Oh, how I wish Michele Howard had her cooking school back when my kids were growing up. Michele, a registered dietitian, started Measuring Up! Cooking for Kids about 10 years ago. She holds cooking classes for kids aged 3-17 in Scarborough.
Cousins Ramona and Bailey were in a recent class and by the looks of the pictures Ramona’s mom Jen took, I think they had a terrific time.
“I want to try to get kids to eat different foods and incorporate healthiness,” Michele told me. “When they cook it, sometimes it makes them want to try it because they were involved in it.”
She encourages parents to invite their kids into the kitchen. That may sound a bit overwhelming to some parents, but she has some helpful hints.
- Start small, even if it’s just letting the kids stir the vegetables.
- Start with easy recipes.
- Get everything prepped ahead and let them help stir and put things together.
- When I chop herbs, I use scissors. Even kid’s scissors work good for that, so you can have them do that and you don’t have to worry about a knife.
- Three-year-olds can sit and watch you and play with the ingredients.
- Five-year-olds can get in there and start mixing. Maybe not all of it, but they can help with mixing or collect ingredients for you.
- Take them to the grocery store and let them pick out something they might want to cook.
- Take them to the grocery store or farmers market just to see the food and learn where it comes from.
- Look up recipes together. In a cookbook or on the computer nowadays. It gets them involved.
When she’s teaching a recipe, Michele has her students make it from scratch. “From step one,” she says. “They have to measure, they have to chop. they have to do everything.”
The kids seem to enjoy handling food more than anything. They like rolling out the dough and putting yummy fillings inside. Sweet things are always a favorite, but Michele also teaches them to make pocket hand pies with a hamburger filling or chicken pot pies. “If you make a chicken pot pie,” she advises, “make individual little chicken pot pies so they can roll out the dough and make their own little pie. A lot of times turning everything into individual or mini is better with kids because then they see the little creation they made instead of a big huge dish in front of them.”
And she encourages them to eat what they make. Sometimes, it can be a challenge. Like when they made tofu tacos. “None of them would eat it because they saw the tofu,” she said. “Once they tasted it, they said it tasted just like hamburger. But sometimes it’s risky doing a strange ingredient in front of them because then they won’t taste it.”
I don’t think Bailey and Ramona had any trouble tasting the goodies they made!
If you’d like to learn more about the classes Michele offers, check out her website Measuring Up: Cooking for Kids
And because it’s the holidays, Michele is sharing a recipe for something sweet you can make with your kids.