Archive for Cooking with Kids

Snappy Snack Mix-Cooking with KIDS!

Making snack mix is an easy, fun activity that kids can do with just a little guidance. Kids love to make their own food and are more likely to make healthy choices if they are involved in the preparation and choices of what they are eating. Click here to see how I get my kids to try and enjoy healthy foods.

To make a snack mix, you can choose from multiple ingredients. Pretty much whatever you can dream up can be mixed together. We use dried fruits, different crackers and pretzels, dry cereals, mini chocolate chips, granola, marshmallows, and whatever else we have on hand that we think sounds tasty.

I let the kids measure the ingredients so we can practice math skills. We usually do a cup of the cereals, crackers, etc. to a half of a cup of dried fruits such as raisins and a fourth of a cup of something like mini chocolate chips.

First when doing any sort of cooking with kids, make sure everyone washes their hands!

making snack mix with preschoolersThen the kids can begin taking turns adding the ingredients to their mix. We made a double batch of this mix to have plenty for everyone, so I divided each ingredient into two measurements so there would be more turns per person. Making sure everyone gets as many turns as possible is a great key to success when cooking with multiple children.

If you have several children you are trying to make a recipe with, there are many opportunities for melt downs and mishaps. Be prepared! Get all the ingredients and tools prepared ahead of time. Let the kids know everyone will get a turn, so they will be more likely to be patient. Taking turns is a very important school readiness and social skill that kids NEED for their future success. Cooking is a great way to teach it.

cooking with kids-snack mixOnce all the ingredients are added, it’s time for everyone to take a turn to stir. Kids LOVE to stir, so anything we make is sure to have lots of steps that call for stirring. Once you have the mix mixed, it’s time to dish it up and serve.

What kind of simple recipes have you had success making with kids?

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Playful Pinwheels-Cooking with KIDS!

Pinwheels, cooking with kids

Making pinwheels is a great activity for kids to do. Cooking with kids is fun and it doesn’t have to be difficult. Letting kids prepare their own food builds self-esteem, self-help skills, fine motor skills, social skills, and gives them a sense of accomplishment. Kids who prepare food are much more likely to want to try new and healthy things. Click here to see more benefits of cooking with kids.

Usually when a new child enters my program, whether they are a picky eater or not, at first they don’t try many new foods they haven’t seen before. Once we begin to build trust, they may try a few more things, but after we begin preparing food together, the kids really branch out and try more and more things. Introducing a new food takes some patience. You have to offer a food 11 times before the child no longer considers it something new. So don’t give up, healthy habits are worth the effort! By the time children have been at Little Sprouts for a few months, most of them are eating a much bigger variety of foods than they did before they came. I think that’s awesome!

Making pinwheels is a great way to incorporate some vegetables into something the kids already love. Most kids love tortillas and meat and cheese, so sliding a few veggies onto their pinwheel to make it look colorful and pretty just helps it to be more fun. This recipe was a big hit with my Little Sprouts.

Pinwheels-cooking with kids

The first step, after the kids wash their hands, is to give each child a tortilla and a hunk of cream cheese to spread on it. Spreading is a great way to build motor skills in kid’s hands that are needed for good penmanship.

kids making pinwheelsThe next step is to layer on some meat the kids love. Then on top of that, you can add thin slices of whatever veggies you think the kids will enjoy. We used tomatoes and cucumbers for the pretty colors they add. I let the kids choose how many vegetables to add, but they wanted to add more than they would normally choose because they were in control of the toppings.

Lastly, show the kids how to roll them up like a burrito and cut slices of them off. Then display them on a plate and when it’s time to each, let each child choose how many pinwheels they want to start with.

pinwheels, cooking with kids

There are unlimited variations of this recipe. Your pinwheels could be sweet or savory. You could use the cream cheese and add fruits instead of vegetables for a fun side dish. You could add fresh herbs, super thinly sliced carrots or other veggies, or a multitude of other toppings. The only limit is your imagination.

Have you ever tried making pinwheels with your kids? How did they like them?

 

 

 

Yummy Yogurt Parfaits-Cooking with Kids!

What better snack to make with kids than healthy yogurt parfaits? Parfaits are pretty, healthy and fun to eat. Getting kids involved in preparing food teaches them a plethora of skills such as math, pre-reading, measuring, fine motor, and many others. Letting kids help prepare their own meals and snacks makes them more likely to want to try new foods as well.

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Fun Fruit Kabobs-Cooking with Kids!

Yummy, fun, healthy fruit kabobs-cooking with kids

 

Cooking with kids does not have to be super difficult or elaborate. Anything that gives them hands on exposure to the process of preparing food has untold benefits. Every year at Little Sprouts, we make a cookbook as a Christmas gift for the daycare parents. Click here if you want to find out more about how I do it. It is full of fun recipes the kids enjoy making that are not too complicated. It also has pictures of the kids cooking and eating the food so it’s a fun keepsake for the parents.

Cooking with kids is fun and it teaches them math, science, and pre-reading skills, plus it gives them fine motor and sensory stimulation. Cooking healthy foods with kids helps them to become familiar with the foods and gives them more interest in trying something they haven’t tried or liked before.

Fun and healthy fruit kabobs are a cinch to make and the kids LOVE making AND eating them. Any time we make a recipe, I print it on a piece of paper and tape it to the wall next to the table. This helps me refer to the steps, but I also read each step to the kids so they get an understanding that words have meaning and I need the important words to know what to do. It’s a great primer for reading!

The first step is to choose some fruit that can be pierced on a kabob. For these kabobs we used bananas, oranges, grapes, and apples. You also need to gather some skewers. I used wooden barbeque skewers that I had on hand.

Have the kids wash their hands and meet you at the preparation place.

Give the kids fruit pieces and butter knives and let them cut the fruit into pieces however they can. Sometimes you might end up having to cut some of the harder fruits for them, but let them do as much as they can on their own. It’s great for their self-esteem.

kids cutting fruit

The next step is to cut a lemon in half and have the kids squeeze lemon juice on the fruit so it will not turn brown. Lemons take a lot of muscle to squeeze, so with these preschoolers, it was enough to let them all take a turn at squeezing it.

kids making fruit kabobs

Next, give the kids the skewers and let them stab the fruit and work it to the end of the stick until it is full. Since this snack is not cooked, I let the kids make a kabob and then eat it so there wouldn’t be any mixing up of kabobs.

Once the kids have the fruit on the kabob, I take a pair of scissors and cut the point off the stick so they won’t injure themselves while eating.

These fruit kabobs are one of the favorite things we make and they are super healthy for the kids with all of that great fruit. If it were summer time you could use melons, berries or other seasonal fruit for the kabobs as well. Pineapple is great on kabobs as well, but sadly, I am allergic, so I don’t buy or serve it. Use your imagination and you can think of some wonderful combinations for the kids to enjoy.

Enjoy the yumminess!

Yummy, fun, healthy fruit kabobs-cooking with kids

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Vegetable Beef Soup-Cooking with Kids!

Vegetable Beef Soup-Cooking with Kids

Cooking with kids is a great activity. It teaches fine motor skills, critical thinking, math, science, and a multitude of other things. Kids are more likely to try new things, if they help prepare them and they just love to cook. Click here to see more reasons why cooking with kids is a great idea!

We make lots of soups around Little Sprouts because they are healthy, the kids love them, and many different things can be used to make them. Soup is a “whatever you have on hand” kinda dish. Soup is one of the most popular dishes on my menu.

The basics for making up soup recipes starts with your main item. This can be beans, meat or a grain. For our daycare menu, we usually start with chicken or ground beef. Once you have your main item chosen, the soup can be prepared basically the same way every time. You should choose a starch before you begin cooking as well. If I use noodles, I will usually not add potatoes to the soup.

Step 1, chop an onion. As much as my daughter hates to admit it, most good dishes start with an onion.  

Vegetable Beef Soup-Cooking with Kids

Step 2, heat up your soup pot with a tablespoon or two of oil. We use olive oil at Little Sprouts most of the time.

Step 3, cook the onion on low until it’s translucent.

Step 4, add meat and cook and stir it until browned.

Step 5, add your longest cooking vegetables such as potatoes, carrots, and celery.

Vegetable Beef Soup-Cooking with Kids

Step 6, add some soup stock or water and bring soup to a boil. Cook until vegetables are fork tender.

Step 7, add shorter cooking vegetables such as peas, corn, broccoli, or whatever you have on hand that you want to use.

Step 8, add salt and pepper to taste, a clove of crushed garlic, and a half a teaspoon to a teaspoon of thyme, sage, oregano, or another herb you like.

Step 9, cook until all veggies are done.

For this soup, we used potatoes, corn, carrots, and green beans. The meat was ground beef. It was delicious!

 

Little Sprouts Vegetable Beef Soup
Delicious, healthy soup using ground beef that kids and adults will enjoy.
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Ingredients
  1. 2 T. Olive oil
  2. 1 onion
  3. 2 potatoes
  4. 1 pound ground beef
  5. 3 carrots
  6. 1/2 c. peas
  7. 1 c. corn
  8. 1 c. fresh green beans
  9. 4 c. chicken stock
  10. salt and pepper to taste
  11. 1 tsp. thyme
  12. 1 clove garlic
Instructions
  1. Chop onion.
  2. Add olive oil to pan and heat on medium heat.
  3. Add onion to pan, cook and stir until translucent.
  4. Add ground beef and cook until browned.
  5. Add green beans, diced carrots, diced potatoes, and chicken stock.
  6. Bring soup to a boil and cook until potatoes are fork tender.
  7. Add peas, corn, crushed garlic, thyme, salt and pepper.
  8. Cook until vegetables are done.
Little Sprouts Learning https://littlesproutslearning.co/

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Monster Cookies

At Little Sprouts, we have lots of cookie monsters who love to eat cookies (not to mention their cookie loving parents) so I have a few cookies that are famous around these parts.  Monster cookies have been a favorite here for years.  I adapted the recipe from one I got from my sweet Aunt Pat years ago.  She gave me some of the cookies for Christmas with the recipe attached. 

They contain oatmeal, peanut butter, and of course, the best thing, chocolate.  They are chewy on the inside, crispy on the outside and packed to the tippy top with delicious flavor!  Kids love them, adults love them, and my family can’t get enough of them either.

These cookies freeze great because they don’t contain flour or baking powder.  They also store well at room temperature for several days. 

 

Some tips to remember when making them:

Stir them super thoroughly, hopefully you have a hulk like mine to help you with that part. 

You need a giant bowl because it makes a lot! 

If you don’t have a bunch of cookie monsters in your house, you can half the recipe. 

I hope you and the ones you love enjoy them as much as we do.

 Monster Cookies, yum

monster cookie eggs

monster cookie butter

monster cookie raw sugar

monster cookie batter

monster cookie dough

Monster Cookies
A delicious drop cookie with oatmeal, chocolate, and peanut butter
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Ingredients
  1. 6 eggs
  2. 2 sticks room temperature butter (don't you dare ruin these cookies with margarine!)
  3. 4 c. raw sugar
  4. 4 T. vanilla
  5. 2 1/2 c. creamy peanut butter
  6. 4 tsp. baking soda
  7. 9 c. rolled oats
  8. 1 c. chocolate chips
  9. 1 c. m and ms
Instructions
  1. Mix in a very large bowl: Eggs, butter, sugar, and vanilla. Stir very well.
  2. Add peanut butter and mix well.
  3. Add baking soda and rolled oats and mix very well
  4. Add chocolate chips and m and m's and mix well.
  5. Drop rounded dough balls onto greased cookie sheets.
  6. Bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes.
  7. Don't let them get too brown!
Adapted from Aunt Pat's recipe
Adapted from Aunt Pat's recipe
Little Sprouts Learning https://littlesproutslearning.co/

 

10 Great Reasons to Cook with your KIDS!

10 Great Reasons to Cook with your KIDS!

Cooking with kids is so important for many reasons. Cooking is a life skill children need and even though it’s tempting to shoo them out of the kitchen so you can get things done, every once in a while it’s a great idea to get them involved. Learn to cook with your kids. It’s a wonderful activity to spend time doing with them and then you can eat the results. Good times.

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Kid’s Cookbook, Cooking with Kids

 

 

Something I LOVE to do with my kids is cook.  It teaches them super fine motor skills, math, pre-reading, and critical thinking skills.  Plus, it’s SCIENCE!  And kids are more likely to try or like healthy foods if they help prepare them, so it’s a big part of getting kids to eat healthy.  For the past 14 years I have produced a little cookbook with recipes we have made featuring the kids making them.

cooking with kids-cookbook

I give this cookbook as a gift to my daycare parents at Christmas time.  I do almost one recipe a day for the month of November.  In December, I work up the cookbook.  Making sure you get pictures of each child present making each recipe is a challenge, but it’s a keepsake the parents can treasure.  In addition, it encourages families to cook together.  I have had many parents tell me their kids ask to get the cookbook out and cook a recipe with them.  Anything that gives parents a fun activity to do with their kids is a winner in my book.

little sprouts cookbook

The first thing I do to prepare for the production of the cookbook is look up recipes I might want to make.  I chose several easy recipes, and then add a few more complicated ones to round it out.  I love the way cooking with the kids makes them feel.  I have had numerous children tell me in their teenage years that cooking was their favorite thing we did here. 

Please remember to be patient, mistakes will be made, messes will happen, and it’s time consuming, but oh so worth it! 

Secondly, I print each recipe how I plan to make it and make a shopping list to make sure I have all the supplies on hand.  This can get pricey, so I choose a few things that can be used for breakfast or lunch for the kids and we eat several of the recipes for snack.  I usually let them take servings of one or two of the recipes home to share with their families.  It helps Mom and Dad be connected to what we are doing here.

Next, I print up the cover, table of contents, and any other extra pages I need. 

kid's cookbook

After everything is prepared, I choose a recipe for each day and attach it to the wall by the table with sticky tack so we can “read” the recipe together.  This helps to show the kids that words have meaning which is an important part of pre-reading.

children's cookbook

Then all there is left to do is get great shots of the kids making the recipe.  I prepare the ingredients and let them take turns doing whatever job comes next. 

cooking with kids-parent gift cookbook

Once I have all the pictures taken and all the recipes completed, I order prints to make the cookbook.  When they arrive, I glue them onto the recipe pages and send it to the printer.  They add a clear cover on the front and a card stock back for me.  Generally I have the cookbook printed in black and white and it costs a little under $100 to get enough for each family is serve.  This year, however, the printer made an error and I received my cookbooks in color, which would have cost closer to $300 if I had ordered them that way.  Happy accident for me. 

kid's cookbook cover

This cookbook is a very personal gift that can be enjoyed by the whole family and treasured for years.  If you don’t teach, they would make GREAT gifts for grandparents or someone like that. 

 

What are some great gifts you have given that are treasured for a long time into the future?

How to Roast Pumpkin Seeds

How to Roast Pumpkin Seeds

Roasting your own pumpkin to make pumpkin puree, like most things, makes something so much tastier than canned!  Click here to see how to make your own pumpkin puree!  But don’t waste those tasty seeds inside the pumpkin.  They can be used to make roast pumpkin seeds and you’ll be amazed at how good they are. 

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