10 tips to get your kids involved in the kitchen (plus a killer chocolate chip cookie recipe)

[Photos: Little Miss Party]

Meet my nephew Luke. He is 3 years old and clearly loves to cook and bake. Like Luke’s mom, my mom always allowed me into her kitchen to create whatever my heart desired even when I was a little girl. It was the best thing she could have done because although there was always a mess, it was an invaluable learning experience that kickstarted my passion for food. If it weren’t for my mom, I’d probably still be learning how to boil water!

Luke is in preschool and most days, instead of sitting in front of the television or on the computer, this kid heads straight to the kitchen with his mom to help with a main dish or dessert for their evening meal. Don’t get me wrong, there’s always a mess that’s left behind, but learning can get messy (and that just means there’s another lesson in cleaning up).

Cooking and helping to tidy up those messes are a fun and very significant basic life skill that should be taught at an early age. Kids that cook learn to taste and eat the foods that they prepare (you’d be surprised at how the pickiest kid would eat almost anything he/she prepares); plus, they learn the importance of a balanced diet at an early age. 

Let’s talk about how to safely involve your kids in the kitchen. Here are some tips:

1. Make them wash their little hands, because God only knows where they’ve been.

2. Tie back long hair so it doesn’t fall into their eyes or in the food (Luke’s chef hat does the job, which is super cute but not essential. A rubber band or hair net works just as well.)

3. Always have an adult supervise the process, especially if there is a stove, oven, sharp kitchen utensils or hot ingredients involved. 

4.  Buy a “kid safe” small, sharp knife – small because it will fit into little hands better, and sharp because it cuts foods more easily, making it less likely to cut fingers. Luke uses ones that looks like these:

5. Small pot holders for small hands make handling hot pots easier.

6. Silicone-handled cooking utensils, such as mixing spoons, brushes and spatulas don’t transfer heat and they come in really cool colours!

7. Lots of paper towels – for cleaning the inevitable spills that will likely occur.

8. Keep a checklist of what needs to be cleaned, put away and turned off at the end of the preparation.

9. Try to not let them eat anything raw except for vegetables. I know it’s hard when there is cookie dough in the vicinity but there are uncooked eggs in that batter!

10. Have fun and don’t take the process too seriously. Compliment them on their achievements so they take pride in the food they create.

To help you and your kid get started in the kitchen, here’s a chewy and crunchy chocolate chip and walnut cookie recipe.

[Photo: Simply Beautiful Eating]

And here’s a little demo by Chef Luke whipping up a batch of cupcakes!

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