I’m always on the lookout for healthy recipe ideas that entice my daughter to don her apron and chef’s hat. Helping prepare the family meal not only teaches June the fun of cooking, but makes her more excited about eating the healthy food she creates.
Recently, June and her friend Anna made homemade whole wheat tortillas. I always like recipes that allow June to create something that normally comes in a package. (Other examples of ‘packaged foods’ we’ve made from scratch include: fruit roll-ups, whole grain crackers, and veggie chips.)
While June has baked bread many times in our kitchen, tortilla-making was a novelty to her. After watching the girls immerse themselves in this flour-y, playdough-like project, I discovered it was the perfect recipe for kid cooks. Here’s my reasoning:
1. It’s simple with few ingredients.
2. Kneading and rolling add sensory enjoyment.
3. Flipping tortillas is fun, easy, and safe if your kids are old enough to take on supervised stovetop cooking.
I also wanted June to taste a tortilla free of the additives found in store-bought tortillas. It’s a challenge to make tortillas shelf-stable, which is why it’s hard to find them without hydrogenated oils or shortening. Check the ingredients list for packaged tortillas: you will be astounded at the differences between brands. If you are looking for a healthier tortilla, you’ll also want to avoid those that contain refined flours (labeled as wheat or enriched flour) instead of whole wheat flour.
Testing Homemade Whole Wheat Tortillas
After much trial and error, I finally came up with the homemade whole wheat tortillas recipe you see below. I perused dozens of recipes until I got a handle on the basic proportions for flour, water, and oil. Depending on the recipe, the recommended oil (per 2 cups flour) varied from one teaspoon to 1/2 cup! In my testing, as I added more oil, the stiffness of the tortillas increased, especially once cooled. One tablespoon of oil per 2 cups flour made for the best texture to my tastebuds.
I also had to decide if I should use baking powder. Although not necessary, I prefer the slight puffiness that results from adding the leavening agent.
Finally, I found myself seeking a bit more flavor in the tortillas itself. I played around and liked how garlic powder and vanilla impart a subtle flavoring that could blend with any type of savory filling. Extra flavor is also added by using milk instead of water in the tortilla recipe.
A Special Occasion Recipe
As you can see from the pictures below, June and Anna had a great time making tortillas for a joint family meal. Homemade whole wheat tortillas were new to both our families and added a festive air to our Mexican dinner. Everyone loved the aromatic, warm homemade wraps. We used the fresh tortillas to make chicken spinach-artichoke wraps for our family dinner, a recipe I’ll post in the near future.
Although fresh tortilla-making isn’t likely to become an everyday event in most kitchens, I recommend trying it with your kids at least once. Just because they’re fun!