Teach Children How To Cook

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

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Children Love Parties and It’s Party Time

Posted by Peter Pang on August 22, 2008

Children Love Parties and It’s Party Time!




You will be surprised, nothing excites a child more than a party, especially one of their very own! Whether it is a birthday party, slumber party or classroom party, kids really enjoy entertaining their friends. If you ask me how old must a child be before she can have her own party, my answer will be, when they seriously look you in the eyes, and with a sweet voice, say, “Mommy, can I have a party and invite my classmates to come?”


          Take this opportunity to be your child’s hero. Say yes to them. Tell them Mommy will help, and involve your child in the planning. Surely at the end of the day, when it is time to go to bed, she will say to you, “Mommy, I am very happy and I love you.”


          I personally have made it a commitment to host parties for my beloved daughter, Joice, any time or any special occasion that is important to her. I want to be the best dad she can ever have. That’s because life is short on earth, and I want to treasure every moment of my life with my family. Help your children throw great parties and they will love you for the rest of their life. You can actually plan a perfect party with minimal fuss and I’m here to help you. Here are some suggestions for a birthday party, slumber party and classroom party.



“Last week a candle factory burned down. All the passersby on the street just stood around and sang, ‘Happy Birthday!’”


Birthday Parties


Birthday Parties at Home. One of today’s popular trends for birthday parties is to hold them at a kid-themed restaurant, fast food restaurant or activity centre, but that can be expensive. You can actually plan and hold a birthday party at home. Not only is it less expensive, on top of it you have the freedom to tailor the party to your liking in the comfort of your home.


          When to have the party? Hosting your child’s birthday party on the actual day is not necessary because this may put pressure on you. Choose a Saturday or Sunday nearest to the birthday for a party with friends. Then on the birthday itself, celebrate with immediate family members only, a special dinner featuring your child’s favourite food, a cake and a gift. Imagine this – your child is going to have two birthday parties with two opportunities to receive presents. I know they will definitely love it and will vote you “Mother or Father of the Year.”


          Once you have chosen the day, figure out the time. Normally, a birthday party works well in the early or mid-afternoon. Younger kids aged four to six tend to get tired and cranky by the end of the day, while older kids aged seven to 10 tend to be hungry as the afternoon rolls on. In the latter case, that won’t be a problem if you serve a meal along with cake and ice cream. But if your guest list is full of kids with different allergies, then it is better not to serve a meal during the party.


Timing and Duration for the Party. For kids aged between three and seven, 90 minutes is enough time to feed and entertain a group of young party-goers. But if the kids are eight years and above and you have interesting activities planned, a two- to three-hour event may be worth considering.


Prepare the Invitation Card. Prepare invitation cards that clearly state the event’s start and end times as well as the menu or food you will be serving so that your guests and their parents know in advance what to expect. Mail or hand-deliver invitations two to three weeks in advance. Request an RSVP rather than regrets only. Otherwise, you won’t be sure the invitees have actually received their invitation.


Common Rule of Thumb for the Guest List. How many guests should I invite? Well, it is very easy. The rule of thumb is, add one person to your kid’s age. For example, five guests for a four-year-old, six guests for a five-year-old, 10 guests for a nine-year-old, etc. Of course, to avoid hurt feelings, many parents choose to invite the entire class. So if you do choose to invite the entire class, then make sure every child in the class receives an invitation. Sometime parents choose to invite at least the kids of the child’s gender. Have at least one person to help you for small parties and several helpers to help supervise a large group of children.


“A key to throwing a great party is understanding the age of those on the guest list. It is funny, what you’ve thrown actually ends up in your house.”


Lucky for you, you have a child as a live-in example, so you’d know that your guests would have the same interests as your child. Knowing that will make the planning job that much easier. If you do not have a child and you want to plan a birthday party for kids, you will find the following information helpful.


Four-year-olds: Most kids at this age are at ease with social situations and are eager to participate in activities such as singing, colouring and simple games, thanks to daycare centers and preschool for exposing children to socializing at an early age. Some kids at this age still need some coaxing, so make sure that you invite their parents to stay for the party. Have some adult finger food for the parents. For example, vegetable dip, deep fried spring roll and chips.


Five-year-olds: They are most adorable at this age. Five-year-olds are fairly independent, and take seriously whatever is going on around them. They respond well to organized activities and love to participate in games.


Six-year-olds: At this age, they are more competitive and rowdy. Prevent hurt feelings by giving prizes to both the winner and the participants. You’d need to spend a little bit more money as they tend not to want to share their things at this age. Make sure you have enough help to supervise these active kids and remember to write their name on their goody bags to help them trace their belongings.


Seven- and eight-year-olds: At this age, you can start thinking about “girls only” or “boys only” parties. It’s not that they don’t want to blend; it’s just that they might prefer their birthday party to be a just boys or just girls affair. So let them decide on the guest list. At the age of seven to eight, they like to crack jokes, laugh at anything and get silly. Challenge them with some word games or high-energy games such as relay races and tag.


Nine- and 10-year-olds: Kids at this age consider and believe themselves as mature. They want you to treat them like an adult. They hate nagging from their parents and can be very particular, so let your birthday child take charge in planning the party. Let her decide on the decoration, games, prizes and menu, and chances are, they will like things which are “in.” Sleepovers are great for this age.


“Do you know why birthdays are special? There are 364 days when you might not get birthday presents… and only one for birthday presents.”


Safety Precaution: It is important to keep parties safe, simple and special. To keep kids safe, clear the party area of any breakables or dangerous items. If the party guests are preschoolers, make sure that bathroom locks are taped to prevent small children from being accidentally locked in. Shut the door to rooms to prevent kids from wandering into out-of-bound areas. Be prepared to answer parents’ questions or their concerns about adequate supervision, acceptability of movies or games, or even pool safety.


          To keep the party simple, designate one room for games and presents and another room for food, drinks and craft unless the group is small. Try holding the party outdoors, as kids love the festive feel of a picnic, but as weather is usually unpredictable, have a back-up plan ready in case of rain.


          Once you have the safety issue in the bag, it is time to make this birthday bash really special. Start by decorating the entrance with balloons or lights all the way to the party area as it will help everyone to feel the excitement of the party. Plan a low key activity that will help the kids to sort of “warm up” one by one, as soon as they arrive, to help them feel comfortable immediately. Take lots and lots of photos of your child with her friends. Keep fidgeting to a minimal during serving time by placing crayons and papers on the table, some small toys and paper cups filled with treats. Your “job” is to delight your child’s guests and make wonderful memories for your son or daughter.



“A teacher once told me a horrible dream he had. In the school he went to, he asked the kids to prove the law of gravity and they threw him out of the window.”


Slumber Parties and Sleepovers


Most Kids Love to Have Their Friends Sleep Over. If one day, your child wants to have a sleepover, do not panic as I have a few ideas for you. A good number for sleepover participants will be around four children. Allow yourself enough time to plan as a slumber party does take time to organize. You can stage the sleepover party as a follow-up to an activity such as a concert, bowling or even a sports game. You’d need at least one month for planning, and keep in mind that parents often have safety concerns about sending their child to spend a night at someone else’s home, but with careful planning you should be able to provide answers that will reassure most parents.


Guest List and Invitation. The general rule for the number of guests for an overnight party is to take your child’s age and divide it by two. Example, three guests if your child is six years old, and five or six guests for a 11-year-old child. Prepare the invitations and send them out two to three weeks before the party. Requesting RSVPs is a must. Be specific about the activities you have planned. Parents of guests will want to know when they should arrive, where will the children be going. Will it be to a bowling match or a concert? Are they going to camp out in the backyard, and if so, how sure are you about ensuring the children’s safety. If you plan to show a movie or two, include the title on the invitation. Besides listing the start time, be sure to list the pick up time the next day as well.


Activities. If your child is a preteen, she would just want to spend the evening gossiping with her guests, but it would be good to plan some back-up activities. Having a movie or two on hand is always a good plan.


Boys’ Sleepover Activities. Try to choose some of these activities which I am going to list out now.

1.     Camp out in a tent in the backyard

2.     Play basketball or football

3.     Have a pool party, but always have adult supervision

4.     Learn magic tricks; parents should learn a few magic tricks to teach your young guests

5.     Show a documentary on dinosaurs or animals

6.     Play board games

7.     Race battery-operated cars

8.     Make your own pizza and do some cooking


Girls Slumber Party Activities

1.     Create small scrapbooks

2.     Decorate picture frames

3.     Capture memories with digital cameras

4.     Do manicures, pedicures and makeup; hey moms, you can join too

5.     Plan a pool party, with adult supervision of course

6.     Play board games

7.     Listen to music

8.     Watch a comedy


Safety. Parents will normally have concerns about allowing their children to attend an overnight party, so be prepared to answer questions about party details. Common concerns are, would there be adequate supervision at your home or outside of your home, acceptability of movies and activities, suitable food for children with allergies or diabetes. If you are a single parent, you may be asked even more questions. Make sure you have all the parents’ telephone numbers in case of any emergency. Some young guest might be uncomfortable or frightened, so tell them that you are there to help them and they can always sleep with you or choose to have their parents take them home.


Bring Their Own Sleeping Bag. In this way you will not have the problem of sufficient beds in your home. Arrange your guests in the living room. Have some books for them to read, or if they want to watch a movie, ask them to climb into their sleeping bag to watch the movie. With luck you will soon have all them drift off to sleep. Light the way to the bathroom for your guest who would like to get up to” wee wee” in the middle of the night. Remember to prepare their breakfast early in the morning, something healthy and simple such as toast with jam, cereal, fruits, yogurt, a lot of milk and fruit juice. You can ask the early bird guest to help you in the kitchen and get to know them better.


The best way to keep teenages at home is to make the home atmosphere pleasant, nice and cosy, and most importantly, don’t forget to let the air out of the tyres.”




Class Room Parties


You will find that you need to cook something for your kids to bring to school during this special day, be it Teacher’s Day, Children’s Day, Farewell to the Principal Day, PTA meetings, etc. Whether you volunteered to bring food or not, your kids need you to come up with something, such as a dish that they can bring to school and be proud of you.


          Don’t worry, here are some tips. Bring ice cream, ice lemon tea, chips, cupcakes, muffins, cookies, puddings or even fresh fruit such as bananas and guavas. Prepare more than what the kids need to allow extra for staff and parents, the principal or even the cleaners. Prepare colourful serviettes, trendy plates, forks and spoons. You can put most of the food in a brown paper bag for easy distribution to all the children.


Hope you like today’s sharing. See you soon


Chef Peter Pang


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How To Develop Good Eating Habits In Your Child

Posted by Peter Pang on August 18, 2008

How to Develop Good Eating Habits in Your Child

“There are no bad foods, only bad food habits.”

In order for your child to develop a healthy and positive relationship with food, parents need to make the family meal table a happy table. It is important to have meat and vegetables on the menu but not as important compared to communication and socialization.

Look at it this way. If every meal time is like a battleground, the child is already standing by to shield herself from any intrusion of the “vegetable bullets” fired from your “vege machine gun,” coupled with threatening sounds coming out from your mouth. If this were to continue, both of you or even the entire family will be upset and end up with poor indigestion. Here are a few tips that can ease the stress on everyone.

  1. Small children have small stomachs. You as a parent should know that a small stomach only holds a small amount of food, so do not fill your child’s plate with an amount enough to feed an adult. No wonder children fear the dining table. It is because of you, out of your love for your child, that you overwhelm them with too much food. Just let them fill their own plate from the healthy choices you present. Make it a dining rule that they choose at least three different items on the table and let everyone dine in peace. Amen.

  1. You need to encourage your kids to sample new foods. You need at least 15 times of serving a new dish in the course of several months before it is accepted by your child. The new food you try to introduce to them must be similar to what they already like. For instance, if your child likes to eat peanut butter jelly sandwiches, you can substitute banana slices with jam or jelly. You can substitute mashed sweet potato with mashed potato and then move on to cooked carrot. In this way the new food already seems somewhat familiar.

  1. Sometimes it is the texture of the food that is unappetizing rather than the flavour. Children like to eat crunchy food, and I must confess, so do adults. And you will begin to notice that most junk food are crunchy in texture. Try raw, crunchy vegetables instead of cooked. Some vegetables can be finely chopped and added to soups, chilli, casseroles, meatballs and hamburgers. If your child does not like to eat fruits, hide fruits in muffins, pancakes or ice pops. You can start a new family tradition whereby you turn one night a week into “Try New Food Night” whereby everyone, including the adults, has to try at least one bite of the new food.

If you are scared that your children will hate you for this, let me share with you this quote: ”Your sons and daughters weren’t made to like you. That’s what grandchildren are for.

  1. Grow vegetables with your children. Get your children involved in growing a vegetable garden or you can bring them to visit an orchard so they can see where food comes from.

  1. Kids are all about fun, so why should their food be boring? Let them choose a recipe from a cook book and help them prepare it. You can serve tuna salad in an ice cream cone or soup in a colourful mug. Place meatballs on a popsicle stick or disposable chopstick so they can eat them like lollipops. Form pizza dough into their initials. How about a banana boat stranded in a sea of ice cream? Many children love to experiment with different dips and dressings, which is why they love tomato sauce very much (to me it is a chemical sauce full of colourings, artificial flavourings, gums, fillers and preservatives lining up like the Mercedes E class, E124, E129, etc). Give your child good dips and dressings like yogurt, low-fat salad dressing or melted cheese to make food and vegetables much more inviting.

  1. Don’t force your child to “clean up their plates.” I know a lot of parents worry their child is not eating enough even though she is growing at a normal rate. Forcing children to “clean up their plate” may lead to eating disorders down the road where they will form the habit of stuffing a lot of food into their stomach as they thought this was the correct way of eating. Most children can regulate their intake for their own bodies. They will not allow themselves to starve and they will also know when they are full.

Always be nice to your children because they are the ones who will choose your rest home, and they will surely remember to ask you to clean up your plate.

  1. Some children eat the same few foods day in and day out. To a lot of parents, it seems like a big problem, but actually it’s not. The best course of action is to make sure the foods they do consume are as nutritious as possible. You also need to periodically encourage them to break out of their routine; kids will move on when they are ready. Don’t allow this “choosy” attitude of your child to be the source of arguments for this can result in your child using her eating pattern as an attention-getting tactic.

  1. Meal times should be stress-free and as relaxed as possible. Try to eliminate distractions, such as television, and use meal times to reconnect as a family. A family meal is not just a time to nourish the body; it is also an important time to socialize. Avoid arguments over what your children are eating or not eating during the meal. Trust me, it will do your digestion good!

  1. Let them snack! Growing bodies require a large amount of nutrients and choosing the right snacks can help fill in the missing gaps of a child’s daily nutritional needs. Snacks also help keep energy levels high and prevent overeating at mealtime. The perfect snack should be like a mini-meal, a small amount of carbohydrates along with some protein and a little fat. Examples are crackers with cheese or peanut butter, crackers with milk or fresh fruits with yogurt.

Contrary to the popular practice of eating fruits after a meal, it is actually a good practice to eat fruits in between meals and not during meals. This is because fruits can be digested in one and a half hours whereas protein and starch take a longer time to digest. If your fruits are caught and mixed with the protein and starch in the stomach, and coupled with the temperature of 37 degrees Celcius, toxins will be produced and this will affect you and your child’s health.

It is best to offer a wide variety of snack options and let your children make their own choices. Guide them in the right direction by keeping healthy snack choices at their eye level in the refrigerator or in cabinets.Good snacks include fat-free crackers, fresh fruits and yogurt. Plan on offering snacks one to two hours before a meal. This will satisfy their hunger without spoiling the appetite.

As your children become involved in athletics and team sports, it is important to provide energizing snacks either before or during a game. Examples of good energizing snacks are bananas, oranges, low-fat granola bars and pretzels. These are easily digested and provide complex carbohydrates for energy. Encourage your child to drink water before, during and after the game to prevent dehydration. Remember that all types of food can be part of a healthy diet if eaten in moderation. Chips, candy and cookies should not be totally banned; instead, save these treats for special occasions or as once-in-a-while treats. Your child will love you for it.

Although your children are what they eat, please, for goodness sake, do not stop them from eating nuts.”

  1. Fast food for kids once or twice a month is okay provided you choose or help them choose the healthier choices. For example, choose grilled chicken instead of standard burger and fries, fruits or yogurt instead of chicken nuggets, wheat bread instead of white bread, and milk or fresh fruit juice instead of a soft drink. Fast food chain nowadays know that people are becoming health conscious, so they offer a “healthy menu” and a “playground for kids.” You’d think they are sincere, but better think twice. If your child really need that “latest” toy that she will die for, just buy her a kid’s meal (choose as healthy as possible) and put the guilt on hold and balance out the rest of the day with choices that are as healthy as possible. Remember to insist on a healthier menu and let me tell you why.

“Your children are watching and observing you – Walk Your Talk

  1. During long road trips, snacks are a great diversion on the journey. With some preplanning, eating on the journey can still be fun and healthy. Fill your coolers with apples, bananas, baby carrots, dried fruits, nuts and wholegrain cereal. Hard candy, gummy bears and animal crackers are non-messy treats and popular kid-pleasers.

  1. School lunches are the most important. It is better to make your own lunches for your child as school canteens can never give full attention or concern for your child’s health. Due to cost constraints, they use the lowest quality processed food and the least fresh vegetables they can find in the market. They sell your child chemically-concocted drinks and processed foods which are full of preservatives, additives and colourings. Examples are red coloured sausages and deep fried fish fillets made from flour and flavourings. My heart felt such great pain at this point of writing, as in a few hours from now, children will be going to school to eat and drink these “special food.”

Let me tell you a true story. I met a man in his 50’s asking me how to manage a catering business as his canteen contract had just expired. I asked him to tell me how he ran the primary school canteen and this was what he told me. ” We tendered the canteen contract with a very high price. The school gets most of our profits, and in order to stay profitable, this is what we do: For the drinks, we buy the cheapest orange flavoured cordial we can find, add lots of water, and since it’s so diluted and colourless, we add orange colouring into the drinks as well as synthetic vinegar to fake the sourish taste. For the vegetables, we are able to get for free by savaging big rubbish bins in the wet wholesale market.”  And by the way, this too how some unscrupulous economy rice sellers get their vegetables from. Disturbing, yet true!

Suggestions for you as the parent, prepare sandwiches or have your child  prepare them herself. Make some pancake rolls filled with meat and fresh vegetables, or fill a thermos with tomato and chicken soup, and some fresh salad with fruits would be good. You can get more ideas from kids cook book.

Let me share with you my personal experience with my daughter, after I’ve taught her some recipes. One day, she started to discuss with me how she could prepare her own lunch without having to wake up early. I gladly said, “Daddy has a way and this is what we are going to do…”

  1. The Power of Television is Not to be Underestimated. Children are easily influenced by television advertising, which unfortunately, is often focused on sweetened cereals, fast food and snacks. Sports heroes and movie stars only increase the appeal of these foods in young minds. Help your children become a savvy consumer and discuss the power of advertising by explaining that food on television never looks as good as “in person.” Explain to your child why you choose not to purchase certain food items and be firm in your decisions. Television not only affects the young mind but young bodies as well. Obviously, the more time children sit in front of the television, the less time they spend in more active pursuits. Physical activity is a key component of a healthy lifestyle and a simple trip to the playground or a game of tag is a perfect way to burn energy and avoid obesity in children.

“The TV is one of our entertainment mediums – we call it a medium because nothing’s well done.”

  1. Have Fun in the Supermarkets. Let the chore of shopping turn into a learning experience for your child. The key is to keep your child busy and involved in the process. Preschoolers can go on a “treasure hunt” for a specific colour and shape of fresh vegetables. Older children can help to look out for discounted items or best buys. Hand over some of the decision making and let your children choose a shape of pasta or the flavour of yogurt. You must constantly remind them to read the labels on cans and choose the healthier alternatives. Feed your children and yourself before going to the supermarket. Junk food looks much less tempting on a full stomach.

Have fun cooking good nutritious meals.

A stock is just like computer: trash in trash out.

Till We meet again


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