Teach Children How To Cook

Personal sharings of Chef Peter Pang on How To Lead Your Child To Healthy Eating

Posts Tagged ‘cooking’

How to Start Teaching Your Kids to Cook with Kid’s Recipes

Posted by Peter Pang on August 30, 2008

Hmmm, How to start is oh, so familiar. It is the hardest part, just like writing a book.  How to start teaching your kids to cook is very simple. Go to a bookshop and buy a nice, colourful cookbook for kids. Read on and you will soon find out how you can start teaching your kids to cook.

“A recipe is a series of step-by-step instructions for preparing ingredients you often forgot to buy, utensils that you don’t own and a dish the dog won’t eat the rest of even with much persuasion.”


            Teaching your kids to cook not only creates memories for your whole family, but it also gives your children important lifetime skills. Skills such as cooking can give your child a whole lifetime of enjoyment, and best of all, she would know what food is good and bad for her. These valuable lessons are seldom taught in the classroom so your kitchen is the best place to turn your child into a little chef. Learning to cook leads to learning other skills, such as menu planning, basic nutrition and grocery shopping. Cooking can be educational as kids feel very special when they are allowed to help out in the kitchen. In fact, cooking is a great educational tool for children. Working in the kitchen involves several valuable skills important to child development. Your child will benefit at:  


  • Improving hand-eye coordination and reading skills
  • Planning a series of steps in a process
  • Using mathematical skills to measure out ingredients
  • Timing the time required to cook food
  • Reading and interpreting written instructions in recipes
  • Expanding their creative boundaries
  • Mastering teamwork when cooking with adults


This is How You Start. Ask your children what they want to learn to cook. Asking them this question will give them control and lead to enthusiasm for helping in the kitchen. Naturally they will choose the food they like to eat, such as fried chicken, fish and chips, nuggets, burgers, cookies or muffins. By allowing them to help in the process of preparing food, it will help foster family bonding and they will be more than willing to try some new foods in the future. Cooking requires learning many skills. Below is a list of skills based on ages that will help guide you to determine what your child can do in the kitchen. This is just a general rule. No one knows your child better than you do, so make adjustments based on your child’s abilities.


Age 3 to 6: Children as young as three can help out in the kitchen. Teach them how to set the table – this will help them learn left from right. I have seen adults who are sometimes confused with which is left and which is right! Your child can also be taught to fold napkins and fill a bread basket. This is also a good age to teach them how to measure ingredients. Teach them how to wash fruits and vegetables, pour measured liquids into a bowl, stir fry ingredients, tear up lettuce leaves, open packages, get ingredients out of the fridge. Ask them to help peel bananas or oranges. They are also able to mash and stir ingredients. And let them learn to use a knife by letting them cut soft foods with a dull knife.


“Parents are a lousy cook if your kids get even with the school bully by inviting him over for dinner.”


Age 6 to 8: Children at this age can help in planning what to cook for the day. They enjoy mixing cookie dough and dropping it onto cookie sheets, and preparing cake or muffin batter. With your help in explaining and guiding, your kids will be able to prepare simple recipes such as sandwiches, salads, dips and no-bake desserts. They can begin to work at the range or stove, stirring sauces, flipping pancakes and french toasts, scrambling eggs and taking things out of the oven. Kids need to stand on a sturdy stool to safely work at the range. Parents should be at close range to monitor and I would suggest you get your kitchen an induction cooker as it’s safer for children to use.


Age 9 to 12: Older kids can read recipes, measure ingredients, mix batter and handle more of the cooking themselves. They are more independent as they have learnt how to follow a recipe. Your kids can open cans, use a microwave (with adult supervision), turn on the oven to the desired temperature, shred cheese and vegetables.


Age 13 and above: By now, children who have had the opportunity to work with an adult in the kitchen should have the skills and confidence for independent cooking. Omelets, salad, cakes, burgers and cookies are all within their capabilities.


“A geography teacher was lecturing on map reading. After explaining about latitude, longitude, degrees and minutes, the teacher asked, ‘If I asked you to meet me for lunch at 25 degrees, 3 minutes north latitude and 45 degrees, 16 minutes east longitude, can you find the place?’ After a long silence, one of the students answered, ‘I guess you will be eating alone’.”


Children can develop confidence by being able to complete certain tasks on their own. If you let them do things you know they can do successfully, then by allowing your child to help you make things in the kitchen can be a great boost to their self-esteem. Cooking with your children can be fun if you take advantage of the skills they have and the things they can do to make your job easier. I am very proud of my daughter, for she can cook her favourite dishes all by herself, and I still remember how she kept on cooking and serving the same food for the entire family day after day. Deep inside my heart I know my daughter felt the joy and sense of accomplishment within her that encouraged her to continue to learn how to cook.


Extra tips: Children are happy and proud of the dishes they can prepare. Help them to collect their recipes in a cookbook of their own. Take photos of the finished dish and put them together in a notebook. Invest in a computer cookbook programme Cook’n Recipe Softwarefor the entire family as it can teach computer and design skills as well. You can shop for a good children’s cookbook with your kids in bookstores. There are tons of them. Let your child choose and observe her favourite choices and start from there.


“Fantastic new diet formula: You are guaranteed to loose weight and you can eat anything you want and as much as you want with this miracle diet. Let me tell you what to do:

                                               ”JUST DON’T SWALLOW ANYTHING!!”








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How To Get My Kids To Eat Vegetables and Fruits

Posted by Peter Pang on August 15, 2008

My Kids hate vegetables and fruits.

How do I get them to eat vegetables and fruits?

Here are ways to get to know your child by age and some tips on how to incorporate vegetables and fruits into your kid’s daily diet.

It’s true. You are what you eat. So is your child. Food is definitely one of life’s great pleasures, but when it comes to feeding children, it can also become a huge challenge. Parents have the power to pass on healthy eating habits just by making good choices for their children when they are young.

“In automobile terms, the child supplies the power but the parents have to do the steering.”

Your child needs your guidance, love and encouragement especially when it comes to food choices. I know it’s easier to let them have what they want but later in life, your child will find it hard to resist what is bad for them.

If children are taught early on to make good choices when it comes to food, many adult health problems can be avoided as proven by research.

Do you realize that a three-year-old child gets almost as much fun out of a $500 set of swings as she does finding a small green worm? The key is to show them what can be good fun.

Give your child the childhood they rightfully deserve. Remember, the best present you can ever give to your child is to teach them how to eat right, and to me, that is by teaching them how to cook. But before that, GET TO KNOW YOUR CHILD !

Toddlers: Between 12 and 24 months old, toddlers enjoy new foods. They will eat just about anything that you feed them. I remember the time when my daughter Joice was 18 months old, she would just sit on the high chair and savour whatever food that was put on her plate. She would calmly and quietly use her spoon to scoop up food and put it into her mouth, enjoy it and later pick up her plate to ask for more.

If you have a toddler, this is a great window of opportunity to introduce different types of fruits and vegetables into her diet. At this age, your child has a relatively small stomach, so there is little room to fill up on empty calories.

(Empty calories, in dietary terminology, are calories present in high-energy foods with poor nutritional profile. Foods often considered to contain empty calories are sweets, soft drinks, margarine or shortening, butter or lard and other highly-saturated fat. The substitutes for empty calories are fruits, vegetables, wholegrain bread and 100 percent fruit juice and vegetable juice.)

However, your child is just beginning to establish her independence and making her own food choices. As long as you put nutritious food on his or her plate, you can encourage your child to choose what to eat and how much. For toddlers, it is a good practice to cut food into smaller pieces to eliminate choking hazard. Try cutting bread into smaller squares, and slicing cooked carrot into “coin” shapes and cheese into triangles. Serve your children whole milk up until they are two years of age – they need the extra fat for proper brain development. After that, you can switch to low-fat or fat-free milk.

The trouble with children is that they are non-returnable, so you have to make the best out of what you get!

Preschoolers: Preschoolers should continue to build on the healthy habits that began earlier in life. Food rich in calcium and protein are important and should be included in their diet as it fuels rapid physical growth. Take advantage of preschoolers’ natural curiosity to prepare simple and healthy food for them. Continue to present new food to them. Limit the amount of sweets because sugar adds lots of calories without beneficial nutrients and contributes to tooth decay and obesity.

Elementary Schoolers: School-going children spend many hours away from home. Their eating habits are very easily influenced by friends and television advertising. Parents who have elementary schoolers should set a good example of healthy eating and serve nutritious food at home. You can be a bit more relaxed about food choices away from home. However, having said that, do try to order healthier dishes which contains a lot of grains and vegetables, and less of dishes containing high fat, high cholesterol ingredients. Order fruit juices instead of soft drinks or coloured and flavoured drinks. Younger school-going children do not need adult-size servings of food, but as the years progress their food intake will rise as puberty approaches. If your child is active in sports activities, they will have bigger appetites. As they learn about the human body and how food is used in their body, let them get involved in menu planning and grocery shopping.

“My wife and I are either going to buy a cat or have a child. We can’t decide whether to ruin our carpet or ruin our lives.”

Preteens: Preteen girls may be concerned about dieting and body image at this time. Preteen boys can eat an enormous amount of food, much of which comprises junk food and empty calories. They are exposed to trendy coffee and tea beverages which contain caffeine. Too much caffeine can cause jitteriness as well as insomnia if consumed too late in the day. Bear in mind, your preteen child still needs to fulfill basic nutritional needs. They also need the tradition and ritual involved in family meal times. Use this time to reconnect but never handle school or family issues, especially those that might lead to conflict. Handle such issues after the meal is over, so as not to spoil the mood of dining together.

“To me, there’s no such thing as a tough child – if you marinate them first for seven hours, they always come out tender.”

I hope that you have enjoyed this article , my next post will be ” How to turn junk food kids to healthy eating kids “


Chef Peter Pang

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