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Nutrition Articles

Tips, Tricks and Treats to Teach Kids to Cook

Too Many Cooks in the Kitchen? No Such Thing!

1KSHARES
Below is a list of fun recipes you and your wee ones can create together. 

Crunchy Healthy Nuggets
(Serves 4)
1 egg
2 T low fat milk
3 1/2 c whole-grain flake cereal
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Little and big chefs: Put the corn flakes in a large freezer bag and crunch, crunch, crunch!

Parent: Cube chicken on a clean cutting board. (Let elementary-school age kids use a knife only under your supervision.)

Little and big chefs: Whisk egg and milk together in a small bowl.

All chefs: Dip chicken chunks in egg mixture, then place in bag with crunched flakes. (Remind kids not to touch their mouths after touching the raw chicken and egg.) Spread coated nuggets on a baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes. Serve with your choice of dipping sauce.


Pita Pizza Party
(Serves 4)
4 whole wheat pitas
4 T alfredo sauce
4 oz. turkey pepperoni
1/2 c part-skim mozzarella cheese
1 c frozen spinach, thawed, drained (hint: squeeze spinach with old, clean towel to remove most of the moisture!)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

All chefs: Lay pitas on a baking pan and coat with alfredo sauce.

All chefs: Add spinach to the top, then sprinkle with cheese.

Parent: Bake for about 15 minutes until the cheese is melted and browned.

Enjoy! You can try any type of sauce, vegetable, cheese or meat on this fun dish! Little chefs can almost complete this whole meal assembly by themselves with a little guidance.

Nested Eggs
(Serves 2)
2 slices whole wheat bread
2 eggs
1 t margarine
2 low-fat cheese slices
salt and pepper to taste

Parent: Heat a skillet on the stove top.

Little chefs: Use a glass or a cookie cutter to cut a hole in the center of each piece of bread.

Parent: Brown the pieces of bread on one side. Then, melt half the margarine in the center of each hole.

Big chefs: Once melted,
older kids can break an egg into the center of each piece of bread.

Parent: Cover pan and cook until egg is firm.


Big chefs: Cover each egg with a cheese slice. (Let little chefs unwrap the cheese.)

Parent: Once cheese melts, remove from heat and serve.

Yogurt and Fruit Parfaits
(Serves 4)
12 oz low fat yogurt (vanilla works great)
1 c low-fat granola or other cereal
1 c mixed berries (fresh or frozen)
1/2 c dried fruits
1/2 c canned crushed pineapple
1/4 c sunflower seeds
1/4 c chocolate chips

Your little chefs will love assembling these treats.

Parent: Place yogurt plus any combo of the above ingredients into separate bowls, and give each chef a small cup.

All chefs: Spoon layers of goodies into their cups and voila--a parfait!

(They may need a little help spooning the food and hitting the target. Be prepared for a bit of cleanup with this recipe!)

Crunchy Turkey Sticks
(Serves 4)
4 slices of deli turkey
1 stalk celery
4 t mustard
4 t mayonnaise

Little chefs: Stir mustard and mayo together in a bowl.

Parent or big chefs: Cut the celery in half length-wise, then widthwise to make 4 pieces.

(Celery cuts well with a plastic knife, if your child has developed some hand-eye coordination.)

All chefs: Next, lay the turkey slices flat, and spread sauce on each piece.

All chefs: Place the celery stick at one end, and roll it up!

Also, try carrots or cucumber sticks instead of celery. Or, try ham or chicken instead of turkey.

Strawberry Skyscrapers
(Serves 3 or more)
1 tub low-fat strawberry cream cheese, soft
9 sheets low fat graham crackers, broken in half (to equal 18 crackers)
1 c fresh strawberries
1 c fresh banana (1 medium)

Big chefs: Slice the strawberries with a paring knife.

Little chefs: Slice the banana with a plastic knife.


Big chefs: Place the cream cheese in a bowl and stir until smooth.

All chefs: Frost all 18 graham crackers halves with the cream cheese. Top six graham crackers with strawberries, and six graham crackers with bananas.

All chefs: Stack the banana-topped crackers on top of strawberry-topped crackers, then finish them off with the rest of the frosted grahams, cream cheese side down.

Enjoy! You'll need to eat over a napkin for this yummy, messy snack.
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About The Author

Sarah Haan Sarah Haan
Sarah is a registered dietitian with a bachelor's degree in dietetics. She helps individuals adopt healthy lifestyles and manage their weight. An avid exerciser and cook, Sarah likes to run, lift weights and eat good food. See all of Sarah's articles.

Member Comments

  • Uh, what about Dads brining their children into the kitchen as well. Its statements like this that perpetuate women as doing the major lifting still with most tasks. Get it together Spark People a little. There are Dads & partners out there~ - 8/5/2013 12:41:04 AM
  • "We all know how important it is to prepare nutritious food for our children. But did you know it's equally as important that we teach our children how to prepare nutritious food for themselves?"

    NO!!! Really?? - 7/31/2013 11:11:10 AM
  • I really dislike the fact that the author of this article chose chicken nuggets and pizza as their first two cooking with kids suggestions. The reality (that no one talks about) is, if your kids eat school lunch, go through fast food (ever) or even go to birthday parties or friends houses they are already eating chicken nuggets and pizza far too often. So many parents also have chicken nuggets and pizza at least once a week if not more as what the kids are eating for dinner (even if the parents are having something different). Because I already know those foods are over represented I don't buy or make chicken nuggets and we don't have pizza as a regular meal. I'd suggest pancakes with fruit or nuts in them as an easy and fun cooking with kids meal and omelets with whatever veggies and cheese (& meat if you eat it). My daughter is 3 so she can stir batter, add fruit and nuts or vegetables. My son is 10 and he has been able to cook an omelet with minimal help since about 6. - 7/9/2013 12:16:15 PM
  • My 12 year old is having a friend sleep over tonight..they and my 10 yr old are so making their own nuggets tonight. Love this and it's easy to do. - 4/16/2013 2:42:07 PM
  • Cooking is the perfect time to teach children fractions. I had them figure out the proportions when doubling the chocolate chip cookie recipe, etc. I taught them the difference between liquid and dry measure, and to "eye ball" measurements. - 1/30/2013 9:40:07 AM
  • Thanks for the article! It astounds me how many kids out in the "real world" are not learning to cook, from their moms or otherwise! We have an entire generation (at least) of people who don't even know what a potato is when they see it, much less how to prepare one for dinner. (I have witnessed this at our local Farmers' Market.)

    I have been4 teaching kids to cook via 4-H for several years. I teach ages 5 to 18, though my own kids have been helping in the kitchen since they were old enough to balance on the step stool to watch me. I think this article is a little paranoid on safety, but anything that motivates people to work with kids is fabulous!

    BTW, I loved the comment/suggestio
    n about dog biscuits! Great idea for preschoolers! - 1/2/2013 11:32:53 AM
  • These are all great suggestions. I think it's important too that dads do all this stuff, too. I noticed that the article only called out moms. - 12/31/2012 11:39:02 AM
  • This is a great article. I think children will be willing to try new foods if they are part of the food preparation. Love the age-appropriate instructions. Now this next comment may seem silly to some people, however, it is kind of important. In the main photo of this article, the woman is holding the knife in an entirely inappropriate way. A knife is not held with the finger tips. I have no doubt that this was done for photogenic purposes, but proper knife handling is too important to be left out. I guess I think this is particularly important with this article since the article is all about teaching kids to cook. But otherwise, the article is really fantastic. - 12/30/2012 6:39:48 PM
  • Make sure to explain the dangers of things like boiling water and garbage disposers, and make sure kids know that they are only allowed to do any kind of cooking when they have adult supervision. If you don't make this clear to them they'll think that cooking with you one time is a license to do the same things on their own. - 12/30/2012 2:43:33 PM
  • AZURE-SKY
    Instead of using fingers to dip the chicken pieces in the egg, use a fork or tongs. Then there are no eggy fingers to worry about - this is just common sense! It will also teach the kids how to use the utensils.

    For the graham cracker recipe, I would make it a 2-layer treat instead of a 3-layer. Put strawberries and banana slices on the same frosted graham cracker & top with another one. This would be much easier to eat without falling apart & making a mess. The kids could also have a choice of which fruit they want. You could use other sliced fresh fruit, like peaches or nectarines in season.

    For the yogurt parfaits, don't forget to drain the pineapple, or it will make the yogurt too runny.

    When I was growing up, the "nested eggs" were called "toad in a hole."

    Dads cooking is nothing new. I'm 60 years old and my dad taught me how to make pancakes when I was a kid. He also cooked other breakfast meals. He worked nights, so his free time with us kids was on the weekends, and he loved to make the family big breakfast. - 12/30/2012 1:31:09 PM
  • I can't wait to try this with my grandaughter the fruit and graham crackers sound like something she might like fruit is not her favorite but if she helps it might be too hard to resist - 12/30/2012 4:45:12 AM
  • "...but the only way they'll learn to cook is by joining you in the kitchen, moms."

    Really, Sparkpeople? I did not expect that sort of comment here. Healthy cooking is for everyone. - 11/28/2012 9:53:57 AM
  • SSLOANE1
    "teach your children to cook moms" so very last century

    your site is becoming extremely sexist and boring with its unidimensiuonal approach - 11/11/2012 3:00:40 PM
  • My Grandsons were being raised by their Dad and introduced to cooking on Camp outs taught me to make the toast and egg in the middle. Also Tin foil Dinners featuring meat and a variety of vegetables. It was a help to their Dad that they both learned to cook while young. BTW their Dad was one of the Camp counsellors giving them fun times together. - 11/9/2012 11:58:49 PM
  • I have taught my son and my grandchildren to cook since they were still toddlers. The best thing to teach a toddler to cook is dog biscuits. The dogs don't care if the children eat the dough, pick their nose, slobber in the dough, etc. The kids can get their hands messy and have so much fun! I teach them they must obey the rules (wash their hands, don't pick their nose, don't eat the dough, don't lick the spoon til I give it to them after we are done using it, etc) and if they disobey they aren't allowed to help and I make it sound fun and we do have so much fun making them. When they are older, we start with brownies and then move up as they get older and can follow rules and do more. They are all wonderful cooks and love to help in the kitchen! My D-I-L loves that her husband can cook and bake! - 11/9/2012 3:28:37 PM

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