Cooking With Your Children

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Parents, grandparents, and youngsters cooking together in the kitchen, sharing family recipes and secrets passed from one generation to the next, is a lost art in many households across America. These days, it’s hard for busy parents even to take time out to teach their kids basic cooking techniques.

It’s true that including the kids in cooking meals requires time, patience, and some extra clean-up, especially when the children are younger. But many experts think it is well worth the effort.

For one thing, cooking with your kids can help get them interested in trying healthy foods they might normally turn their noses up at. Susan Moores, MS, RD, a spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association, says she has seen this happen countless times. It’s true that kids will be kids — they’ll snack on chips at a school party or enjoy ice cream after a soccer game. But what is most important is how they eat most of the time, Moores says. And that’s where parents can play a role. Keep in mind that for kids today, saturated fat. 15 mg cholesterol, 4 g fiber, 150 mg sodium. Calories from fat: 21%.

Quick Bruschetta

Journal as: 1 slice bread + 1/2 cup “vegetables with 1 tsp. fat.”

This recipe is appropriate for children of all ages, if they use a plastic knife to cut the tomatoes and an adult helps them with the toaster.

3 fresh, ripe Roma tomatoes
4 fresh basil leaves
1 teaspoon fresh oregano leaves (or 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano flakes)
1 teaspoon bottled minced garlic (or 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder)
4 slices sourdough, French or country-style bread, about 1/2-inch thick
1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

  • Wash the tomatoes, then cut down the middle with a plastic knife and remove most of the seeds and juice. Chop into small pieces, and add to small bowl.
  • Tear or chop basil into small pieces, then add to tomatoes in bowl, along with the oregano and garlic.
  • Toast bread slices to desired brownness. Spoon the tomato mixture evenly over the toasted bread slices, then sprinkle with salt and pepper. Drizzle about 1 teaspoon of olive oil over the top of each tomato-topped bread slice.

Yield: 4 servings

Per serving: 146 calories, 3.5 g protein, 19.5 g carbohydrate, 6.4 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 1.5 g fiber, 181 mg sodium. Calories from fat: 39%.

Egg Mock-Muffin Sandwich

Journal as: 2 slices bread + 1 egg alone without added fat + 1 ounce low-fat cheese
OR 1 light frozen dinner
OR 1 sandwich and burger lean meat

This recipe is best for pre-teens and up (aged 10 and older), but younger kids could whisk the egg mixture and help toast the muffins in a toaster.

2 English muffins, toasted
1 large egg
1/4 cup egg substitute
2 slices Canadian bacon
2 empty tuna cans (or similar cans), washed and label removed
2 slices less-fat American or cheddar cheese slices
Freshly ground pepper
Canola cooking spray

  • Coat half of a 9″ or 10″ nonstick frying pan with canola cooking spray and heat over medium heat (with adult supervision). In a small bowl, beat the egg with egg substitute with a fork or whisk and set aside.
  • Place Canadian bacon in the pan, over the sprayed area. Spray the inside of the tuna cans with canola cooking spray, and set on the nonsprayed side of the frying pan to start heating. When bottom side of the bacon is light brown, flip over and cook other side until light brown. Remove bacon from pan and set aside.
  • Pour 1/4 cup of the egg mixture into each tuna can. Sprinkle with freshly ground pepper to taste. When the surface of the egg begins to firm, cut around the inside of the cans with a butter knife to free the edges. Turn the eggs over with a cake fork (with adult supervision), and cook for one minute more. Remove eggs from can.
  • To assemble each sandwich, layer an English muffin bottom with a slice of cheese, then an egg patty, a piece of Canadian bacon, and the muffin top.

Yield: 2 sandwiches

Per sandwich: 283 calories, 22 g protein, 27 g carbohydrate, 9 g fat, 3.9 g saturated fat, 2 g fiber, 808 mg sodium. Calories from fat: 30%.