Cooking with kids: bite-sized is better and other lessons learned

The following post is by editor Kara Fleck.

A few weeks ago I made a fantastic discovery:  my four year old daughter Lucy will eat just about anything, even asparagus, if it is purple.  Talk about a kitchen miracle!  Even though the asparagus cooks up green, it began as purple and so to her it was wonderful enough to happily put on her plate and into her mouth, while my husband and I watched with jaw-dropped amazement.

For this month’s Cooking with Kids feature, I wanted to share a few more lessons that I have learned in the kitchen when cooking for, and with, my children.

Lesson learned: my kids will eat just about anything in muffin form

One of the best kitchen discoveries this month came in the form of a muffin.  Much to my delight, I found out that fruits the children don’t particularly care for on their own, like rhubarb or pears, and even some veggies, such as grated carrots, they WILL eat in the form of a muffin - sweet or savory.

Eureka!  This goes right up there with my discovery of smoothies for getting healthy foods into my children.

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Cooking with the kids: cinnamon rolls on a Saturday morning

The following post is by editor Kara Fleck.

Last Saturday morning my daughter Jillian and I found ourselves awake before the rest of the family.  Normally when I am awake early on a weekend morning it is because of the youngest member of our family, so it was nice for my oldest child and I to get to spend some one on one time together.

While the rest of the family slept, she and I decided to surprise them with homemade cinnamon rolls.

We let our new (to us, anyway) bread machine do the work of the kneading and rising.

[We made our cinnamon rolls using the Money Saving Mom's bread machine cinnamon rolls recipe.  I substituted coconut oil and our flour was 3C all purpose with 1C wheat.]

As we waited, we sat at the table together, she sipping a glass of milk and me with my coffee, and we chatted about everything from For Better or For Worse comics (her current favorite comic) to whether or not she likes the new math program we’re using for homeschool.  She chattered, I listened, and we reconnected after a busy week.

It was a sweet, slow morning.  It was nice.

Later we rolled out the dough, spread on the filling, and cut the rolls before baking. I love that she is old enough to be a real help in the kitchen and I appreciate the extra pair of hands, not to mention her enthusiasm.

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Cooking with Kids: Irish Flag Stew & Whole Wheat Soda Bread

The following post by contributor Christen Babb and originally appeared in March of 2010.

Every parent intuitively knows that the more your child is personally invested in a project, the more likely he is to learn and apply the knowledge gained. One of our many jobs as parents is to foster fun learning experiences that will encourage critical thinking and creative expression. If you are anything like me, sometimes it is hard enough to get through the day without adding another “to-do” to my list. However, when I decide to make an otherwise humble, everyday task a learning opportunity for my child, both of us are deeply enriched by the experience, creating a wonderful memory together.

Today, the featured recipes are in honor of St. Patrick’s Day. These recipes create an opportunity to teach your child a little bit about St. Patrick’s Day along with some hands-on-cooking techniques.  Cooking can be an exciting and powerful teaching tool for your child. You can be creative with any of your favorite recipes, applying information about family heritage or religious faith, for example.  As a bonus, your child will be more apt to eat the healthy foods he’s helped prepare!

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Kids in the Kitchen: Part Two

The following post is by contributor Jaimie of Two Chicks and a Hen

Last week I wrote about why I believe  cooking with our kids is important.  Many of you responded, and some of you listed even more reasons to bring kids into the kitchen.

7 Tips for Successful Cooking With Kids

Today I’d like to share some tips for how to successfully cook with kids.  If your small children have never cooked with you before, you might not all collaborate on a massive Thanksgiving meal the first time you cook together.  Start small, and you’ll  find that shared food prep becomes second nature before too long.

Until then, try these tips for making the experience smoother:

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Kids in the Kitchen: Part One

The following is by contributor Jaimie of Two Chicks and a Hen.

When I talked about surviving the witching hour with small children last March, one of the suggestions I gave was including your children in the cooking.   Next week I’ll have lots of tips for how you can accomplish this in a way that keeps everyone happy and sane, but first I’d like to talk about why you should consider making this a regular part of your routine. 

Some of us cook with our kids all the time, and it’s no big deal, but some of us cringe at the thought of flour all over the floor, more clothes to clean, messy hands, ruined meals, etc.   Although there is some validity to those fears, you can eliminate most of them and successfully cook with kids by being intentional about the way you do it.  A little planning goes a long way in the kitchen.

Why You Should Consider Cooking With Your Kids

If you have yet to invite your kids to cook but would like to, consider the following:

Time Together

Our time is limited.  Most of us, even those who aim for simpler lives, find ourselves busier than we’d like, and this can sometimes mean that we wish we had more time to bond with our kids.  When we think of cooking as something that needs to be done without the kids, we squander a perfect opportunity for bonding and togetherness.   Cooking with our children gives us time together that we might not otherwise have. 

Even if dinner means walking in the door, throwing together a salad, and putting a frozen pizza in the oven, doing these things together is a great way to be with our kids and reconnect, especially if we’ve been away from each other for the day.

Some of us prep all of our food on Sunday for the week because the evenings are too busy.  Again—this is a great time to spend with our children instead of shuttling them off to the next room to watch a movie while we get “work” done.

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