Cooking With Kids: Your Little Pumpkins Will Love This Healthy Fall Treat!

posted in: Blog, Fun, Recipes | 1

There is nothing, I repeat, nothing more important than teaching your children the basic foundations in life. Allowing children to take on leadership roles and feel worthy and responsible are critical aspects in raising a confident, secure child.

Knowing his or her way around a kitchen and feeling comfortable with the tools and ingredients are just a few ways to boost confidence and life skills that will be used for the rest of their life. In addition to that, you’re also promoting positive family time and a sense of responsibility,

Photo from Yummy Inspirations.
Photo from Yummy Inspirations.

I’m a huge fan of baking. Quite honestly, it’s my go-to when I need some relaxation time. I love the feeling of putting something together from scratch leading to an end result of something I created out of love that not only feeds my family, but is appreciated as well.

While baking is a personal enjoyment of mine, I realized as my sons started getting older that it would be something that would benefit them to take part in, too. As I baked cookies, I’d allow them to (after I measured out the correct amount) empty the measuring cups into the mixing bowl. Including them in the process, taught them patience and seeing their faces after observing the finished product was priceless.

If you’re not a person who enjoys baking, start with something simple. You can also include your children in making dinners and snacks. If a child sees each ingredient that goes into the recipe, they are able to become more aware of what they’re eating. By cooking with your children, you also instill a sense of pride. And, let me tell you, seeing your child display that big proud smile will melt your heart in ways you didn’t know were possible!

Some things to use as teaching guides along the way:

“Science in action – What happens if you forget to add baking powder to your banana bread? Why do you add salt to cookie dough? Though they may not be ready to grasp the complex scientific explanations behind the chemical reactions, preparing and cooking food is a great time to ask questions and test out the results.

Basic math – As you prepare a recipe with your little one, you are probably talking about what you are adding. Often recipes include fractions, with some recipes calling for ingredients measured in weight and others in wet or dry volume. The exposure to these ideas, plus seeing math in the context of real life, helps to lay a basic math foundation.

Understanding time – Time is a challenging concept for little ones to grasp, but each time they experience you setting a timer and waiting for it to alert them when your food is done cooking helps to form an understanding of something very abstract.

Reading foundations – Reading recipes aloud is another opportunity for your child to enrich their vocabulary through listening to new words or different ways they are put together into instructions, rather than a story.  Watching you read left-to-right, top-to-bottom reinforces a basic literacy and reading foundation. And for children that are able to read, recipes offer a new format to practice.

Healthy food choices – Our children look to us adults to see what a “good” food is. Further, often times children are more likely to eat food they have prepared, even if it is something they may not taste otherwise. Modeling healthy food choices (including moderation of sweet, salty and fatty food) now in cooking and preparing meals will help your little ones build a healthy attitude toward eating and food that will continue on into their adulthood.

Confidence – Cooking simple, no-fail recipes with toddlers or preschoolers sets your little ones up for success. By creating something from scratch that they are then able to eat and enjoy builds the confidence to try new things, cooking or otherwise.

Creativity – As many adults know, cooking is as much an art as it is a science. The process of tasting and adding new ingredients or spices is an exciting, creative and important-feeling endeavor that children are excited to undertake.

Communication – Cooking or preparing a meal together takes clear communication in order to succeed.  As you read through a recipe or instruct your little one on a cooking step you are both enhancing your communication skills; your little one is learning how to communicate instructions based on your modeling and you are learning new ways to explain things so that your child understands. In fact, this give, take, and adaptation is an important life skill for us all to practice, as communication doesn’t end in childhood!

Connections – Working side-by-side, talking through a recipe, measuring, mixing, pouring; these are all opportunities to connect with your little one. Busy hands often lead to stories of the day or pretend stories of the task at hand. Beyond connecting with one another, cooking can connect across these concepts, bundling disciplines together.  For example, a “failed” recipe: Did the dish burn? (understanding time) Did the bread not rise? (science in action) Were enough scoops of flour added? (basic math) Was the recipe followed correctly? (reading foundations) and so on.” * Benefits of Cooking with Kids

Enjoy this time with your child. Cooking with children shouldn’t be stressful, so make sure you put the other things crowding your mind aside. I promise you that not only will they use the skills they’ve learned as they grow, but, you’ll also make memories with them that will be irreplaceable.

On a Fall day like today, here’s a great, healthy recipe for you to try!

 

Pumpkin-Pie Smoothie

pumpkin_pie_smoothieLike most orange-colored vegetables, pumpkin is packed with vitamin A, which keeps your eyes super-healthy! And luckily you can just open a can of pumpkin instead of cooking your jack-o’-lantern. With its vanilla and spice flavors, this smoothie tastes like pie in a glass.

Kitchen Gear:

Measuring cup
Measuring spoons
Can opener
Dinner knife
Cutting board
Blender (adult needed)

Ingredients

1⁄4 cup orange juice
1⁄4 cup low-fat milk
1⁄2 cup plain low-fat yogurt
1⁄4 cup canned pumpkin puree
1⁄2  very ripe banana
1 dash cinnamon and/or nutmeg
1⁄2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2  ice cubes

Instructions

Wash your hands with soap and water, then gather all your kitchen gear and ingredients and put them on a clean counter.

  1. Put all the ingredients in the blender.
  2. Put the top on tightly. Turn the blender to a medium setting and blend until the ice is chopped and the mixture is smooth, about 1 minute.
  3. Serve right away, or refrigerate up to 4 hours.

Notes

Waste Not: You will only use a part of the can, but don’t waste it! Measure out quarter cupfuls of the rest of it, freeze them solid on a piece of wax paper on a baking sheet, then store them in a labeled plastic bag in the freezer, where they’ll be ready for future smoothies!

Did you know? “Dash” and “pinch” both mean an amount too small to measure–although some people say that a dash is about 1/8 of a teaspoon and a pinch is half of that amount. (How much is half of 1/8? We bet you know that!)

*Chop Chop

Thoughts, comments, questions? Email me, JennKaysen@gmail.com

 Become part of the CASA of CGS family!

 If you’re interested in learning more about CASA of CGS, email susanna.casaofcgs@gmail.com. Cumberland County ranked last place in Child Welfare in New Jersey. Let’s stand up for our children and do something about it! Visit www.wespeakupforchildren.org for more information and follow us on Facebook for daily updates and information.

  Do you know of a Community Superhero?

 Help CASA of CGS recognize the effort put forth by them to improve our community! Email Jennifer Kaysen at Jennkaysen@gmail.com. Be sure to share this post with your family and friends on Facebook and Twitter to reach a bit further and find our Superheroes!

One Response

  1. […] them with all of the benefits learning to cook can give them for the future. Read my previous blog, Cooking with Kids: Your Little Pumpkins Will Love This Healthy Treat!, for a rundown of the perks! With a meal as large and important as Thanksgiving, including your […]

Leave a Reply