Family-friendly recipes from afar you can make at home
Travel around the world while at home with these kid-friendly recipes.
We’re all experiencing a time together unlike anything we have before, and likely will ever face in the future. Silver lining though? It’s a chance for us as families to spend more quality time together and create memories that will last a lifetime - something that may have taken a family vacation to have built in the past.
One of the fun ways for you as a family to feed those bonds and create those memories at home is to connect through meals together.
So even though you might not be able to go on a family vacation right now, you can still feel like you’re travelling by preparing meals together from around the world.
Here are some of our favourite family-friendly recipes brought to you by National Geographic Family Journeys with G Adventures:
Japan: Veggie Sushi Hand Roll
This easy hand roll recipe is easy for young ones to make, and even more fun to eat. You can customize the rolls to your family’s liking based on their favourite veggies.
- 2 3/4 cups short-grain rice
- 4 cups water
- 1/4 cup rice vinegar
- 1 carrot
- 1 cucumber, unpeeled
- 1 red bell pepper
- 1 yellow bell pepper
- 1/2 cup fresh chives
- 10 sheets nori (seaweed)
- Low-sodium soy sauce for dipping (optional)
1. Place the rice in a coarse-mesh sieve and rinse with cold running water until water runs clear. Shake out excess water.
2. In a large saucepan, combine rice and water; heat to boiling over high heat. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer for 20 minutes or until rice is tender and water is absorbed. Remove from heat; let stand, covered, for 10 minutes. Transfer rice to a bowl and add rice vinegar; toss and let cool.
3. Meanwhile, peel the carrot and cut into matchsticks. Cut the unpeeled cucumber lengthwise in half; discard seeds. Then cut cucumber into matchsticks. Slice peppers into matchsticks. Cut chives to match the length of the vegetables. All vegetables should be about the same length and thickness. Cut each nori sheet in half crosswise.
4. To prepare sushi, hold the nori in one hand, shiny side down. Dip your free hand in a small bowl of water to prevent sticking. Using your wet hand, shape 1/4 cup rice into a ball and place on the left side of the nori sheet. Spread the rice to a 1/4-inch thickness, leaving about a 1-inch border of nori on the sides. With your finger, make a crosswise “well” in the center of rice where vegetables will go.
5. Place 1–2 sticks of each vegetable (carrot, cucumber, peppers, and chives) in the well and tightly press vegetables together. (Let kids pick combos of their favorites, but making colorful sushi is the goal!)
6. To roll sushi, start with the bottom left edge of the nori and bring it up on a diagonal to the center of the rice and vegetable. Start rolling the sushi to the right to create a cone shape, using your free hand to tuck it all together tightly. With your fingertip, place a drop of water on the outside bottom corner of the nori to hold the sushi together.
7. Repeat steps 4–6 with remaining ingredients.
8. Place sushi rolls on a platter and serve with low-sodium soy sauce for dipping, if you like.
This recipe was adapted from Epicurious and contributor Stacey Antine.
Italy: Pizza Yeah, we know, this is a no-brainer, but it’s a classic for a reason! Nothing is more fun than making a pizza together as a family, where everyone can pull out their favourite toppings for their own slice of a pie. Finish off with some gelato and you’ll have the kids saying ‘ciao!’ and ready for your next trip to Italy in no time.
- 3 tsp active dry yeast
- 1 cup warm water, lukewarm not boiling
- 2.5 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling dough
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp olive oil
- 1/3 cup tomato sauce
- 2 cups shredded pizza mozzarella (low moisture mozzarella)
- 20-30 slices pizza salami (or topping of your choice)
- 1/4 cup grated parmesan
- 2 tsp olive oil
- 1 tsp dried basil
- 1 tsp ground black pepper
1. Add yeast and water to a large mixing bowl (or the bowl of a stand-mixer). Stir once to activate yeast. Let sit for 5 minutes.
2. Add flour and salt and mix until a dough is formed (around 3 minutes of mixing). Add olive oil and mix until combined. Cover with a tea towel and let sit for 10-15 minutes to rise (just slightly).
3. While dough is rising, preheat the oven to 450° F, grate cheese and prep other ingredients.
4. Have two baking sheets turned upside down and lightly dust with flour. (Or use a pizza stone if you have one).
5. Divide dough into 2 parts and roll out to 1/8-1/4" thick on a floured surface. Transfer to baking sheets.
6. Top each pizza with tomato sauce, mozzarella, salami, parmesan, basil, and black pepper. Drizzle with olive oil.
7. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until the cheese is bubbling and brown and the pizza's edges are browned and starting to crisp.
8. Garnish with fresh basil if desired. Allow to cool for 5 minutes before serving.
This recipe was adapted from My Kitchen Love and written by Samantha Dawn Gutmanis.
Latin America: Empanadas
Take a kid-friendly spin on the traditional Latin American dish, with just enough stuff packed inside that your kids will think they’re delicious. Plus, empanadas are easy to make and you can switch up the fillings whenever you want to make them. You’ll have the kids living that pura vida lifestyle from the comfort of your kitchen.
- 1 portion of Whole Wheat Empanada Dough
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium onion chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic minced
- 1 red bell pepper seeded and diced small
- 1 lbs ground beef
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- Kosher salt and pepper to taste
- 1 cup cheese cotija or other mild cheese
- 1 egg for brushing tops
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2. Turn out Whole Wheat Empanada Dough on a lightly floured surface. Roll the dough until it is very thin, about 1/4 inch.
3. Using a round cutter, or just a bowl turned upside down, cut the rolled out dough into circles.
4. In a large saute pan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add minced garlic and cook for 1 minutes stirring constantly. Add the onions and peppers and cook until soft. Add ground beef, cumin, salt and pepper and cook until meat is no longer pink throughout. Drain any excess fat from the beef.
5. Fill half of each dough circle with the beef mixture. Sprinkle grated cheese on each empanada. The amount of mixture you include in each empanada circle will depend on how big you cut each dough piece. Start with a few tablespoons down the center of the circle so that you can fold it over and seal the edges of the dough by pressing the edges with a fork. You can use your fingers to crimp and fold the sealed edges for appearance.
6. If you want the tops of your empanadas to be golden, brush them with a lightly beaten egg.
7. Cook the empanadas on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper for 20 minutes.
8. Serve warm and with your favorite salsa!
This recipe was adapted from My Nourished Home and written by Cynthia Rusincovitch.
Another classic, the fun part is you can dress it up and make your burger your own. Wash them down with some lemonade, french fries, and coleslaw, then turn up the country tunes and you’ve almost got yourself an authentic American barbecue experience in your backyard.
- 1 cup frozen crinkle-cut french fries
- 1 1/2 pounds ground beef, preferably chuck
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- Vegetable oil, for the grill
- 4 slices American cheese
- 4 hamburger buns, split
- Ketchup, for spreading
1. Preheat a grill to medium high. Prepare the french fries as the label directs; keep warm.
Form the beef into four 6-ounce patties, about 3/4 inch thick; press the center of each patty with your thumb to make a 1/2-inch-deep indentation.
2. Season the patties on both sides with salt and pepper.
3. Lightly brush the grill grates with the vegetable oil, then grill the patties, indentation-side up, until marked on the bottom, about 5 minutes. Flip and cook until marked and slightly firm, about 3 more minutes for medium doneness.
4. During the last minute of grilling, top each patty with a slice of cheese.
5. Remove the patties to a plate and let rest for 5 minutes. Grill the buns, cut-side down, until lightly toasted, about 1 minute. Spread the bun bottoms with ketchup and top with the burger patties and french fries. Cover with the bun tops.
This recipe was adapted from The Food Network
Vietnam: Instant Pot Vietnamense Chicken Noodle Soup
Talk about comfort food — if kids are up for it they can help with the chopping (safely) and then toss it all in the pot for a quick and delicious take on a classic, with inspiration and flavour from Southeast Asia.
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- 2 medium yellow onions, halved
- 1 (2-inch) piece ginger, cut into 1/4-inch slices
- 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
- 3 star anise pods
- 5 cloves
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 3 cardamom pods, lightly smashed
- 6 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
- 3 tablespoons fish sauce
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 8 cups water
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 4 servings rice noodles, prepared according to package directions
- 3 scallions, sliced
- 1 small handful fresh herbs, such as mint, cilantro, and Thai basil, chopped
- 1 lime, cut into wedges
- Handful of bean sprouts (optional)
- 1 jalapeño, thinly sliced (optional)
1. Preheat the Instant Pot by selecting Sauté on high heat.
2. Once hot, add the oil to the pot. Add the onions, cutside down, and the ginger. Cook, without moving, until charred—about 4 minutes.
3. Add the coriander, star anise, cloves, cinnamon stick, and cardamom. Stir and cook for 1 minute more. Add the chicken, fish sauce, and sugar and immediately pour over the water. Secure the lid.
4. Select Manual and cook at high pressure for 15 minutes.
5. Once cooking is complete, use a natural release for 10 minutes and release any remaining steam.
6. Remove the chicken from the pot and carefully strain the broth. Season with salt and pepper as desired.
7. Place the cooked noodles in 4 bowls. When the chicken is cool enough to handle, pick the meat off the bones and add to the bowls.
8. Pour over the broth and top with scallions, herbs, lime, and bean sprouts and jalapeño (if using).
This recipe was adapted from Epicurious and written by Laurel Randolph.
These recipes are easy to meal prep, so if you are able to stock up on your next grocery run, you’ll be able to limit your trips to the grocery store to help you and your family stay safe.
National Geographic Family Journeys does not imply approval or endorsement of any of the third-party sites or links referenced above.
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