My latest cookbook is It’s So Good: 100 Real Food Recipes for Kids, which encourages little chefs to spend time in the kitchen (under the supervision of an adult, of course). The recipes are simple, quick to make and incorporate a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables, which I hope you’ll pick up at your local farmer’s market. However, I know parents can feel hesitant about tackling cooking projects with their children. Don’t worry mom and dad – it’s easier than you think. Here are 10 tips to make your time together fun, interactive and educational.
1. Plan ahead. To make kitchen projects as fuss-free as possible, make sure you have all the necessary ingredients and equipment on hand before you start.
2. Clean is cool. Everyone should wear an apron and clothes they don’t mind getting dirty, and don’t forget to clean your hands thoroughly before starting to work.
3. Get ready to learn. Use your time cooking together to tell your children where your food comes from, how it’s grown and raised and the benefits it has for your bodies.
4. Give clear instructions. Walk children through what you want them to do and how it helps create the finished dish.
5. Kids can cut. Give them a small plastic knife with a rounded edge to cut through herbs, peeled fruits and soft vegetables, like strawberries and tomatoes.
6. Tasting isn’t just okay, it’s encouraged. Try a small nibble of the ingredients that are safe to eat and test the dish along the way to make sure it’s seasoned properly.
7. Ask their opinions. Find out what your children think about what you’re making, how you’re making it and what it tastes like.
8. Be generous in your praise. A little encouragement can go a long way in building confidence in little chefs, which will get them excited to cook again in the future.
9. A mess will be made. Set aside time at the end of your work for everyone to clean up the kitchen together.
10. Above all, cooking with your children should be fun. So breathe deeply, laugh often and relax.
Now go get cooking!