Cooking with Kids: 4 Simple Childproof Recipes

Growing up, most of us were told to stay out of the kitchen. It's hot, it's stuffy! or it's dangerous in here - were things we often heard from our parents, who didn't want toddlers near hot oil or scalding pans. But cooking with your children actually is a lot of fun, as long as closely supervised. Not only is cooking together a great bonding activity, it teaches your child how food gets to the table and engages them in a sensory learning experience, not to mention equipping them with practical life skills.

If you're not sure how to get started, we've put together a list of recipes which are clearly labelled with the age they are appropriate for. Starting simple is always a good bet - before slowly moving on to more complicated recipes. You'll be pleasantly surprised at how excited your child will be to help out with a delicious dinner or tea-time snack. Plus, this is a great way to get them away from too much screen time!

Ham & Sausage French Bread / Baguette Pizzas

Age: 2 years and Up

What you need:

2 french loaves, sliced and halved

Cooked onions

Chopped ham

Corn (off the cob)

Cocktail sausages

Tomato paste

Pesto (jarred)

Shredded mozzarella cheese

Butter spreading knife (blunt)

Instructions

Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius. In the meantime, assemble a "pizza bar" using plastic bowls to hold the onions, ham, corn, sausages, pesto, tomato paste and cheese.

Prep a baking tray with baking paper, get your toddler to arrange the bread pieces so they fit on the tray, and then together, spread the tomato paste on the bread. Next, it's time for the toppings! Encourage your toddler to use her pincer grip to grasp smaller ingredients, or a plastic spoon to scoop and spread.

When you're done, sprinkle with cheese and then slide the pizzas into the oven for about 15 minutes or until golden brown and delicious.

And there you have it - not only have you just settled one meal, you’ve also engaged your child in a fun and educational home-learning activity.

Healthy Rainforest Cookies

Age: 3 years and up

What you need:

1¼ cups white wheat flour

1 cup all purpose unbleached flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1 stick butter (1/2 cup), softened

1 ripe banana, mashed

½ cup brown sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 eggs

3 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 cup chopped cashews (optional)

Instructions

Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.

Whisk flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon in a medium bowl. Ask your child to help you with whisking it out - they can enjoy the look of the soft, snow like flour drifting into the bowl and pick up some good hand-eye coordination exercise.

Use an electric mixer to beat butter, banana, and sugar until creamy. Mix in eggs and coconut (again, leave this to your toddler to do).

Add ⅓ of the flour mixture at a time, mixing after each addition.

Stir in chocolate chips and cashews (if using).

Drop the mixture by the spoonful onto baking sheet.

Bake for 10 to 12 minutes until golden brown.

Baked Cheesy Zucchini Fingers

Age: 4 and up

What you need:

4 zucchini

1/2 cup grated parmesan

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

2 tablespoon olive oil

2 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley leaves

Instructions

Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Coat a cooling rack with nonstick spray and place on a baking sheet; set aside.

Using a child safe knife, instruct your child on how to quarter zucchini. Guide their hands if necessary. Zucchini is a relatively easily sliced vegetable, making it good for little grips and unsteady hands.

In a small bowl, combine Parmesan, garlic powder, parsley, salt and pepper, to taste. Invite little fingers to come and help you combine while they enjoy the feeling of the different seasonings and learn how to measure and portion.

Place zucchini onto prepared baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with Parmesan mixture. Place into oven and bake until tender, about 15 minutes. Then broil for 2-3 minutes, or until crisp and golden brown.

Salad in a Jar

Age: 5 years and up

What you need:

One ripe avocado

½ cup baby carrots

3 slices of ham

½ cup fresh sweet peas

½ cup corn

½ cup strawberries

1 cup chopped lettuce

½ cup yogurt (can be fruit flavoured or plain)

2 mason jars / glass jars with lids

Instructions

Prepare a butter knife and a pair of child-safe scissors. Watching closely, instruct your child to cut the ham slices into smaller, bite sized pieces. Similarly, teach them to slice up the avocado and strawberries into cubes with the butter knife.

Ask your child to arrange the ingredients by colour and type on a large chopping board. And then, you can both get started with your jar salads!

Firstly, layer the bottom of the jar with 2-3 tablespoons of yogurt. Then start layering from the chunkiest to the lightest ingredients. A good guide is baby carrots, ham, peas, corn, avocados, strawberries and then the chopped lettuce.

Once everything is layered, take a minute to enjoy the beautiful rainbow layers you have just created with your child. Ask them to identify texture, shapes and colours in the jar and then shake together to mix it all up!

Empty the salads onto your plates, and that's it, dinner is served - and what a healthy, yummy one at that!

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