Getting kids involved in the kitchen

This post is sponsored through my partnership with Bitsy’s Brainfood. 

While we certainly go through our picky phases over here, we are very thankful that Liv enjoys a variety of foods and is usually up to try something new. Since she was little, we’ve tried to expose her to as much variety as possible, and always let her take bites of whatever we’re eating, whether it’s a giant acai bowl, chopped salad, or plate of calamari. Sometimes she likes it, sometimes she doesn’t, but I’m happy if she’ll at least give it a whirl. In addition to exposing her to as many foods as possible, it’s been important to me to involve her in the whole dining experience. I love our grocery trips together, and especially enjoy our time in the kitchen. Some of my favorite memories with my mom involve the two of us the kitchen, stirring bowls of cookie dough or mashing beans and giggling. I’ve also found that by including Liv in the cooking process, she’s much more enthusiastic to try new things.. or at least eat some vegetables. 🙂

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Here are some of the things we’ve done around here:

Farmers market: I like to include Liv in the fun from start to finish, with trips to the grocery store or farmer’s market to pick out ingredients. Sometimes if she sees something new she wants to try, I’ll buy it and research a way we can prepare it. Last week, she picked out the most gorgeous purple and yellow carrots form Trader Joe’s and has a carrot with peanut butter or hummus almost every day.

Prepping the food. There are some easy ways to include your little one in the cooking experience in a safe way. When she was itty bitty, I would simply hand her a bag of sweet potato fries and have her smash the seasonings around. As she got older, we had kitchen tasting parties. I’d bring the jar of dried herbs or spices over to let her smell, and place a tiny bit on her plate. She’s tried garlic, oregano, rosemary, basil, cinnamon and paprika. Sometimes while we’re cooking, she’ll ask me to put smoked paprika on her palm so she can lick it off. #normal.

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Some prep ideas:

-Let them stir or whisk the food. It might take forever, and flour ends up in the most random places, but they LOVE it.

-Put your veggies and seasonings into a Ziploc bag, and let them move the veggies around to fully coat.

-Peel! There are some kid-friendly peelers out there, and it’s a great option for when they get a little older. Liv quickly learned the hold the end of the carrot or veggie, start a couple of inches away from her fingers, and always peel away from her body.

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-As the kids continue to grow, they can start working on carefully cutting ingredients or spreading butter or jam. 

Plating the food. This is where it’s ok to play with your food a little! We love to make patterns out of berries and vegetables (a great opportunity to work on matching and pattern recognition), and also make faces out of the ingredients. 

Puppy pancake

(Banana-egg pancakes with whipped cream, blueberry eggs and a chocolate chip nose)

Make it fun!! I try to keep it as lighthearted as possible, so the recipes that have no wiggle room for error are usually cooked during naptime. When we cook together, the time spent and end result doesn’t matter so much. It’s just about having fun in the kitchen and creating something to enjoy together.

Use it as a teaching opportunity. Cooking with Liv is another way for us to spend quality time together, and an awesome teaching opportunity. I want her to know what goes into our food and don’t want her to be afraid of vegetables, seasonings or new ingredients. 

This post is sponsored by my friends at Bitsy’s Brainfood, who have a very similar mentality. The company was started by two moms who noticed that healthy food isn’t often the most fun, and fun food isn’t often healthy. They endeavored to create snack options for kids that combine the two, using whole certified-organic ingredients, superfoods, healthy fats, and fruits and vegetables. They do not use artificial colors or preservatives in their food, and I’m stoked to have it as an on-the-go snack option for Liv (ok, and me too haha). I love the fact that they don’t hide the fact that there are fruits and vegetables in their products. They want kids to know what they’re eating and feel empowered to make healthy choices as they grow. 

These are Liv’s absolute favorite cookies, which taste delicious are perfect for letter recognition. She’s starting to work on recognizing letters and the sounds they make, so we’ve been able to inject a little bit of reading and learning into snack time.

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You can find the Bitsy’s Brainfood line at Target! Thank you so much for supporting this blog and the companies who help to support our family. 

What are some of the ways you involve your kiddo in the cooking process?

Friends sans kiddos: what are some of your favorite memories in the kitchen growing up? Any unique ingredients or vegetables you LOVED as a kid? I’ve always been a huge fan of eggplant, even since the early days.

xoxo

Gina

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Comments

  1. She is so cute! She seriously looks like a little mini you! Those smart cookies look yummy to me! haha

  2. This was a really cute post! I remember I absolutely loved to stand on a step stool and help my mom cook and prep food. We also baked together. It’s such a great learning experience for kids and I plan to do it myself when I have my own.

  3. Kristen says:

    My 3 year old absolutely loves being in the kitchen with me. I’ll let him mix things, break eggs into bowls then pour them into the mix (after I fish out the shells haha), or cut softer foods up with his toddler butter knife. He also really enjoys just hanging out in there watching my every move and asking me questions about what I’m doing. I love that he’s so interested in it.

    • Fitnessista says:

      so fun <3 and yes, i love when they enjoy it so much. it's such a great way to spend time together
      xoxo

  4. Nothing was better making cookies (and eating more batter than cookies) as a kid!

  5. Shaina Anderson says:

    how CUTE is she?! I LOVE having tripp in the kitchen with me. Its getting a little interested now that Ryleigh isn’t quite as pacified sitting on the floor playing with her fridge magnets haha, but we do what we can.

  6. Dad and I used to make nanaimo bars and other sweeties. Still love baking and mixing things together. Liked it so much I’m a scientist now 😉

  7. I love your tips! We don’t have kids yet, but my husband and I spend time with our super picky nephews who only want to eat junk food, and we both think there has to be a better way, lol. I think it’s wonderful that you’ve given Liv such a variety of foods to try, and involved her in the kitchen, too! I really would love to be the same way with my kiddos someday, too!

  8. My mom ALWAYS had my sister and I help her with dinner. It was her way of keeping an eye on us. She’d have us cut up hot dogs, pour pre-measured ingredients into a bowl, set the table (We always had dinner around the table, until I was in high school, and our schedules went all crazy). We even have a picture of my sister and I standing on chairs in front of the mixer, mom between us, instructing what to pour when. Good memories. And I love to cook now, probably because of it.

  9. Liv is seriously your mini me! So cute! Growing up I would always help my mom bake, however these days I love cooking more than baking!

  10. Kelsey Halena says:

    Is your dress in the top from Old Navy? If so, I’m wearing it now and it is SO COMFY.

    No kiddos yet, but love looking forward to having them involved in the kitchen someday – I love looking back on my childhood and thinking of what a saint my mom was as I threw flour around. But it turned into a love for baking/cooking as an adult!

    • Fitnessista says:

      it’s from target! my friend ashley picked it up for me 🙂
      hahah totally agree. i’m sure i made a giant mess, but don’t remember that part 😉

  11. I loved this post! I don’t remember doing much with my mom in the kitchen. But this is one of the things I am most looking forward to once this baby in my belly becomes big enough to help! Healthy eating is important to me and I would love to be able to foster the same interest and curiosity in my own child as you have with Liv! I need to remember these great tips!

  12. So cute! Those cookies are adorable…my baby is only 1 but it is never too early to start on the letters! I helped a lot in the kitchen when I was little stirring batter was my favorite thing to do!

  13. I love this! I nanny for a little girl and we cook dinner together almost every night! 🙂

  14. Love these ideas 🙂 It’s very important to me and my husband that our child become a healthy eater. It’s an important part of our lives, and we cringe when we see parents let their children rely on “kid food.” We are living in Asia right now, and “kid food” doesn’t exist here. Unless you go to a Fridays or McDonalds, there is no such thing as a “kid’s menu.” Kids eat the same food the adults eat, most of the time with just less spice.

    I plan to involve our kids in the shopping/cooking process as well. My mom always cooked with my brother and I, had us in the kitchen doing some of the things you mentioned, and both he and I grew up healthy eaters and cooks. We both cook veggie-heavy meals and are the main food preparers in our marriages. It’s a great skill to have to maintain health throughout life.

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