Hi! I am Stacie, from Little Adventures Await. I am a teacher, family photographer, and mama of two. My blog does not focus on cooking or recipes, but I thank Signe for appreciating my view on cooking with kids. Bear with me, there will be sarcasm, and there will be mistakes. And in full disclosure, we are seeking nutrition therapy through Childrens Hospital for my son’s extreme food aversions. So, I am not expert, but I think I have a few tricks up my sleeve. As we made a tortellini salad and chocolate chip zucchini bread, I took a few notes that I thought I would share…
1. First, I never EVER go into the kitchen with the idea that my kids are going to help me make something magnificent and that there will be no mistakes. Everyone will end up frustrated if you go in with high expectations. When we added the oil to our pasta salad, it was totally supposed to go in a separate bowl. But I was busy taking a photo, so in it went. I had to make sure to take the blame on that one.
2. I have my kids help me make things that they don’t necessarily like. If she only knows how to bake cookies, she won’t get experience knowing how to flip something in a pan, how to chop, or how to taste-test new fresh ingredients. Thus, the pasta salad. Individually, my 6 year old likes a lot of these ingredients, but if I just handed her a bowl of pasta salad, she would gag. Throughout the process, she tried peppers, cucumber, and tortellini.
3. Be reasonable with tasks and let them take breaks. I stopped demanding that they stay with me until the recipe is done, and they are much happier when I call them back for the perfect task. For instance, we called him back to dump in the chocolate chips to the “keeni” bread so that he didn’t have to watch her grate the whole thing. Plus, he was much more likely to eat it, knowing there was chocolate in it.
4. Let them try hard things. It is hard to crack an egg, but I’ve been letting her practice it since she was his age. And now she’s an expert! Likewise, she complained about how hard it was to peel the garlic and onions, but she did it and lived to tell about it.
5. Work in high-level thinking by asking good questions. This is my teacher brain talking. So often, we tend to tell, instead of question. Some of the things we wondered together: “Why is it easier to cut a dry cucumber?” “Why is it easier to cut with the flat side down?” We also work in a lot of math talk, since fractions are pretty important in measurement. And for Rhys, I give him simple counting tasks, even if that’s not really written in the recipe. Sure, 19 tomatoes sounds great!
6. Talk about the mistakes and use it as the perfect teachable moment. For instance, I misread our measuring cup and added a whole extra cup of flour to our zucchini bread. We had to problem-solve together, and it didn’t turn out terrible like I thought. And sometimes their impatience causes mistakes, and then that is self-teaching.
Both of these recipes were fun to make with the kids. I’d encourage you to invite them to make not only seasonal items with you, but every day items like scrambled eggs and toast! Have fun!
Each Tuesday for the next several weeks a fellow mom/friend/community member will be sharing a fun recipe, tips to include kids in the cooking process, or a great family restaurant for “Take a Taste Tuesday.” If you are interested in sharing your eating and/or cooking fun be sure to connect with me via email!