Have Fun Cooking With Your Kids
Cooking is a skill for life and carries all sorts of benefits. If you can get your kids, even the youngest ones, interested in helping in the kitchen, they will become more adventuresome in their eating, it will enable them to eat much healthier and more economical food and help to keep their weight in check.
Kids will copy what you do in the kitchen, so if you use the microwave for all of your ‘cooking’, so will they. If you love food, enjoy preparing it from scratch and encourage the family to sit down to eat together, the chances are good that your kids will follow your example.
Getting the kids, from a really young age, to watch how you do it and as they get a bit more mature, letting them help with the stirring and chopping, etc., as well as licking the spoons and maybe even helping with the clearing up, will set them up for life as far as their attitudes toward food are concerned.
Kids enjoy the messy parts of cooking but we all know that we have to cover the practical bits as well, such as safety in the kitchen and, of course, the basics, then we can get to the fun part – cooking and eating the results.
Rules for kitchen safety
- No running in the kitchen.
- Oven gloves must always be used when taking dishes, pans, etc. out of the oven.
- Steam, whether from a kettle or pan, can scald skin and that hurts!
- Even after the equipment is turned off, stoves and ovens stay hot for quite a while.
- Always keep your fingers out of the way and have the blade of the knife pointing away from you.
- Never put any kitchen tool or your hand into a food processor while it is running or plugged in.
- Don’t try to fish bits of toast out of the toaster with a fork or knife while it’s plugged in.
- Make sure that everything – the stove, oven and grill – are turned off when you’re done cooking.
- Be aware that hot fat can splatter and spit so be very careful when adding anything to the fat.
- Never leave a fork or spoon in the pan when heating something on the stove.
Let’s Start With the Basics
Together with your kids, pick out recipes you all want to make and eat, then put together a menu for the week and figure out what you need to buy. Take the kids with you to the grocery store to buy the ingredients, check out contents of cans, packages and jars, compare prices for brands and amounts in the packages – show them what to look for.
Kids will often be far more interested and enthusiastic for trying new foods if they’re involved in choosing and cooking what they eat
- Read the recipe all the way through before you start and make sure you have all the ingredients before you start cooking.
- Get all the ingredients and utensils required out and ready before starting.
- Allow enough time to follow the recipe completely, try not to get distracted while cooking and don’t leave things on the stove while you talk on the phone or watch a TV show. Turn the stove off first.
- Always wash hands and tie back long hair before you start cooking.
- Use different chopping boards for meat, vegetables, fruit, bread, etc. Wash them carefully after each use.
- Keep some paper towels, a cloth or sponge handy to clean up spills so your cooking area stays clean.
- To prevent contamination, store cooked and raw food well covered on separate shelves in the fridge.
- Keep fish and meat covered and in the fridge until you need them and always cook them completely.
- Always wash your hands after handling raw meat, fish or eggs.
- Don’t use ingredients after their ‘use-by’ dates. With some fresh foods, you may have a little leeway with the ‘best-before’ dates, but if something smells off, throw it away, don’t use it.
Let’s Get Cooking
Now that we’ve covered some of the basics of cooking and safety, look at the recipes that follow and get cooking!
Pasta Sauce With Your ‘Five-a-Day’ Veggies
This sauce can be used in lots of ways – pour it over pasta or meatballs, stir into couscous or rice or use it as a healthier ketchup. It’s packed with veggie goodness and is great for freezing in handy portion-sized servings.
- 8 oz. butternut squash, peeled & diced
- 1 large carrot, peeled & diced
1/2 cup frozen peas
- 1 x 15oz can baked beans
- 2 x 15oz cans chopped tomatoes
- 1 tsp hot chilli powder (optional)
- 3.5 oz heavy cream (optional)
Put the carrots and squash in a saucepan, cover with water, cook until tender (8-10 mins.), add peas for last 2 mins. Drain and return to the pan.
- Add the baked beans to the pan and, with a hand blender, puree until smooth.
- To the vegetable puree, add both cans of tomatoes and bring to a boil.
- Reduce the heat and simmer for 4-5 mins.
- Remove from the heat and puree everything to a smooth sauce.
- To make an adult version, add the chilli and cream.
- Serve or chill and freeze for up to 1 month.
Flat Bread Pizzas
Makes 1 ‘pizza’ that serves 3-4, depending on appetite size
1 large naan or other flat bread
Your favorite base sauce – tomato or any other type
Your favorite cheese – mozzarella, cheddar, Monterey Jack
Your favorite toppings – slices of roast chicken, ham, pepperoni, anchovies, chopped green/red/chili peppers, sweet corn, pineapple pieces, cherry tomato halves
- Preheat the oven to 350°F / 180°C and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
- Lay the naan/flat bread on the cookie sheet.
- Spoon on a layer of your favorite pizza base sauce.
- Add your favorite grated or sliced cheese.
- Add all the other toppings you like.
- Bake in the oven for 12-15 minutes.
- Serve with a salad.
Wrap Up Sticky Chicken & Veggies
4 chicken breasts, sliced into finger-sized strips
2 tbsp sunflower oil
1 green or red pepper, sliced into strips
1/2 cucumber, sliced into thin finger-sized strips or slices
2-3 medium tomatoes, thinly sliced
4 tbsp tomato ketchup or Pasta Sauce With Your ‘Five-a-Day’ from above
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp olive oil
4 tsp tomato puree
4 tsp brown sugar
- Mix all the sauce ingredients in a bowl and set aside.
- Put the oil into a large skillet, turn heat to medium high, cook the chicken strips for a couple of mins., turning to cook each side.
- Add half of the sauce to the chicken once the strips are cooked. Cook until the sauce bubbles.
- Serve the chicken strips in tortilla wraps, add peppers, cucumber, tomatoes and lettuce.
- Spoon or drizzle over the sauce, wrap and enjoy!
These are just a few recipes you could prepare with your kids and it could be the beginning of a life long love of food and cooking for them. So, what are you waiting for, get started today.