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 them in meal preparation with 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 coordination and their maths, as well as begin to learn to cook.
Cooking can provide quality time together as long as you allow plenty of time and don’t rush things along. There will 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.
Some general pointers for happy cooking with your child:
Keep knives and electric beaters out of reach of young children.
Make their tasks simple and age appropriate but involve them at as many stages as possible.
Let them taste.
Talk about what you are doing.
Don’t worry about disasters, they’ll probably still taste good.
Letting children choose their own pizza topping is great fun and a way to entertain a small group. With imagination they can make faces or simple pictures. A pizza is not quite a complete meal and should be served with extra vegetables.
2 pizza crusts, available in all major supermarkets
6 Tbsp tomato sauce
1 Tsp dried oregano
Variety of vegetables all on different plates e.g. diced peppers, zucchini, 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 sauce on pizza crust. Sprinkle with oregano. Top with their 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 colorsas 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, zucchini, cucumber, sugar snaps, red and green peppers, green 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, zucchini and cucumber into sticks. Top and tail sugar snaps.
Child: Break the broccoli into small florets.
Adult: Thinly slice red and green peppers, green 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
For variation melt a little chocolate and let your child dip one end in the chocolate. Allow to cool and serve with fruit as a dessert or snack.
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 confectioners sugar.
These are delicious eaten slightly warm.
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Makes 10–12 sponge drops
Rice Cake Faces
A very simple, fun lunch to make together. Use other fruits or vegetables to make the faces.
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
Cottage Cheese Dip with Vegetable Sticks and Crackers
1 x 250g tub cottage cheese
2 spring onions – chopped
Quarter to 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
Chocolate Baked Bananas
2 large bananas, unpeeled
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 and 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 jelly with the fruit they have picked will give them a great sense of achievement. Making jelly from fresh fruit ensures plenty of flavanoids and no artificial flavorings and colorings.
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: Measure out the sugar. Wash out 2 jelly 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 jelly 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 jelly 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 jelly for some time make sure the jar is very full to reduce the possibility of a mold forming.
Preparation time 20 minutes
Makes about 2 large jelly jars.
Please be aware that the information given in these articles is only intended as general advice and should in no way be taken as a substitute for professional medical
advice. If you or your family or your child is suffering from symptoms or conditions which are severe or persistent or you need specific medical advice, please seek professional medical assistance.
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