Some of the best family memories are made right in our own kitchens, and with the holiday season fast approaching, there's no better way to spend quality time with your kids. Child and nutrition expert Sheah Rarback from the University of Miami's Center for Child Development agrees and says time in the kitchen with your kids is proven to help build stronger families. So what more excuse do you need? Grab your festive apron, your spatula and your beloved offspring and let's get started!
If you have kids helping you in the kitchen, you don't want to be on a tight time schedule. Instead of involving them in a family dinner you're stressed about making, enlist their help on a weekend afternoon when you don't feel pressured. With younger kids, choose a time when they're well-rested and not easily frustrated.
Plan ahead when deciding what you'll prepare together. For younger kids, consider starting with simple dishes that contain fewer than five ingredients. Your child won't have to wait it out while you tackle a complicated step. A tossed salad or easy festive muffin recipe are good starter projects. Older kids can take cooking to the next level and work with you on more challenging recipes. Doing some prep work in advance, such as rinsing the berries for muffins, will make the process move more swiftly.
With all kids, fun rules -- especially in the kitchen! If you have a preschooler, make them feel the part by buying them their very own apron to wear, or create them a makeshift chef's hat out of napkins and scotch tape. And don't forget to take a photo! For school age kids, choose festive themed dishes, such as Monster Cupcakes or Reindeer Cookies. Even better, come up with your own fun names for dishes you make together! If you have teens, a bit of sibling rivalry in the kitchen is a great thing. Give them the latitude to choose their own dish from your stack of cookbooks, or search online. They can even be responsible for shopping for the ingredients ahead of time.
Children need supervision when they're in the kitchen. Preschoolers must learn not to touch whirring electric beaters, hot pans and stove tops. Even older kids will need safety reminders, especially if they're working with appliances and knives or at the stove.
Have the whole family show their appreciation for it's newest budding chef by eating together!
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