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Kids in the Kitchen

Posted by Mandy Sacher on September 13, 2015

Posted by Mandy Sacher on September 13, 2015

Sharing a love of food and cooking with your children has numerous benefits, so forget about the mess and let them get stuck in!

There are lots of great reasons to involve your little ones in preparing and cooking food. It helps develop fine motor skills, teaches them new things, and they are more likely to want to eat a dish that they’ve helped prepare – this is a great opportunity to introduce them to healthy options. For many of us, some of the best childhood memories are those spent in the kitchen standing on a chair beside our mothers and grandmothers, stirring a sauce, or cutting out biscuits.

If you can look past the mess and accept the fact that meals may take twice as long to make with your child “helping out”, you’ll have a little buddy in the kitchen for life. Kids – especially toddlers – are hard-wired to help and love to feel useful so it makes sense to involve them in daily household tasks. And hopefully they’ll make you a meal or two one day!

When can kids start?

As soon as your baby can sit upright in a high chair, you can give him a little whisk or spoon to play with while you make the family meal. When he’s a bit older and can sit unassisted, pop him on the floor and let him stir dry rice or pasta in a little bowl while you whip up dinner. From the time your child is a toddler, he can help with basic tasks such as mixing batter for muffins, rolling bliss balls, kneading pizza dough, or icing cupcakes. Allowing children to weigh, pour and mix ingredients also teaches them basic maths and science.

Older children can follow a simple recipe from start to finish with a little help and supervision, and you can even encourage them to make a favourite meal once a week for the whole family. Cooking alongside an older child or teen also offers a great shoulder-to-shoulder parenting opportunity, with many kids opening up naturally about what’s going on in their lives when their hands are busy.

What about safety?

Supervise your children at all times when you’re in the kitchen and keep sharp knives and utensils, and hot stoves or ovens, well out of reach. You can buy child-friendly knives that will cut veggies but are safe for your little one to use. As they get older you can slowly start to introduce other utensils, but be patient and show them how to use everything properly. And if you’re making dishes that require baking, take over when it comes to popping trays in and out of the oven.

What will we make, Mummy?

Choose simple dishes that don’t take too long to put together as small children have a short attention span. Smoothies, muffins, simple pasta dishes and pizza are all quick, easy and delicious and provide instant gratification.

Here are some of our favourite recipes to make with your little ones.

  • Chocolate almond scones – toddlers can help with shaping the scones while older children can make these easy treats from go to whoa!
  • Beetroot and spinach bliss balls – little hands will love rolling these healthy, veggie-packed balls, and as there’s no heating, sharp knives or baking involved it’s a very safe option too.
  • Peanut butter and veggie biscuits – let your little one get involved with weighing ingredients and rolling and flattening, or cutting out biscuit shapes.
  • Cauliflower pizza – older kids could tackle this one for a family dinner, or create the bases yourself and let younger children add the toppings of their choice.

Wishing you many happy years of cooking, eating and bonding with your children in the kitchen. Bon appetit!

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