“Cooking with your kids and engaging them in hands-on activities are two ways to begin to educate children about healthy eating, and kick start the important task to help change how the younger generation looks at food and nutrition.”
-Marcus Samuelsson (Award-winning chef, author and restauranteur)
I couldn’t agree more. My main goal in writing this blog is to connect a love of cooking and learning in the kitchen with kids. You’ll find a little of both here: a delicious recipe to try out and a related learning activity “on the side” that you can share with your little ones.
The Main Dish: The Cooking
Sweet Peas and ABCs is a place to share our favorite recipes and the new recipes that we try out. Em has always been eager to be in the kitchen with me. Since she was only 16 months old, she has been clambering at my legs to “help” me cook dinner. And so, with our aprons tied on, we got to work!
We generally try to cook 5-6 nights a week in our house and Em usually has her hand in preparing meals in one way or another. In the cooler months, we favor comfort dishes and I love using my slow cooker. In the spring and summer, we lean towards lighter fare as the farmers markets start to move outdoors. In general, we cook what we like to eat! That means you may find some “kid-friendly” recipes, like meatballs and muffins, but you’ll also find curries, vegetarians meals and colorful salads.
Check out our family’s food philosophy to find out more about how we approach cooking and eating.
On the Side: The Learning
As a special education teacher for many years before having Em, I started to see the “mini-lessons” in what I was cooking and baking with her at home. Bags of apples intended for applesauce became arrays to show multiplication, peas meant for a pasta dish became a rhyming game, and baking cookies turned into a touch and smell “sense adventure.” Thus, the idea for this blog was born.
You can connect math, reading, spelling, science, and health lessons, as well as art and sensory experiences, to what you’re cooking. Try the recipe. Try the learning activity. Try both!
There are many times when we cook together just to cook; no side lessons involved. I encourage that because I certainly wouldn’t want to deter any kid from helping in the kitchen because he is expecting a math lesson to come with it.
Cooking together is all about having fun, connecting with each other and making great food. There just happen to be other things you can learn along the way.
We hope you’ll come along with us!
Disclaimer: As with all of our recipes, my suggestions for how kids can help with a particular recipe are based on what has worked in our kitchen. Your child may be able to help more or less based on their age and/or ability. As always, make sure you are properly supervising kids in the kitchen.