Cooking with your Kids During the Holidays
The excitement of sharing a holiday meal begins long before we bake the bread, carve the turkey, or serve the pumpkin pie. With special treats and family gatherings, the perfect time to teach your child about cooking and nutrition is during the holidays! Kids not only will get to try the new foods they prepare, but they also will get a big boost to their confidence when they see family and friends enjoying their creations. Most importantly, cooking with your children will promote future health by teaching them about nutrition and how to prepare healthy meals. It exposes them to a wide variety of foods, which they’re much more likely to try if they helped with the preparation. Lastly, it teaches them valuable real-life skills.
Plan the Menu:
Start with brainstorming food ideas for the holidays together as a family. Of course, you may have to guide your kids if they are still young, but it gets them excited about the holiday gatherings. Including your young ones in the menu, planning is a great habit, especially if you have picky eaters.
To be safe, cover a few ground rules before getting started in the kitchen. Teach kids to wash their hands with warm, soapy water while singing two choruses of “Happy Birthday” to wash away germs.
To begin cooking, teach your child the basics, such as cracking an egg or gathering the ingredients for a favorite holiday recipe. Convey to your child the importance of measuring the correct amount of each ingredient and the different types of utensils you need to use.
Cooking per Age Group:
Three to Five-Year-Olds can begin to assist with safe, simple tasks where they can begin to develop basic skills, such as washing fruits and vegetables, measuring dry ingredients, cutting soft ingredients with a strong plastic knife, mixing ingredients, tearing herbs and lettuce, squashing fruit, kneading, buttering bread, cutting the dough with appropriate size tools, and picking leaves off of vegetables.
Five to Seven-Year-Olds can assist you with more advanced skills such as cutting with scissors, learning how to cut with a small knife, learning grating skills, greasing and lining pans, pressing cookie cutters, and peeling oranges and hard-boiled eggs. They can also begin to fold napkins and help set the table
Eight to Twelve -Year-Olds is the perfect age to show them where you store standard ingredients in the refrigerator and cupboard and to teach them the basic elements of meal planning. You can also teach them how to use more complex tools such as a whisker, a handheld mixer, a peeler, and a can opener. They may be ready to make a few simple recipes of their own, like baking foods in the oven or simmering ingredients on the stove.
Remember to allow your child to gradually master cooking methods. Start with simple techniques like rolling dough, using a cookie cutter, or spreading frosting. Give your child time to work their way up to completing the entire cookie-making process. Explain different methods for cooking your favorite recipe with your children.
Holiday Cookbook for the Family:
The Berenstain Bears’ Holiday Cookbook offers kid-friendly holiday recipes for year-round occasions including Valentine’s Day, Easter, the Fourth of July, Fall Festivities, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.
Try out these Recipes with your Kids:
Krupa is our onsite registered dietitian and she is available to help Gatorcare members achieve a healthier lifestyle! It’s not about dieting or counting calories but rather building a healthier relationship with food.