Shows like Junior Master Chef prove that kids can be very capable--and creative--in the kitchen. That’s why cooking and baking workshops for kids (see our summer workshop directory here) have become popular during the summer. But parents know it’s not just about learning how to put together an entrée.
According to Feed 5000 Kitchen Studio chef Len Santos-Ding, kids who cook “see science at work when the yeast rises, learn math when you teach them to count and measure ingredients, and it can widen their vocabulary as they learn the different tools and learn to follow the instructions.”
Chef Len also added that kids become adventurous eaters when they’re involved in preparing and cooking the food, making it easier for parents to introduce healthier options for family meals. “The point is to expose them to a variety of ingredients.”
Most cooking workshops for kids are for ages 6 and above, but you can start getting your toddler comfortable in the kitchen at home--just don’t mind the mess. Chef Len, who’s raising a toddler herself and holds cooking workshops for kids, says you can involve them in meal preparations. Those who are 2 to 3 years old can help roll, mix, spread on bread, and wash salad greens. They can even cut fruits and veggies with a disposable plastic knife.
You can start cooking with your toddler with these recipes from Chef Len.
Super Powers Chocolate Oat Balls Yield: 15 pcs 2/3 cup rolled oats 2 tablespoons desiccated coconut 2/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate 1 banana (lakatan) 1 1/2 tablespoons chia seeds or nuts 3 tablespoons grated zucchini
1. Toast rolled oats until light brown. Add desiccated coconut. Toast one minute more. Set aside. 2. Melt chocolate in the microwave. Set aside. 3. Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Mix well. 4. Let the kids form mixture into 1-tablespoon balls and arrange them on a tray lined with parchment paper. Chill until firm. 5. Transfer onto paper cups before serving.
Sliced Fruits with Peanut Butter Dip
1 banana, sliced (lakatan) 1 Fuji apple, sliced into wedges
For the peanut butter dip: 2 tablespoons peanut butter 2 tablespoons cream cheese 2 tablespoons honey 2 to 3 teaspoons milk
1. With a plastic knife, let your toddler or preschooler peel and slice the bananas into rounds. The adult should cut the apples into wedges. 2. To prepare the dip, mix together peanut butter and cream cheese with a rubber spatula. Whisk in honey and milk. 3. Serve fruit slices with peanut butter dip on the side.
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Mango Banana Smoothie Serves 2
2 ripe mangoes, sliced into halves (by an adult) 2 ripe bananas (lakatan) Large handful of ice 1 cup plain yogurt Milk for thinning out smoothie
1. Let kids peel and slice the banana with a plastic knife. 2. With the peel still on, score mango halves into squares. Then scoop out flesh with a spoon. 3. Put all the fruits into the blender. Add ice and yogurt and process until smooth. 4. Add just enough milk to thin out smoothie. Pour into glasses and drink with straws.
Oil for greasing 2 cups all-purpose flour 3 teaspoons baking powder 1/4 teaspoon salt 2 cups grated processed cheese 2 large eggs 1 1/2 cups milk Large handful of baby spinach 1/2 cup small pieces of leftover roasted chicken
1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a muffin tray. Set aside. 2. In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. Mix in cheese and set aside. 3. Whisk eggs (let the kids crack and beat the eggs) and milk in a separate bowl. Add chopped spinach and chicken. Add into flour mixture. Mix until well combined. 4. Scoop mixture into muffin tray until 3/4 of the way full. Bake for 25 minutes or until golden brown. Serve immediately.
Spaghetti with Meatballs* Serves 4 to 5
1 teaspoon dried oregano 1 teaspoon dried basil 500 grams lean ground beef, minced 1 tablespoon olive oil 2 medium, white onions, finely chopped 1 cup canned crushed tomatoes 2 tablespoons tomato puree (paste) 2 cloves garlic, crushed 500 grams spaghetti, cooked according to package instructions Handful of fresh basil or parsley, chopped
1. Put together oregano, basil and mince in a bowl. 2. Combine dried herbs and beef in a bowl. You can let your child mix this with his hands. 3. Get a small amount of the mixture and let your child roll the beef mixture into 1-tablespoon ball in their hands. Set aside. 4. Heat oil in a pan. Saute onions and garlic in until soft. Fry meatballs until browned. 5. Add tomatoes and tomato puree. Mix well and allow it to simmer over low heat for at last 15 minutes. 6. Pour sauce over prepared spaghetti noodles. Let your child sprinkle the chopped herbs before serving.
Interview by May De Jesus-Palacpac. Food and prop styling by Trinka Gonzales. Photos by Toto Labrador.