I would love to get my kids "cooking" in the kitchen more. Do you have any tips or simple recipes that kids would enjoy?

I think it is excellent that you want to get your kids into the kitchen to cook with you! Getting kids excited about cooking and nutrition is important for many reasons. It can help improve math skills from an early age by teaching them about measurements and quantities. You will have more quality time with your child during the cooking process and you can improve their nutrition because kids are more likely to eat a dish that they had a hand in preparing. Begin by making it fun for them. Sit together and go to kid friendly cooking/recipe sites and pick out recipes together. Select a handful of recipes and then have a family vote to see which night you serve the dishes. Make sure to have realistic expectations while cooking with your kids and focus on the “fun” of the experience rather than worry too much about the “perfection” of the end result. For example, realize that baking an elaborate dessert requires specific and precise measurements so you may wish to start off simple by making a veggie pizza with a pre made crust. Arm yourself with child friendly kitchen tools, like plastic measuring cups and plastic knives. If working with several children, you may wish to assign different responsibilities based on age and skill level. An older child could manage cutting soft fruits and vegetables to prep the dish, while a younger child may be asked to help set the table in a special way. During the meal ask the child questions about taste and get opinions on smell and the overall appearance of the meal (they may even wish to vote at the end!). Get everyone involved in clean up and (before and after) teach them about the importance of hand washing and basic possible dangers of cross contamination (don’t let the raw chicken touch the vegetables, etc).

Overall, cooking with your kids can be such a great experience for you and for them. But, realize that accidents and spills can happen, so monitor and supervise closely and educate/compliment the whole way!

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