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Cooking Time with Your Little One

Maybe it is time to change things up by letting your little one lend a helping hand in the kitchen because you get to introduce him to the wonderful world of food and cooking.

We are all aware of the importance of cooking for our health and quality of life is, so why not teach him how to make his own healthy meals? Trust me, sending your grown child out into the world with a little bit of cooking knowledge is probably the best lesson you could ever give him.

But of course, some of you may not know where to start! In this article we provide some tips to use with your toddler to ensure the both of you have a fun and safe experience in the kitchen.

Early Days

Before your toddler reaches the age where he is able to tell fruits and vegetables apart, cut, stir, measure and so on; his brain is still able to soak up your every move which he eventually starts to recognize if observed often. Put him in his highchair and explain to him as you are dicing onions, chopping up carrots and tell him what you are making.

While you are at it, it’s all right to give him an empty bowl and a saucepan for him to play with and pretend he is cooking as well. Carry him on your hip as you are stirring something that is boiling on the stove and be sure to tell him what it is. He may not be able to respond to you in words, but he would definitely be absorbing everything you are telling him and he would have the time of his life.

Your very own sous chef

From about 18 months onwards, your toddler would most likely be able to help you out with some basic cooking tasks. You could let him do things like rolling out dough, icing cupcakes, decorating cookies or stirring batter. The most important thing you need to have is patience.

It is very normal for every parent to have the dying need of taking over halfway, but instead of doing that; try to ignore the mess for once and demonstrate to him by using your own utensils while he uses his.

Knife skills for the little munchkin

Chopping up things in the kitchen would most likely be his favourite activity in the kitchen because as we all know, most children enjoy playing with knifes for some odd reason that we adults would never understand. So, how can you do this the safest way possible? Hand him a real knife? Absolutely not!

Go out and get him some nice, colourful child friendly knifes that will chop vegetables but not his tiny fingers. The knife may not be very harmful, but of course you would still have to keep an eye on him.

Making a meal

By the time your toddler is about 30 months, he should be able to follow a simple recipe of his favourite meal from scratch (pictures help). The sense of excitement and pride that come along with making his own meal is extremely special for a parent to experience, so make sure you whip out your camera and post all about his cooking experience on Facebook!

It also acts as a great confidence booster to your little one because he would be more willing to try out new things and taste things he has never wanted before. Try to choose recipes that offer instant gratification, like sandwiches, smoothies and fruit sticks.

Maths & Science fun

Basic baking is made up of measuring, adding, dividing, volumes and chemistry, which also happen to be key foundations in basic maths and science. Of course you would not want to spend the day tutoring your kid maths and science because that is no fun at all. By baking and at the same time teaching your toddler basic knowledge, you are sort of indirectly getting him ready for school, which is great.

Signature dishes

As he gets older, it would be good to encourage him to have ‘signature dishes’. Try combining a few different ingredients without following a particular recipe until you find something the both of you truly like and make it as many times as possible until your toddler knows it by heart and can whip it up on his own.

If you have more than one toddler, be sure to set their signature dishes apart so that they can have ownership at the end of the day. This would help boost his confidence and make him feel very comfortable in the kitchen.

Getting your toddler to participate in the kitchen and making him feel like he is wanted is a good way to help overcome fussy eating. It is pretty common that children pick and choose what they eat but children who take part in kitchen activities are most likely to eat their vegetables and are willing to try a variety of foods. Hopefully, after reading this article you decide to take your toddler into the kitchen and have a little kitchen fun with him.


For many of you who are now excited to cook with your toddlers but have no idea what dishes to try, we have come up with a few easy and fun recipes that the both of your might enjoy making together;

Cheese Puffs

What you need

  • Puff pastry sheet
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • Grated cheese (any kind)
  • Bowl
  • Small whisk / fork
  • Pastry Brush
  • Biscuit/ cookie cutters
  • Baking tray
  • Baking paper

Method

  1. Lay out your puff pastry sheets to defrost. Pre-heat your oven to 180°C.
  2. Have your little assistant lightly beat the egg and water together to form an egg wash.
  3. Cut shapes from your puff pastry using a biscuit cutter.
  4. Lay shapes onto a sheet of baking paper on your baking tray and brush with egg wash.
  5. Sprinkle a little grated cheese onto each shape.
  6. Bake for about 10 minutes or until cheese has melted and pastry puffed.
  7. Enjoy warm with a cup of warm hot chocolate.

Two Ingredient Scones

What you need

  • 3 cups self-raising flour
  • 550 ml thickened cream
  • Jam and cream for serving
  • Baking paper
  • Bowl
  • Ladle

Method

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 200°C. Line an oven tray with baking paper.
  2. In a large bowl, sift flour. Pour in cream. With a butter knife, quickly mix to soft, sticky dough.
  3. On a floured surface, turn out the mixture and knead gently. Press out dough to approximately
  4. 1 1/2 cm thick.
  5. Cut scones and place on tray with them being close together.
  6. Bake in pre-heated oven for about 15 minutes. Remove from oven and cool on wire rack.
  7. Serve with jam and cream.

Banana-Mango Frozen Yoghurt

What you need

  • 1 cup sliced ripe banana
  • 3/4 cup chopped peeled mango
  • 1/3 cup orange juice
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 1/2 cups low fat milk
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 16 ounces low-fat yoghurt

Method

  1. Let your toddle help by placing the first 4 ingredients in a blender; process until smooth. Combine banana mixture, milk, sugar and yoghurt in a large bowl, stirring well within a whisk.
  2. Pour mixture into the freezer can of an ice-cream freezer; freeze according to manufacturer’s instructions. Spoon into a freezer safe container; cover and freeze at least one hour.

Sunshine Smoothie

What you need

  • 1/2 cup chopped peeled mango
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped peeled apricots
  • 2/3 cup chopped peeled nectarine
  • 1 cup chopped cantaloupe
  • 1/4 cup mango nectar
  • 1/8 teaspoon grated lemon rind
  • 6 ounces low-fat yoghurt
  • 1 cup ice cubes

Method

  1. Place mango in a zip-lock bag; seal. Freeze one hour.
  2. Place chopped apricots and next 5 ingredients in a blender; process until smooth. Add frozen mango and ice; process until smooth.

 

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