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
September 16, 2002

The kitchen shouldn't be off limits to children. Sharing cookingtasks can be a creative learning experience for children. Trydishes that don't involve a hot stove or sharp knives when makingmeals with little ones. Forget tired standbys such as peanut butterand jelly.

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

Involve the children. They're more likely to try the finalproduct if they help in the preparation and cooking process. Startat the grocery store. Let your buggymates make some of theselections. For the veggie wraps, tell them they can pretend to beBugs Bunny on a search for carrots. And almost all kids lovecheese, so let them choose an assortment. Then wheel down thenoodle aisle and let them pick their favorite shape for pastasalad. Chicken and shrimp are usually popular, so the final partshould be a cinch.

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

Think sweet. Don't forget the ultimate crowdpleaser-dessert. Few treats are as heavenly as chocolate, ands'mores are easy for all ages to make. With our version, youngsterswill have fun breaking up the white chocolate into chunks to add tothe batter.