Getting kids involved in cooking delicious, healthy food is a great way to encourage positive eating habits – not to mention teach practical skills, boost their confidence and keep them entertained on a rainy day. There are plenty of simple cooking activities that kids of all ages can take part in, teaching them to work as a team, use their creativity and imagination and to really engage with the food they are eating.
Here are a few simple ideas to get you started.
It’s a quick and easy dinner solution, and one that the kids will love participating in. Use tortillas or English muffins cut in half as bases for mini pizzas, and lay out bowls of different toppings along the bench – tomato paste, pesto, low-fat shredded cheese, leftover chicken, refried beans, mushrooms, capsicum, onion, spinach, and any other veggies you can think of. Let the kids build their own pizza, being as creative as they like. Pop the pies in the preheated oven, and presto! Healthy, delicious pizza that they made themselves.
If you want to take the game even further for slightly older kids, you could make your own bases. Plenty of fun can be had rolling up the dough – and even trying a few flips like a real pizza chef!
Who doesn’t love cupcakes? This is a great simple baking activity that will keep the little ones occupied – and you’ll end up with a scrumptious treat at the end. Emily Rose Brott, author of Healthy Home Cooking for Kids, shares a yummy recipe for vanilla cupcakes with chocolate icing. Start here and get creative with your own decorations.
Fancy French toast
Use wholegrain, rye or even fruit bread to make this yummy treat. Lightly beat an egg in a large bowl and mix in two tablespoons of low-fat milk. Heat up some margarine or oil in a frying pan over medium heat, then dip the bread into the egg mixture, shake off the excess, then cook until warm golden brown on both sides. Cut the toast into heart, star or other shapes if you have some fun cutters. Then serve up with berries, maple syrup or other toppings of your choice. Scrumptious!
Even if it’s cold outside, you can pretend it’s a tropical island indoors with colourful, fruity desserts and snacks. Fruit skewers are a great easy project that require no cooking. Simply take some bamboo skewers, cut up a variety of fresh or frozen fruits (berries, pineapple chunks, grapes, kiwi fruit… the more different colours, the better range of nutrients and flavours), and start building. You can eat them fresh dipped in yogurt, or pop them in the freezer for a few hours for an icier treat.
Another fun summery snack to make is fruit icy poles. All you need to do is blend up some juice with fresh or frozen fruit pieces until smooth, pour into Dixie cups, then cover with foil and poke a paddle-pop stick through the middle. Place in the freezer for a few hours, and you’re done!
If you’re up for a more elaborate game, playing restaurant is always a hit. Together, come up with a simple menu – maybe a salad, pizzas or pita parcels and a dessert. The kids can have fun writing up paper menus and setting the table, giving them something to do while waiting for the pizzas to cook. The trick to playing restaurant is to keep the menu easy and manageable – chances are, they’ll be tired of the game by the time it comes to cleaning up!