7 Tips For Introducing Kids To The Joys Of Cooking

Between school, sports, and other extracurricular activities, it can be hard for parents to find quality time to spend with their kids. One of Sinisa’s favorite ways to bond with the boys is by inviting them to help out in the kitchen. It can be a fun and educational experience.

Having grown up in the age of television food programming, many of today’s kids have a strong appreciation for how food is made and a desire to try some of the recipes and techniques they’ve seen on TV. Jacob’s favorite food show is Cake Boss and both boys enjoy helping bake (especially when they get to help make crepes and smother them in Nutella).

Here are seven tips for introducing kids to the joys of cooking, provided courtesy of the team at Chef Works, a leading provider of culinary apparel for professionals and home cooks alike.

Start Them Young

Like most things you want to teach your kids, the earlier you can get them started, the better. While obviously you’re not going to let a toddler handle a knife or cook at the stove, there are plenty of tasks that aren’t dangerous that will get them excited about food. Give your kindergartener a bowl of green beans to snap, or let your kids dump flour into the mixing bowl when making bread. Kids from almost any age can help measure, rinse, stir, or clean.

Start Simple

When you first teach your kids to cook, you can overwhelm them with complicated recipes and techniques. Instead, try easy snacks and recipes that require very little, but turn out impressive. Simple dips, fruit salads, or easy pizzas are all things that won’t burn out your kids, and that they’ll love to eat when the time comes.   The younger your kids are, the shorter their attention span, so you need to make sure that whatever you’re doing is hands on, and produces results fast. It will make them extra excited to get in the kitchen next time, especially if they end up getting a treat at the end.

Don’t Be Afraid to Make a Mess

Kids love messes, and while you may not like cleaning up, it can make cooking all the more fun. Let kids roll out pie dough, stir batters, and smash tomatoes with their hands. Just make sure you teach them how to clean up after each session as well.

Get Kids Their Own Gear

Little hands require little things so consider purchasing a set of kitchen tools that are child sized. Chef Works also sells a variety of gear for kids, so you can get your kids their own aprons or jackets. It will teach them about cleanliness, and maybe even encourage them to be a professional chef someday.

Let Them Be in Charge

After a few lessons in the kitchen, let kids that are old enough take over the planning, prep, and even some of the cooking. Kids will be excited to know that a meal that they came up with on their own is eaten and enjoyed by the family. Of course, you can help them if they request it, or aren’t old enough to do everything on their own, but it’s an amazing sense of accomplishment when they do as much as they can on their own. 

Take Them Shopping

Instead of dreading taking your kids shopping, embrace it. Walk them through the produce department, and talk about different fruits and vegetables and their nutritional benefits. Let them touch, smell, and feel the difference between different types of fruits, and teach them about different meats and cheeses. Skip the junk food aisles to limit begging, but instead teach your kids the value of real, wholesome food.

Farmer’s markets are another great way to get kids excited about different foods, and you’ll have a blast watching your kids’ excitement as they learn how different foods are grown and produced. It can teach them to appreciate good quality food that fuels their bodies instead of just satiating them.

Make it a Family Thing

Parenting experts will tell you that eating a meal around the dinner table is important, and it is. You can make it even more special by making the cooking process a family affair as well. Assign each family member a task based on age and ability, and get in the habit of coming together each night to make a meal that is worthy of the best restaurants. You’ll accomplish two things by doing this: First, you’ll be building good habits and spending quality time with your family, and second, you’ll take the pressure off of one person to do all of the work of meal planning and prep. It’s truly a win-win for everyone involved.

This last tip is so true. Some of the best childhood memories I have are those made in the kitchen and around the dinner table! What other tips would you suggest?

 

#CookWithKohls Sweepstakes

I partnered with Kohl’s a lot this past Summer and Fall to show you some hot fashions but this month I’m working with them to help share the word about their new #CookWithKohls Sweepstakes. Check out the Food Network page on Kohls.com for loads of inspiration, recipes and pics.

I went shopping yesterday in the kitchen department at Kohl’s and was surprised by how much they offered. I had bought small appliances at Kohl’s before but hadn’t ventured into the department that much. Check out what I bought:

I got mini pie pans to make individual apple pies with all of the apples I have leftover from apple picking. I got collapsible measuring cups because we needed them. I love that they collapse to save room since we don’t have much cabinet space. I also got a dutch oven because I’ve never had one and I’ve always wanted one :)

Want to win the #CookWithKohls Sweepstakes so you can get some Food Network items of your own? To enter, log onto Twitter or Instagram and show/tell us what you’re baking for a chance to win a $500 Kohl’s Gift Card. One grand prize winner will even win a $5,000 Kohl’s Gift Card! Follow @Kohls and include the hashtag #CookWithKohls. Rules: http://oak.ctx.ly/r/bhwo

Here was my entry into the Sweepstakes:

See how easy that is? It took me less than a minute to enter to win a gift card! Good luck!

(Disclosure: I received a gift card from Kohl’s to go shopping but all thoughts are my own.)

Bon Appetit! The Delicious Life of Julia Child {Review & Giveaway}

Today would have been Julia Child’s 100th birthday and in honor of that I wanted to share my review of a new illustrated biography, Bon Appetit! The Delicious Life Of Julia Child by Jessie Hartland.

Follow Julia Child—chef, author, and television personality—from her childhood in Pasadena, California, to her life as a spy in WWII, to the cooking classes she took in Paris, to the publication of Mastering the Art of French Cooking, to the funny moments of being a chef on TV. This is a comprehensive and enchanting picture book biography, told in many panels and jam-packed with lively, humorous, and child-friendly details. Young chefs and Julia Child fans will exclaim, “ooooh la la,” about this book, which is as energetic and eccentric as the chef herself.

I love that this book is illustrated because I think it’s perfect for children who show an interest in cooking. The book shows them that through hard work and determination they can achieve their dreams just like Julia did. This is also a quick synopsis of Julia’s life for those {like me} who don’t know much more about her than the fact that she was a woman who had a cooking show.

This book is nicely illustrated and the colors in the photos go nicely together. I learned facts throughout the book about Julia, her cooking, and the time period that she lived in and enjoyed that they were told in story form. For instance, her first manuscript was 800 pages and just poultry and sauces. I learned this tidbit through an illustration that had a group of her editors sitting around the table talking about the book. It was much more interesting than if I was just reading her biography in words.

Overall, I enjoyed the book and found myself laughing throughout it. The book retails for $18. You can find more reviews of the book here.

GIVEAWAY:

One reader will win a copy of the book

HOW TO ENTER:
Leave a comment telling me your thoughts on cooking {love it, hate it, etc…}

For an extra entry:

Share this giveaway on a social network

***

Giveaway ends August 31, 2012 at 1:59pm Central time. US Only.

(Disclosure: I received a copy of the book to review but all thoughts are my own.)

All I Want For Christmas Is… A Stockpot!

Ok, so that’s not entirely true because there are other things on my wish list but when my mom asked me what I wanted for Christmas I said I’d love a soup pot. Out of all the things I want this is #2 on my list (#1 being an iPad). I never thought I’d want a pot for Christmas.

I'd LOVE a set like this but they are all sold out :(

Do you want anything for Christmas that you would have never imagined yourself asking for?

Kitchen Organization Ideas

Here are 10 great kitchen/food related organization ideas. Click the pictures to be taken to the websites they are from:

Slow cooker meals in bags!

***

Grab N Go Snack Stashes

***

Organize your pantry by grouping ingredients for meals together in bins (with the recipes)

***

Clearly labeled food storage containers

***

This is great for all those people who (like me) can't ever find the measuring spoons and cups they need.

***

Great idea for organizing pots and pans. We really need this!

***

Look how this freezer is organized! (She gives the whole kitchen tour in her post and wow! Awesome!)

***

Great storage solution for under the sink.

***

This magnetic door panel creates extra cabinet space.

***

Perfect for the pantry door.

August 13, 2008

(*This was entered as a page yesterday accidentally…)

I cooked today for the first time in a couple of years (other than something in a box, can, or bag). It wasn’t much but the fact that I went into the kitchen with the intent on making anything is a huge step for me. I have always considered the kitchen to be my least favorite area in my house because it seems to get messy so quickly and I don’t think that I’m a very good cook. What did I venture in the kitchen to make, you ask? Zucchini. I know…I know… It wasn’t a meal but I have to work up to that. I cut the zucchini in half lengthwise and added salt, pepper, and parmesan cheese. I broiled it for about 15 minutes. It was so good. My dad had given me the zucchini a couple of weeks ago and it had been sitting in the fridge because I did not know how to make it. My dad has a great recipe but I didn’t have any salsa so I couldn’t make it. I hope this will be the first of many adventures into the kitchen for me. I looked at a cookbook today and found a lot of great foods that seemed easy enough to make and I can’t wait to try them out. (If you are wondering if I always eat out- the answer is no. I just have a wonderful fiance who after work comes home and cooks me delicious meals.)

Today I was watching a recording of the Oprah show and it was about the health care industry. She was talking about Michael Moore’s movie “Sicko”. Though I am not a fan of Michael Moore, this movie sounds interesting. It’s sad to hear stories of people who die because they can’t afford the treatments that they need after their insurance companies deny them. And then Oprah said that treating cancer can be around “600 thousand dollars” and some insurances have a “150 thousand dollar” cap. $150,000 sounds like a lot until you look at what that amount will get you if you become ill. I was amazed and I think you will be, too. I plan on trying to rent this movie or find a copy of it somewhere.

Today’s Challenge: Look at your health insurance policy. How much coverage do you really have? If you get sick will they pay a portion of the bill, all of it, or none at all?