It’s hard to find time to spend with your kids in a day filled with work, school, and other activities. So, when it’s time to make a meal, get your kids involved and spend some quality time in the kitchen with your family!

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There are many benefits in getting your kids involved in the preparation, cooking, and conversation of food, such as:

  1. Instruct children to safely use kitchen utensils, such as knives and blenders.
  2. Introduce children to different dishes and foods from all around the world and explain where the food originated from.
  3. Growing your own produce will allow kids to learn important concepts about how vegetables and fruits are produced and cultivated.
  4. Teach your children to develop healthy eating habits.
  5. When the meal is over, teach them that cleaning is an important part of making a meal
  6. And most importantly, spend family time and create special memories in the kitchen!

For each age group, here are some great activities for children to develop their cooking skills and recipes to practice these skills:

Toddler:

  • stirring ingredients in a bowl
  • tear lettuce/greens
  • place things in trash
  • wiping off tables

Preschool(ages 3-5):

  • rinse produce
  • pour liquids into a bowl
  • get ingredients out of the fridge and pantry
  • name and count foods

Recipe: Maple Almond Granola (makes 12 servings)

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups old fashioned oats
  • 1 cup whole raw almonds, divided
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/4 cup sesame seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • dash of cinnamon
  • 8 Tablespoons real maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 cup dried fruit, optional

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees then line a baking sheet with a silpat or parchment paper and set aside.
  2. Combine oats, 1/2 cup almonds, pecans, sesame seeds, salt, and cinnamon in a large bowl. Roughly chop remaining almonds then add to the bowl and mix to combine. In a small saucepan, melt coconut oil in maple syrup. Once melted remove from heat and stir in vanilla and almond extracts. Pour into oat mixture then stir until well coated.
  3. Spread mixture onto prepared baking sheet then bake for 25-30 minutes, stirring halfway through, or until granola is golden brown (granola will not be crunchy when hot.) Cool completely then stir in dried fruit (if using,) and store in a container with a tight-fitting lid at room temperature for up to 2 weeks.
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Children (ages 6-8):

  • setting the table
  • opening up bottles
  • cutting soft foods

Recipe: Taco Salads (serves 4)

to make the dressing:

Ingredients:

  • 1 large avocado, pitted with flesh scooped from skin
  • 1/2 cup loosely packed cilantro (optional)
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 4 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 clove garlic

Directions:

Combine all ingredients together and blend until mixture is smooth and creamy. Add additional water, lime, and or hot sauce to taste. Transfer mixture to a jar and keep chilled until use.

to make the salad:

Ingredients:

  • 1 head Romaine lettuce, roughly chopped
  • 1 ear corn, shucked & cut from the cob
  • 1  ½ cups canned black beans drained & rinsed
  • ½ red bell pepper, diced
  • 2 cups sugar plum tomatoes, chopped in half
  • 2 green onions chopped (both white and green parts)
  • 4 radishes thinly sliced
  • 1 avocado, pitted and cut into chunks
  • 3-4 handfuls tortilla chips, optional for serving
  • ¼ cup cilantro, roughly chopped, for serving
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Directions:

Toss lettuce, corn, black beans, red pepper, tomatoes, green onions, and radishes with enough avocado dressing to fully coat the mixture.  Fold in chopped avocado and divide salad between 4 large bowls. Serve with a handful of tortilla chips in each bowl and top with additional chopped cilantro for garnish.

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Children (ages 9-12):

  • Using electrical kitchen appliances, such as microwaves, ovens, blenders, and mixers
  • Reading recipe/ingredients
  • measuring out proper amounts

For the whole family and children of all ages:

Choose and develop a yummy recipe to make and pick out the freshest ingredients!

Inspire your kids to love healthy food and cooking by teaching them kitchen essentials at a young age!

 

 

Written by: Dana Stretchberry

Sources:

http://www.cabotcheese.coop/pages/health/cooking-with-kids-infographic.php

http://www.michelledudash.com/2011/03/23/how-to-get-your-kids-involved-in-the-kitchen/

http://foodformyfamily.com/the-kitchen-sink/kids-in-the-kitchen/eat-well-spend-less-getting-your-kids-in-the-kitchen

 

Image sources:

http://www.richlymiddleclass.com/parenthood/activies/

http://foodformyfamily.com

http://www.takepart.com/

http://ithoughtofitsecond.blogspot.com

http://iowagirleats.com/2013/04/09/homemade-maple-almond-granola/

http://www.shutterbean.com/2014/vegan-taco-salad/

 

Recipes adapted from:

http://iowagirleats.com/2013/04/09/homemade-maple-almond-granola/

http://www.shutterbean.com/2014/vegan-taco-salad/