Teaching 11-14 year olds how to cook healthy recipes in school should have a positive impact on their eating habits in later life
Active involvement in preparing and cooking tasty food is a great way for the whole family to have fun and get healthy.
Kids thrive on developing new skills and having pride in what they've done. Plus fussy eaters might even be tempted by their own dishes. So let them loose in the kitchen and praise them for their efforts. They might even agree to do the washing up!
It's essential that you supervise kids in the kitchen at all times, and depending on their age, you'll have to restrict which jobs they can do. For example, pre-schoolers might only mix dough with their hands for you, while older kids will be competent peeling and chopping vegetables.
Don't forget to go through the hygiene and safety rules with them - otherwise having kids in the kitchen can be a recipe for disaster! Remember to explain why certain things are dangerous - this will help the information stick in their minds.
The main hygiene rules to remember are:
Always wash your hands before cooking, and after handling raw meat or fish.
Clean surfaces that have had raw meat on them, for example, chopping boards.
Always check that poultry and pork are cooked through till the juices run clear.
Wash all fruit and vegetables.
Important safety tips include:
Never run in the kitchen.
Mop up spills right away.
Hold and use knives with great care (show them the correct way).
Remember to turn pan handles into the hob, but not over a flame.
Always wear oven gloves when putting something in, or getting something out, of the oven.
Watch out for fat spitting from a hot frying pan or roasting tin.
Make it fun
It's a good idea to give yourself plenty of time, and plenty of spare ingredients so that you don't get frustrated with your little ones making mistakes, and a bit of a mess!
Choose a recipe that will be fairly simple and healthy...
Why not take them shopping with you first so that they can choose the ingredients themselves. Then at home, let them wear a bright apron and even a children's chef's hat so that they really look the part.
Choose a recipe that will be fairly simple and healthy, and something the kids can make into fun shapes or decorate with a smiley face, like our salmon cakes recipe (see below).
Salmon cake smilies
1 can of pink salmon (213g) 100g whole wheat breadcrumbs 3 spring onions, finely chopped 1 beaten egg 1 tbsp horseradish sauce 3 tbsp chopped fresh parsley or dill 1 tbsp lemon juice 4 quarter slices of lemon 8 capers, drained 2 cherry tomatoes, cut in half 1 tbsp vegetable oil Pinch of ground black pepper
Firstly, help your kids get all of the ingredients out of the cupboards and fridge. And then prepare them as in the ingredients list above. So, beat the egg, chop the herbs, onions and tomatoes, slice and juice the lemon, and drain the capers.
Open the can of salmon, and remove any pieces of skin or bones. Then let them flake the fish into a mixing bowl.
Now add the spring onions, breadcrumbs, egg, lemon juice, horseradish sauce, oil and pepper, The kids can then combine the mixture - with their hands or a wooden spoon - until the ingredients are mixed well.
Next, they need to separate the mixture into 4 equal portions and make them into a round shape. (Note: they can be made into fun shapes, but remember that they may not cook evenly.)
Pre-heat the grill.
Brush the fishcakes with a little oil.
Grill the fishcakes for around 5 minutes on each side, until golden and sizzling. (Remember, it's not safe for younger children to use the oven.)
Let the fishcakes cool a little, and then encourage the kids to make smiley faces on top of the fishcakes, using the lemon slices for a smiley mouth, the cherry tomatoes for a nose, and the capers for the eyes.
Dish up the fishcakes with a fresh green salad, and enjoy!