Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Kitchen Wisdom with Kim McCosker (the fabulous 4 Ingredients cooking queen!)

When I think of Kim McCosker, the wildly successful doyenne of all things delicious, and co-founder of the famous 4 Ingredients brand, I cant help put picture an endless stream of neighbourhood kids lining up outside her front door. The aroma of her Taco Popcorn creation wafting down the street, I’m sure, would generate a queue outside her home the Pied Pier would be proud of!

Because when it comes to cooking, Kim is a woman who sure knows her way around the kitchen. Couple that with the fact she can make it fast, affordable and fun and it is easy to understand why the very first 4 Ingredients cookbook was the biggest selling self-published title in Australian history with over 2,500,000 copies sold!

And lucky for me, and my NappyDaze readers, Kim has generously granted me a window into her culinary kingdom.

Like so many of us, Kim too has her share of food battles to fight with her children. And here she shares with us how she has overcome this all too familiar obstacle.

First and foremost, she adamantly believes that starting the day the right way will give you a head start on their adequate intake of nutritional needs. Considering one of her son’s is not a fan of the sandwich come lunchtime, she advises “he’ll start the day with a really healthy breakfast, I think that’s my saviour”

As well as freezing a healthy juice, she also sets about concocting an easy, but most importantly, enticing array of snacks – almost making it a mini smorgasbord!

“His lunch box, if you look at is a series of snacks” Kim tells us. You might find in there a custard cup, yoghurt in a little container (she advocates buy big tubs when on sale and dishing out as desired to save on costs), some CC’s to make mini nacho’s with cheese, carrots and of course fruit. However, she warns, when doling out fruit, don’t go overboard as it may backfire. Work out what they like, and be realistic about how much they will eat.

For example, a conversation Kim might have with her son would be along the lines of “Now mate, you’ve got 8 grapes, how are you going to go with that today Champ? I don’t want that coming back” and he will happily reply “its good mum” .

And you know what? It works! Because, as Kim rightly advises from a parent who has been down this road many times before: “If they open it up and see volumes of food... – {shudder}” They'll automatically assume feeding time will erode away play time and that is often why lunch boxes return home almost in the same state as when they left your kitchen bench hours before!

“Decrease the size but increase the amount” she counsels, i.e. instead of giving him 4 separate items, give 5, but with smaller portions.

Of course, parents should also embrace the power of the leftover dinner to concoct an enticing lunch box offering – and this also acts to save you more times in your morning (something ALL parents are in need of!)

Kim suggests you as yourself “What am I cooking for dinner? Can I make extra and give it to them the next day?” For instance, if you are making her scrummy Echidna Balls, Kim recommends making them into very small portions (think a 20c piece), cut and place them on cute little dinner rolls for an alternative to a sandwich.

Also, when it comes to saving time in your lunch box preparations, planning ahead is a must. On any given Sunday afternoon you will find Kim doing two things in her kitchen – baking her 4 Ingredients cupcakes and making her 4 Ingredients M&M slice. (Can you picture that line up around the block again?). All you need to do is ensure your portion it out adequately and you have yourself an economical and time saving solution to get you through the week! And before you think that this might not be the healthiest snack, lets put it into perspective – kids burn a lot of energy, and you will have no doubt packed a varied and wholesome lunch for them to eat during the day. As Kim says, “Life is about balance: I’m not suggesting you give the whole slice to your child in one day.”

Speaking of balance, Kim has a great philosophy when it comes to those who might question how you achieve a nutritious food intake when you are only working with a small number of ingredients.

“Use four ingredients as a really good base to create fantastic food. You add to that then what suits your family, their diet, their palate. You add to that, more importantly, what you think they will eat.” And she could not be more right. Because if you are anything like me, and loathe nothing more than an untouched dinner plate that you have painstakingly, lovingly prepared for your family you know you have to work to their strengths. “It doesn’t matter if it has 4 ingredient or 40, if you go to the effort of making it, you want it to be eaten.”

Amen to that!

You'll also find much more in the way of culinary insights and recipes from the fab 4 Ingredients team on their Facebook Page (click here) where they have garnered a very large and loyal following. They happily post recipes, not simply expecting people to have all the books, as well as many hints and tips.

“We share as much kitchen wisdom as we possibly can. It’s a good tool to get an unbiased opinion of what is working in ordinary people’s kitchens."

Stay tuned for part 2 of my interview with Kim McCosker which discusses her secrets to success, how she is enjoying going solo and of course the thing we all want to know - has this super mum and super chef ever found the elusive work/life balance we all strive for? Coming to a screen near you soon!


Kylie @ Octavia and Vicky said...

I love 4 ingredients, I have the kids book, so many quick and easy recipes. I love this chicken and sweet corn roll that I've made a few times now, great for lunchboxes (for me!).

Cheap Hotel said...

The book is my favourite among all the cooking books. I recommend it to all of you! Easy and innovative recipes suitable for the whole family.