Teaching Preschoolers Through Cooking

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Call it a snack, and feed it to them between meals, and my preschoolers will eat almost anything. Raw vegetables, pieces of dry bread, leftovers, you name it. Of course the same food, nicely prepared and presented on a plate generally gets overlooked. The same goes for food they've cooked. Lumpy pizza bases, gritty healthy cookies entirely devoid of sugar and white flour, fruit desserts, even lasagna, all gets gobbled with gusto if my boys make it themselves. Another reason for teaching your children to cook is that it is educational. As we measure out ingredients, take turns reading out the recipes ("mum, how do you spell Cookies?"), mixing, and baking, essential skills like mathematics, language, reading and of course basic cooking skills are all being absorbed by the hungry minds of my children. It isn't difficult to cook with your children. The following recipes are easy, extremely healthy, and designed to help your children learn about basic cooking, while providing more fun than a Playdoh session.. Always supervise young children in the kitchen; burnt fingers can happen very quickly, as can tastes of raw eggs, falls off chairs, and sibling squabbles. It is however, important to allow them to do the measuring, rolling, shaping, and setting of timers - professionalism is definitely not important when it comes to children's cooking. The main thing is for them to have lots of fun and really participate. The outcome is almost always delicious..

Cookiemonster's Yummy Banana Cookies

1 cup rolled oats
cut wheatgerm
1 cup whole wheat self-raising flour
cup desiccated coconut
cup raisins
2 eggs
2 mashed bananas
1 tsp vanilla extract

mix all dry ingredients, add eggs, bananas and vanilla. Roll into balls and put on greased cookie sheet. Bake at 180degrees C or 360degrees F for 15 minutes.

Toddler's Tiramisu

2 cups vanilla yogurt (not low fat)
1 box savoiardi biscuits
2 cups of prepared coffee substitute (Ecco, Caro, etc) or hot chocolate
Cocoa powder

Dip biscuits individually into prepared coffee drink and place in a container. Layer yogurt on top. Add another layer of biscuits and yogurt, topping with a dusting of cocoa (I sometimes shave chocolate on the top). Leave in refrigerator for at least 4 hours. Overnight is also good.

Easy Family Pizza

2.5 cups white flour
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp yeast
1 tsp salt
200ml or cups warm water

A parent might have to help here! Mix all ingredients together and knead for 10 minutes (a breadmaker can also do the kneading). Then let rise for 1 hour. Punch down, roll out. Each child gets a portion to roll and create his/her own base with. Bases can be as simple or elaborate as the children want them to be. Note, if you are pressed for time, you can also use English muffins, toasted lightly.

Suggested Toppings:

A tomato sauce made with a tin of tomatoes, 1 clove garlic, mixed herbs and a tablespoon of tomato paste pureed together.

Or just use tomato paste.

On top of the base, add chopped pineapple, chopped green and red sweet peppers (capsicum), grated cheddar or mozzarella cheese, ham, olives (my boys hate them so we only put them on adults pizzas), and anything else you want.

Bake in a preheated oven on the hottest setting for approx 10 minutes. Sometimes we let the pizzas cool, and cut into shapes with large cookie cutters
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