Cook with Your Kids!

http://www.motherearthliving.com/Smart-Parenting/cook-with-your-kids.aspx

Faith MoserFaith Moser is the creator of eco ike {organic baby t’s + cookbooks full of yummy, healthy and quick recipes for kids and grown-ups}! If you want your kids to grow, live, eat & play green, visit ecoike.com. 

Getting children into the kitchen and teaching them to cook is an excellent way to help them appreciate the foods they are eating and teach them an important skill that will last a lifetime. Not only are they able to learn about food, but also be taught the ins and outs of the kitchen.

Hot stoves, sharp knives and scalding water are just some of the dangers in the kitchen. Little cooks are eager to roll up their sleeves and get cooking, but are not able to handle a lot of the tasks. Here are some ingredients to make cooking with kids a tasty experience:

 child cooking 

When you feel that your child is ready, get cooking! When you notice that your child is curious and showing some interest with meal preparations, it’s definitely time to work with them in the kitchen. If your child doesn’t show any interest but is 5+ years old, you may want to encourage their participation with a recipe.

Picky eaters turn into adventurous diners when they prepare their own meal! Pull out some cookbooks and take your little chef to the store with you. Including them in the entire process will get your child excited about the end result and typically that includes happily eating the dish they helped to make.

Today’s meal can also be part of today’s lesson plan. Cooking naturally integrates math and science and is a great way to talk to your tyke about numbers, fractions, sequencing and understanding how food changes while baking and cooking. Additionally, cooking also helps children with their fine motor skills and allows them to express their creativity!

Expect excitement and a mess. A lot of children will be super enthusiastic sous-chefs, but keep a close eye on them at all times and know their physical limitations. I allow my four year old to peel vegetables (because he is pushing the peeler away from him), but I watch him the whole time and know that what will start out as a beautiful carrot, will end up a mangled orange twig (with plenty of peel on the floor).

What do you do when the only tasks are “big people” jobs?  Keep them busy and contributing by allowing them to set the table, make place cards and pick music to accompany the meal. Just being together during food preparation is a wonderful way to expose them to the joys of cooking!

Little kids are typically capable of: 

Whisking eggs
Sifting dry ingredients
Stirring
Kneading dough
Sprinkling cheese
Lining a muffin tin 

Bigger kids are probably able to: 

Crack open and whisk eggs
Measure and sift dry ingredients
Knead and shape dough
Line a muffin tin and fill the muffin cups with batter
Cut and grate vegetables
Ice a cake