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Cooking up a treat with the kids!



So it’s February, we’re a month into the new year and those resolutions are, well, let’s be honest, not going so well.  Remember you wanted to set a good example to the kids and cut down on the sweet things, and that eating better was one of your New Year resolutions? That and spending more quality time with the kids and taking up a new hobby. Just reading that list is enough to make you feel even more stressed…and oh yes, that was another thing on your list. To be calmer and less stressed.

So before you scream “messy kitchen nightmare” and “over my dead body”, take a deep breath and let me explain WHY cooking with your kids is a great idea, but more importantly, let me show you HOW and WHAT to cook with a couple of recipes that even manage to include some chocolate (always a winner!) but keep it healthy enough to pass muster for breakfast on those frazzled mornings.


Cooking is a great activity to awaken all your senses – touch, taste, smell and sight – and to encourage your kids to notice all of these things as you work your way through a recipe. And that itself is a great opportunity to take time out and focus on the here and now.

You also have the chance to demonstrate, and the kids to practice, valuable life skills: following a recipe (whether by reading or listening), using kitchen equipment safely, understanding kitchen risks (sharp knives and hot ovens for example) and learning about ingredients and where they come from.

And don’t underestimate the power of really connecting with your kids as you do something fun together. This works for little kids who aren’t normally allowed to do “grown-up” jobs and relish the chance to show you how great they are – and be prepared to be surprised as kids are WAY more capable in the kitchen than we give them credit for. But cooking as an activity also works really well for teens who often open up while they are “doing” something and don’t have to have eye to eye contact!

Finally, kids are more likely to eat what they make, so this is a great activity for fussy eaters…and if you have kids, you will know that fussy eating is a major source of parental stress!


Yes, it may get messy and stressy. So my tips to avoid that are:

  • Get out all your ingredients in advance (and preweigh them for small kids)
  • Choose a simple recipe with few steps that can be eaten and enjoyed soon afterwards
  • Choose a recipe that WORKS or you set yourself up for failure
  • Take out kitchen kit the kids can use – graters, knives, rolling pins, handmixers etc are all perfectly safe even with young kids if used properly
  • Turn off any distractions – phone, TV etc – so you can focus on the activity and each other
  • Try and be patient – it WILL take longer and be messier than if you did it yourself. But remember the benefits!


Here are two of my killer recipes that are also healthy but importantly, quick and fun to make.

Chocolate bean brownies

SO GOOD and packed full of protein. They are very filling, so go slow! Try them out with friends and see if they can guess the magic ingredient. As they contain no flour, these are great for coeliacs or anyone on a gluten free diet

1 carton black beans (about 250g drained)
2 tbsp cocoa
40g porridge oats
75g honey
40g sunflower oil
2tsp vanilla
150g chocolate chunks/chips (great to use up those Easter eggs)

  • Drain and rinse the beans well then blitz in the processor with all the ingredients apart from the chocolate chips until not gritty.
  • When smooth, stir in the chips and spread into a small silicone brownie pan or some mini silicone fairy cake tins. If you have metal bakeware, remember to line it well. The mixture will look flat, don’t panic!
  • Bake for 17/18 mins (don’t overbake!) at 175C then leave to cool.

 Groovy green smoothie

The bulbs are starting to show (hurrah for the end of Winter), so celebrate springtime with this gorgeous smoothie that will convert even spinach haters!

50g fresh spinach leaves

1 banana

½ – 1 fresh pineapple

1 apple

150g grapes

175g yoghurt (optional) 

  • Put all the ingredients in a blender and process until combined.
  • Tip: If you have a powerful blender or smoothie maker, that’s great, but otherwise it can be a bit “thick” so you can sieve out some of the lumps.

So I hope I’ve convinced you at least on paper, to give a cooking session with your kids a go. Now just add the ingredients to your shopping list and schedule that cooking session in the diary. I promise that once you start, there’s no going back. And you can bask in the satisfaction of having made some yummy, healthy treats and had a great time with the kids too. And ticked off a few of your new year’s resolutions – what’s not to like?!

About the author

Nicole Freeman always had a love of food and cooking. But it was her own fussy eater that prompted her to set up The Kids’ Kitchen, her award-winning cookery school for kids. Nicole has been interviewed on Sky News and been featured in many publications and books. Her cooking school is based in North London where she aims to show kids how much fun cooking can be and, by involving them in preparing and cooking their own
meals, encourages them to try new foods. Her Facebook page is www.facebook.com/TheKidsKitchen. She is currently developing an online course to help support families further afield and has a free Facebook page, Family Foodies where people can ask for and share advice, tips and recipes for fun, family food. www.facebook.com/groups/877728509059092 www.thekidskitchen.net

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