Cookbooks and simple recipes help teach children to cook – Advice Eating

What’s not to love about cooking with kids? Except for the spicy stuff. And the fire. And flour coating any surface, including your hair.

Families stuck at home have cooked together like never before, nurtured sourdough appetizers, prepared elaborate meals, or just wreaked havoc and moved on. Luckily, a slew of new books are helping to teach kids how to cook, reassuring me that getting kids into the kitchen can be both fun and educational.

With kids staying home more this fall, cooking is a great way to lure them away from the screens, said Melissa Clark, author of Kid in the Kitchen: 100 Recipes and Tips for Young Home Cooks, out in November.

“The kitchen is a place where they can acquire practical cooking skills that will nurture them throughout their lives. And if you invest a little time in teaching them, those skills can be of help to you, too,” she said.

Child in the Kitchen by Melissa Clark

Here’s how to get started, along with cookbooks and picture books that will appeal to your young foodie.

1. Start early

J. Kenji Lopez-Alt took his daughter to the kitchen as soon as she got home from the hospital. Soon he was letting her smell and taste what he was cooking.

“She helped me as soon as she could stand,” said Lopez-Alt, author of the new picture book Every Night Is Pizza Night, illustrated by Gianna Ruggerio.

“Every Night is Pizza Night” by J. Kenji López-Alt

For small children, get a stool or a Montessori tower to get them up to counter height. Start with soft foods and a wooden knife. Lopez-Alt’s daughter loves to pound garlic with a mortar and pestle.

2. Give them control

“The best way to get kids cooking is to let them choose what they want to cook,” says Duff Goldman, author of Super Good Baking for Kids.

“I think it’s best to give them choices about some things instead of just letting them choose everything in the world.”

“Super Good Baking for Kids” by Duff Goldman

Molly Birnbaum, editor-in-chief of America’s Test Kitchen Kids, suggests making the after-school snack something kids can make themselves.

“High-protein, easy snacks that can be made with pantry ingredients are a great bet, especially ones that young chefs can make EVERYTHING on their own,” she said. She suggests Cranberry Almond No-Bake Energy Bites, Yogurt Berry Parfaits and Bean Cheese Quesadillas from ATK Kids’ Kitchen Explorers.

“Kitchen Researcher!” by America’s Test Kitchen Kids

But giving up control also means resisting the takeover when they start spilling flour everywhere. Hypothetically speaking.

“Help, of course, when things get dangerous, but mostly let them figure things out, even if it’s frustrating for you to watch,” Goldman said.

3. Safety first

Teaching child safety starts with clean hands and attention to the task at hand, said Sephi Coyle of PCC Community Markets, which has been offering its children’s cooking classes online.

If the thought of giving your toddler a knife scares you, consider some simple rules. First, keep your non-cutting hand away from the cutting board. Then you can teach them to form that hand into a claw and hold their knuckles against the flat part of the blade.

“Teach children to respect tools and teach them that tools are not toys,” Goldman said. “Teach children how to use a knife properly by holding the blade away from you and bending their knuckles down when cutting on a cutting board so they don’t lose their fingertips. Show them how to use kitchen towels for hot stuff (pot holders tend to be bulky and make hot stuff difficult to hold in my opinion).

4. Learn something

For families beginning homeschooling, spending time in the kitchen can be a great way to make classes more active.

“Kids often learn a lot more when learning includes a tasty snack,” said Molly Birnbaum, editor-in-chief of America’s Test Kitchen Kids.

“Kids can learn lessons about math in the kitchen (fractions!), about reading comprehension (from a recipe), and the ever-important lessons of self-sufficiency and cleaning while walking,” adds Clark.

5. Make it fun

Letting kids make their own dishes will inspire them to keep coming back to the kitchen, Birnbaum said.

“We love having ‘Make it Your Way Challenges’ at ATK Kids, where we challenge kids to do things like make their dream sandwich using items from the fridge (the weirder the better!) or experiment with what foods better taste some salt (spoiler: watermelon!)”

6. But make them work

It can be difficult to embrace the mess and chaos of cooking with kids.

“I say let ’em get messy, let ’em sift flour on the floor and smear butter on the counters, but then let ’em help you clean up.” Unfortunately, if you clean up after them, they’ll never learn,” Clark said.

Coyle from PCC Community Markets recommends keeping a compost tray handy for waste, as well as a clean towel and bench scraper to clean up on the go.

Luckily, you can entice kids with things like cookie dough and then slowly introduce them to the after-dinner prep and cleanup.

“It’s a lot easier to get kids involved in kitchen chores than to get them to help you clean the bathroom,” Clark said.

More books for little gourmets

Need inspiration? These books help kids get excited about food and trying new things.

1. “¡Vamos, let’s go eat” by Raul the Third

This sequel to the award-winning ¡Vamos! Let’s Go to the Market visits a Lucha Libre match and the delicious food truck offerings outside.

2. “Bilal Cooks Daal” by Aisha Saeed and Anoosha Syed

Bilal’s friends have never tried Daal, but they soon discover its steamy, salty, sweet goodness and that cooking with friends is better.

3. “Amy Wu and the Perfect Bao” by Kat Zhang and Charlene Chua

Amy Wu struggles to make the family recipe until she learns to sculpt the perfect kid-sized bao.

4. “Fry Bread: A Native American Family Story” by Kevin Noble Maillard and Juana Martinez Neal

This ode to a Native American staple celebrates its humble origins and the importance of food in the culture.

5. “Zombies Don’t Eat Vegetables” by Megan Lacera and Jorge Lacera

Mo is not like the other zombies. He likes graaains. Can he get his brain-eating family on board with a healthy choice?

6. “How to Feed Your Parents” by Ryan Miller and Hatem Aly

In this hilarious role reversal, an adventurous kid tries to please his picky parents’ taste buds.

7. “Freedom Soup” by Tami Charles and Jacqueline Alcantara

This holiday soup from Haiti tells the story of the end of slavery and a touch of freedom.

8. “Octopus Stew” by Eric Velasquez

A little artist and his squid inspire his grandma to make a pulpo guisado, but the squid they find at the market has other ideas.

Leave a Comment