Cooking with my kids has definitely been the highlight of quarantine. I’m not for sure why, but it actually seems they’re more interested than they’ve been in the past. Maybe it’s because they actually ARE tired of looking at their homeschool iPad screens. Or maybe the lack of competition, like playing with neighborhood friends, is on my side. Either way, my 8,6 and 4 year-old have been engaged from start to finish.

We started with “knife skills” class, baked cupcakes and made turkey soup from scratch. Here are a few things I’m learning about cooking with kids:

Make Something They’d Want to Eat.

two young boys mixing batter

The cupcakes were one of our first recipes because I wanted to hook them with something I know they’d be excited to make and try. The kitchen is my favorite kind of classroom. We measured, read recipes, mixed colors for frosting, and I even threw in some food science convo. I’m always asking them “why?” Why do you think we cream the butter and sugar without the flour? What colors do we need to make purple? I’m sure I often miss the mark with age-appropriate questions. Regardless, asking questions stimulates thought and curiosity.

Use Tools They Like To Use.

mom and her boys cooking holding knives

Knife skills class was all about the KNIVES. Boys like danger and risk, so that is where I met them. We were safe, but we were also playful and fun. Which…brings me to my next point.

Keep It Fun.

I have a hard time having fun getting my 6 year-old to do a LOT of his school work. It often ends in tears, me stomping off or succumbing to helping him too much. But cooking with kids? Fun comes more easily. And, I want them to have a few memories of quarantine life that way. I heard the sweetest podcast from the New York Times, the Daily,  about a granddaughter who learned to make her grandmothers’ recipes. The laughter they shared cooking together over FaceTime truly was “chicken noodle soup for the soul.” Because I enjoy cooking and messing around in the kitchen, it’s fun for me to share that with my boys.

Sunshine Stew

butternut squash soup

Cooking with kids doesn’t have to go from start to finish. In this sunshine stew recipe, their only task was to help me cut up the butternut squash. I did the rest, and they headed out to the trampoline to obtain another injury. It’s been cold all week in St. Louis, so we’re still making soups and stews in the Midwest. This Sunshine Stew is like eating a bowl of tasty anti-inflammatories with lots of golden spices and vitamin C-rich plants like butternut squash and bell peppers.

As we continue to navigate this new normal, cooking with kids can be a fresh activity in your monotonous groundhog’s day to bring a little sunshine into your home. Let us know what tips you have for cooking with kids! We’d love to learn!

Check out one of our other fave quarantine recipes: Sweet Potato and Black Bean Burritos

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butternut squash soup

Sunshine Stew


  • Author: Jennifer McDaniel

Ingredients

Scale
  • 2 T. coconut oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 medium-sized butternut squash, cubed
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1, 15 oz. can light coconut milk
  • 1, 15 oz. can chopped tomatoes
  • 2 T. curry powder
  • 1 T. garlic powder
  • 1 t. cumin powder
  • 1 t. turmeric powder
  • 3 T. maple syrup
  • 1 15.5 oz. can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
  • 46 c. baby spinach

Instructions

  1. Heat the coconut oil in a large pot over medium-high heat.  Add garlic, onion and red bell pepper and cook until softened.
  2. Add squash, tomatoes, coconut milk, spices and canned beans. Bring to a boil, then cover, reduce heat to low and simmer for about 20 minutes or until butternut squash is tender.
  3. A few minutes before serving, add baby spinach and cook until lightly wilted.

 

Notes

Instead of butternut squash, you can use sweet potatoes.

Jennifer McDaniel

Jennifer McDaniel is a Registered Dietitian, Media Spokesperson, and co-author of Prevention's Mediterranean Table Cookbook. She and her team of Registered Dietitians aim to help their clients go further, make change last, and unlock their potential. She lives in St. Louis, MO with her husband, and three young sons. If you are interested in working with Jennifer, please visit our contact page.