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Fun with Food Science

Looking for ways to keep your kids busy over the extended break? Why not get them in the kitchen? Cooking is a great way to spend time with your kids and inspire their interest in healthy food. It’s also a great way to teach science!

Playing with Pretzels

Pretzels are really fun to make. And forming them is easy enough for even the littlest of cooks. Shape them into butterflies, turtles, hearts or letters. They are also a great way to teach about the microbiology of yeast.

The Science:

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• Yeasts are tiny single cell organisms. A single yeast is very tiny, and each grain in your package of instant yeast is actually a bunch of yeast.

• Yeast eats sugar and turns it into carbon dioxide and ethanol. This is called anaerobic respiration, which means it’s done without oxygen.

• When we make bread the yeast eats the sugars in the flour and releases carbon dioxide, which makes the air bubbles in the bread.

• To see yeast in action, pour about 4 cm of water in the bottom of a clear plastic water bottle. Add in 1 tbsp of sugar and 1 tbsp of yeast. Cover the top of the bottle with a balloon to trap the carbon dioxide. After about 15 minutes you will be able to see the yeast eating, multiplying and releasing carbon dioxide!

Pretzel Recipe:

1 cup warm water

1 package of instant yeast (21⁄4 tsp)

3 cups of flour

2 Tbsp melted butter

1 Tbsp sugar

1⁄2 tsp salt

1 Tbsp oil

1 egg

Toppings: coarse salt, poppy seeds, sesame seeds, etc.

1. Mix the water with the yeast.

2. Allow the yeast to dissolve, then mix in the flour, butter, sugar and salt. It will be very sticky. I recommend coating your hands with a little bit of oil then kneading and working the dough until it’s smooth and elastic.

3. When you have a nice smooth ball, coat it with a drizzle of oil.

4. Cover the dough with a towel and let it rise for 1 hour.

5. After 1 hour, punch down the dough and divide it into 12 small balls. Have fun shaping each ball into your own unique pretzel shape.

6. Place them on a greased baking sheet and leave to rise for 30 minutes.

7. Meanwhile preheat the oven to 425˚F.

8. Beat the egg, then brush to tops of the pretzels with the egg and sprinkle on the toppings.

9. Bake for 15–20 minutes, until cooked through and nicely browned.

Egg-citing Eggs: Souffled Omelette

Making souffled omelette is actually really easy and fun! It may become your new favourite way of cooking eggs. This recipe is better for older kids (9 years and older) because it involves using the stove. However, separating the eggs is probably the toughest part.

The Science:

• Egg yolks are a mixture of fat and protein, but egg whites are just protein.

• The protein in the egg whites can be whipped so that it traps air bubbles, turning them into soft, white and fluffy foam. Adding just the littlest bit of yolk before whipping will prevent the air pockets from forming properly, so make sure you don’t break the yolks when separating the egg whites.

• When the whipped eggs are baked, the air in those bubbles expands with the heat, making the souffle puff up even more. Then the protein stiffens, providing the structure of the souffle.

For 1 Omelette:

3 eggs

Pinch of salt and ground black pepper

1 Tbsp butter

2 tbsp grated cheese

1. Separate the egg yolks from the egg whites.

2. Mix the salt into the egg whites, and beat with a whisk until it forms soft peaks. This takes about 5 minutes by hand or is quicker with an electric mixer.

3. Gently fold the egg yolks into the egg whites. Mix carefully so you don’t burst the air bubbles.

4. You need a 9″ non-stick pan with a lid. Heat the pan on medium heat.

5. Melt the butter in the bottom of the pan.

6. Scrape in the egg mixture, smoothing it out on top. Shake the pan a few times to prevent sticking.

7. Put the lid on the pan and cook until the bottom of the souffle has browned and the top is just set. It takes about 5–8 minutes.

8. Sprinkle on the cheese and cook for 1 more minute to melt the cheese, then serve!

More Fun Food Activities

Since the break is quite bit longer than expected, with a LOT of time spent indoors, I wanted to give everyone a bunch of fun ideas for cooking with your kids. These are all foods that kids can make and form themselves. They may not come out perfectly, but they’ll still taste great! Check out the links for detailed instructions:

Roll your own sushi party:

Grandma’s handmade perogies: homemade-pierogi/

Make your own pizzas:

Traditional pasties:

Decorate a spring-inspired gingerbread house:

Emillie Parrish
Emillie Parrish
Emillie Parrish loves having adventures with her two busy children. She lives in Victoria and is the author of the fermentation-based blog