Making pasta – messy, but fun!
It is so important to teach your kids to cook, to teach them how to make good food choices, and to model good eating habits. Diet related diseases, such as heart disease, are much more likely to kill your children (and you) than anything else. More and more children in Australia are suffering from obesity and diabetes, because our culture has moved away from wholesome, fresh foods to refined, coloured, additive-filled junk! These problems are entirely preventable. According to the Australian government:
An estimated 1.5 million people under the age 18 are considered overweight or obese.
This means about 20-25% of Australian children are overweight or obese.
The proportion of overweight or obese children in Australian is increasing at an accelerating rate. This pattern, showing up since the 1980’s, is similar internationally.
If weight gain continues the path it is following, by the year 2020, 80% of all Australian adults and a third of all children will be overweight or obese.
These are scary statistics. What are you doing to teach your kids about healthy eating?
Jamie Oliver is a great advocate for teaching kids about real food, recently winning the TED award for his contributions in this area. He said,
“I wish for everyone to help create a strong, sustainable movement to educate every child about food, inspire families to cook again, and empower people everywhere to fight obesity.”
– Jamie Oliver.
Please watch this video clip and share it with your friends and family. Refuse to ‘go with the flow’ when it comes to what you and your family eat! We can all make a difference, starting in our own homes.
If you need help knowing where to start to change bad eating habits, and how to teach your kids to make good food choices, read Cyndi O’Meara’s book, “Changing Habits, Changing Lives”. She will guide you one step at a time through the confusing maze of what to eat, what not to eat, and why. She also has a great recipe book that will inspire you with lots of delicious food that will help, not harm, your family.
When I was little, my Mum always encouraged us to learn to cook, and we had a lot of fun learning how to make family favourites and inventing new recipes. We would even make our own ‘dinner’ sometimes in a little billy can over a metho stove in our bedroom – great fun! (Don’t worry – my room had a cement floor!) When I was seven, I won second prize at the Cairns show for my chocolate fudge… when I was twelve I used to make a boiled chocolate cake for the teenagers at our church youth club, which they loved – until the day I decided to put a coin in it just for the fun of seeing someone’s surprise when they found it… I don’t think they liked it so much after that!
Kids making Marble Cake
I have many fond memories of cooking in our happy kitchen, and I want my kids to have those memories too. Sometimes it seems more trouble than it’s worth, especially when they make such a mess! (And especially now I have such a little kitchen…) But it really is worth the trouble. If you’re new to cooking with kids, here’s some ideas to help you get started…
The girls making jam tarts
* Let them experiment! One of our kid’s favourite pastimes is to invent new and interesting snacks – they call it ‘making some gourmet’, and they certainly turn out some very interesting concoctions, which they like to serve to us on a ‘platter’ as if we were in a restaurant! Miss C (6) likes macadamias dipped in molasses, and dates stuffed with almonds… Mr S (10) makes interesting juices, and fruit salads with nuts and honey or molasses, and carrot sticks with salt, pepper, tomato sauce and lemon juice (he’s my main ‘cook’!)… Mr I (8) likes anything that’s covered in honey… And Miss I (12) is more into making biscuits and jam tarts and bread – she’s a little more practical than the others! I don’t mind them experimenting, because that’s how they learn what tastes good with what. (As long as they eat it, of course!)
Mr I’s ‘Gourmet Crackers’
Miss C’s very original Apple & Cherry Salad
* Kids love making pizza: Make the dough (older ones can help with this), roll it out on a silpat mat on the kitchen table, put it on the trays, then let the kids put on all the toppings. They can each do a small one of their own and make it just how they like it. Our kids like to make faces with the toppings just for fun. (Recipes: Pizza dough & toppings, Dairy free avocado topping, Lamb mince & salad pizza, Salmon & Salad Pizza)
* Fun Bread rolls: Make the dough, give the kids a mat/chopping board each at the kitchen table that they can work on. They can each get some dough and make it into faces, turtles, snakes, cats… whatever they like, then brush it with water, and add seeds or raisins for extra decoration. Place the trays in a cold oven and turn it on (moderately hot), and the rolls rise and bake at the same time. I like to make Poppy Rolls, and one day my dd (6) was making them with me and snipped them all around so they looked like this (see below) – she informed me they were ‘Zinnia Rolls’! Cute. (Recipes: Spelt bread rolls, other bread dough you can use for rolls)
Miss C’s ‘Zinnia Rolls’
* Pasta: Make the dough, then roll out pieces of dough on floured mats (or straight onto the table) and let the kids take turns putting it through the pasta machine. This is probably our kid’s all-time favourite – it’s so much fun. (As long as you don’t mind a bit of mess!) We like to do it with their friends when they come for the day – many kids have never made pasta before, and are fascinated that they can make their own spaghetti, and how yummy it is!
Making Spelt & Spinach Pasta
* Quick treat balls (or bliss balls): This is great for kids that are ‘starving’ and can’t wait for bikkies to bake! Just throw all the ingredients into your Thermomix, grind them up, then give it to the kids to roll into balls. Instant snack! (Recipe: Raw cacao treat balls, Walnut & Raw Cacao Nib Bliss Balls)
* Eggs for any occasion: scrambled, fried, boiled, etc – it’s very easy to teach kids to cook eggs, and there’s so many ways they can make them. Our kids learnt to cook eggs at kid’s cooking class (which we run with our homeschool group), so I bought them a non-stick frypan so they could do it easily on their own… Now if they’re up before me at breakfast time, they can cook their own scrambled or fried eggs! (Obviously for kids who are old enough to use the stove.) I also taught them how to make egg sandwich fillings by mixing their choice of ingredients with mashed, boiled eggs – chopped celery, onion, pickles, tuna, mayonnaise, mustard, parsley… whatever takes their fancy… they love to make their own lunch this way.
This is a great breakfast for grumpy kids – or husbands! Never fails to cheer them up!
* Yummy fruit salad: Give them some washed fruit, some nuts/seeds, a chopping board and small knife, and see what they come up with! This is a great way to get kids to eat more fruit. Our kids love their ‘slinky apple’ machine, which makes chopping apples very easy and fun. We also like to make raw fruit cereals for breakfast, which we usually do in the Thermomix. (Recipe: Raw Fruit Cereal) Also vegie salads that they make themselves are more likely to be eaten! (Recipe: Easy Carrot & grape salad)
Mr S’s Cherry, Nectarine, & Lychee fruit salad
These are just a few ideas for family cooking fun – add to those pikelets/pancakes, waffles, vegetable soup, muffins & cupcakes, fruit smoothies & juices, scones – I’m sure you can think of plenty more! The idea is not to be scared off by the mess – just think of the wonderful memories you’ll be making together, and the good eating habits you’ll be teaching them for the future.
(Note: most of these ideas are for small kids – the older ones can of course do more, like mixing dough, rolling it out, chopping with a sharp knife, etc. If you use a Thermomix, your child can start very early cooking for the family, as it’s so safe and easy, and you don’t have to worry about them cutting themselves or burning themselves. By the time they’re teenagers, they should be able to prepare at least one meal per week for the family, on their own.)
My friend Vanessa’s daughter is just 11, and already cooks up a storm – here’s a photo of her with a batch of ravioli she made all by herself – pasta dough, sauce & filling – and steamed in the Thermomix Varoma!