Cooking · Parenting

Cooking with children – part 2

When I wrote part 1, I promised there would be more… Here it is!

Last time we talked about: Hand hygiene, general yuk, listening to an adult, not touching things they have not been asked to touch, stirring skills, measuring out ingredients, food handling and the language of recipes

This time, we are going to look at some more skills.

Chopping skills

You may be nervous about letting your child use a knife but it is important children learn to use one. Start with a non serrated butter knife and let them spread their homous on their bread. You could then graduate to cutting soft bread or avocado. There are also child safe cooking knives on the market which use a sawing action to cut things. You can use these to cut vegetables but it is quite a different action to a regular chopping action. As your child becomes more confident, let them put their hand on top of yours as you cut things up so they get used to the action required and when you are happy, let them have a go. Make sure they are always supervised and the knife is not too heavy for them.

It is really important that you don’t micromanage cutting things. If the pepper pieces are not all exactly even, don’t interfere. Praise your child regardless of the uniformity of the product! If they think they can’t do it perfectly, they might not want to have a go next time. If what they are cutting needs to be a bit more uniform so the cooking time is even, help them cut the pieces into similar sizes.

You may find for certain ingredients, for example, bacon or sundried tomatoes, using scissors is easier than a knife.

Oven and hob safety

It goes without saying that ovens and hobs can be dangerous. Teach your child not to touch the door of the oven or the stove top, teach them to turn the pan handles in and to use oven gloves when touching hot things. Children will eventually need to learn to get things out of the oven but do this in stages, get them used to stirring things on the hob with you supervising making sure they don’t touch other things at the same time and then let them practise using oven gloves to move things round the kitchen. Once you are happy they are in charge of both of their hands at the same time and they can safely wear the gloves, you can help them to use the oven. Always supervise.

Food hygiene

From making sure you thoroughly wash vegetables to using different chopping boards for raw and cooked foods to how to store food, there is lots to learn about food hygiene. There is too much to discuss here but children have to learn all these things at some point so it is best they learn them from you rather than finding out after they have given the whole family food poisoning. There is some great information here to get you started.

Portion control

Working out how much each person can eat is a challenge for even the most experienced of cooks but it is a skill children need to learn. Looking at the portion sizes on packets can help but some are way out! Experimenting is part of the learning process. If you have cooked far too much, talk to your child about how you can cook less next time but also how you might be able to use up the leftovers. Love Food Hate Waste have lots of tips on this.

Tidying up!

No matter how big your kitchen is, you will need to tidy up at some point. Teaching your child to tidy up as they go along is a skill that can be useful outside the kitchen too! So as you are waiting for something to come to the boil or to bake in the oven, start clearing the work surfaces so you have space to do the next part of the cooking process

 

 

Remember, try to have these skills in mind when you are cooking with a child. The end result might not be amazing but think of what they have learnt in the process. Remember cooking is part of play, it needs to be fun (and quite messy!).

I’d love to hear about what you cook with your children.

 

Growing · Healthy Eating

Harvest time

IMG_20170805_121834778It’s harvest festival time again. A time when we think about all the wonderful things we have to eat. All of nature’s finest larder items. Purple sprouting broccoli, squash of many colours and shapes, blackberries and hundreds of varieties of apple.

We are fast forgetting the rhythm of the seasons as fruit and vegetables are available at most times of the year but we are also forgetting variety as we get used to having the same fruit and veg in our baskets each week. We need variety. We need all the colours. Each has its own food matrix of vitamins and minerals as well as fibre.

So here’s a challenge for this week; try and eat one veg you have not picked up from the supermarket in a while. Squash or marrow are in season and delicious. And for those of us who need a good reminder, have a watch of the video below (featuring my sister and my son!) for a song to get stuck your head and prompt you at the supermarket!

For some ideas about what else is in season check out http://eatseasonably.co.uk/

 

Healthy Eating

Christmas the healthy way

Christmas is a time to remember an event a long time ago but we tend to go a bit overboard on the food! Like any party, there are certain things we feel like we must have – I include myself in that. The average person puts on a few pounds over Christmas. So, what can we do about it. Eat and be merry? My advice would be to ‘eat and keep active’, obviously not going overboard with the eating (and drinking).

Check out this link to a table of the British Nutrition Foundation website which gives you some idea of the amount of activity you need to do to burn off the calories in certain Christmas foods. So why not go dancing for an hour with some friends this Christmas and help burn off some of those Christmas nibbles.

Have a very merry Christmas.