3 Best Ways to Get Kids Cooking

Do your children like to help in the kitchen? Have you asked them and encouraged them?

Most children love to “help” in the kitchen. This help may not always be appreciated but their enthusiasm should be encouraged. Being excited about working in the kitchen is a good trait for any child.

Here are three excellent ways to get kids cooking:

1. The #1 way to get kids cooking is to encourage and involve them in the work of the kitchen.  Give them simple chores to do, depending on the age of the child. Setting the table, mixing ingredients, and washing food, such as lettuce in a colander are jobs even preschoolers can do. It may take a little more time and patience sharing your kitchen with young ones, but the smiles on their faces will more than compensate for a little flour on the floor or other spills.

2. Give children choices. The #2 way of getting kids in the kitchen is to give them choices in what they can do. For example, “Do you want to grease the pan or measure the sugar?  Or you can ask “Would you like to put the napkins on the table or the silverware?” Eventually you may get them interested in doing both chores. Just make it sound interesting! Let them know this is a special job just for them. You may say: “You’re the only one in this family who knows where the knives, forks, and spoons go.”

3. Prepare simple foods with them and let them sample when it’s ready. Children feel good about the food they prepare and want to taste it. This is a good time to give them a little more information about the food. You can tell them where it is grown and some of the processes it went through to get to the stage it is now. Let them feel the food and talk about the color and the shape. What else do they know that is that color or that shape? How does it smell?  Is it hot or is it cold? When they taste it, is it salty? Is it sweet? Have them describe how it looks and tastes.

By following these suggestions you will have excited and willing help in the kitchen  –  perhaps even promising young chefs. Many great cooks attribute their skill and interest in cooking to their earlier years when they were encouraged to help their parents or other adults prepare food.

For help in selecting recipes to prepare with children, check out the children’s cookbook, Cooking Around the Country With Kids: USA Regional Recipes and Fun Activities by Amy Houts. This cookbook helps parents and children work together in celebrating America’s cultural diversity through foods from different regions of the country and shows where food is grown or harvested.

To your health and that of your family,

Lee Jackson
Nutrition Advocate
http://www.healthykidseatingtips.com

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Get Kids in the Kitchen This Holiday

Old-Fashioned Christmas Butter Cookies

Image by Sifu Renka via Flickr

Are you saying, “but it takes too long to work with my kids in the kitchen”, or “it’s too messy when they help me”? In her book, Cooking Around the Calendar with Kids: Holiday and Seasonal Food and Fun, Amy Houts says that with a little planning and imagination, you can make holiday baking stress-free and enjoyable. The part children will remember is that they were able to “help” you in the kitchen.

Some points to remember when working with children:

  • Read through the recipe completely from top to bottom. Talk about the recipe. Explain what you will do and what the child will do. Know what needs to be done first, second, and so on.
  • Emphasize hand washing. Be a role model for your child. Practice food safety.
  • Collect all of the ingredients and tools that you need before you begin.
  • Measure everything carefully.
  • Clean up as you go.

Using this strategy, will help make cookie baking or any food work much more pleasant and enjoyable.

To your cooking enjoyment,

Lee Jackson, food writer

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How to Make Cooking Safe and Fun

Now that school is over, or almost over, children will be home for longer periods. Make those days productive and fun. Working with them in the kitchen can be a fun, educational and a safe activity, providing certain rules are followed.

Following directions
In all aspects of life, there are certain rules that must be followed. Working in the kitchen requires certain rules and directions as well. Depending on the age of the child, you may need to repeat directions on how to do different jobs.

Tell and then show the child what needs to be done. Show how to “cut-in” butter into a flour-sugar mixture, for example, using two table knives or a pastry blender. Explain what “folding-in” means and use the spatula to show how you gently bring the spatula over and over to “fold-in” the ingredient. This often refers to folding-in beaten egg whites into the remainder of the ingredients.

Some children can remember a list of more than one jobs. For example, for some you can say: please get out the big bowl, the mixing spoon and the measuring cups. For others, asking the child to do one or two jobs at a time may be appropriate.

Read the recipe out loud to help everyone know what you will be doing. Pictures help, too.

Offer praise and thanks

Make sure you praise the child for offering to help and the work  done. You can also offer such statements as: “We really make a good team here in the kitchen.” “You are doing such a good job of following directions”. “Thank you for helping today.” Won’t our family be surprised when they taste what we made today?”

Following safety rules
There are certain safety rules that must be followed when working with children in the kitchen, such as:

Always wash your hands before working in the kitchen.
Young children should not use sharp knives.
Small appliances are not play toys.
Potholders and not towels are for handling hot dishes. Towels could catch fire from the stove.
Handles of pots and pans should be turned inward.
Always use a separate spoon when tasting food.

Do you have stories about working with children in the kitchen?

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How to Prevent Kitchen Accidents

Edison Edicraft toaster, ca.Image via Wikipedia

Here is a list of potentially dangerous home situations. I suggest you discuss them with another member of your family. What would you do if any of the following occurred in your home?

Jennifer has just broken a glass in the sink. How should she clean it up?

Halley just came home from the store with some cleanser and bleach. Where should they be stored?

Meridee is washing dishes but wants to go and turn on TV. What should she do first and why?

She also splashed some water on the floor. What should she do?

Juluis has a pizza in the oven and is ready to take it out. What should he do first? Then what? Then?

Matt is tall but not tall enough to reach a high shelf for a plate. Other than call for help, what should he do?

B.J. was making some toast and a slice got caught in the toaster. What should B.J. do?

Hope you’ve come up with  safe ways of handling these situations.

Here’s to working safely in the kitchen,

Chef Crombie

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