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Kids in the kitchen: Tips and recipes for flavorful fun

  • “Cooking with kids is not just about ingredients, recipes and cooking. It’s about harnessing imagination, empowerment and creativity.” – Food Network Chef Guy Fieri

Now that we’re all home together because of coronavirus, it’s a great time to eat healthier and get your kids involved in the kitchen. Most kids like to help, and, with a little time and patience, can assist with menu planning, grocery shopping, prep and cooking!

Cooking encourages kids to explore food through touch, smell and taste – helping create positive associations with food which is especially great for picky eaters! Cooking is also a great for kids who are homeschooled or who are currently doing distance learning during the coronavirus quarantine.

Benefits of including kids in the kitchen:

  • Math skills are reinforced through counting and measuring ingredients in a recipe.
  • Science skills are taught when discussing how temperature changes foods, and how certain foods keep our bodies healthy.
  • New vocabulary words are introduced when describing food’s appearance, feel and taste.
  • Executive function and skills for planning and completing projects is practiced as recipes are followed start to finish.
  • Cooking together can also encourage a healthy lifestyle. It teaches your kids that you prioritize health rather than taking the easy way out with convenient processed foods. It also empowers kids when they feel their input is valued.

Cooking safety for kids:

Teaching kitchen safety at a young age is important, too. Tens of thousands of emergency room visits occur each year due to burns, cuts and other kitchen injuries. Small kitchen appliances like toasters and microwaves are often overlooked as sources of danger, but toddlers are clever enough to use them without understanding the hazards. If your child is too young to follow written directions, they are too young to use a microwave or toaster without supervision. It’s also important to supervise kids when you introduce them to using sharp tools. Kid-friendly options are available to help kids as young as 3 years old practice cooking skills under supervision. I like the Zulay nylon kitchen knives, for example!

After everyone washes their hands, here are some easy ways to get your kids involved in the kitchen!

How young kids can help in the kitchen: 

  • add pre-measured ingredients into your mixing bowl and help you stir
  • crumble cheese
  • form and cut cookies
  • mash potatoes with a masher
  • rinse canned beans
  • roll meatballs
  • roll out dough or help make pasta
  • shred cheese or grate garlic
  • turn on the blender or mixer
  • wash fruits and vegetables
  • whisk eggs.

How older kids can help in the kitchen:

  • coat chicken strips in egg and cereal batter
  • clean countertop surfaces and utensils
  • help menu plan and grocery shop
  • measure and add ingredients and spices
  • mix together cookies or cakes, and bake
  • peel and slice vegetables like carrots, cucumbers, tomatoes and potatoes
  • place ingredients onto skewers
  • pour batter onto a griddle and flip pancakes
  • saute or stir together ingredients on the stove top

Eventually, as you evaluate your child’s skills in the kitchen, supervise them as they move on to making a salad, side dish, meal or dessert on their own. If you have a budding chef – or just a curious kid – there are many mail-order Cooking Kits that come with recipes and any needed ingredients and tools. Lastly, HealthyChildren.org has great ideas for parents of picky eaters, kitchen safety, easy recipe ideas, healthy food choices, and feeding/nutrition tips for every age.

Recipes for kids to cook:

Get in the kitchen and have fun with your kids! Here are three recipes to get you started.

Baked new potato wedges

Cheese pizza bagels

Strawberry banana pudding cups

 

 

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