Monday, May 31, 2010

What is the Point of Cooking with your Kids?

Why take the trouble of getting our kids to help with meals? Wouldn’t it be quicker and more efficient to do it on our own?

Some readers have asked me why they should bother having the kids learn and we take the trouble with teaching them while cooking. Isn’t it much easier just to sit them at the table and teach them math and science and nutrition and the food pyramid and so on.

Kids in the Kitchen

What does it mean by having kids in the kitchen?

Yes it probably will mean spending longer in the kitchen but ….

Think about it, WHY NOT?! Spend that extra time with them. I think the number 1reason to have our kids in the kitchen is that it BUILDS A BOND between parents and their children. It BUILDS MEMORIES.

Before even the teaching of math and science or teaching them a live skill – it is the TOGETHERNESS that we create. Parents, we have to eat and prepare a meal. Let’s get the kids in the process so that it becomes a routine for them. Of course there are exceptions.

Let’s encourage our kids to cook at home – its healthy, provides them with valuable life skills and teaches them to be confidence and independent. They will never be hungry.

And the ability to cook is a very attractive quality.
How do we go about teaching our kids in the kitchen?

Kitchen for Kids: 100 Amazing Recipes Your Children Can Really MakeStart young. Keep the kitchen and activities safe for the kids. If started from young, they are more receptive and let them make a mess. They will see cooking as a fun activity rather than a chore.

Kitchen Activities. Some simple kitchen activities to get your kids excited.

(i) Pastry making – let them mix and roll. Let them make their own jam tarts, pies and such. Let them in, in the filing. And remember not to fret if there is a mess

(ii) Continue explaining what you are doing – you will be surprised what sticks in their minds although they may seem that they are no listening

(iii) Ask your children for meal suggestions- plan  a meal together

(iv) Prepare a budget or shopping list together. Look for a recipe together.

(v) Prepare and clean the vegetables
(vi) Go shopping – ask your kids to pick fresh vegetables and fruit. Teach them about expiry dates – tip – recipes for the younger ones – try not to have more than 5 or 6 ingredients.

Sassafras Little Cook Kid's Kitchen Tool Kit
(vii) Choose simple dishes with your little ones and perhaps more difficult ones with older children

(viii) Guide and advice but let them do themselves

(ix) Of course cleaning up afterwards – make this fun – and if they don’t want to do that’s ok too. Let them enjoy the joys of cooking

I am putting together appropriate recipes and cooking and kitchen activities for the different ages and hope to place some teaching activities too as an easy reference for parents. Subscribe to this blog so that your email is in the database for me to email you as soon as it is ready.

In the meantime, please send me a comment or email me if you have any comments or views on what you would like to see in my book

Happy Cooking and Teaching!
Williams-Sonoma Kids in the Kitchen: Fun Food

Monday, May 24, 2010

Is Fish Good for You and Your Little Ones?

My previous article was about fish becoming a luxury food in the future because there will just not be any fish in the sea to catch. This article is about the goodness of fish and what is not so good about fish.

There are no recipes with this article. But it could help you with some information when preparing a fish meal with your child.  Tell it to them like you would a story.

The Good

Fish is an excellent source of lean protein and omega fatty acids (or DHA)

A diet rich in fish oil may help reduce inflammation and decrease your risk of cardiovascular disease.

The omega-3 fatty acids found in fish are also essential for brain and eye development.

The American Heart Association suggests that we each eat at least two servings of oily fish each week to help keep our hearts healthy.

The Not So Good

The problem is that a lot of fish is contaminated mercury.

While healthy adults can get rid of the mercury from their bodies, children and women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should avoid some types of fish and shellfish to reduce the risk to mercury exposure.

The fish that contain the highest level of mercury are larger and older sharks, swordfish, king mackerel, and tilefish. Replacing these fish with shrimp, pollock, canned light tuna, salmon and catfish, may be an idea because they contain much less mercury.

Did you know that deep-frying fish may increase the concentration of mercury in fish.

Fish should also be cooked properly which if uncooked can cause parasite infection.

When cooking fish at home, make sure you cook your fish until it is flaky and tender; the meat should show no signs of translucency.
Fish Grilled & Smoked: 150 Recipes for Cooking Rich, Flavorful Fish on the Backyard Grill, Streamside, or in a Home Smoker
And of course the cardinal rule in cooking is to ensure we don’t raw fish with uncooked or ready to serve foods; use separate utensils and plates for handling each. In fact it works for all meat too.

Alternative to Fish

If you don't want to eat fish, you can get omega-3 fatty acids from canola oil, flax seeds, walnuts and pumpkin seeds. The type of omega-3 fatty acids found in plants is called alpha linolenic acid. It is not exactly the same as the fats found in fish, but your body has the capability to transform alpha linolenic acid to both EPA and DHA.

Dietary supplements with omega -3 oil help too.

Happy Cooking and Teaching!

Fish ‘n’ Chips – Will it be a Luxury?

There will be less fish in the sea and it will happen within our life time. I recently read an interesting article on how fish will become a food where only the rich will be afford to eat.

For many, a fish meal will become ‘rebranded’ – fish bites made from lots of soya, algae or jelly fish or have we will have fish from swamps, fresh water and pens. When I researched the issue of extinct fish on the internet and elsewhere, this could just hold true. Because of human interventions through commercial fishing and environmental changes, the chemistry of fish and the numbers are dwindling. A new report from an eminent marine biologist Professor Callum Roberts puts into stark relief how bad the damage is. His research illustrates how powerful boats and space-age technology have been used to chase down the last of the fish.

His research illustrates how powerful boats and space-age technology have been used to chase down the last of the fish.

Some interestingly bites on fish and what is happening:

- Cod, once a staple of the British diet, is now mainly caught around Iceland

- Salmon will soon never be caught in Britain.

- Most of our oyster beds are finished.

- Over-fishing has destroyed not just individual species but entire marine eco-systems.

All this can mean that chances of recovering are minimal, even if fishing is halted - the world they lived in has vanished.

Did you know that if a boat catches more than its allotted amount or the wrong kind of fish, the whole catch has to be dumped - even though all the fish are already dead.

What do we do? We perhaps can treat our fish better and treat the environment better. Those who can, perhaps lobby the leaders to act.

For parents, I thought this would make an interesting read for your children especially the older ones and perhaps dig an article or two on it.

You can

Do let me know what you think of these issues. It would be great to share it with other parents.

Animal Life for Children: ALL ABOUT FISH

Happy Cooking and Teaching!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

What to Do For Mum For Mother's Day

My Mum is Fantastic (Bear Hugs)
Mother’s day is here!

Whether we are a kid or an adult we can do something a little extra to show our Moms and Grandmas how much we love her on this special day.

Here’s what I think we could do:

(1) Hug and a Kiss the moment you see her

(2) Taking over Mum’s chores for a day – the dishes, the cleaning, the laundry

(3) Take Mum out to her favourite place or restaurant

Loving Family® Sterling Silver Pendant - Mother and 3 Children(4)  Give mum a gift

(5)  Have a picnic

(6) Watch a movie together

(7) Cook for Mum – I think this is best because it will come from the heart and we don’t need complicated or difficult dishes. Some simple ones to bring a smile to mum

Breakfast in Bed
(i) Yoghurt decorated with strawberries and little umbrellas

(ii) Pancakes or waffles with bananas and apples

(iii) Don’t forget your rose


It can be anything that Mum fancies – noodles, pizza, salads


Bake a chocolate cake or a simple butter cake

Roast a chicken – spread some pepper, salt, olive oil, spices and anything else you like. Prepare some salad and some corn or potatoes.

Finish off with ice cream or chocolate.

Happy Mother's Day! and Happy Cooking