Posts Tagged ‘kids and cooking’

Recently I came across a statistic that startled me: Many youth today are up to two generations away from households where healthy food is prepared from fresh ingredients. We’re cooking and eating at home less and less. Only about 60% of dinners eaten at home are actually cooked there.

This makes food preparation and nutrition education important to our next generation’s health.  In order for youth to make informed, healthy decisions about their food, they need to have skills and knowledge about nutrition and food. Teaching kids to cook isn’t just passing on useful information they will use to feed themselves later on it also builds math, science, literacy and fine motor skills.

Dinner time is often one of the busiest times every day at my house. Teaching cooking skills and having nutrition discussions with my kids is on the back burner or forgotten in the chaos of the evening. Having a plan to pass on these skills can help make sharing them with your children and teens a priority.

Including your kids in meal planning is a good place to start.  Have children or youth choose a recipe that they are excited to try.  Help them make a list and shop for the ingredients at the store.  This teaches meal planning, a valuable lifelong skill and can build their enthusiasm for being in the kitchen.  As you grocery shop with your child consider explaining to them why you make some of the choices you do.  Talk to them about how and why to compare prices, use coupons or why you choose some brands and sizes over others.

Keep in mind cooking is a skill that increases with experience.  If a recipe with a lot of steps or ingredients feels intimidating for your new chef consider having them start with a side dish or a simple dessert.  Building confidence is part of gaining skills. Keep in mind that not every recipe may turn out successfully.  There’s growth and learning in failure too.  Talk with your child about what went wrong, and what could be done differently next time.

If your child isn’t ready to tackle a recipe on their own, invite them to join you in the cooking process by reading the recipe to you as you prepare food.  This involves them in part of the cooking process and teaches them how to read and follow a recipe.  As they learn to follow a recipe have them participate in other parts of the process such as gathering ingredients, being an assistant chef, setting the table or serving food.

Allow some space and time to play in the kitchen.  Some ideas might include: helping your child with a food science experiment, encouraging your child to create a food dish without a recipe, or experiment with different textures and taste combinations with some of your favorite recipes.

Keep in mind this process will be messy! However, it’s all part of the learning process and will get better with time.  Be prepared to talk about and demonstrate the skills you are wanting them to learn. The important thing to remember is to invite your kids in the kitchen with you in any way. Help them build a lifelong skill; it’s never too late to start.

Author: Alisha Barton, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension – Miami County, barton.345@osu.edu

Reviewed By: Amanda Bohlen, Family and Consumer Science Educator, Ohio State University Extension- Washington County, bohlen.19@osu.edu


Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (2015). Teaching Kids to Cook. https://www.eatright.org/homefoodsafety/four-steps/cook/teaching-kids-to-cook

Center for Nutrition Studies (2017). Cooking at Every Age, Why Kids Should Learn to Cook. https://nutritionstudies.org/cooking-at-every-age-why-kids-should-learn-to-cook/

eXtension (2017).Cooking with Kids in Schools: Why it is Important. https://www.eatright.org/homefoodsafety/four-steps/cook/teaching-kids-to-cook


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Summer Pop Stars!

We’re heading into the dog days of summer, and what better way to cool down than with a chilly ice pop? But not any ice pop will do! Skip the options found in your local supermarket, which can be laden with artificial color and sugar. Instead, be creative and make your own! With summer in full swing and fresh produce widely available, you’ll create much healthier options than those found in the grocery store.

While there are classic ice pop flavors we all enjoy–such as sweet fruits–be bold and try a fruit and veggie combo. Or, try adding citrus and/or herbs; they are uniquely qualified to add an extra layer of flavor. To make the pop “icier,” use water-based fruits, vegetables, juices, and herbs. Yogurt or milk-based products will add protein to the pop and create a creamier product. A handful of chia or flax seeds will contribute fiber and omega 3 fatty acids. Basically, whatever you put in a smoothie will work in an ice pop.

Make it a family affair and have your children help with the fun! No special equipment is required. If you don’t have ice pop molds, you can use ice cube trays or plastic cups and a wooden stick. Paper cups will also work; you just peel away the paper and enjoy!


Source:  http://popsiclerecipes.org

Instructions for do-it-yourself Ice Pops

You will need:

  • An ice cube tray for making large ice cubes or
  • Several small plastic or paper cups
  • Wooden ice pop sticks
  • Plastic Wrap

Fill the “mold” with your blended ice pop mixture. Cover with plastic wrap. Cut a small hole in the center of the plastic wrap and insert the wooden stick. Place in freezer for 6-8 hours or overnight. When ready to eat, submerge the bottom part of the cup or ice cube tray in warm water for a minute or two. Be careful not to allow water to reach the pop. The ice pop will slide right out once the bottom is softened.

Suggested Combinations

Basic Berry Ice Pop

Makes 6-8 pops, depending on size of mold

4 cups blackberries, blueberries, raspberries or strawberries

4 cups of Greek yogurt, preferably vanilla

Place berries in a blender or food processor and blend until they are pureed. Add yogurt and mix well. Pour into molds and place in freezer overnight.

Pina Colada Pop

Makes 6-8 pops, depending on size of mold

1 cup strawberries

1 cup crushed pineapple

1 large ripe mango

½ cup canned coconut milk

Juice of one lime

2 Tbsp. unsweetened coconut

Place all ingredients in blender or food processor and blend until mixture is pureed. Add unsweetened coconut. Pour into molds and freeze overnight.

Cool Caffeine Pop

Makes 2 small pops

1 ½ cups cooled brewed black coffee or 1 ½ cups brewed green tea

½ cup almond or soy milk

1 tsp. agave nectar or honey

Stir all ingredients together until well-blended. Pour into molds and freeze overnight.

Veggie Delight

Makes 6-8 pops, depending on size of mold

1 cup dark chopped greens (such as spinach or kale)

1 cup frozen fruit, such as mango

½ banana

1 cup 100% fruit juice

Place all ingredients in blender or food processor. Blend until mixture is pureed. Pour into molds and freeze overnight.

Submitted by: Jennifer Even, Extension Educator, EFNEP/FCS, Hamilton County.

Reviewed by: Donna Green, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Erie County

Source(s): Delicious Living, July, 2015; WebMD.com/diet retrieved August, 2015.


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