Kids in the Kitchen – Baking Edition
The benefits of bringing kids into the kitchen at an early age are, as they say, priceless. They get to see firsthand where their next meal comes from (not a restaurant or drive-thru), they’re more likely to eat what they make and cooking together undoubtedly brings families closer.
Baking is a great place to start. It provides the opportunity to lay a load of life skills—reading recipes, following directions, precise measuring—on your budding chefs, while creating something they’re sure to enjoy eating. (Just don’t start with zucchini bread, even if it is delish!)
Bake up some great kitchen memories with these ideas and age-appropriate baking tips:
1. INVOLVE KIDS FROM THE GET-GO
Ask them what they want to bake before getting started. Or present them with a culled list of recipes to pick from. And since kids aren’t known for having long attention spans, choose recipes with seven or fewer ingredients.
Ages 3 to 6: Encourage little ones to draw inspiration from their favorite television or storybook characters. A few ideas: Cookie Monster’s oatmeal raisin cookies, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ pepperoni pizza and Red Riding Hood’s muffins and cakes.
Ages 7 to 10: Surprise your young sous-chef with a cookbook of his or her own. Dozens of kid-friendly titles are available online or at your local bookstore, or take a trip to the library and let them sample the smorgasbord of possibilities.
Ages 11 to 14: Browse through family recipes, sharing the stories and people behind them. Or encourage these tweens and teens to spend more time with their grandparents by suggesting he or she create a family cookbook of their own. Schedule “cooking dates” with relatives and have the young techies record the stories on their digital device.Recommended Recipe:
The Sisters Café’s Little Red Riding Hood’s Blueberry Wheat Muffins. Super easy, super tasty!
2. TURN YOUR KITCHEN OVER TO THEM
Baking provides hands-on experiences not found in textbooks. Before you break an egg, think about the lessons your recipe may offer. Set aside enough time so kids don’t feel rushed and you can explain things along the way. But, don’t bore them. Let them lead the conversation.
Ages 3 to 6: Hone gross motor skills by allowing them to stir or whisk, or use a butter knife to cut soft ingredients.
Ages 7 to 10: Sharpen addition, multiplication and fraction skills by letting them measure ingredients. Challenge them by doubling a recipe. Super challenge them by going one and a half times the standard recipe.
Ages 11 to 14: Science is in session when they’re learning the properties of ingredients like flour (protein), baking powder (leavening agent) and oil (tenderizer). Have kids help come up with healthier ways to lighten up their favorite recipe and learn the art of good-for-you substitutions.Recommended Recipe:
Brown Eyed Baker’s Marshmallow Crunch Brownie Bars are perfect…she knows exactly the road to simple and delish.
3. MAKE IT A MULTISENSORY EXPERIENCE
Take a clue from your local children’s museum…go sensory overload. Use colorful ingredients or ones with big flavors and aromas that excite the senses (peppermint, cherry burst or lemon zest, anyone?). Let them choose tunes to bake to, and crank it up just a bit. Baking Italian biscotti? Play some Pavarotti if you want to provide a cultural experience (get ready for the eye roll from your teens). Let them touch, smell, taste and listen their way through a recipe.
Ages 3 to 6: Allow them to smell each spice, crack an egg (wash their hands afterward), grease the baking pan with butter using their fingers, and taste ingredients like brown sugar, dried fruit and nuts. Make a field trip of it, too. Take them to a farm or orchard where eggs, milk or butter are sold, or seasonal goodies like berries, tomatoes, citrus, apples and pumpkins are grown.
Ages 7 to 10: Let them take the kitchen power tools out for a spin! The whir of the hand mixer and the hum of the food processor are sounds sure to bring big smiles. Button pressing rocks!
Ages 11 to 14: Have these responsible young adults pick their recipes and put together a grocery list before you take to the kitchen. Bring them to the store with you, have them find their ingredients and take an estimated guess of how much they will cost. Then, have them check out and pay themselves. After they bake, have them cut or figure out how much a serving is and precisely work out the cost per serving.Recommended Recipe:
Mom of 6’s Homemade Chewy Dried Cherry Biscotti…bring on the tenor! http://momof6.com/food-kids-will-eat/homemade-chewy-dried-cherry-biscotti-recipe/Share Your Best Kids-in-the-Kitchen Tips:
What are your favorite tips for getting kids to help in the kitchen? Share, and don’t forget to include your kids’ favorite recipes.