Young cooks eat right

  • Family
  • Friday, 27 Feb 2015

Kitchen School: The best way for kids to learn about healthy eating is by learning to cook.

Good nutrition starts at home — in the kitchen!

THE kitchen can be a fascinating place to start children off eating well. Preparing and cooking tasty and nutritious food with your child is a great way to bond with them.

This is a wonderful time when you can teach your child about the types of food and healthy eating.

Besides that, involving your child in food preparation and engaging him in the cooking process encourage him to be more adventurous when it comes to exploring and trying out new foods. Studies have found that children who are exposed to healthy food in the kitchen are more likely to eat

healthy food.

So, let your child go in the kitchen! Below are some ways to let your child be a little chef by lending a hand in the kitchen. Bear in mind that you should assign the tasks according to his age and ability. If you have more than one child, you can assign them different tasks then rotate tasks so each child can share the experience equally.


> Get your child to help you stock groceries after shopping and retrieve ingredients from the fridge for meal preparation.

> Allow him to help you wash fruits and vegetables in the sink. This task is usually considered appropriate for children aged four years and above.

> Get your child to help you read out the recipes.

> Teach him how to measure the ingredients. For example, when you are making a cake, you can teach him how to measure milk or weigh flour and sugar.

> Allow him to spread or layer ingredients such as butter, cheese and chocolate chips, in a pan before baking.

> Let him add and mix ingredients, such as adding sliced carrots and tomatoes into the salad bowl and tossing them together.

> Assign your child to opening packages or peeling bananas, oranges and hard-boiled eggs.

> Make sure your child is old enough to safely handle items such as sharp knives or a grater, otherwise assign him to stamping out items using a plastic cookie cutter.

> Get your child to clear the dining table in preparation for a meal. Count out the appropriate number of forks and spoons for all family members and then place them on the table.


> Ask your child to help you gather cooking utensils and put them away when you’re finished with them. In this way, he will learn what utensils are required and how to use them.

> Let him set the timer and give updates on how much time is left.

> Let the kids taste the food as you cook. Get them to identify the flavours and ask them what they think – such as whether the dish is too salty or sweet.

> Show your child how to make simple meals on their own that do not require cooking. For instance, sandwiches or salads.

> You child will enjoy decorating the dishes. Sandwiches can be decorated with a smiley face, and dough can be shaped into a star or heart.

After a meal

> After a meal, ask your child to help with the cleaning up and washing of dishes. Assign your child to wiping the dining table and allow him to discard the food and kitchen waste into the dustbin.

Remember that children can’t really be counted on to be neat in the kitchen.

Hence, be prepared for a mess, and factor in extra time for cleaning up and supervision.

Be patient and do not cook in a hurry. Give plenty of time for your child to enjoy the food preparation process.

Supervise your child’s activities, even when they are doing a task that is considered safe or simple.

Last but not least, praise your little assistant on a job well done.

NEXT PAGE: Recipe for Wholesome Homemade Burgers

Wholesome Homemade Burger

250g chicken, minced
1/2 onion, chopped
1/2 carrot, grated
5 button or shiitake mushrooms, diced
25g breadcrumbs
1 egg, beaten
2 tbsp olive oil
5 wholemeal burger buns
1/2 tbsp butter, for spreading
2 tbsp mayonnaise, for spreading
2 ripe tomatoes, sliced
4 lettuce leaves

For the patties

In a mixing bowl, combine the chicken, onion, carrot, mushrooms, breadcrumbs and egg. Season to taste with sugar, salt and pepper.

Divide the chicken mixture into 5 equal portions. Wet your hands and shape into balls.

Gently flatten balls into patties of around 7-8cm diameter and 1-1.5cm thickness.

Leave the patties to set in the refrigerator for 30-60 minutes,

To cook

Heat the olive oil in a medium frying pan. Pan-fry patties in two batches for 4-5 minutes on each side, until golden brown or chicken is fully cooked. Remove from pan.

To assemble

Split burger buns, spread with butter and toast lightly if desired.

Place patties on the base bun and spread with some mayonnaise. Top with sliced tomato and lettuce, then cover with the top bun. Serve immediately.

How kids can help

Spreading the burger buns with butter and putting together the burgers.

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Young cooks eat right


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