Saturday, 23 February 2013

Cooking with Kids

Cooking articlesWhether your child is a toddler practicing his fine motor skills with a wooden spoon or a teen working out the intricacies of pie dough with a rolling pin, working side-by-side with parents in the kitchen offers a heavy helping of learning and communication opportunities. (For some reason kids find it easier to open up while whisking together dressing ingredients than when they're sitting down for the purpose of chatting!)
Of course, for many parents, there's not much time to be had in the kitchen. Labor-intensive meals occur only on special occasions, if at all, and the daily priority is to get something on the table. That's okay. Take those shortcuts together by livening up leftovers or whipping up a nutritious meal from a mix. Sharing your "real life" cooking has the same benefits as preparing a big dinner. When you have more time, you can make some of those special recipes. (You might bake bread or roll out that pie dough together on the weekend, for example.) Here are some tips for making the most of your child's time in the kitchen, no matter your time constraints.

Stock Up

Meals that are fun and quick to make, nutritious, and easily successful will build confidence in your child and save you time. Stocking the cupboard with healthful convenience foods now will pay off come crunch time. Some good choices:
* Healthful mixes. Try instant mixes for falafel, soups and dipsbeverages (lemonade, fruit drinks, cocoa), salsassoy burgers, and taco filling. All will quickly become staples in your household. Your food budget will benefit, too, because you can purchase these in bulk.
The Simply Organic line of mixes offers everything from baking and dip mixes to gravies, pasta sauces, dressings, and marinades. Use the Carrot Cake Mix or the Cocoa Biscotti Mixto get a baked treat in the oven in just five minutes. Or use them as a springboard for other recipes, like Strawberry Spice Muffins and Cocoa Brownies or Peanut Butter Cocoa Cereal Snack. Use dip mixes, like Creamy Dill Dip Mix, to make Baked Dill Potatoes, and Spicy Guacamole Dip to make Feisty Fajita Filling. You get the idea -- and there are almost 200recipes using Simply Organic Mixes on our site.
Broth powders. Homemade soup isn't out of the question when your broth is instant. Have your child toss in leftovers from the week and a few spices, and you've got yourselves a budget-friendly, healthful dinner. Or follow an easy, reliable recipe. French Onion Soup,Creamy Tomato Soup, and Curried Carrot Soup, for example, can each be made in five minutes using broth powders.
Broth powders are useful in other recipes, too. This Braised Seitan is delicious and elegant, yet easily prepared with vegetable broth powder as a base. You can use broth powders for making grains such as Toasted Pilaf and Surprise Wild Rice.

Make It Fun

  • Add to the importance of your child's role as cook by providing appropriate supplies. Your little tyke might need a stepstool, for example, and kids of all ages will appreciate a colorful apron.
  • Encourage easy creativity via the spice rack. "Want to try cardamom instead of cinnamon on those apples?" and "Let's add some zip to these leftover mashed potatoes with a little Garlic 'N Herb. Seasoning veggies and combining them with other favorite foods is also a good way to get kids to try them. Picnic Peas & Pasta Salad, with bowtie pasta and myriad spices—is much more fun to eat than plain ole peas!
  • Remember that presentation is paramount for kids. Cut foods like sandwiches and pancakes into shapes, and grate veggies into ribbons atop salad greens. Take advantage of seasonal inspiration (the shapes might be hearts in February, shamrocks in March, and Christmas trees in December, for example). Stand broccoli (trees) upright in the rice, slide fruits and veggies on a kabob, and make a raisin face in the oatmeal (sprinkle cinnamon for hair!)
  • Be enthusiastic about food. Show interest in new recipes and new ingredients, and encourage your child to do the same. Be willing to try your child's suggestions. A willingness to experiment with new foods will be very valuable in expanding your child's nutritional and cooking repertoire.

Look For the Lesson

No need to get preachy, but take advantage of the learning potential in the kitchen. Here are just some of the things your child can learn by your side as you cook together.
It's fun to see how much you can share in the short amount of time it takes to whip up dinner. Teach well, and your child may not only learn a great deal but also take over as head cook in your household someda


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