Today I’m continuing my support of the Organix #LoveGoodFood campaign by talking about cooking with toddlers, including a list of 20 easy cooking activities for toddlers and a round-up of some great easy recipes to cook with them. As I mentioned in a recent post about making healthy food fun for toddlers, I’m a big fan of Organix Foods and I love how they are offering practical advice to parents in order to help children establish lifelong healthy eating habits during their toddler years. Their new ‘Little Book of Good Food – Toddlers & Families’, which is free to download from the Organix website is packed with advice and tips for parents on providing a healthy diet for little ones as they continue their exciting journey with food through the early years and beyond.
From personal experience, I’ve always found that one of the best ways to encourage toddlers and young children to eat healthy foods and to try new foods is to get them involved in the kitchen as much as possible. Cooking with toddlers seems like such a daunting task at first – the potential mess alone can be hugely off-putting for parents, but the value of skills learnt in the kitchen even at an early age really is beyond measure.
Though it’s great to sit down and cook a recipe together from start to finish, cooking with toddlers doesn’t have to be a big project every time and you don’t have to stick to cakes and biscuits either – there are so many things that they can help you with as you go about your day to day cooking tasks. Below I’ve compiled a list of some of the small kitchen activities and tasks I’ve given to my boys during their toddler years which didn’t involve too much effort or mess, but gave them ownership of the healthy meals we were cooking together and really helped to encourage them to eat them!
- choosing which vegetables to use and/or fetching them from the fridge
- washing fruit or vegetables in a colander
- pulling the seeds out of peppers
- peeling the skins off a garlic clove (even if they don’t fully succeed, it will keep them occupied for ages!)
- transferring chopped vegetables into an oven tray or saucepan for you
- tipping measuring spoonfuls of herbs or spices into a dish you are cooking
- shaking dried herbs over a dish you are cooking
- pulling fresh herb leaves off of their stalks
- pulling apart lettuce leaves to shred them for a salad
- building a salad by putting all of the prepared ingredients into the salad bowl and mixing them up
- grating cheese or vegetables like carrot – be careful with little fingers though!
- mashing potatoes with a masher
- mashing bananas with a masher or the back of a fork
- cutting a banana into pieces with a blunt butter knife
- stirring ingredients
- whisking ingredients
- kneading a little piece of bread or pizza dough alongside you
- rolling out dough with a rolling pin
- cutting out biscuits or savoury crackers with cookie cutters
- spooning cake or muffin mixture into cupcake cases (or yoghurt – see recipe below!)
Playing even the smallest part in the preparation of a meal allows toddlers and children to say ‘I made that’ and instills a surprising amount of pride and confidence in themselves! They are excited about their food and eager to share it with others, and as a result eating it themselves becomes less of a chore and much more of a pleasure for them.
I love this great little tip about cooking with toddlers that I spotted in the Organix Little Book of Good Food – it comes from Holly Bell, blogger and author of Recipes from a Normal Mum:
“For me it’s about age appropriate helping. When the boys were little, they had their own spoon, a little bowl and two tablespoons of flour with some form of spice to mix up. They didn’t actually contribute much to the process of cooking dinner, but they thought they did, and that’s what matters.”
That quote perfectly sums up my thinking when it comes to letting toddlers get involved in the kitchen – let them have fun with food, encourage them to ‘help’ you cook and watch them grow in confidence while they do so!
Below I’ve rounded up a selection of recipes that would be great for cooking with toddlers. Just remember, they don’t have to cook the recipe from start to finish, but even a little contribution to the process is hugely rewarding and can make a big difference to their attitude towards healthy food.
Rainbow Omelette Cakes from Eats Amazing
Sweetcorn and Courgette Fritters from Knead Whine
Easy English Muffin Pizzas from Eats Amazing
Gluten Free Potato Gnocchi from Family Friends Food
Cheddar & Poppy Seed Biscuits from Eats Amazing
Baking Powder Savoury Biscuits from Knead Whine
Roasted Chickpeas from Eats Amazing
Cheesy Penguin Breads from Fab Food 4 All
Frozen Fruity Yoghurt Bites from Eats Amazing
Homemade Strawberry Yoghurt from Tickle Fingers
Carrot Cake Protein Balls from Veggie Desserts
Apple & Strawberry Muffins from A Mummmy Too
Rainbow Fruit Skewers from Eats Amazing
Healthy Banana Bread from Little Sunny Kitchen
Cute Bunny Pancakes from Petite Cook
For lots more advice on toddler foods and tasty, healthy recipes for all the family you can also visit www.organix.com. Don’t forget to pop over and dowload your free copy of the Little Book of Good Food while you’re there!
Do you have any extra tips for cooking with young children, or a favourite child friendly recipe? Do comment below!
Disclosure: This blog post was written in conjunction with the Organix #LoveGoodFood campaign. I was compensated for my time, however all opinions expressed in this post are my own.