by Kristy Roser Nuttall
Children and food naturally go together. At the beginning of your child’s life, you are the cook, and they depend on you from everything from pureed peas, to banana pancakes, to taco Tuesday. But when your child starts wandering around the kitchen looking for food or starts using the butter knife as a pirate sword or spoon as a magic fairy wand—it’s time to harness that raw kitchen energy and teach them to cook.
Promote your kid to chef!! My boys started helping me with kitchen tasks around age 1, so if your kids can hold a spoon or a plastic knife, they are ready to be your helper! Basically, it’s never too early, but it’s also never too late to get your kids cooking. And studies show that when kids help cook, they are more likely to actually try new foods and make healthier choices. Plus, an added bonus is the true sense of self satisfaction and accomplishment they feel when they help you make something or better yet, make it by themselves.
Where do you start though?
Snacks are an excellent place to begin. Here are some of my personal favorites:
Fruit kebabs: Have your child slide blueberries, grapes, strawberries, and orange pieces onto a plastic kebab stick—rainbow style optional.
Veggie and meat kebabs: Let your chef slide precooked meatballs onto a kebab stick with sliced veggies like green peppers, cucumbers, red peppers, or baked French fries.
Soft fruit slices: Let your child use a plastic knife or butter knife to cut up bananas, melons, or peaches.
Cracker stacks: Your son or daughter can be a creative genius with layers of cheese, peanut butter, apple slices, meat slices, or cream cheese.
Smoothies: Let your child help you add fruits, vegetables, yogurt, milk, etc. to make a one of a kind smoothie. Try adding tartness with lemon juice and sweetness with honey or stevia.
Toasted garbanzo beans: Help your child help open up a can of garbanzo beans, and then they can pour the beans through a colander, and put the beans on a pan. Get some nonstick spray and let your child spray the garbanzo beans. Hand over the salt and pepper shaker (or any other seasonings) and let them shake, shake, and shake until the seasoning lightly covers the beans, and then mix it around and put it in the oven for about 25 min. at 350F.
Boiled eggs: Have your child help you put the eggs in the pan and fill it up with water and turn the stove on. After the eggs are cooked, put them in a bowl of ice water so that the egg’s insides will shrink away from the shells. For added fun: Dye the eggs different colors—who says you can only do that on Easter? Then have fun peeling the eggs together.
Check out my upcoming blog posts on baking and dinner ideas. Remember that it’s a process—step, by step, little by little, but it’s definitely possible. Kids are capable of incredible things—even in the kitchen! Now if your son or daughter really wants to delve into their culinary side, sign them up for an after-school class or cooking camp.
How have your kids enjoyed helping in the kitchen? What are some of their favorite recipes or snacks? Please share in the comments section!
Looking for a listing of several cooking camps in the Houston area? Check out:
A couple of great listings on iQuriouskids are available.
And here’s a great e-course to try out: