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Simply Nutritious, Quick and Delicious

Jenna Smith, Extension Educator brings you helpful tips to make meals easy, healthy and tasty!

Kids Can Cook!

Posted by Jenna Smith -

Have you ever seen a child beam with pride over something they have made or have done? Their feats may seem small in our eyes but through their eyes, it was a mountainous task, and they conquered it. It's important to keep giving them these opportunities. Allowing them to have a hand in planning and preparing the family meal is one way to get your kids excited about food.

When planning meals for the week, ask other family members for input. Try assigning one dinner meal to one member of the family and rotate amongst family members each week. This member gets to choose what to have for dinner and helps prepare the meal. Post the week's menus and assigned leaders on the refrigerator for all family members to see.

Now, I know what you're thinking: "If I let my 5 year old choose what we're having for dinner we'll all be having ice cream as the main entrée." This is where you step in and help them to include healthy foods in each food group, using USDA's MyPlate as guidance. This is a wonderful opportunity for children to learn about healthy eating.

You can even get creative and designate dinner themes, such as "Mexican Fiesta Night" with tacos and Spanish rice on the menu. Give beginner cooks simple tasks. Teach them how to wash produce, set a table, and drain canned goods. Try cooking with young children over the weekend when there is more time and patience for learning. The best part about cooking with your child is that they get to spend quality time with you. Plus, children tend to be better eaters when they have helped in the planning and preparation of the meal. So if you want a child to eat carrots, have them help wash them, peel them and cook them.

My favorite thing to make as a child was muffin pizzas. Try this quick and easy recipe and let your child be creative with the toppings!

Muffin Pizza (Printable PDF)

1 English Muffin, sliced in half

¼ cup spaghetti or tomato pizza sauce

2 to 4 Tablespoons cooked meat and/or vegetables

2 Tablespoons shredded cheese

  1. Open muffin to make 2 mini pizza crusts.
  2. Top muffin halves with sauce, meat/vegetables and cheese.
  3. Heat in microwave or broiler until cheese is melted.

Yield: 1 serving

Nutritional Facts (per serving with onion and green pepper): 150 Calories, 4 grams fat, 420 milligrams sodium, 24 grams total carbohydrate, 4 grams fiber

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