Summer’s coming, the kids are home, and who is going to fix their lunch? In some cases, youngsters can handle some food prep, but their abilities and experience in the kitchen greatly influence kitchen safety.
Helping in the kitchen is a great beginning for youngsters wanting to learn to cook. Many young men and women thank their parents and grandparents for teaching them the fun and joy of cooking.
Today’s busy lifestyles suggest it’s a real advantage if everyone in the family can pitch in to prepare food, especially if parents and caregivers are employed outside the home.
Kitchen safety is the first chapter in teaching youngsters how to cook. While cooking is fun, it’s serious business.
Inexperienced and beginning chefs need to practice cooking with a parent or another adult to master the needed techniques. Continue working together until child and adult are confident the child can prepare food safely on their own.
The rules for kitchen safety need to be discussed up front. Parents need to be sure they can trust their children to follow the rules before being left alone to prepare food.
Rule number one—even before washing your hands—is to dress for safety. Long, floppy sleeves catch fire or can get caught in appliances. Change clothes or secure sleeves so they don’t fall down. Long hair should be tied back, too. Open toed shoes and flip-flops offer little protection should something be dropped on the foot.
When using the microwave, emphasize proper containers and the danger of microwave burns. Store the proper utensils and microwave-safe dishes near the microwave, along with microwave safe waxed paper, plastic wrap or lids. Metal pans and plastic containers that can melt in the microwave, as well as aluminum foil, should be stashed elsewhere.
When opening microwave popcorn or other foods, be cautious of steam burns. Use hot pads when opening hot popcorn bags, and open away from the body. Allow food to cool several minutes before eating. Food can be extremely hot, especially if it’s high in sugar or fat.
Demonstrate how all the kitchen equipment works. Explain what is sharp, hot, etc. Reinforce the kitchen is not a place for “rough housing.” Children need to pay close attention to each kitchen task they perform.
Lastly, allowing a child to use the stove is a huge responsibility. There are many dangers present when using a stove. Only when a child is tall enough, mature and responsible should they be able to operate/cook on a stove. Adult supervision is always required.
This recipe is a tasty after school snack that uses cold foods…which is easy for young budding chefs!
1/2 cup vanilla yogurt (can substitute low fat, low calorie yogurt)
2 tablespoons fruit cocktail in own juice, drained
1 tablespoon of multi-grain or granola cereal
In a 5-ounce cup, place 1/4 cup yogurt, add 1 tablespoon fruit cocktail. Repeat and top with cereal. Serve immediately. Makes 1 serving.
Nutritional analysis per serving made with low fat yogurt: 129 calories, 6 gram protein, 23 gram carbohydrates, 1/2 gram fiber, 2 gram fat, 6 milligrams cholesterol, 209 milligrams calcium, 95 milligrams sodium. Exchanges: 1 starch, 1/2 fruit
Nutritional analysis per serving made with low fat low calorie sweetener: 74 calories, 5 grams protein, 15 grams carbohydrates, trace of fiber, trace of fat, 2 milligrams cholesterol, 162 milligrams calcium, 81 milligrams sodium. Exchanges: 1/2 milk and 1/2 fruit.
Source: Jananne Finck, Extension Educator, Nutrition and Wellness, email@example.com