Susie Burrell

‘your food, your body, your life’

Top tips for cooking with kids

This is a sponsored post, brought to you by Tassal Salmon.

When it comes to teaching our kids about healthy eating, one of the most powerful things we can do is involve them in food preparation. Here they have the opportunity to become familiar with different foods and meals, learn how to prep and cook meals and snacks and it gives parents and carers an opportunity to have non emotive food based conversations, as opposed to the shouting matches that can occur at the dinner table when everyone is tired and emotional. And while the mess can be a little off putting especially when kids are small, long term the benefits including the opportunity to talk about nutrient rich foods such as salmon, wholegrains and vegetables will far outweigh the mess. So if you know that your little ones (or bigger ones) could really benefit from spending more time in the kitchen, here are some tips to make the process as simple (and non-messy) as possible. 

1. Start with something simple

If you are not used to having kids in the kitchen, forget starting with a complicated new recipe or baked good that will take much time to prepare. Children, especially children younger than 10-12 years will have very limited attention spans which means something you can prepare in 5 minutes or less is a good starting point to get them used to a new activity. Think toast (yes really), yoghurt and fruit bowls or a wrap or sandwich that they simply have to ‘put together’ before you move onto more complicated recipes. 

2. Set the time aside

One of the issues in busy lives is that we get round to doing things occasionally, and do not develop the structure and routine that helps to make activities with children run a lot more smoothly. Rather when it comes to cooking, both for adults and children, getting into a habit of doing something regularly, say once each month on a weekend afternoon means that you will create the space and time to be able to give your full attention to it. Here the kids will look forward to doing it, you will not be trying to cram extra cooking into an already jam packed schedule and you have the time to shop and prepare so everything runs smoothly. 

3. Create the space

Kids take up a lot of space, which means if you do not have a big kitchen, it will be stressful to have them in your space. Rather allocating some room in the kitchen with the right sized stool so they can reach the bench, or moving to the kitchen table will mean that the food prep and cooking process runs a lot more smoothly. 

4. Move onto more complicated dishes slowly

Once you are more comfortable with having kids in the kitchen and have mastered a few basics, you can slowly build up your repertoire. Baked goods such as cookies and pancakes are easy meals kids can get involved in mixing and stirring, making pizza and foods like schnitzels and Tassal salmon patties (see recipe) all have easy steps in which kids can roll, dip, crumb and combine to really get involved in the process. Going through cookbooks together and choosing a recipe for each cooking session is another fun activity and long term you can work towards planning the family’s weekly meals together.

5. Focus on nutrient rich ingredients

After several sessions and when your kids are building up their kitchen skills, it can lend itself nicely to talk more about healthy eating. Here focusing on recipes and foods that offer key nutrients such as Tassal salmon for omega 3 fats, wholemeal flour for fibre, dairy for calcium and plenty of veges for vitamins and minerals helps kids to learn about the important of healthy eating in a fun, relaxed environment. 

Recipe: Tassal Salmon & Sweet Potato Patties

Serves 2- 4

Ingredients

1 cup sweet potato, chopped

 1/3 cup frozen peas

1 Tassal Salmon Fillet (120g), cooked and flaked

1/2 cup breadcrumbs

 1 egg, lightly beaten

 1 green shallot, thinly sliced 

Extra Virgin Olive Oil for cooking

Method

1. Boil, steam or microwave sweet potato and peas, separately, until tender. Drain and mash the sweet potato until smooth, mix in peas. 

2. Add cooked, flaked salmon, 1/3 cup breadcrumbs, egg and shallots to the sweet potato mixture and stir to combine. 

3. Place remaining breadcrumbs on a plate. 

4. Shape 1/3 cup salmon mixture into a 2cm-thick patty. Roll in breadcrumbs to coat. Repeat with remaining mixture.

5. Heat the oil in a large non-stick frying pan over a medium heat.

6. Cook patties, in batches, for 2-3 mins each or until golden.