Thursday, 7 July 2016

Cookery Lessons for Children

Far too often, children are growing up with little to no experience in cooking for themselves. Food is readily available pre-made and cheap to buy so there’s little incentive in buying ingredients and giving dishes a go themselves.

This is where us parents come in. As parents, we should all be encouraging our children to learn basic cooking skills so they have the know-how to take care of themselves and others. And, as well as being a great life skill, it can also be a really fun way to entertain the little ones.

Here’s some top tips on developing cooking skills and a keen interest in food…


Be Encouraging

Culinary talents do not happen overnight, so it’s good to keep in mind that this will take time and patience. The little ones will easily be dissuaded if kitchen mishaps happen so try to keep it light and positive.

A handy tip is to get the children to taste their recipe as they go along, to make sure they still think it tastes good! This is also good to get the children tasting new things and expanding their palates. It should be less daunting trying something they know all the ingredients in.

Must-try Recipes

Everyone gets excited about food. That’s why there are so many celebrity chefs, popular food shows and new restaurants popping up every day. We all love to see mouth-watering recipes and with children it’s no different.

Here’s a selection of recipes to test out with the little ones. Hopefully they turn out as tasty as they look.

This recipe from BBC Good Food is spaghetti and meatballs with hidden vegetables. It takes 45 minutes to prepare and cook and manages to sneak in some extra vegetables towards the five-a-day goal.

Savoury muffins are all the rage in the food world and these sweet potato ones from Jamie Oliver are sure to excite. Sweet potatoes are full of vitamin C and the other ingredients provide protein and other nutrients. They take about an hour to make and are perfect for a healthy snack in between meals.

A real education in taste comes with this next recipe for chicken with spring onions, chilli and Greek yoghurt - a great choice for party nibbles. It is from Nigella Lawson’s back catalogue of dishes and offers up Middle Eastern flavours that are sure to please the taste buds.

You can check out some of my favourite recipes on my blog here.

Nutrition

Cooking your own food means you take back control of what you and your children are eating. By creating something from scratch, you can make sure that your little ones are eating - and cooking - something that ticks all the food groups and nutrients needed to grow up healthily.

Here are some top tips to good nutrition:

  • The 5532 guidance from the British Nutrition Foundation highlights that young children should be having 5 starchy foods, 5 fruit and vegetables, 3 dairy foods and 2 protein foods each day.
  • Portion size is also hard to get your head around when you’ve been plating up food for yourself and other adults for so long. The BNF also has guidance on this for all the different types of food e.g. half a baked potato, 3-8 strawberries and 1-2 fish fingers are normal portion sizes for toddlers.
  • Limit the amount of salt your child has – no more than 2g of salt per day should be consumed. Instead of having salt at the dinner table, have herbs and spices instead.

Showing off

After all that hard work learning and perfecting new recipes, why not have a celebration to show off the children’s new talents? You could throw a BBQ or a buffet for something casual, or even an afternoon tea or garden party to really up the stakes.

If you have a kitchen that faces onto a garden, then you can really make the most of the space you have with bi-fold doors (like these stunning oak ranges). The open space this affords is ideal for an outdoor party, giving the feeling of making the kitchen and garden into one large space and giving guests the choice of milling between both spaces. It also allows for quick refuge if the weather takes a bad turn…

The children can pick a few recipes to wow the guests with and then spend their time feeling proud of their tasty creations while enjoying the fruits of their labour. Who knows, your efforts with the children could inspire their friends to take up a mixing spoon and don an apron - you could have a full cookery class in session in no time.

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