Uzbekistan- Fun Facts & Easy Recipe

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Although it’s the middle of summer, this stew is perfect any time of the year. Serve with crusty bread and you’ve got a simple weeknight dinner set to go.

Market List:

  • 2 large carrots
  • 2 medium onions
  • 2 medium tomatoes
  • 1 bunch of cilantro
  • 1 bunch of dill
  • 1 lemon
  • 1/2 cup of Turkish apricots
  • 1 1/2 cups red lentils
  • 1 cup basmati rice
  • Sunflower oil
  • 1 tbsp Cumin, 1 tsp garlic powder and 1 bay leaf
  • Salt & Pepper to tast

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From My Kitchen to Yours,



Creating a Global Birthday Party Theme

As a summer birthday kid, I always enjoyed creating my own themed birthday party. One year, I made homemade cow pies (out of dirt & wood boards obviously;) for a cowboy themed party and my favorite party of all was a carnival theme where neighbor kids could come buy tickets, have snacks and visit different stations….I always had to be the fortune teller!

Now as a grown up, I love to host parties and enjoy every step of the planning process. Hospitality is an important part of celebrating life events and traditions. Making people feel welcome and cared for makes us all feel amazing.

Kid parties can get really expensive so an alternative option is having a world themed party right at home. Let your kid choose the activities and plan the party so they can learn to host parties early on and use their creativity to plan a one of a kind celebration.

Global Birthday Party Ideas

  1. Pick a Destination. Have your kid choose a country or just do a world theme. For this post, I will pick Zanzibar to show you activity examples.
  2. Pick a Color Palate. Choose the colors of Zanzibar’s flag (green, black, yellow & bright blue) and find these colors for plates, cups, balloons, table cloths, streamers etc. iStock_000026487697_Large
  3. Teach Kids How to Cook a Meal/Snack. Find a simple recipe from your destination (Check out my Maharagwe recipe here) but try it out at home first. This will help you decide whether or not it’s easy enough for kids to do it within an hour or less. The less cooking time, the better since kids won’t focus for too long. Give everyone a simple task like peeling & chopping veggies with kid safe utensils (Curious Chef), measuring spices, rinsing beans, plucking herbs off stems. *Always be sure to ask about any allergies your guests may have!
  4. Activity Table. Set up a space with a few crafts lined up. Get some washable crayons, colored pencils, fun paper, stamps with ink and blank puzzles from a craft store. Some great ideas are making treasure maps & country flags. Give kids basic instructions or a template and let their creativity soar.canstockphoto16283272
  5. Play Games. Set up a scavenger hunt based off facts of Zanzibar. Example Zanzibar is known as the Spice Islands since they grow cinnamon, nutmeg and other spices, where do you think the next clue could be hidden?” Hide the next clue in your spice cupboard of course. Or have kids come up with a list of 8 items they would pack for a trip to Zanzibar. Make it more challenging with using only the letters of the country. Example: Z= ziploc bag to keep things dry and so on.
  6. Goodie Bags. The very best part of the day! Fill them up with little maps, passports, stamps, stickers, the recipe you made, an apron, art supplies or a cooking utensil. Oriental Trading has adorable & affordable world themed trinkets and be sure to check your local craft store for other treasures.canstockphoto2088109

Planning a global birthday party doesn’t have to be expensive or difficult. Keep it simple, creative & joyful and your kid will have the best birthday memories!

From my kitchen to yours,





Dinner in Zanzibar

Maharagwe | Beans in Coconut Milk

Serves 4. Total Time 45 Minutes



Kitchen Supplies:

  • 2 medium frying pans (1 for the main dish & 1 for the protein)
  • 1 small frying pan (for the fried bananas)
  • 2 pots & lids (1 for the veggie side dish & 1 for rice or couscous
  • 2 cutting boards (1 for veggies & 1 for protein)
  • 2 knives (always handle with an adult)
  • Measuring cups & spoons
  • 2 stirring spoons
  • 1 colander
  • Salt & pepper

Market List:

  • 1 medium yellow onion
  • 3 large tomatoes (fresh or canned-enough for 2 cups)
  • 1 bunch of fresh cilantro
  • Your choice of a fresh veggie for a side dish.
  •  1 can of pinto beans
  • 1 can of unsweetened coconut milk, not coconut cream
  • Coconut oil, 3 tbsp
  • 1-2 cups of couscous or your favorite kind of rice
  • Brown sugar, 1 tbsp
  • 1 tbsp turmeric, 1 tsp garlic powder, 4 cardamom pods or 1 tsp ground, 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • *Protein (optional)- 1 poundof shrimp, fish, tofu or chicken



1. Always wash your hands first!

2. Wash the cilantro & tomatoes (if you’re using fresh ones).

3. Peel the onion & dice it into small pieces.

4. Chop 2 cups of tomatoes or open the can.

5. Rinse the can of pinto beans in a colander.

6. Pluck the leaves off of the cilantro stems & chop the leaves, just enough for 1/2 cup.

7. Shake then open the can of coconut milk.

8. Cut your choice of protein into bite size pieces (or skip this step if vegan/vegetarian).

9. Prepare your veggie as you would like for the side dish.


1. Prepare rice or couscous as directed on the package.

2. Add 2 tbsp of coconut oil & diced onions to the frying pan. Sauté the onions on medium heat until they’re clear (about 5-7 minutes).

3. Add 1 tsp turmeric, 1 tsp garlic powder, 4 cracked cardamom pods, 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg, 2 cups of tomatoes, can of coconut milk & rinsed pinto beans to the cooked onions. Add 1 tsp salt & 1 tsp pepper. Stir well.

4. Cook the protein separately, however you prefer to make it (or skip this step). Set aside.

5. Add the protein to the stew (or skip this step).

6. Add the chopped cilantro leaves & simmer (cook on low heat) for 10-15 minutes. Stir occasionally.

7. Cook your choice of vegetable for a side dish.

8. Serve Maharagwe over rice or couscous.

9. Enjoy your meal, *Furahia Moo Wake!


Why Kids Need to Learn about the World

The more I learn about another culture, the more I realize how people across the globe share many more similarities than differences. We (most people) all do the best we can given our circumstances, we want the best for ourselves and families & we all love good food!

My parents encouraged me to see world from a young age and that made me incredibly curious and excited to learn as much as I could. I was lucky to come from a family that embraced two cultures, Iranian and Italian, but I grew up in a very non-diverse city in Wisconsin. This sparked my curiosity even more- I craved exotic dishes and wanted to meet people with totally different experiences than I had.

Global Gastronauts international cooking boxes was created to ensure that kids can learn about the world right at home, no matter where they live. Here are some reasons why your kids need to be learning about the world early on.

  1. Exposing kids to the unfamiliar activates new ways of thinking. Stepping outside of our comfort zone can be hard, but it’s often not as difficult as we make it out to be in our heads. The sooner kids are exposed to something different, the less scary it becomes growing up. Trying something new helps build open minds and hearts that are confident and courageous, Give your kids the right opportunities to encounter the unfamiliar right at home. See our first blog post about activities to do as a family.
  2. Learning about the world helps us develop empathy and inclusivity. We all have the need to be accepted by others, especially as children. In my own experience, kids who bully others are often intimidated by someone who is different from what they know and understand. You all can think of a kid who was ignored or bullied for being different. Learning to understand how other people live can help ease the fear of the unfamiliar. Ask questions about your child’s classmates who are ignored or picked on for being different. Then come up with ways your kid can include that someone. If your child is uncomfortable with this, ask more questions to get a better idea of the source of discomfort. Find a solution that’s right for your family.
  3. Cultural education can help break stereotypes and misconceptions. We all have heard stereotypes of specific groups of people and these misconceptions exist everywhere in the world. I’m always fascinated to learn what stereotypes people in different countries have, even here in the US.  I heard MANY misconceptions about Americans and the USA while traveling, which did affect me in various circumstances (I will save those stories for another post:). The bottom line is, talk about stereotypes, racism, and other social issues of culture with your kids. Start the discussion early and come up with ways for your family to become even more culturally inclusive. The more interaction we have with people who are different, whether it’s a kid at school or someone from a different culture, the more kids will see and embrace our similarities.

From my kitchen to yours,



How does your family learn about new cultures and what resources are available in your community?

Don’t Do’s in Thailand. A Tale of Weird Travel Stories.

Learn from my rookie travel mistakes and have a good chuckle. We all have awkward stories to share so here are a few of mine!

A decade ago, was young & naive midwestern 24 year old who had fallen in love with Thai culture over a 3 week trip during my last year of college. How could you not fall in love with the Land of Smiles? It’s one of the most beautiful places in the world. So a week after I graduated college, I was back on a plane to teach English in southern Thailand. 

I lived in a small quiet city called Trang in the southern peninsula. I chose this place because it was off the tourist path and I wanted to get a better feel for the culture. I spent most weekends going on road trips to small tropical islands nearby with my new friends. School holidays were spent traveling to Chiang Mai (where I visited first in college), but mostly south to Malaysia for visa renewals better known as “visa runs.”

During these trips, I found myself in a few sketchy situations al due to my lack of research and mostly my naiveté. Things could have gone terribly wrong, but I’m grateful for these experiences that snapped me out of my midwestern “everyone is so nice and friendly here!” mentality.

1. Don’t ride a motorbike unprotected.

a. Motorbikes are the easiest way of transportation around Thailand and pretty cheap to rent or buy.  Helmets are a must (duh).  Many people are careless drivers and people die everyday from motorbike accidents. Don’t be dumb, protect yourself. It’s that simple. 

b. I bought a really cute Suzuki motorbike that I drove to school everyday usually while wearing a skirt. This wardrobe left me with many “Thai Tattoos.” These are not the edgy bamboo kind of tattoos either. These are nasty burns from brushing your calves against the hot exhaust pipes. Luckily, those scars faded after a few months, but boy do they hurt! Pants are a much better choice despite the hot sticky weather.

c. As for having your belongings on your bike, wear your bag across your shoulders or around neck so your bag is both on and in front of you

Once while driving at night (right before the crazy Full Moon party), some dreamy guy drove up right next to me, flashed a beautiful smile then snatched my bag right out of the basket. ALL. WHILE. DRIVING

I screamed then laughed as I watched him drive off into the dark night with my stuff. I didn’t have anything too valuable inside, but it was pretty scary. I could have easily avoided that by 1. Not driving on some random road all alone at night & 2. Not making myself the perfect tourist target with my big old backpack on.

Don’t worry, I was just parking & not driving without a helmet. But the skirt &stuff in basket were a no no!
2. Don’t go to a new place without doing ANY research. I’m all about going with the flow, but planning ahead is how you can accomplish that. I ended up in a handful of super shady guest houses due to my lack of research. I could have avoided feeling totally creeped out if I had planned my trips better.

Having to go on visa runs every 90 days, I usually went to a great little hostel called Jim’s Place on the famous Chulia St. in Penang, Malaysia. During a week off from school, I was in Penang and decided to travel to the west coast Perhentian islands for a relaxing beach getaway. 

I didn’t know exactly how to get to these islands (no internet on phones those days) and assumed I could easily find the ferry port. Instead, I ended up way south of those islands and had to spend a night at some sketchy hostel in some random town. Not fun. 

The next day, I found a nearby island to visit which sounded perfect. So I got on a ferry and was bamboozled into paying way more than I budgeted for just to stay at the only open resort on the island. When I arrived, I realized someone had stolen my cell phone on the ferry. I was getting used to having stuff stolen by now!

It wasn’t exactly the trip I had in mind and I went way over budget, but Redang Island was incredibly beautiful and quiet nonetheless. I still made the best of trip and enjoyed my time exploring.

Dreamy, right?
3. Don’t do something you wouldn’t do at home. Laws are not the same in Thailand as they are at home. That means don’t do the dumb stuff other people do.  

Some bus drivers take uppers to stay awake while driving at night, many people don’t wear helmets or seatbelts, and the party scene can get REALLY out of hand. Never take risks with your safety (another duh).

Once I took a bus to a city a few hours away one weekend (I forget where) and had to head back to Trang on a Sunday night for school the next day. I got to the bus station late and the last bus back to Trang was completely full. I explained to the driver that I needed to get on this bus. He said “OK, but you’ll have to ride in the luggage area under the bus.” I laughed because that was totally absurd, but then he opened the door and I saw a few other people already slouched in there against suitcases. I said “F*** it”, hopped in and was terrified the whole way home. In retrospect, I should have paid ANY amount for a taxi ride home. 

Four stolen cell phones, a handful of Thai tattoo scars and just a few bucks left, I came home in one piece with a bunch stories to share. What tips do you have for safety while traveling? I’d love to hear your weird travel experiences!

From my kitchen to yours,



See the World from Home

Let’s be honest- traveling with little kids is not easy. Just the thought of taking my toddler on a 2 hour flight makes me want to take a nap right now. However, I do have high hopes for traveling internationally with my family one day….perhaps in 5 years when mommy brain has disappeared. That goes away right?  Well, until that happens, I’ve come up with some fun and easy ways to travel the world right at home.

1. Pick a country you want to visit. Have each family member choose a country they want to see. Can’t think of one? Spin a globe, close your eyes and plop your finger down somewhere. I spent hours as a kid doing this! Learn about everyone’s country at your own pace (weekly or monthly). After learning about each country, choose one you’d all love to visit together.

Malou Zuidema - Global Gastronauts - Earth2. Cook a dish from that country. No need to create anything elaborate after searching high and low for exotic & pricey spices. We’ve got you covered. Simple recipes + kid friendly spice packs= Global Gastronauts international cooking boxes. Check out our shop to see what countries we’ve featured and what all comes in a cooking box (Hint: useful, adorable & creative stuff that your kids will adore!)

Malou Zuidema - Global Gastronauts - Utensils3. Learn basic phrases. Explore the language a bit by finding some conversational phrases and quiz each other over dinner. Practice rolling those Rs and don’t forget to laugh at yourself!
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4. Create a family vision board. Buy poster board, markers, glue & stickers and give each family member a task. Tasks can be: finding books at the library or bookstore, looking up articles online, clipping scenic pictures from magazines and finding maps. Use anything that inspires you. Get creative and colorful!

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5. Set a goal and start a travel fund. Traveling does’t need to be luxurious or crazy expensive if you plan well in advance. Research your destination to get an idea of what a trip would cost (airfare, lodging, food, attractions, etc). Then come up with realistic ways to prioritize your disposable income. Don’t set goals that won’t work for your family- that will only discourage you from reaching your goal. I’d love to tell myself that I’ll cook every single day, but that’s not definitely not practical for me. What’s realistic, is reducing take out from 2 times a week to once a week. Another idea could be skipping out on one coffee shop drink a week & sticking that $5 right into the travel fund. That’s $240 a year. It all adds up!

Malou Zuidema - Global Gastronauts - SpoonsSo, get in the kitchen with your kids, try some new flavors from Global Gastronauts, learn about a fabulous new culture and stick to your travel fund goals. World travel has never been so easy & actually attainable with your family.

From my Kitchen to Yours-



How does your family explore the world at home?