YMCA Growing Communities Sessions Recipes (April 18th - 24th)

“...No one is born a great cook, one learns by doing.” 
― Julia Child

Thank you to all the awesome kids, parents and and volunteers who joined us for to our Growing Communities sessions at the YMCA this week. We hope you had a fantastic time, because we sure always do! If you're interested, you can find our brief presentation on the benefits of kids' cooking literacy here. If you have any questions, or want to tell us about any of the recipes you tried at home, give us a shout at info@growingchefsontario.ca. We love to share your great pictures and stories!

Session overview:

For this session, kids had 45 minutes to  work together to make a restaurant-style 3 course meal.  Group 1 made and plated the appetizer, group two made and served the main course, and group three will made and served the dessert. Working together, they finished prepping the components and set the tables for a meal.  

Did you know? Growing Chefs! Ontario is a registered charity based in London, Ontario. Consider supporting us in our efforts to get kids excited about wholesome healthy food! Donate online, become a Project Sponsor, or email us for more information at info@growingchefsontario.caThank you in advance!
Now, come join us in the kitchen!




Veggie Quesadillas with Blender Salsa


  • 6 large ripe tomatoes, (if tomatoes are not in season, substitute 1 12oz can low sodium chopped tomatoes)
  • 1 large onion
  • 2 large cloves of garlic
  • 1 red pepper
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1 jalapeno pepper


  1. Finely chop or process all ingredients and combine in serving bowl
  2. If tomatoes are too acidic, add sugar 1 tsp at a time to taste
  3. If using canned tomatoes, strain before adding



  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 red peppers chopped
  • 2 green peppers chopped
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 1 tbsp taco seasoning
  • 10 flour tortillas
  • 2 cups  shredded cheddar cheese
  • 2 cups Monterey jack cheese shredded


  1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. 
  2. Stir in the green bell peppers, red bell peppers, onion and taco seasoning. Cook and stir until the vegetables have softened, about 10 minutes
  3. Layer half of each tortilla with the vegetable mixture, then sprinkle with the Cheddar cheese, and Monterey Jack. 
  4. Fold the tortillas in half and place onto griddle cooking until golden on one side. Turn over and cook until golden.


Chicken Parmesan with celeriac mashed potatoes and green beans

Tomato Sauce

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 6 fresh tomatoes, chopped (if tomatoes are not in season substitute 1 12oz can low sodium chopped tomatoes)
  • 1 large onion
  • 1/2 cup fresh herbs, (parsley, basil, oregano, and thyme or any combination of)
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • salt and pepper to taste


  1. In a large saucepan, heat oil over medium heat; add onions 
  2. Once onions soften add garlic, tomatoes and salt/pepper to taste 
  3. Mix ingredients well; cover and simmer for 25 minutes 
  4. Add fresh herbs and simmer for 5 more minutes 
  5. For a smooth sauce - blend using a hand blender until smooth.


Chicken Parmesan

  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 cup panko (Japanese-style bread crumbs)
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
  • 1 boneless chicken breast sliced into 4 pieces and pounded thin
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese


  1. Whisk egg, the 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a shallow bowl.
  2. Combine panko, the 1/3 cup cheese, and Italian seasoning in another shallow bowl.
  3. Sprinkle chicken lightly with additional salt and pepper. Dip each chicken breast half into egg mixture, turn to coat all sides evenly.
  4. Then dip into panko mixture, turning to coat all sides evenly. Gently shake off any excess panko.
  5. Pan fry the chicken until golden brown on each side.
  6. Top with the prepared tomato sauce and the extra parmesan cheese


Green Beans

 (This makes a massive 25 portions, so unless you're crazy about these beans, or want a solid green bean stash in your freezer, you may way want to adjust this recipe.)

  • 3 lbs trimmed fresh green beans
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 litres water


  1. Put water and salt in a stock pot and bring to a boil. 
  2. Once the water is boiling add the beans. Cook the beans until tender about 5-6 minutes. 
  3. Drain water and toss with butter. Serve immediately.


Celeriac Purée

  • 2 potatoes peeled and cut into chunks
  • 1 large celery root peeled and cut into chunks
  • 1/4 cup  butter
  • 1 pinch nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup  whipping cream
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Put potatoes and celery root into large pot and cover with water bringing to boil
  2. Cook mixture until tender then drain well
  3. Add butter, nutmeg, cream, salt and pepper into drained mixture then mash.


Pan-fried watermelon, topped with Greek yogurt & sunflower brittle

Sunflower Brittle

  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup raw sunflower seeds
  • ½ cup corn syrup
  • ¼ cup water


  1. Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper
  2. Stir all ingredients together in a 2 quart sauce pan.
  3. Heat mixture over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until bubbling vigorously then pour onto prepared baking sheet. Allow to harden then break into pieces for garnish. 

Pan fried watermelon

  • 1 small watermelon
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • Confectioner sugar to dust
  • Honey to drizzle
  • 2 cups Greek yogurt


  1.  Cut watermelon into 3” squares without rind about 1 1/4 “ thick
  2. Heat oil on griddle on high heat
  3. Coat each side of the watermelon with the confectioner sugar, then fry each side for about 1-2 minutes
  4. Place cooked watermelon on plate, drizzle with honey, and add a generous dollop of yogurt
  5. Garnish with the sunflower brittle


Happy cooking!




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