Cooking with Your Children Teaches Healthy Eating
Cooking together is a great way to spend quality time as a family. While your hands are busy preparing food, you will have plenty of time to connect, catch up on daily events, and take advantage of teachable moments when it comes to food and health. Children of all ages can be involved in meal preparation in the following ways:
- 2 to 3-year-olds are able to wash produce in the sink, dry produce in a salad spinner or with a towel, picking herbs off the stem and ripping them into pieces, whisking or stirring, sprinkling pre-measured herbs and spices, and pouring pre-measured ingredients into a bowl.
- 4-5 year olds can begin to slice soft and slightly firm produce, especially with a special knives for children or butter knives, removing skin from cooked (and cooled) sweet and white potatoes, make meat patties, kneading dough, brushing oil with a pastry brush, and using a rolling pin.
- 6 to 7-year-olds can dice and mince vegetables; grate cheese; peel raw potatoes, ginger, mangoes and other fruits and vegetables; slicing and scooping out avocados; greasing pans; de-seeding tomatoes and roasted peppers; rinsing grains and beans; pouring liquids into small containers; and garnishing (or “decorating”) dishes.
- 8 to 9-year-olds can use a pizza cutter and can opener, scoop batter into muffin cups, scrape down the (unplugged) electric mixer bowl and food processor bowl, put away leftovers, pound chicken, proof yeast, skewer food, and slice bread.
- 10 to 12-year-olds and up can usually work independently in the kitchen. Before letting them do grown-up tasks on their own, they should have close adult supervision to assess whether they can follow basic rules such as tucking pan handles, unplugging electrical appliances, and safely using a chef’s knife. While children at this age can be more independent, it is still important that an adult be present in the house while children are in the kitchen.
Does your family have a favorite recipe you like to prepare together? Send us the recipe with a picture of your family preparing it and we will feature you on this page!
- Kosher salt
- 12 ounces fusilli or other corkscrew pasta
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1 medium shallot, finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon mustard powder
- 1/2 cup skim milk
- 1/3 cup low-fat sour cream
- 2/3 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
- 2/3 cup shredded low-fat Swiss cheese
- 3 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
- Freshly ground pepper
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley, basil and/or chives
Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook as the label directs. Reserve 3/4 cup of the cooking water, then drain the pasta.
Add the butter to the empty pot and melt over medium-high heat. Add the shallot and cook, stirring, until slightly softened, about 2 minutes. Add the flour and mustard powder and cook, stirring, until the flour begins to toast, about 1 minute. Whisk in the milk and the reserved cooking water; cook, whisking, until thick, about 2 minutes.
Reduce the heat to medium. Whisk in the sour cream, mozzarella, Swiss cheese and 1 tablespoon parmesan; continue whisking until melted, about 1 minute. Stir in the pasta, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper; transfer to a 2-quart baking dish. Preheat the broiler.
Combine the remaining 2 tablespoons parmesan, the herbs, and salt and pepper to taste in a small bowl. Sprinkle over the pasta. Broil until golden and bubbly, about 2 minutes.
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- Pinch of salt and pepper
- 2 large eggs
- 3/4 cup finely grated Parmesan
- 1 1/2 pounds chicken tenders
- 1 3/2 cups tomato sauce
- 1 cup part-skim, shredded mozzarella
- 8 ounces penne rigate or other short pasta
- 1 package (10 ounces) frozen broccoli florets, thawed
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
Bring large pot of salted water to boil. Heat broiler, with rack set 4 inches from heat. In a medium bowl, whisk eggs. In another bowl, combine Parmesan and breadcrumbs. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Dip tenders in egg, then in Parmesan mixture; place on a rimmed baking sheet. Broil until golden, 2 to 4 minutes per side.
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Spread 1 cup tomato sauce in the bottom of a 9 x 13 inch baking dish. Then top with chicken, remaining sauce, and mozzarella. Bake 15 to 20 minutes or until cheese is melted.
Meanwhile, cook pasta in boiling water until al dente, according to package instructions, adding broccoli for final 30 seconds. Reserve 1/2 cup pasta water; drain pasta and broccoli, and return to pot. Add oil and remaining Parmesan. Toss, gradually adding some reserved pasta water until pasta is lightly coated. Serve chicken with penne and broccoli.
(Recipe taken from marthastewart.com)
- 1 cup sliced fresh strawberries
- 1 cup cubed cantaloupe
- 1/2 cup (about 2 ounces) cubed part-skim mozzarella cheese
- 2 Tablespoons raspberry vinaigrette
- 1/2 cup fresh raspberries
- 1 Tablespoon sunflower kernels
- Thinly sliced mint leaves, optional
In a large bowl, combine strawberries, cantaloupe and cheese. Drizzle with vinaigrette and toss to coat. Just before serving, gently stir in raspberries; top with sunflower kernels. If desired, sprinkle with mint.
- 1 1/2 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 lb turkey breast cutlets
- 1 can (15 oz) no-salt-added black beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 1/2 c frozen corn kernels
- 1 c chunky salsa (8 oz)
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1/4 c chopped cilantro + leaves for garnish
- 4 whole-wheat tortillas (8″ diameter)
- 2 c chopped or torn romaine lettuce
- 1 avocado, sliced
- 1/2 c shredded 2% milk Cheddar
- 4 lime wedges
1. Heat oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Season turkey and cook, turning, until golden and cooked through, 4 to 6 minutes. Transfer to plate.
2. Add beans, corn, salsa, and cumin to skillet and stir. Simmer until corn is hot, 5 minutes. Stir in chopped cilantro.
3. Slice turkey and arrange on serving platter with corn salsa, tortillas, lettuce, avocado, cheese, lime wedges, and cilantro leaves.