Little hands can help! If you are spending more time at home right now, it may be an excellent opportunity to teach children food preparation skills that will last a lifetime.
Here are a few benefits to spending time preparing food with kids:
Cooking builds confidence. Helping in the kitchen builds early skills of independence. Most kids feel proud and important when they help prepare food. Children feel like they are accomplishing something and contributing to the family.
Cooking teaches. Kitchen tasks give children a chance to measure, count and see food change, which is a great introduction to math and science learning. Children can learn new words and symbols by cooking with adults. Read words together on recipes and food containers. Cleanup teaches responsibility. Everyone needs to contribute the meal preparation and cleanup.
Cooking together is fun family time. Kitchen time offers a special opportunity in parenting. Cooking together creates closer bonds and lifelong memories. It gives parents and children time together to talk and share thoughts and stories. Preparing food is also an occasion to spend some time away from screens.
Safety always comes first when cooking with kids. Here are examples of kitchen safety rules for families:
- Always begin with handwashing and cleaning food preparation surfaces like countertops and tables.
- Fasten long hair back.
- Taste with a clean spoon. A licked spoon goes in the sink or dishwasher, not back in the bowl.
- Be cautious around hot surfaces, sharp knives and certain kitchen utensils. An adult needs to help and supervise.
- Resist nibbling cookie dough, cake batter or any food containing raw eggs or uncooked flour.
Even if meals take longer to prepare, it is worth letting children help. Start with small projects and keep it fun. Make sure to expect a few spills and have patience. It is a small price to pay for helping children become comfortable in the kitchen. Each child has his or her own pace for learning, so give it time and the skills will come.
Spending time in the kitchen with children can foster an interest in food and cooking that will last for lifetime!
Applesauce Oatmeal Muffins with Blueberries
- 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup quick-cooking oatmeal
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 large egg
- 1/3 cup vegetable oil
- 1 cup applesauce, unsweetened
- 1/2 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
- 1/2 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen (unsweetened)
Wash hands with soap and water.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a muffin pan with 12 baking cups.
In large bowl, combine dry ingredients (flours, oatmeal, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda and salt); mixing well.
Crack egg into a small bowl. Wash hands with warm water and soap. Add oil, applesauce and brown sugar. Mix well. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and stir just enough to moisten the ingredients. Batter should still be lumpy.
Gently stir in blueberries.
Divide the mixture between 12 muffin cups (about 1/4 cup of batter for each muffin cup). Bake at 350 degrees F for 25 to 30 minutes or until a toothpick/knife inserted near the center comes out clean.
Remove from oven and cool in pan for 5 minutes. Then place muffins on a wire rack to finish cooling.
Store muffins in a covered container or plastic storage bag to prevent them from drying out.
Makes 12 muffins.
Nutrition information per muffin: 159 calories, 7 g total fat, 152 mg sodium 152mg, 22 g total carbohydrates, 9 g sugar, 3 g protein.