Last year we shared the inspiring story of Joshua Weissman, a formerly overweight and bullied teen who turned his life around when he started cooking. There aren't many high school students who cook dinner almost every night for their parents, so we decided to ask this talented food blogger (and now cookbook author) for some advice on getting teens interested in cooking. What recipes will appeal to high schoolers as both cooks and eaters? Here are Joshua's top five picks.
What are some simple, delicious recipes that a high school student would want to cook (and eat)?
Fragrant Spatchcocked Roasted Chicken (pictured above) from my cookbook: This is one of my go-to recipes on a weeknight because you can have a beautiful and incredibly flavorful roasted chicken in 45-50 minutes, and it only takes a few minutes to prepare and get into the oven. Plus, depending on the size of your family, you can likely get multiple meals out of it.
Seared Cauliflower with Hazelnuts and Pomegranate: This recipe is super simple and can be made even easier by eliminating the hazelnuts and pomegranate — because the real magic behind this dish comes from searing the cauliflower, which gives it a slightly sweet and nutty flavor profile.
Honey Masala Chai Roasted Nuts: My friends and family love these nuts and ask me to make them often. Luckily they're incredibly quick, require little prep, and make a great pre-dinner appetizer.
Perfect Grilled Steak: This is one of those recipes I have referred to so many times, I've now mastered it. Steak is one of the easiest and most rewarding things to cook in my opinion. All you need is a good quality grass-fed steak and some salt and pepper.
Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Bacon: Brussels sprouts are one of my very favorite vegetables. I prefer them with a nice dark brown, crispy crust around the edges like in this recipe from Nom Nom Paleo.
Do you have any tips for parents who want to get their teenage kids interested in cooking?
Show them where their food comes from. Get them involved in the food community, bring them to the farmers market and make something fun out of it. Make your meals fun and vibrant; eating is a pleasure and sometimes kids need to be reminded of that. That doesn’t mean it has to be difficult, just be spontaneous!
Create adventures and fun things to do with your food. Maybe take some time to cure your own bacon together! Quick and easy recipes don't always communicate the fun of cooking, so try taking a day to do a nice long braise or another dish that has a lot of hands-on tasks to do together, like browning meat or chopping vegetables.
What's the one food-related question you hear most from your peers?
"Aren’t fat and saturated fat bad for you?" I get this question all the time when people hear that I cook with lard, tallow, ghee, and butter. I tell them that recent scientific research actually points to the opposite. Spreading the word about the benefits of fats is another reason I wrote my cookbook — in fact, I wrote a whole section about it.
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(Image credits: Joshua Weissman)