Kids in the Kitchen

Watch children at play and you'll soon discover they're natural chefs. From an early age, kids imitate their parents' actions in the kitchen. How else do you explain a child's
creative way with a mud pie?
By Charly Porter

The kitchen shouldn't be off limits to children. Sharing cooking tasks can be a creative learning experience for children. Try dishes that don't involve a hot stove or sharp knives when making meals with little ones. Forget tired standbys such as peanut butter and jelly.

Instead, attempt something creative and interesting to all ages. How about Rolled Vegetable Sandwiches and Seashell Salad? Or Chicken and Shrimp Saté with Peanut Dipping Sauce? Before you say "Yeah, right. Kids will never eat that," read our tips and recipes that prove you can put smiles on every face. Here's how.

Involve the children. They're more likely to try the final product if they help in the preparation and cooking process. Start at the grocery store. Let your buggymates make some of the selections. For the veggie wraps, tell them they can pretend to be Bugs Bunny on a search for carrots. And almost all kids love cheese, so let them choose an assortment. Then wheel down the noodle aisle and let them pick their favorite shape for pasta salad. Chicken and shrimp are usually popular, so the final part should be a cinch.

Speak their language. When talking to children about food, keep it simple. Don't mention "saté"; stick to familiar chicken, shrimp, and macaroni. Introduce such spices as curry, garlic, and ginger by making up stories about them. Let the little helpers measure and mix the ingredients for the marinade; then have them give it a name, such as curry flurry or bull shark dip. They'll be proud of their creativity and more likely to gobble up the fare.

Think sweet. Don't forget the ultimate crowd pleaser-dessert. Few treats are as heavenly as chocolate, and s'mores are easy for all ages to make. With our version, youngsters will have fun breaking up the white chocolate into chunks to add to the batter.