Help Your Child Eat STEM for Breakfast

By Diana K. Rice, RD

When kids get into the kitchen to cook and eat regular meals with their families, they reap many benefits, including a stronger sense of confidence and a greater willingness to try new foods. But another important benefit of cooking in childhood is that it’s an activity that provides children with real-world applications for much of what they’re learning in school, including science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

When you cook with your kids, ask questions along the way that encourages them to apply their STEM skills to the cooking process. This recipe for Frittata with Zucchini is not only a great option for enjoying this versatile vegetable and a quick family meal, but also for helping kids realize that STEM principles extend beyond the classroom.

Frittata with Zucchini (Serves 4) Ingredients

  • 1/2 large sweet yellow onion
  • 3 tbsps. butter
  • Salt (to taste)
  • 12 oz. zucchini
  • Freshly ground black pepper (to taste)
  • 5 eggs

Directions

Adult: Peel and thinly slice the onion crosswise. Put 2 1/2 tablespoons of the butter in a 10-inch nonstick, ovenproof skillet over medium heat.
Adult: When the butter has melted, add the onion and season lightly with salt. Sauté until the onion has softened and turned a light caramel color, 8 to 10 minutes.
Child: While the onion is sautéing, wash the zucchini, remove the ends, and cut into thin rounds about 1/8 inch thick (using a child-safe knife).
Together: When the onion is ready, add the zucchini and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally until the zucchini is quite tender and has started to brown (10 to 15 minutes).
Child: While the zucchini is cooking, put the eggs in a mixing bowl and beat until the yolks and whites are evenly mixed.
Together: When the zucchini is ready, transfer the contents of the pan to the bowl with the eggs and mix thoroughly.
Adult: Preheat the broiler. Put the remaining 1/2 tablespoon butter in the skillet and return to medium heat. When the butter is hot, pour in the egg-and-zucchini mixture.
Adult: Cook over medium heat for 6 minutes, then place under the broiler until the top is lightly browned, about 2 minutes.
Together: Slide the frittata onto a cutting board. Cut into slices and serve hot or at room temperature.

STEM Cooking Tip

One medium zucchini usually weighs about one pound, which equals 16 ounces. This recipe calls for 12 ounces of zucchini. So, what percentage of the zucchini will you use? What would be a tasty way to use up the leftovers?

Food for Thought

Did you know that eggs are mostly made up of water and protein? Protein molecules are made up of hundreds of amino acids that are connected together in long chains, which are kind of like pieces of string. When a raw egg comes into contact with heat, the amino acid chains start to get all tangled up, which is like tangling lots of pieces of string into one big knot. The knot traps the egg’s water molecules inside of it and the once liquid-y raw egg becomes solid. This happens when the egg reaches between 145 and 160 degrees Fahrenheit, which also happens to be the temperature that kills any harmful microbes in the egg, so the egg becomes safe to eat!

Family Dinner Conversation-Starter

How is cooking like a science experiment? What are some other ways we use STEM in our daily lives?

The Kids Cook Monday is a nonprofit campaign that provides free resources to parents to help them cook and eat with their children and hold these important conversations at least once a week. Their Family Dinner Date newsletter includes easy recipes and engaging talking points to help families start and sustain this healthy habit. Davidson’s Safest Choice® Eggs contributed to this recipe.

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