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30 Minute Meals
Preparing foods as a family takes the mystery out kitchen tools, nurtures an interest in helping with family tasks, and can become a math, reading and nutrition lesson.
Cleanliness in the Kitchen
Since young children get their hands into everything, the first lesson should focus on cleanliness in the kitchen while cooking. Show children how to wash their hands with soap and water and how to rinse. Make up a favorite song to use each time you wash that lasts at least 20 seconds.
Show them how to wash fresh fruits and vegetables by using a vegetable brush or a bottled produce spray. Take a short field trip outside to a backyard garden or local plant nursery to show the kids where food grows and why it needs to get washed before cooking.
After washing fresh fruits together, make a fresh fruit snack.
10 slim pretzel sticks, 3 inches or longer
10 grapes, whole
10 strawberries, stems cut off
1 cup vanilla yogurt
1 Tbsp. honey
1 Tbsp. milled flax seed
Pour the yogurt into a bowl. Stir in honey and milled flax seed. Set aside. Let the child poke one grape and one strawberry onto each pretzel stick. Once all fruit dippers are assembled, offer the fruit snack with the dipping sauce. Makes 10 snacks.
Learning about Recipes & What Cooking can Teach Children
Cooking starts with recipes. Learn about measurements and work on reading skills by looking through a cookbook together. Let the children turn the pages and read the measurements out loud. This encourages fine motor skills, reading comprehension and oral skills.
To work on dexterity, have a plastic set of measuring cups and spoons handy for the children to hold and grab while learning about measurements.
Cooking Lesson with Muffins
Prepare a simple recipe with the children to practice basic cooking movements, such as stirring, measuring and pouring. Try making muffins. Let the children use a quick movement to whisk eggs. Then show them how to slowly move the spoon to mix batter. Teach gentle folding techniques by adding blueberries to the batter. Work together to fill the muffin tins. Fill one of the tins to the top and another with just a dab of batter. After the treat bakes, show the children how measuring is important, or you will only get a tiny bite of muffin.
Safety and Cooking
Ask the children to help prepare a homemade pizza for dinner. Show them how to gently pat the dough into the pan. Let them feel the temperature of the dough and explain the cool feeling of chilled dough. Walk past the pre-heating oven and explain when something gets hot it should never get touched.
While chopping vegetable pizza toppings explain to the children that some cooking tasks are only for grown ups, such as using the knife, or putting the pizza in the oven. And, that kids do some tasks as good as grown ups, such as sprinkling cheese and vegetables on the pizza.
Give this simple kid-size pizza recipe a go:
1 bagel, sliced
2 Tbsp. pizza sauce
1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
8 pepperoni slices
2 fresh mushrooms, sliced
1 Tbsp. green peppers, chopped
Have the child carefully open a pre-sliced bagel and place both halves with the flat side up on a cookie sheet. Divide the pizza sauce in half and spread equal amounts on each bagel half using the back of a spoon. Let the child arrange the pepperoni slices and vegetables on the bagel halves and sprinkle the cheese on top. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the cheese melts. Makes two mini pizzas.
EASY PEPPERONI BREAD FOR KIDS
1 loaf frozen bread dough
6-8 slices of provolone cheese
1 Tbsp. butter or margarine, melted
1/4 c. fresh parmesan cheese
1 package pepperoni
dried parsley flakes
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Thaw the frozen bread dough on the counter. Do not allow it to thoroughly thaw to the rising stage.
With a rolling pin on a floured surface, roll the dough out flat, about 1/2 inch thick, in the shape of a rectangle. Cut the cheese into strips and place on the dough. Cover the cheese with pepperoni (the amount depends on you!). Start at the short end of the dough and roll into a log. Fold the ends under.
Place in a greased loaf pan. Brush the top of the loaf with the melted butter, and sprinkle with a little garlic salt and parsley. Top with the parmesan cheese.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Cool 10 minutes (in pan), remove and slice. Your chef will be very proud!