I was looking at some of the photos in my upcoming cookbook, The Warm Kitchen, and stopped on the page with my daughter’s hand helping with the gluten-free tortillas. I looked at it and recalled she and I making one of her favorite dishes. It got me thinking about how important it is to have kids help in the kitchen and become involved in the process of prepping.
My friend Jennifer Lee over at Crunch a Color has a blog devoted to involving your kids in the kitchen and developed a game to encourage healthy eating at the dinner table. Having them help in the kitchen is one strategy for getting your kids to eat better. They are more likely to eat what they cook or have helped prepare.
I think the number one thing you need to do in the kitchen with your kids is keep them safe. I would suggest the following 3 things at a minimum. Keep them away from:
- Raw meat (if they might eat or lick it)
- Anything hot (after a friend’s 9 yr old daughter had a terrible accident with a hot cup of tea, I’m much more strict about what my kids do in the kitchen)
- Sharp knives, unless they are being supervised
With that being said, my son has helped me roll meatballs, my daughter has helped cook pancakes, and both have used knives; with me standing next to them. So, use this list based on your judgment and your children since you know them best. I hope this encourages you! Check this blog for great family-friendly recipes.
1. Make salad/rip lettuce: Make sure their little hands are clean and then get them to work. They can rip lettuce with their hands, spin the salad spinner (a favorite in our house) or add veggies to the bowl. I assumed my kids would not eat salad until they were older but my neighbor (with slightly older children) offered my son salad at 2 years old. It is now a staple in our diet.
Check out this post.
2. Mash things that are not hot: I remember when my daughter was born, I was looking for ways to give my son extra attention; having him help me cook was one way I did that. While I was trying to make dinner, I propped him up on a stool with a bowl and some cooked (but not hot) potatoes and let him go to town. Other things that can be mashed: cauliflower, butternut squash, broccoli, bananas, or even strawberries for shortcake.
Try this delicious gluten-free banana crunch muffin.
4. Stir a sauce: If you are making a sauce either for dipping or for a marinade, let your child watch you measure and then allow them to mix it up. Often times, I would pour the ingredient into the cup or spoon and she would pour it into the bowl. Both of them love to use a whisk to mix it up.