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This Kid-Friendly Dinner Recipe is Big on Flavor — And Protein 

Last Update: June 5, 2024

Now that summer is here and the afternoons seem to stretch out a bit longer than usual, getting the kids involved in the kitchen is a great way to keep them busy and teach them about healthy eating. It’s never too early to include your little ones in your family’s cooking efforts, and this simple yet flavorful recipe for teriyaki chicken lettuce wraps offers ample opportunities for the kids to help out. 

Whether they’re old enough to grate carrots or just about able to help smash cucumbers, this family-friendly dinner recipe is a great way to get the whole family cooking together. Plus, it’s loaded with protein, filled with vegetables, and doesn’t require much heat, so it makes the perfect wholesome summer dinner even as the temperatures start to climb. 

For more kid-friendly recipes like this one, try these Cornflake-Crusted Fish or Portobello Mushroom Sticks!

Teriyaki Chicken Lettuce Wraps With Smashed Cucumber Salad & Jasmine Rice 

Yield: 4 servings
Active Time: 35 minutes  
Total Time: 35 minutes

Ingredients

2 boneless & skinless chicken breasts to poach (roughly 1.25 lbs) or leftover roasted chicken (thighs and breasts both work) 
⅓ bunch cilantro and/or ½ bunch mint, stems reserved  
5-6 Persian cucumbers, ends trimmed 
1 large head romaine lettuce, stemmed 
3 carrots or about 1 cup pre-shredded carrots 
1 cup white jasmine rice
4 teaspoons toasted sesame oil, divided
1 cup mung bean sprouts or thinly sliced bell pepper 
3-4 tablespoons teriyaki
1 ½ tablespoons plus ¼ teaspoon rice vinegar, divided
2 teaspoons coconut aminos
2 teaspoons sesame seeds, optional
4-6 tablespoons peanuts, roughly chopped (cashews and sunflower seeds work too)
2-3 limes, quartered 

Instructions

Parent step: Remove leftover chicken from the fridge and bring it to room temperature. If poaching chicken, place in a pot, add 1 tsp salt, and cover with *cold* water by 1 inch. Bring to a boil, cover, and lower temperature to maintain a soft simmer until cooked through, about 10 minutes. Remove to a plate to cool. You can save the broth to cook your rice.

Parent step: Start the rice. Cook according to package directions, using the reserved poaching liquid if you like, plus a good pinch of salt, 2 teaspoons sesame oil, and the cilantro stems for added flavor. Once cooked through, turn the heat off and let sit covered for another 5 minutes. Add ¼ teaspoon rice vinegar and fluff with a fork. 

Kid step: While the rice is cooking, place the cucumbers on top of a tea towel, then use a rolling pin to lightly smash the long side over the cucumbers, just until they crack (not burst apart). Once each cucumber is lightly smashed, place them in a wide bowl and break them into 1- to 2-inch pieces. 

Parent step: Lightly salt the cucumbers, toss, pour into a colander, and place it over the same bowl. Refrigerate for at least 5 minutes while you finish prepping to draw out excess water. 

Kid step: 

In any order: 

  • Older kids can use a box grater to grate the carrots and add to a small bowl. (If using pre-shredded carrots, kids of any age can measure them out and add to a bowl.) 
  • Gently break and separate the leaves of the romaine, placing loose leaves in a bowl. Reserve the small inner leaves for another time. 
  • Pull the cooled chicken into long, thin strips, roughly the width of their fingers, and place them in another bowl. 

Family step: Remove cucumbers from the fridge, discard the drained liquid, then add to the clean bowl. Add in remaining sesame oil, rice wine vinegar, and coconut aminos. Kids can help stir to fully coat and sprinkle the sesame seeds on top. 

Kid step: In the bowl with the chicken, pour the teriyaki sauce over it and stir with a spoon or hands to coat fully. 

Family step: Set out of the bowls of lettuce leaf wraps, teriyaki pulled chicken, grated carrots, beans, herbs, nuts, and lime wedges. Build your own wraps! 

Serve with cucumber salad and rice on the side. 

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Amy Roberts

Amy Roberts is Thrive Market's Senior Editorial Writer. She is based in Los Angeles via Pittsburgh, PA.

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