If it's too hot, get your kids in the kitchen! ...That's how the saying goes, right?! Okay maybe not, but we think it's a great alternative when the summer sun is just too hot for outdoor play, or when the summer rain keeps us cooped up inside. Louisiana has seen several heat advisories and plenty of rain this summer, and the forecast predicts that the last few days of summer won't be any different. So whether it's heat waves or thunderstorms, we suggest keeping things indoors at times like these, and since we're passionate about healthy eating and nutrition education, we've got some cooking tips and nutritious recipes to keep kids learning about health on summer days when the weather won't let up. Whether you're a summer program director, a parent, or a caretaker, these ideas will keep the little ones entertained at camp or at home.
A few basic tips when cooking with kids:
- Always keep the handles of your pots and pans turned in and away from the edge of the stove to prevent hot spills, and keep boiling or sizzling things on the back burners.
- Keep knives and other sharp objects, as well as, glassware, raw meat or fish, and eggs away from the counter space where kids will be working.
-Make sure you have plan. Prepare your tools and ingredients beforehand. Read the recipe out-loud with the kids so everyone is aware of each step. There will be chaos, but at least you'll be prepared for it.
- Have aprons, rags, and paper towels handy just in case, but try not to get upset by a mess. Curious hands are bound to spill milk, dump flour, and drop eggs! Going Gordon Ramsay on kids is a sure way to scare them out of the kitchen for good, so breath, clean up together, and move on.
- If you let 'em chop, do so safely. You don't have to invest in special kid's knives nor put little fingers in danger with sharp ones. Wash your used plastic take-out knives and re-purpose them for chopping soft things, like grapes or cooked sweet potatoes. This is not only inexpensive, it's environmentally friendly too! When they're ready, move on to butter knives and so forth.
- Tell the truth about the food you cook. Veggies are covered in dirt because they grow in the ground, eggs come from chickens, ground beef comes from those things that say "moo." Kids should be in on where their food comes from - this will help them make informed decisions about what they do and don't want to eat, and why.
- Don't be afraid to stray from the basics. Sure, it's great to start with sweet and simple, like baking cookies or brownies, but there are so many other recipes out there that are equally as simple and way more healthy! Try making a cauliflower pizza crust with a few fun toppings, use a food processor to make pesto, hummus, or salsa, or try pickling some veggies!
Check out these 10 simple, summer-friendly recipes:
1. Fresh Fruit Popsicles (GF)
4. Simple Cauliflower Pizza Crust (GF)
7. Bright & Sweet Beet Hummus (GF)
9. Baked Apple Chips (GF)
We hope these tips and recipes finish out your summer fun by keeping the kiddos cool and dry, nourished, and curious about food. If you make any of these recipes, or come up with other healthy creations, be sure to tag us in your social media pics @threeoclockproject! We'd love to share what you come up with!