Kid-friendly Lulu’s Lo Mein Noodles + Caramelized Cabbage + Sweet Soy Splash + Green Tea Smoothies Recipe - Sticky Fingers Cooking
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Family Meal Plan: Lulu’s Lucky Lo Mein Noodles + Crazy Delicious Caramelized Cabbage + Sweet Soy Splash + Green Tea Smoothies

Family Meal Plan: Lulu’s Lo Mein Noodles + Caramelized Cabbage + Sweet Soy Splash + Green Tea Smoothies

Lulu’s Lucky Lo Mein Noodles + Crazy Delicious Caramelized Cabbage + Sweet Soy Splash + Green Tea Smoothies

by Erin Fletter
Photo by tiverylucky/Shutterstock.com
prep time
30 minutes
cook time
27 minutes
makes
4-6 servings

Fun Food Story

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Lulu’s Lucky Lo Mein Noodles + Crazy Delicious Caramelized Cabbage + Sweet Soy Splash

This recipe incorporates some exciting techniques we can't wait to share with you. Not to mention, it's one of my daughter Lulu's absolute favorite things to eat. Lulu orders lo mein anytime it's on the menu, and she loves making her own version at home with julienned vegetables and a quick sweet soy sauce. Yum! 

Let's talk about the first technique: soaking dried pasta in salted water. Erin learned of this trick years ago as a way of coaxing a sort of "freshness" out of dried pasta. Brining dried pasta cuts down on the time it needs to boil while perfectly seasoning it. It's awesome for Sticky Fingers Classes because it teaches kid chefs a science lesson: one of the many purposes of salt in cooking. It also makes cooking the pasta much faster so that you can focus on other skills with your students, like slicing, dicing, chopping, and shredding—all skills we focus on in our classes.

The second technique we're excited to highlight is caramelizing vegetables. Caramelized cabbage is crazy delicious and brings out the sweetness of the vegetable, which kids love! Have them taste raw cabbage as they're slicing it. Something happens when we cook it in a skillet. Cabbage contains different types of sugars, which break down and react with each other as the vegetable releases its water when exposed to heat. The sugars concentrate as the vegetable softens, making it sweeter, more tender, and really, really good.

One last thing: noodles are a huge part of Chinese culture, and they're almost always served long and uncut, symbolizing a long and prosperous life. We're snapping our noodles in half as a way of fitting them into a mixing bowl to soak, but it might be fun to tell your kid chefs that authentic lo mein is made with fresh, long noodles, and eating them this way symbolizes a lucky, long, and healthful life.

Happy & Healthy Cooking,

Chef Erin, Food-Geek-in-Chief
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Shopping List

  • FRESH AND FROZEN
  • 4 green onions
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 head green cabbage
  • 1 large carrot
  • 1 C sugar snap peas or snow peas (it’s fun for each kid chef to have 1 to slice!)
  • 1 ripe frozen banana or 1 banana + 1/4 C ice
  • DAIRY
  • 2 C whole milk **(see allergy list below)**
  • 1 C whole milk vanilla yogurt **(see allergy list below)**
  • PANTRY
  • 1/2 lb dried angel hair pasta **(see allergy list below)**
  • 1 T salt
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1 T toasted sesame oil **(see allergy list below)**
  • 3 T + 1 drizzle honey
  • 1/2 tsp dried ground ginger
  • 2 T soy sauce **(see allergy list below)**
  • 3 decaf green tea bags
  • HAVE ON HAND
  • 4 1/2 C water

Fun-Da-Mentals Kitchen Skills

  • blend :

    to stir together two or more ingredients until just combined; blending is a gentler process than mixing.

  • caramelize :

    to cook sugar or a food with natural sugar until it turns a brown caramel color.

  • grate :

    to reduce food, like a carrot, to very small shreds or pieces of the same size by rubbing it on a tool with an outside surface that has holes with cutting edges (a grater).

  • knife skills :

    Bear Claw (growl), Pinch, Plank, and Bridge (look out for trolls)

  • mince :

    to chop into teeny tiny pieces.

  • mix :

    to thoroughly combine two or more ingredients until uniform in texture.

  • simmer :

    to cook a food gently, usually in a liquid, until softened.

  • slice :

    to cut into thin pieces using a sawing motion with your knife.

  • snip :

    to use scissors to cut something with quick, sharp strokes.

  • soak :

    to immerse a hard food for a certain amount of time in a liquid to soften it.

  • tear :

    to pull or rip apart a food, like basil leaves, into pieces instead of cutting with a knife; cutting breaks cell walls more, so herbs can discolor faster.

  • whisk :

    to beat or stir ingredients vigorously with a fork or whisk to mix, blend, or incorporate air.

Equipment Checklist

  • Large skillet with lid
  • Large mixing bowl
  • Colander or strainer
  • Liquid measuring cup
  • Measuring spoons
  • Cutting board + kid-safe knife
  • Kid-friendly or kitchen scissors
  • Grater
  • Wooden spoon
  • Whisk
  • Small saucepan
  • Blender (or pitcher + immersion blender)
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Ingredients

Lulu’s Lucky Lo Mein Noodles + Crazy Delicious Caramelized Cabbage + Sweet Soy Splash

  • 4 1/2 C water, divided
  • 1 T salt
  • 1/2 lb dried angel hair pasta **(for GLUTEN ALLERGY sub gluten-free pasta noodles or rice noodles and follow the directions on the rice noodle package for soaking!)**
  • 4 green onions
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 head green cabbage
  • 1 C sugar snap peas or snow peas (it’s fun for each kid chef to have 1 to slice!)
  • 1 large carrot
  • 1 T + 1 drizzle honey, divided
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 2 T soy sauce + more if needed **(for GLUTEN/SOY ALLERGY sub coconut aminos)**
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 T toasted sesame oil **(for SESAME ALLERGY sub olive oil)**

Green Tea Smoothies

  • 2 C whole milk **(for DAIRY ALLERGY sub coconut, rice, or soy milk depending on allergies)**
  • 3 decaf green tea bags
  • 1 ripe frozen banana or 1 banana + 1/4 C ice
  • 1 C whole milk vanilla yogurt **(for DAIRY ALLERGY sub coconut, rice, or soy vanilla yogurt depending on allergies)**
  • 2 T or more honey

Food Allergen Substitutions

Lulu’s Lucky Lo Mein Noodles + Crazy Delicious Caramelized Cabbage + Sweet Soy Splash

  • Gluten/Wheat: Substitute gluten-free noodles or rice noodles for angel hair pasta. (If using rice noodles, follow the directions on the package for soaking.) Substitute coconut aminos for the soy sauce.
  • Soy: Substitute coconut aminos for the soy sauce.
  • Sesame: Substitute olive oil for toasted sesame oil.

Green Tea Smoothies

  • Dairy: Substitute coconut, rice, or soy milk for whole milk. Substitute coconut, rice, or soy vanilla yogurt for vanilla yogurt.

Instructions

Lulu’s Lucky Lo Mein Noodles + Crazy Delicious Caramelized Cabbage + Sweet Soy Splash

1.
intro

Say "Hello" in Chinese: 你好 “Nǐ hǎo” (Nee how)! Lo mein is a Chinese noodle dish, traditionally made with egg noodles. The name comes from two Cantonese words meaning "tossed (or stirred) noodles."

2.
whisk + soak

Add 4 cups of water and 1 tablespoon of salt to a large mixing bowl, whisking to dissolve the salt. Snap 1/2 pound of angel hair pasta in half (have kids do a small bundle at a time to keep the pasta from flying!) and add to the bowl of salt water to soak for at least 20 minutes.

3.
snip + mince + slice + grate

Use clean kid-friendly scissors to snip or kids can slice 4 green onions into 1-inch pieces. Next, peel and mince 2 garlic cloves and slice 1/2 head of green cabbage into ribbons. Slice 1 cup sugar snap peas and grate 2 carrots (you could also julienne the carrot, which means to cut it into matchstick-size pieces!).

4.
sauté + caramelize + add + toss

To a large skillet, add 2 tablespoons olive oil, the sliced green onions, and the minced garlic. Sauté for about 1 minute before adding the sliced cabbage. Spread cabbage in a layer so that the entire bottom of the skillet is covered. Add 1 drizzle of honey. Let the cabbage sit, undisturbed, for a minute or two over medium heat before stirring. Cook cabbage on low heat until it becomes caramelized and golden brown in spots, stirring every so often. The longer the cabbage cooks, the more caramelized and yummy it will become! Add the sliced sugar snap peas and the shredded carrots and toss, then continue to toss to coat and cook until these veggies are softened.

5.
whisk + drain

Make the Sweet Soy Splash! Whisk together 2 tablespoons soy sauce, 1 tablespoon honey, 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger, 1/4 to 1/2 cup water, and 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil. Drain pasta by pouring it carefully in your colander or strainer.

6.
add + pour + toss

Add the drained noodles to the skillet, pour the Sweet Soy Splash over them, and toss until all the veggies and noodles are coated. Immediately cover the skillet so the noodles finish cooking by steaming. If, after a few minutes of cooking, the liquid has evaporated and the noodles are still not cooked, add another 1/4 cup of water and a touch more soy sauce and keep cooking until noodles are al dente.

Green Tea Smoothies

1.
simmer + steep

In a small saucepan, bring 2 cups of milk to a simmer. Turn off heat and steep 3 decaf green tea bags in the milk for 10 minutes.

2.
peel + measure + blend + pour

Peel and add 1 banana and 1/4 cup ice (if the banana is not frozen) to your blender. Remove the tea bags from the milk and add the milk to the blender. Measure and add 1 cup vanilla yogurt, and 2 tablespoons honey. Blend until smooth, adding more milk if necessary. Taste and add more honey if you would like it sweeter! Pour into cups and say "Cheers" in Chinese: 干杯 "Ganbei" (gahn bay), which literally means "dry cup."

Surprise Ingredient: Cabbage!

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Photo by Epov Dmitry/Shutterstock.com

Hi! I'm Cabbage!

"I come in a few different colors and shapes, but I'm usually green or red (which is really purple-red) with tightly packed leaves forming a round head. You may be most familiar with me shredded in coleslaw and cooked for a St. Patrick's Day dinner with corned beef."

  • Cabbage was likely domesticated before 1000 BCE in Europe, and the ancient Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans used it in their cuisines. Cabbage was introduced to Asia and the Americas sometime between the 1500s and the 1700s and was considered a staple food in Europe by the 18th century. 
  • China produces the most cabbage worldwide, but Russia consumes the most per person.
  • The word "cabbage" is late Middle English from the Old French (Picard dialect) "caboche" ("head"), a variant of Old French "caboce." 
  • Cabbage has many relatives (broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, collard greens). All of these vegetables are part of a family called "Brassica." 
  • The cabbage head grows in the center of a cabbage plant. Initially, the plant produces large, broad leaves, but eventually, the inner leaves begin to curl around a short, thick stem at the center. These inner leaves form the head of cabbage we see in markets. 
  • Green cabbage is the most common type. It has thick green leaves that are packed close together in the head. One head can weigh from one pound to nine pounds! You can cook it as a standalone veggie, add raw cabbage to coleslaw, use it to make cabbage rolls, or add it to soups and stews. 
  • There are a few varieties of green cabbage, including the pointed cabbage, which is shaped like a cone! Savoy cabbage is a smaller, milder variety with tender, wrinkly leaves that you can use to make cabbage rolls or add to salads and stir-fries.
  • Red cabbage is popular in coleslaw and salads because of its color and crunchy texture. You can also pickle red cabbage to serve as a condiment to top burgers or tacos, or serve it as a side, especially with German dishes. 
  • White cabbage comes from the Netherlands and is also called Dutch cabbage. It is a type of green cabbage with very pale green to white leaves, although there is also a red variety. The Dutch variety is good for making sauerkraut, although you can also use it in the same way as green and red cabbage.
  • Napa cabbage, also called Chinese cabbage, is oblong with light green and yellow leaves and has a long, thick, and crunchy stem. It has a mild flavor and is popular in Asian cuisine in soups, spring rolls, stir-fries, and as wraps for pork and seafood.  
  • Cabbage is high in fiber and vitamins C and K. Vitamin K is good for the blood. A cup of raw cabbage has more vitamin C than an orange!
  • Different varieties of cabbages have varying nutritional strengths. For example, red cabbage has more vitamins C and B6 and antioxidants called anthocyanins that help keep your heart healthy, while the green savoy has more vitamins A and B9 (folate). 
  • Cabbage and other cruciferous vegetables are rich sources of phytochemicals, naturally-occurring plant chemicals that may protect people against some forms of cancer.

History of Noodles!

Photo by komokvm/Shutterstock.com
  • Who produced the original noodle? The Chinese, Arabs, and Italians have all made this claim, but the earliest record appears in a book written in China between 25 and 220 CE.
  • Noodles are a dominant food in many countries and have been for at least 2,000 years. In 2005, archaeologists discovered 4,000-year-old noodles inside a bowl buried under ten feet of sediment in northwest China. Scientists determined the 4,000-year-old, long yellow noodles were made from two kinds of millet native to China and demonstrated advanced cooking skills for that time.
  • Wherever noodles have originated, they have remained in demand for hundreds of years. Their long life is due to many things, including their being cheap, filling, nutritious, quick and easy to prepare, good to eat hot or cold, able to be dried and stored a long time, and easily transported.
  • In Chinese culture, the noodle is a symbol of long life. For that reason, noodles are traditionally served on birthdays and the Chinese New Year as an emblem of longevity. 
  • Shanghai-style noodles, thick Chinese noodles made with wheat flour and water, are Shanghai, China's gift to the wondrous world of noodles! A popular dish served at dumpling restaurants, Shanghai Fried Noodles consists of Shanghai-style noodles stir-fried with beef, chicken, pork, or shrimp, cabbage or bok choy, and onions. As in most Shanghainese cuisine, a soy sauce base is mandatory. There is no shortage of this dish, as customers can slurp it up at most restaurants in the city! 
  • The traditional Japanese diet, as in many Asian countries, includes rice at every meal. However, noodles brought from China have also become a vital part of Japanese cuisine as an alternative to rice. Typical noodles are "soba" noodles, thin brown noodles made from buckwheat, and "udon" noodles, thick wheat noodles served cold or hot with a soy and dashi broth. The Japanese also eat "ramen," a soup made with a Chinese-style wheat noodle, fish or meat stock, and soy sauce or miso flavorings. 
  • Noodles were also incorporated into the Japanese tea ceremony, and noodle-making was considered an art form. 
  • After World War II, noodles became even more critical in Japan when food shortages were rampant and dried foods like noodles were often the only available food item.  
  • Rice noodles are an alternative to wheat-based noodles. Also originating in China, they are made with rice flour and water and are common in East and Southeast Asian cuisines. They are available fresh, frozen, or dried in various shapes and thicknesses.
  • In almost every Asian culture that uses them, noodles are associated with well-being and long life and can be considered an Asian comfort food.

Let's Learn About China!

Photo by XiXinXing/Shutterstock.com
  • China's official name is The People's Republic of China. It became a republic in 1912; however, the first Chinese dynasty appeared around 2100 BCE. China is one of the largest countries in the world, and it has the most people!
  • The official language of China is Mandarin. However, various dialects are spoken in different regions of the country. For example, in Shanghai, they speak Shanghainese.
  • China is around the same size as the continental United States but only has one official time zone. The continental US has four.  
  • China's capital city is Beijing, while the most populated city is Shanghai.  
  • The Great Wall in China is the largest man-made construction on Earth, stretching an incredible 5,500 miles. Its builders used mortar that included sticky rice to bind the Great Wall's stones! 
  • China's land is diverse, with high mountains, low coastal lands, deserts, and damp tropical areas. Just like the United States!
  • The Chinese are known for their papermaking, porcelain, and silk cloth. In addition to paper, they also invented the compass during the Han dynasty (202 BCE to 220 CE), woodblock printing in the Tang dynasty (by 7th century), gunpowder in the Tang dynasty (9th century), and movable type made of porcelain (for printing) between 1039 and 1048 CE, during the Song dynasty.
  • Chinese cuisine varies by region. Climate, local agriculture, ethnic and class backgrounds, and outside influences all contribute to China's food diversity. There are eight major regional Chinese cuisines: Anhui, Cantonese, Fujian, Hunan, Jiangsu, Shandong, Szechuan, and Zhejiang.
  • Wheat is farmed in northern China, so noodles and other foods made from wheat are consumed more in the North. On the other hand, rice is cultivated in southern China; therefore, rice is a staple in the South.  
  • Tea has long been part of Chinese culture across all parts of society. China was the first country to grow and drink tea and, today, it exports the most green tea worldwide.

What's It Like to Be a Kid in China?

  • School success is greatly emphasized in China. Chinese kids go to school five days a week (six days before 1995), and their school day runs from 7:30 or 8 am until 4 or 5 pm. After school, they might do homework for three hours.
  • In primary school, kids learn the Chinese language, which is made up of about 7,000 characters, not letters. The characters represent words. By the time they finish primary school, they will have learned about 4,000 characters. They will also learn a foreign language, especially English.
  • Kids may not have aunts, uncles, or cousins because, at one time, the Chinese government allowed couples to have just one child due to the high population. That later changed to two, and in May 2021, the policy changed again to allow three kids, so now a child may have a sibling or two. 
  • Some of the holidays that kids celebrate with their families are Chinese New Year, the Dragon Boat Festival, and National Day. National Day is celebrated with fireworks and parades to commemorate the formal proclamation of the People's Republic of China on October 1, 1949. 
  • Kids enjoy playing ping pong, basketball, volleyball, and badminton. They also play video games and ride their bikes. 
  • Rice and noodles are staples, and kids may eat these at every meal. They'll eat their food using chopsticks, not forks!

Lettuce Joke Around

Why does milk turn into yogurt when you take it to a museum?

Because it becomes cultured!

THYME for a Laugh

Why are bananas never lonely? 

Because they hang around in bunches!

THYME for a Laugh

What is the only food that you are allowed to play with? 

Yo-Yo Gurt!

That's Berry Funny

How do you make a milkshake?

Give a cow a pogo stick!

Lettuce Joke Around

What did mama cow say to baby calf?

It’s pasture bedtime.

Lettuce Joke Around

How does a farmer mend his pants? 

With Cabbage patches!

THYME for a Laugh

What would you get if you crossed pasta with a snake?

Spaghetti that wraps itself around a fork!

That's Berry Funny

What is worse than finding a worm in the apple that you are eating? 

A half of a worm in your noodle soup!

The Yolk's On You

Why does a milking stool have only three legs?

Because the cow has the udder!

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