Forget the Mess, Kids Who
Cook Can Develop a Lifelong Love of Good Food
Take a look below for great recipes to cook with
(ARA) - Culinary professionals from The Art Institutes say that cooking with
kids can be fun for the whole family with a few simple safety rules and basic
organization. The payoff? Encouraging children to enjoy cooking can help nurture
a lifelong love of good food and eating well.
For Chef Director Bill Niemer of The Art Institutes International Minnesota,
having children in the kitchen can be a fun experience for all involved with a
little careful planning.
"If you're working with young children under five, give them simple jobs
such as using cookie cutters or decorating a plate with garnishes like herbs or
flowers they can gather in a garden, " he explains. For older children,
Niemer says most can use small paring knives close to the size of their hands to
cut simple shapes from vegetables or fruits.
No matter what a child's age, close supervision is the most important safety
consideration. That, and "teaching a child respect for the heat of an oven
or a stove. Any child that needs to stand on a stool to use an oven shouldn't be
using one," says Niemer. The chef recommends that adults make sure to use
the right size pots and pans to avoid splatter, and to keep handles pointed
toward the back of the stove.
When Chef Niemer and his daughter are in the kitchen together, they enjoy
preparing a tasty beef stew. Besides helping her appreciate good food and
cooking techniques, the chef sees other benefits for his daughter, "I have
her do all the measuring. It's a great way to reinforce math skills," he
For her "Cooking with Kids" class at The Art Institute of Phoenix,
Chef Jennifer Mraz teaches her students, ranging in age from seven to nine,
important kitchen basics that -- with practice -- they will continue to use as
adults. As in any professional cooking school, Chef Mraz tells her students that
good food starts with good safety and sanitary habits. Students are taught the
importance of washing hands thoroughly with soap and warm water before beginning
to cook and keeping work areas clean by washing down surfaces with a sponge and
warm water, before and after cooking.
Kids are natural cooks and they have energy to spare, says Chef Mraz, but they
like to be kept busy in the kitchen, not just watching. "No matter how well
organized you are, kitchens get messy when children cook, but that's part of the
fun," she says. "Encourage them to stop and clean up as they go along,
clean cooking surfaces, and put ingredients away once they've been used."
When Chef Instructor Steven Pilat at The Art Institute of Dallas teaches a
cooking course to children from economically disadvantaged neighborhoods, many
of whom dine frequently at fast-food restaurants, he likes to start his classes
by teaching nutrition, and keeping the lessons fun. "We play nutrition
bingo using black or pinto beans to mark the spaces, and quiz kids about the
food pyramid," he says. "They learn they need to eat grains and
vegetables several times a day and save the sugars for special treats."
Since many of the chef's students make their own snacks when they return from
school, Chef Pilat tries to encourage the children to think about what healthy
snacks are all about. "I introduce foods like fresh fruits and
granola," he says. "We give the kids a bag of groceries to take home
and prepare the recipes that we do in class. That way, they can share what
they've learned with their families."
As Chef Mraz explains, "Everyone likes to eat, it's a common interest we
all have. When children are invited into the kitchen as active participants and
they see how much fun cooking can be, they are learning wonderful lessons about
eating well that will serve them all their lives."
Apple Volcanoes from Chef Jennifer Mraz, The Art
Institute of Phoenix
- 2 apples
- 2 large marshmallows
- cup peanut butter
- cup chocolate chips
- cup chopped nuts
- 2 tbsp shredded coconut
Wash apples. Remove stem and core out apple with spoon, enlarging the hole
slightly. Press marshmallows in center of cored apple to fill the bottom. Spoon
peanut butter into apple to fill to the top. Spread peanut butter over top of
apple. Sprinkle with chocolate chips and coconut.
Yogurt Parfaits from Chef Steve Pilat, The Art
Institute of Dallas
- 1 8oz. container of vanilla yogurt
- cup fruit (any kind, chopped)
- cup low-fat granola
Place layer of yogurt on the bottom of a bowl or cup. Cover yogurt with a layer
of fruit and then a layer of granola. Keep layering until all the ingredients
are used. Serve immediately or place in the freezer to make a frozen yogurt
Courtesy of ARA Content, www.aracontent.com,