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Teach Your Kids to Cook

By Cheryl Tallman and Joan Ahlers

Years ago, it was a family tradition to pass down the secrets to treasured recipes and spend hours in the kitchen teaching children to cook. Somewhere between the addiction to video games and the overactive schedules of parents and children, cooking lessons have been neglected.

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While there are many reasons for teaching kids to cook -- less expensive than eating out, preserves family heritage, etc, the most important reason is that by teaching your child to cook, you're giving him a better chance to be a healthy grown-up. Enabling your child with the ability to appreciate freshness and to transform ingredients into tasty foods opens their eyes to making wiser choices about what to eat.

Cooking is perfect for children. They enjoy assembling, measuring and chopping tasks. It offers them an opportunity to be proud of their accomplishments and to share them with others. Cooking has activities for all ages. Here are some age appropriate activities that can you get your started:

Activities for children 3-6 years old:
Washing fruits and veggies
Cleaning the tables and counters
Rolling things up on a baking sheet
Making shapes with cookie cutters

Activities for children 6-10 years old:
Reading recipes
Writing the shopping list when told the ingredients
Using measuring cups for dry and liquid ingredients
Stirring ingredients in a bowl
Using a dull knife to spread
Prepping fruits and veggies without a knife (i.e. snapping beans, husking corn, etc.)

Activities for 10-13 year olds:
Following steps and preparing simple recipes with little adult intervention
Using a microwave, oven and stove.
Using a hand grater
Using a knife with supervision
Operating a hand electric mixer

Activities for teens:
Planning a balanced meal, party menu or special event
Reading a recipe and creating a shopping list
Operating a food processor and blender
Making multiple ingredient recipes without supervision
When you begin to teach your child to cook it is important to teach appropriate kitchen safety and cleanliness practices. Introduce new safety and cleanliness concepts as your child progresses in his or her skill level. You can never review the basics of safety and cleanliness enough. And most of all have fun!

About the authors: Cheryl Tallman and Joan Ahlers are sisters, the mothers of five children and founders of Fresh Baby, creators or products such as homemade baby food kits, baby food cookbooks, baby food and breast milk storage trays, breastfeeding reminders, and child development diaries (www.FreshBaby.com). Raised by parents who love fresh foods and entertaining, their mom, a gourmet cook, ensured that they were well-equipped with extraordinary skills in the kitchen. Both with long track records of business success, they decided to combine their skills in the kitchen with their knowledge of healthy foods and children to create Fresh Baby. Cheryl and Joan put a modern twist on the conventional wisdom that when you make it yourself, you know it's better. Their goal at Fresh Baby is to make the task of raising a healthy eater a little bit easier for all parents. Visit them online at www.FreshBaby.com and subscribe to their Fresh Ideas newsletter to get monthly ideas, tips and activities for developing your family's healthy eating habits!


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