Beyond being a daily chore, many parents may not realize till today that cooking—like playing ball games or watching movies together—is a similarly gratifying bonding activity with their children, one in which the kitchen becomes a comfortable room for healthy and friendly discussions to as simple as catching up with each other’s goings-on. So the question comes to mind: When and where should parents introduce cooking to their children?

The best time to introduce cooking, or at least meal preparation, to your kids is during breakfast. Apart from the importance of eating breakfast, breakfast foods are easy and quick to prepare. Start by allowing them to prepare their own oatmeal or simple sandwiches. Introducing them at once to hard-to-prepare dishes may bring down their interest and curiosity—you know how kids are sometimes! So let them enjoy their first lesson with easy-to-do, fancy breakfast meals; this would push them to do more next time. Then snacks and, eventually, lunch and dinner could come next, especially on weekends when they’re not too wrapped up with school stuff. Have them wash fruits and vegetables needed for your recipes, or teach them how to measure some ingredients with the measuring spoons and cups.

Now, when it comes to the age of your kids, each child is different, so it’s best to observe if your child begins to show interest in cooking or helping out in the kitchen. For example, a child of two or three years old may or may not be too young to start the activity, depending on the individual’s interests and aptitudes. But there will be spills and messess—it’s all part of the learning process! You can always work out something within your kitchen area to make it a little safer for your kid, as well as trouble-free for you.

But, you see, cooking is not merely a bonding activity that leaves fun memories to parents and kids, it has other benefits as well that can help your kids grow into a child you have always wished for him or her to be. See what’s up for your kid below:

- Learning to cook develops significant lifelong skills, such as learning how to fend for themselves when they’ve gone independent and all, and not depend on unhealthy meals or junk foods to get through the day, thus maintaining a healthy lifestyle even later in life.

- Cooking is an alternative approach to creativity, patience, and determination. This method teaches your child to be as creative, as patient, and as determined as possible, which can also be applied to various activities outside the kitchen.

- It becomes an alternative tool for academic enrichment, including increasing vocabulary and reading skills through recipes and enhancing mathematical skills by learning how to measure ingredients.

- It’s a great self-esteem booster! The product of your kid’s cooking gives them a rewarding feeling for a job well done.

- Like eating mealtimes together, cooking, most likely, will shoo away drug abuse later in life.

Below are sample recipes that you kids can try on, and you can find the complete cooking instructions at Easy Kids Recipes where they’ve got tons of tried and tested recipes by kids and for kids.


recipes_for_kids_easy_toast.jpgNO-TOAST AND EASY-TOAST SNACKS

Who needs to bake if you can just toast a good snack? Let them prepare their own ham and cheese sandwich or BLC (bacon, lettuce, caesar) sandwich easily, with a simple toast or no toast at all.

Or, you can also try this easy-toast kiddie pizza recipe:

1. Spread Del Monte Italian Pizza Sauce on bread or loaf.

2. Then put toppings of Del Monte Pineapple Chunks, grated Kraft Cheddar Cheese, and thinly-sliced Purefoods’ hotdogs.

3. Toast a little.

Voila! Your kids have a healthy and yummy, easy-toast pizza!


recipes_for_kids_cool_treat.jpgCOOL TREATS

Feeling a little hot this summer? Cool down with frozen juice popsies, ice candy delights, banana boat smoothie, refrigerated Oreo balls, or the easy-freezy chocolate ice cream treat.

For your juice popsies or ice candy, try this:

1. Get your choice of juice—orange, strawberry, pineapple, or make a combination of different juices as you wish.

2. Just fill in your plastic popsicle containers with juice.

3. Then you can add fruit chunks before letting it freeze.

4. Insert the popsicle stick through the top.

5. Freeze for several hours.


recipes_for_kids_no_bake.jpgNO-BAKE GOODIES

Get your kid’s hand on a no-bake or refrigerated goodies too, such as chocolate peanut butter no bake, refrigerator cookies, or Chinese New Year cookies.

And here’s your quick recipe for a yummy chocolate turnover:

1. Mix chips and peanut butter in a bowl.

2. Crush little candy bars into small pieces, then add to mixture.

3. Mold into little balls.

4. Place these on cookie sheets covered with wax paper.

5. Freeze it till the candy sticks together.

6. Then remove the tray from the freezer when your kids are ready to dig in.


So take your pick from these easy recipes—from no-bake to easy-freeze goodies—that your kids can make and let the fun begin!

To know more about the benefits of teaching children to cook, you can read tips and tricks by a community of chefs at www.chefsline.com, a guide to cooking with your children at WebMD.com, and more reasons to get their feet up on cooking from the Kids Cooking section of About.com.


(Photo source: sxc.hu—easy toast, cool treats, no-bake)

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