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FROM THE VAULT: Joys of cooking with your kids (2006)

FROM THE VAULT: Joys of cooking with your kids (2006)

The joy of cooking with your kids

Weather Report: Cloudy with rain. Planning indoor entertainment for children can be a parents' worst nightmare. Why not spend the afternoon doing something you can be sure your kids will love - making snacks. With a little guidance and easy-to-follow recipes, your children will love learning how to cook. Involving your children in mealtime preparation helps them develop positive attitudes about food. A trip to the grocery store can be a great learning experience for your family.

Review some recipes and make a list of the items that you will need. Let your children be a part of the shopping experience by assigning each child a specific food to pick out. Giving everyone a separate job will allow each child to feel included in mealtime planning. In general, children are more willing to eat something they make or have a hand in making- even if it is something they have disliked in the past. What a great way to get your finicky eater to eat those veggies!

There are a few skills that your children can learn while having fun baking a batch of oatmeal cookies, helping plan a holiday meal, or making a special snack for their friends. Whether you are filling a pan with half the batter, or measuring 1 ¼ cups of sugar, baking can teach mathematics.

Preparing ethnic dishes is a great way to start a discussion about different cultures, holiday traditions and customs. It is important to introduce new and different food choices while your children are young. Remind your kids that their taste changes, and encourage them to just try one bite. If they have a hand in preparing the meal, they will be more eager to try their creation. Planning and preparing any meal or snack will develop and build organizational skills.

Start by reading the recipe, and make sure that you have all the ingredients. If not, make a list of what you need to pick up at the grocery store. Following a recipe is important; following the order of combining ingredients, and measuring out the correct amount is necessary. Adding too much flour, or omitting the baking soda can make a big difference in the outcome of your cake. Giving everyone a job in the kitchen will teach responsibility. From washing the vegetables, to breaking eggs, measuring ingredients to topping your own pizza, everyone can have their own important job. The clean-up process is a great lesson in starting and finishing a job.

It is okay to play with your food, at least when your kids are first learning to cook. With practice, Junior will be chopping and dicing faster than you can order up a PB & J on white bread. This fall, make plans to teach your children how to make breakfast favorites, simple diners and even doggie treats.

If you are looking for a fun and easy recipe to try with your children, the Crowley Foods web site is a great place to search. Please visit www.crowleyfoods.com and follow the links to recipes.

Here is a simple, fun recipe to try with your children:

Cheesy Fruit Tarts
Easy to make treat
Serving Size: 1 mini-tart
Servings: 24
Calories Per Serving: 40

INGREDIENTS
1 cup Crowley Lowfat Cottage Cheese
1/2 cup Crowley Sour Cream
1/4 cup sugar*
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
24 mini-muffin size phyllo-dough shells**
Assorted blueberries or raspberries or other fruit

In a blender or food processor, blend cottage cheese until smooth. Add remaining ingredients and blend until just mixed.

Transfer to medium mixing bowl. Spoon about a tablespoon of filling into each phyllo-dough shell and top with a raspberry or 2 to 3 blueberries.

*Artificial sweetener may be substituted for sugar.
**Available in the frozen foods section.

By Karen Stelmak