there was enough here for two nights or a couple of thermos lunches. My younger daughter took a batch of this to school for lunch the next day. I have never seen her eat so much in one sitting actually.
We modified traditional chicken udon noodle recipes, and cut out the spicy sriracha and left the green onions off of the kids dishes, because those are two ingredients they cannot tolerate. At some point in the future I might sneak these two things in just tiny amounts into the dish to get them accustomed to new flavours. But not now.
A Favourite The Kids Can Help Make
The dish was delicious and the kids loved it. Payton helped make most of this. The grating and stirring are fun for her and executing a recipe almost entirely by herself (with a small amount of supervision and help from me) made her proud. I believe kids enjoy the food they help to make, better than the food they are simply served. Active participation in the process often makes a huge difference here. Plus any opportunity for them to use chopsticks or hashi makes the meal so much more fun! See recipe below!
- Two boneless skinless chicken breasts
- Olive oil
- (All my ingredients are chosen for the low sodium content because I am striving to eat heart healthy due to high blood pressure.)
- ¼ cup of Hoisin sauce (there are many brands at the grocery store choose the one with the least amount of salt and preservatives)
- 2-3 tablespoons of soya sauce
- 3 cloves of garlic
- 1 tablespoon of ground ginger (we used fresh)
- 1/ 2 cup of chicken broth - low sodium only
- One package of fresh mushrooms (sliced thin)
- One big package of udon noodles (four servings minimum)
- One bunch of green onions
- Boil udon noodles.
- Brown the chicken breasts in a skillet with one tablespoon of olive oil. Remove and slice into chunks.
- Add mushrooms to the skillet. Continue to brown with the chicken keeping close eye on the recipe so it doesn't burn.
- Grate the garlic and the ginger and add to the dish.
- Add the ½ cup of low sodium chicken broth. I have found a very low sodium Campbell's chicken broth that I love lately.
- Remove udon noodles from water when they are sufficiently cooked, drain.
- Add the noodles to the entire mixture and then add the hoisin, and the soya and stir it up.
- Chop the green onions and add to the top of each dish as garnish. (leave off for kids if they do not like these)
- Serve and enjoy. Although this indicates it takes close to an hour to make it takes a lot less time when the kids are helping and working with you in the kitchen.
A Few Family Favourites are All You Need
The aim of the game is to get a handful of recipes each girl feels comfortable making before they leave for college or university. To be honest that process began years ago when they were toddlers. But I believe it’s really never too late to cultivate a love of cooking and baking together.
Over to you…
What’s your favourite family meal that you all enjoy and cook together?