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Cooking With Children

Why it's so important to spend time in the kitchen with your children -- and how you can get started.
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Under 5 Years Old:

  • Scrub, dip, tear, break, and snap (for example, snapping the ends off green beans)
  • Shake, spread, and cut with a cookie or biscuit cutter
  • Peel (some items), roll, juice, and mash
  • Remove husks from corn
  • Wash vegetables in a colander
  • Measure and pour some ingredients
  • Hand Mix

8-10 Years Old:

Everything listed above, plus some more advanced duties, such as:

  • Cracking and separating eggs
  • Reading some recipes by themselves
  • Inventing their own easy-to-fix recipes
  • Using the electric mixer (with adult supervision)
  • Stirring food over the stove (with adult supervision)
  • Using and reading a candy thermometer (with adult supervision if needed)
  • Operating a can opener or food processor with safety features
  • Grating cheese
  • Cutting vegetables, fruits, etc. (using a plastic knife or dinner knife

Kid-Friendly Recipes

Here are a few recipes that your children should enjoy making -- and eating.

Perfect Pita Pizza

Journal as: 2 slices of bread + 2 ounces of low-fat cheese (plus any toppings you use)
OR 1 light frozen dinner
OR 1 veggie burger without added fat.

This pizza can be assembled by children of any age, though the baking needs to be done by someone aged preteen to adult.

1 large pita bread (use whole-grain if available)
1/8 cup low-fat ricotta cheese
1/8 cup bottled pizza sauce or marinara sauce
1/4 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
Favorite pizza toppings (sliced mushrooms, less-fat pepperoni or lite salami, chopped green pepper or green onions, chopped red onion, pineapple chunks, lean ham, etc.)

  • Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Place pita, rounded side down, on a baking sheet.
  • Spread ricotta cheese over the pita (leaving a crust-like edge around the pita). Spoon the pizza sauce over the cheese and add desired toppings. Sprinkle mozzarella over the top and bake 6-8 minutes (watch carefully so it doesn't burn).

Yield: 1 serving

Per serving (using whole-wheat pita and not including extra toppings): 256 calories, 16 g protein, 29.5 g carbohydrate, 8.8 g fat, 4.7 g saturated fat, 24 mg cholesterol, 4 g fiber, 492 mg sodium. Calories from fat: 30%.

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