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A very popular saying goes “A family that eats together stays together”, when it really should be “A family that cooks together stays together”. All across the households of the world exists one question which is dreaded by most parents and that is – what’s for dinner?
Getting healthy and sumptuous food on the dinner table every single day is a mammoth task for most parents. It’s worse when your kids are fussy eaters and wish to thrive on a strict diet of only cheerios, burgers and chicken fingers.
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The Idea of Cooking with Kids
Many psychologists and specialists are now realizing and broadcasting the worth and benefits of encouraging healthy eating in children by getting them involved in the process itself. When children cook something and see the delicious results, they are proud of themselves and are much more likely to want to eat it!
If you can relate to all of this, then do not miss out the range of advantages, recipes and kitchen equipment that will make it a piece of cake for you to imbibe better eating habits in your child. Nourishment and enjoyment can go hand in hand in this world when kids cook with their moms and dads!
It May Sound Daunting, but Cooking with Kids Is Fun and Valuable
Cooking with your children might seem like a far-fetched idea at the moment. At a time when even adults find it difficult to take out time for cooking meals at home and are hardly ever cooking from scratch, asking children to contribute may seem dubious.
Cultivate healthy diets
Since decades, research has been telling us that cooking homemade meals is the simplest path to good health, particularly, when it comes to our kids. Sharing the job of feeding the family teaches children how to be responsible for the day-to-day functions of the household.
Children who help cook meals have been found to have a greater preference for vegetables. Schools throughout the country and the world are implementing cookery into their curriculum in an effort to improve children’s diets.
Not only are you making your kids responsible and healthier, but you are also doing a great deal to make them independent and self-sustaining. Kids as small as 3 can be helpful in and around the kitchen (read on for age appropriate cooking skills below)
By the time your child reaches the eighth grade, they will be able to cook soups, sauces, curries and even dumplings from scratch. Your home kitchen also adds an environment of safety and you may also want to make your kitchen more children-friendly and safe.
Speaking about food and health, watch the TED video presented by Jamie Oliver and you will learn why it’s important to teach our kids about a balance diet.
Better Bonding Moments
Cooking will help develop a love of the kitchen, the importance of good, healthy food and also skills they will very much require and thank you for in the near future. Moreover, cooking helps you bond and connect with your little ball of mush through food.
Won’t you want to have a cooking partner who just knows what your need?
Children’s behavioral problems also find a solution through the act of cooking with their families. It may sound and feel a little inconvenient at first, but kids are the best learners and memories associated with food last long.
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Cooking by Age
Now that you are considering of cooking with the latest members of your family, there are certain activities of the kitchen which your kid can partake in depending on her/his age. This list of age-appropriate kitchen tasks will make kitchen times much less overwhelming.
Under 3 years old
There’s only so much a toddler can do – eat, sleep, cry and repeat. Your little one can still be introduced and made comfortable to the kitchen environment once they are at least 18 months old. You can talk to them while in the kitchen and familiarize them with food.
Age 3 to 5 years old
Stirring, mashing, washing, sprinkling, tearing, squashing, spreading butter, and light kneading can turn your mundane kitchen hours into those of fun and bonding. Kids will love and excel at these simple and relaxing tasks and will surely lend you a helping hand.
Age 5 to 7 years old
Now that your kid is skilled at the activities recommended for 3 to 5 year olds, introducing some trickier techniques will be a smooth transition. You may think about buying some kid-friendly kitchen equipment too at this point.
Cutting and snipping herbs, learning to hold a knife, measuring ingredients, greasing and lining cake trays, setting the table, peeling oranges, etc. are suitable skills for this age group. These adorable kitchen apron and equipment sets will definitely make your little one want to rush to the kitchen.
Age 8 to 11 years old
This age group of children understands concepts of planning and following recipes. You can help them polish their skills better by asking their suggestions for planning family meals, finding ingredients in the fridge, whisking, making salads, using a peeler and even opening up lids and cans. Shredding cheese and veggies, following simple recipes and using an oven (under supervision) is also appropriate.
Ages above 12 years old
This is the age where children learn and also begin improvising on what they have been learning since almost a decade. This is also the time when they need to be taught the value of patience, time and following instructions.
Moreover, fining motor skills, learning to identify tastes and textures, reading and following recipes, and most importantly learning about food hygiene is vital at this stage.
All in all, there is a strong urge as parents to tell children what to do. You might be worried in the start, but relax and enjoy this phase of parenthood. Looking after their safety comes foremost while also keeping in mind not to force anything on your lovely children.
Let them take things one at a time and see what they like and don’t. Comfort is the key here, because delicious food only comes from the heart!
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Simply Delicious Recipes for Kids, Mums and Dads
You didn’t think we’d leave you just with suggestions! Here are some lip-smacking and surprisingly simple yet healthy recipes your kids can make with you.
1. Cream Cheesy Cucumber Sandwich
Sandwiches are a hit with kids and the most convenient form of nourishing children. For this one all you’ll need is cream cheese, cucumbers, whole-wheat bread, knife, cutting board and 10 minutes.
Ask your little one to spread the cream cheese and maybe even to lend you a helping hand at slicing cucumber. Opt for your kid’s favorite sandwich veggies to get your own personal twist. Refer to this recipe for more info.
2. Pizza Soup
Your kid’s love for pizza transformed into a bowl full of nourishment! This recipe lets you combine all of your favorite veggies and herbs in a bowl of soup and a side of mozzarella cheese laden toast will make this a hit with your kids and family.
Sauté the veggies and cook them in meat or beef broth. Add some tomato puree and sauce for the tanginess and garnish with cheese. Your kid could help with the slicing, stirring and cooking too.
3. Salads for Kids
The easiest thing on the menu most times is a plate full of fresh salad. The Pinwheel salad is easy to make and can surely be made by your child alone.
Ask them to wash, peel and slice cucumbers, tomatoes, carrots, radish and capsicum in their favorite shapes. Using lettuce as a base for the salad is a good idea too.
Try including as many fresh vegetables as possible and teach them presentation skills by decorating the salad in the form of a pinwheel. Check out Today’s Parent for the more children friendly salad recipes.
This may sound ambitious, but if you work towards teaching your children the importance and benefits of cooking, then there will soon come a day when you ask your kid – “Hey, what’s for dinner?” Having said that let your children unleash their imagination and skills in the kitchen and let them make mistakes. Cooking with moms and dads is a revelation and kids understand a lot about life through such activities.
These days will be cherished and the food you all cook together will be reminisced. Your kids will have even fonder memories of you growing up and soon you will feel like friends, equal. Hope this article has sparked some creativity in you! Waiting to hear your food-bonding stories!
Gordan LaddLifestyle Culinary Blogger