Children enjoy helping in the kitchen and are often more willing to eat foods they have helped to prepare. Try to include your little one in food preparation as often as possible.
You can include your child when doing simple tasks, such as arranging food on a serving plate or stirring a sauce. Stirring foods together and counting or weighing ingredients are great ways for young children to develop physical co-ordination and maths skills, as well as begin to learn to cook.
Cooking can provide quality time together as long as you allow don’t try and rush things along. There will always be mess and mistakes, but expect them and don’t scold your child. Everyone has mishaps. The most important benefit is that your child is developing a very positive attitude to food.
Letting children choose their own pizza topping is great fun and a way to entertain a small group. With imagination children can make faces or simple pictures. However, a pizza is not quite a complete meal and should be served with extra vegetables.
2 pizza bases, available in all major supermarkets
6 Tbsp tomato purée or tomato sauce
1 Tsp dried oregano
Variety of vegetables all on different plates e.g. diced peppers, courgette, mushrooms, sliced tomatoes, drained canned sweet corn
45g/1 and half oz of ham or cooked chicken, cut into small pieces
4 Tbsp grated cheese, mixture of cheddar and parmesan
6-8 thin slices mozzarella cheese
Adult: Prepare the vegetables by slicing.
Child: Spread tomato purée or tomato sauce on pizza base. Sprinkle with oregano. Top with own choice of vegetables and meat. Sprinkle on the grated cheese. Add strips of mozzarella cheese.
Adult: Place in the oven and bake until cheese is bubbling and turning brown.
Serve with celery or cucumber sticks or a salad
Makes 2–4 servings
If you do all the chopping, cooking and blanching, your child can add and mix the ingredients together. Talk about the different colours as you do it. You can make a lunch dish of it by adding in some flaked salmon, or chopped ham.
330g/12oz pasta spirals or another shape
1 Tbs oil
170g/6oz assorted vegetables such as broccoli, celery, carrots, courgette, cucumber, sugar snaps, red and green peppers, spring onions, French beans and cherry tomatoes.
For the dressing:
4 Tbsp olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon or lime
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp chopped parsley
1 Tbsp chopped basil
45g/1 and half oz grated parmesan cheese
1 Tbsp mild mustard
Pinch black pepper
Adult: Bring a large pan of water to the boil. Add 1 Tbs olive oil and the pasta shapes. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 10-12 minutes until the pasta is just tender. Drain, rinse with hot water and allow to cool. Prepare the vegetables by cutting carrots, celery, courgette and cucumber into sticks. Top and tail sugar snaps.
Child: Break the broccoli into small florets.
Adult: Thinly slice red and green peppers, spring onions and French beans. Place all the vegetables, except the cucumber and tomatoes, into a pan of boiling water and simmer for about 3 minutes to blanch them. Drain. Allow to cool.
Child: Put the pasta into the salad bowl and then mix in the blanched vegetables. Mix in the cucumber and cherry tomatoes. Mix together all the ingredients of the dressing, stir well then pour over the salad. Toss the salad with the dressing.
Preparation time: 25 minutes
Makes 4–6 servings
1 large egg
3 level Tbsp caster sugar
4 level Tbsp plain flour
1–2 Tsp icing sugar
Adult: Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/gas mark 6. Lightly grease 2 baking trays. With your child collect together all the ingredients.
Child: Crack the egg (with help) into a mixing bowl. Measure out the sugar and put in the bowl.
Adult and child together: Hold the electric whisk and whisk the egg and sugar together to form a thick creamy mixture. This takes a few minutes and you may have to finish this without your child.
Child: Measure the flour and sift over the mixture, half at a time. Fold in using a metal spoon (you will have to show your child how to fold in rather than stir as this is important to keep the air in the mixture). Drop spoonfuls of the mixture onto a greased baking tray. Make sure you leave room for spreading.
Adult: Place in the oven and bake for 7– 10 minutes until golden and spongy. Remove from the oven. Allow to cool for a few seconds and then using a palate knife lift onto a wire cooling rack.
Child: Using a small sieve sprinkle with icing sugar.
These are delicious eaten slightly warm.
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Makes 10–12 sponge drops
4 sponge drops, or 2 slices Swiss roll
2 Tbsp orange juice
1 ripe peach, sliced
About 12 strawberries, rinsed and hulled
150mls ready to serve custard or homemade custard
2 Tsp whipped cream – optional
Hundreds and thousands to sprinkle on top – optional
Child: Put 2 sponge drops or 1 slice of swiss roll in each of two small ramekin dishes. Spoon a tablespoon of orange juice over each cake base. Cover with the peach slices and strawberries. Spoon the custard over. Top with cream and sprinkle with hundreds and thousands.
1 large plain rice cake
2 Tbsp cream cheese or hummus
1 thin slice apple – mouth shaped
A little finely grated carrot
Adult: Cut the apple into quarters, remove the core and cut off a thin slice. Grate the carrot.
Child: Spread the cream cheese or hummus onto the rice cake, make a face using the raisins and apple slice. Sprinkle on the grated carrot at the top for hair or below the mouth for a beard.
Serve with extra slices of apple or with vegetable sticks.
Preparation time: 5–10 minutes
Makes 1 face
1 red apple
3–4 Tbsp smooth peanut butter
Puffed rice cereal
Adult: Cut the apple into slices and pat each one with a paper towel to dry them (this will help the peanut butter to stick). Spread one side of each apple slice with peanut butter. Sandwich 2 slices together and squash a little so that the peanut butter begins to ooze out of the skin side of the apple sandwich. Place 4-5 pieces of puffed cereal into the peanut butter to form teeth (the red of the apple skin is the lips).
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Makes 5–6 smiles
2 spring onions – chopped
Quarter or half a red pepper – finely chopped
Quarter Tsp Dijon mustard
Half Tsp mixed dried herbs
Mixture of vegetables such as celery, carrots, broccoli florets – cut into sticks or small pieces
Adult: Prepare all vegetables. An older child may be able to help do this if supervised.
Child: Put all the ingredients in a bowl, measure out the herbs and mustard and mix everything together.
Serve with vegetable sticks
Preparation time: 10 minutes
55g/2oz plain or milk chocolate
Adult: Trim the ends of the bananas but do not peel. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4.
Child: Lay the bananas on a baking tray on a piece of kitchen foil. Break the chocolate into small pieces.
Adult: Make a slit length ways in the banana going through the upper skin and flesh but not the skin underneath.
Child: Press the chocolate pieces into the slit. Wrap the foil around the bananas to make a tight parcel.
Adult: Place in the oven and bake for 25 minutes.
Allow to cool, then remove the foil. The banana skin will be black but the mix of sticky banana flesh and chocolate can be scooped out with a spoon.
Makes 2–4 servings
Children love to 'Pick your Own Fruit' and making some jam with the fruit they have picked will give them a great sense of achievement. Making jam from fresh fruit ensures plenty of flavanoids and no artificial flavourings and colourings.
1 Kg/2lbs raspberries that you have picked
1 Kg/2lbs sugar
Child: Wash the fruit and put on sheets of paper towel to dry. Put the raspberries into a large pan. Crush the raspberries by pressing down on them with a potato masher.
Child: Weigh out the sugar. Wash out 2 jam jars, dry them and put them in the oven to warm and dry out.
Adult: Bring the crushed raspberries to the boil very slowly over a gentle heat. Add the sugar, stir in with a wooden spoon until dissolved. Boil for a further 5 minutes. With the wooden spoon put a drop or two of the jam on a saucer and your child can watch to see if a skin forms as it cools so the drop retains its shape and does not run over the saucer. If no skin forms keep boiling for a further 5 minutes and check again. When a skin does form it is time to pour the jam into the warm dry jars. Allow to cool a little and put on the lid or cover while still warm. If you are going to store the jam for some time make sure the jar is very full to reduce the possibility of a mould forming.
Preparation time 20 minutes
Makes about 2 large jam jars.
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