Let’s Get Cooking Now….For our 90 Days of Summer Fun idea, roll up your sleeves and get out your aprons because we’re heading to the kitchen! A study conducted by the University of Alberta, Canada found that children who help with food preparation and experiment with food in the kitchen are more likely to try new foods and make healthier food choices when they grow older. Cooking also allows children the opportunity to create something that they can be proud of and share with others. So if you have a child that shows an interest in cooking read on for tips, resources and recipes that will prepare you to whisk up some delicious treats.
Here are some tips for creating a safe and fun kitchen for you and your chef:
Start with an organized chef’s corner
Have your child or children set up at their own cooking station where they can have easy access to all the measuring cups, mixing bowls and other materials that they may need without having to reach far or move around the kitchen.
Make food fun and educational
Incorporate family traditions or make your own creations, plus use it as an opportunity to practice fractions, measurements, conversions and reading. Chocolate chips will be their own reward.
Find kid friendly recipes
Kids cookbooks are a great investment if you have a child with an interest in culinary arts. We like this one from PBS Kids that features tons of easy to follow recipes with simple ingredients and best of all— no need for sharp tools or a stove!
Touch, Taste, Hear, See and Smell
Cooking is great for children because it is a tactile experience that can involve all five senses. Have fun with the experience of pouring ingredients together and seeing how they change as you mix them. Use your hands to kneed dough and watch as it rises. And of course, enjoy tasting the finished product!
Don’t cry over spilt milk
Cooking can get messy—let it! Flour will get all over your counters, eggs will break and yes, milk will spill but that’s all part of the experience of cooking. Don’t stress and enjoy the mess.
Create a safe environment for your child to explore and create in. If you need to chop, grate or peel something, do it ahead of time, or assign the task to your child if it is age appropriate. Supervision is key to safety so be sure you’re present and focused on the task at hand. For more safety tips and information on tasks suitable for children based upon their age group check out this article from the Food Network.
Take it To The Next Level
Be spontaneous. If your child connects to one aspect of the cooking, decides they’re more interested in gardening herbs or wants to make a cooking show, go for it. Mine did.
For easy to follow RECIPES and tips on how to make cooking fun for all ages, take a look at the links below.
•House of Bedlam Blog – This blog chronicles one mom’s attempt at creating delicious and healthy meals for her three young boys.
•Yum-O Recipe Search – A database of yummy recipes searchable by age and food category.
Apps for Healthy Kids– The Apps for Healthy Kids competition was a part of First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! campaign to end childhood obesity within a generation. Apps for Healthy Kids challenged software developers, game designers, students, and other innovators to develop fun and engaging software tools and games that drive children, especially “tweens” (ages 9-12) – directly or through their parents – to eat better and be more physically active.
TocaBoca – Toca Kitchen-Children can prepare food for hungry characters by chopping, blending, frying and baking with this virtual kitchen.
Fairlady Media – Grandma’s Kitchen-Cook up fun and learning in Grandma’s Kitchen! Bake together some compound words, snatch healthy veggies hiding in the fridge, and use ingredients to make and decorate a cake. This dancing Grandma needs you to spot the differences between the desserts, count by tens to tally the cookies, and choose the clock that shows when your cake will be done. Plus, watch videos of real-live cooking action alongside dear ol’ Grandma!
Common Sense Media’s Fun with Food Apps. A selection of foodie faves from one of our favorite resources, Common Sense Media.
Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen App for cleaner eats. EWG publishes its annual rating The Dirty Dozen that includes conventional foods with the most and least pesticide residues.