Kids baking pumpkin cookies at a cooking class in Calgary
tips, Uncategorized

Cooking class for preschoolers – 5 reasons to give it a try

So you were wondering if a cooking class was a good activity for your 3-4-5 years old kids. Why this, and not a playground or art or music or library story time?

All the above mentioned are super, okay? But for variety, a cooking class can be a great addition, and it is available here, in Calgary, too.

Why a cooking class is good for young children?

1. New ways to explore the world

Little kids are born explorers! While making food, they can use all their senses to learn about edible stuff. How does things look, taste, smell, feel… What do I like, or don’t like… What happens when I mix these two ingredients… How are they going to taste together? Cooking and baking is a great sensory activity, beneficial to all children.

2. New foods to try

Sometimes it is not easy to offer new things for the kids to eat. In a cooking class, along with other children, and preparing the meals themselves, even more cautious kiddos might try new snacks or fruits or veggies. We cannot guarantee, but this is our experience. 🙂

3. Get ready for school

During cooking classes, the kids practice skills they will need in real school soon.

  • Number sense
  • Fine motor skills
  • Hand-eye coordination
  • Attention span
  • Following instructions
  • Working as a team

Does it mean cooking classes are strict boot camps to train little army chefs? No, of course not. We play and laugh and relax. And that’s exactly the best way for kids to learn. In secret. 🙂

4. No attitude yet

I don’t want to skip ahead in time, but let me warn you: teenage years will come sooner than you thought. Let the kids work with you in the kitchen while they are sweet and little and want to help!

Yes, they can’t do it well, yet. But they are happy to try, and will get better with practice. If you wait until they are more skilled, well, you waited too long, and they might just give you a face or a growl and get back to their phone. Half of the time, anyway. 🙂

5. Baking with kids is a big mess – but not in your kitchen if you go to a cooking class

I don’t think I need to add more details to this point. 🙂

All right, I hope I gave you guys a boost to get messy and whip up something with your kids, at home or in a cooking class. It’s going to be fun and edible! Take care! 🙂

 

 

recipes, tips, Uncategorized

Breakfast ideas for kids

I used to love mornings. A nice breakfast and I’m active, ready for my day. Well, not anymore. I open my eyes in the dark and I’m thinking: what should I feed to my kids for breakfast and lunch today??? They wake up hungry, they need to eat, but they are very choosy on what to eat. So here’s my list to have on the fridge for mornings when I’m so sleepy, I can’t come up with anything.

I’m not going to give recipes, but will include the links. I will add gluten-free/dairy-free variations for those who need it. (Like me.)

Quick fix breakfasts

Cereals

You need: granola/cereal, yogurt, fruits

Time: 5 minutes

breakfast_parfait_genius_kitchen - Copy
Breakfast Parfait Photo: Genius Kitchen

You don’t need a cooking school for this, quick and easy. Recipe here.

Oat meals

You need: oats, fruits, butter or substitute

Optional: ground flax seed, shredded coconut, dried fruits, chocolate chips, chia seeds

Time: 5 minutes

Since I’m not eating bread, oat meal is a last minute breakfast for me. I just put hot water on the oats, microwave for a minute, stir in frozen berries, flax seed or chia seed, shredded coconut for fat, some cinnamon and I’m all set.

Eggs

You need: eggs

Optional: bacon, onions, mushrooms, potato, bell pepper…

Time: 5-15 minutes

Scrambled, sunny-side-up, chopped hard boiled in a wrap, mashed hard boiled with cream cheese, hummus or avocado, omelet in sandwich…

Pancakes

You need: eggs, milk, butter, flour, baking powder

Time: 15-20 minutes

Basic recipe hereVariations here.

Smoothies

You need: yogurt, milk, fruits, veggies, honey. 

For dairy-free version, you need: avocado, coconut milk, fruits

Time: 5 minutes

Three yummy fruit smoothies

Dairy-free smoothie It calls for a banana, I like mine with berries, try with your kid’s favorite.

Sandwiches & toasts

sandwich

You need: bread, ham, cheese; optional stuff like red onions, tomato, avocado, lettuce, leftover roast, etc.

Time: 10 minutes

Grilled, pressed, pan-grilled, oven-baked, french-toasted… 90 healthy sandwich ideas

Make-ahead breakfasts

Spending half an hour on these whenever we have, we can save some time in the rush hours.

Spreads

cream cheese sandwich with chivesBase: cream cheese+butter
Add-on: hard-boiled eggs, tuna, finely chopped leftover meat, onions, green onions, chives…

For even more taste: mustard, red paprika paste, lemon juice…

Time: 15-20 minutes

Muffins, sconces and bars

You need: basic baking ingredients, plus fruits, dried fruits, nuts.

Time: 20-25 minutes prep + 25 minutes baking

I like to make these for snack, and my daughter likes to have it for a quick breakfast the next day. Look for whole-grain, nut and fruit filled recipes for more filling and healthy varieties.

Triple berry oat muffins

Quick “everything goes in the blender” blueberry muffin.

Quiches

You need: eggs, cheese, some puffed pastry, veggies like spinach, mushrooms, shredded carrots, etc.

Time: 20-25 minutes prep + 30-45 minutes baking

This is a great way to sneak in some veggies, and high on protein, too.

No crust recipe here.

All right, I hope you could find some helpful tips here. Please share your best breakfast staples with us in the comments bellow!

tips

Tips to save time and your sanity in the kitchen on school days

If you ask me, all moms should come with three pairs of arms and hands. Because managing rush hours during schooldays with just two hands – it’s impossible! I’m packing three school lunches every day, and feeding a hubby, two big boys and a picky little girl every night. Let me share my tricks with you guys.

How to spend less time in the kitchen

Let me get this straight, I’m not going to tell you to order in or eat out every day. It is awfully expensive in Calgary, and not as good and healthy as your cooking. Let’s see the other ideas.

Let the freezer be your friend

Prepare and freeze extra portions of their favorite meals

I always cook or bake extra and put them in the freezer for crazy practice nights or for school lunches. Usually I just freeze the meat, and make the side dishes on the day we want to eat them, to save space. A few things that freeze very well and they will keep for several months:

  • Oven baked chicken anything: wings, drumsticks, thighs, breaded or otherwise
  • Oven baked pork or beef, i.e. ribs or brisket
  • Pork chops or similar dishes
  • Anything made with cooked ground meat, like meatloaf, pasta toppings like Bolognese sauce, taco fillings, etc.
  • Soups without thickener (you know, sour cream, cornstarch, flour, stuff like that to make the liquid more thick)
  • Muffins, breads, cookies
  • Pizza dough

Freeze your raw meat cut up and ready to use

We buy meat in bulk to save some money. The portions I don’t use right away I cut/slice up and freeze them in freezer bags, flattened out. That way they thaw quicker and it will save me some time on food prep.

Have a cooking day and freeze a week’s worth of meals

I haven’t tried this method but it makes sense. For very helpful tips and recipes see Don’t panic – Dinner’s in the freezer book below.

Plan ahead

Plan your meals on shopping day for a week

I know, it’s not for everybody, but I’m doing this since I have kids. On Fridays, I

  • grab the list of our favorite meals,
  • and/or google some new recipes to try,
  • plan the menu for the week,
  • write the names of the dishes in the calendar and
  • write the shopping list as well.

It saves me the improvisation, which I’m very bad at, the extra trips to the grocery store, and helps me to organize my time… I will know ahead of time on which day I’ll make a quick something because I have errands to run, and which day I can make broth because I’ll stay home and clean anyway.

Marinade ahead

I found this recipe years ago in the Calgary family magazine… Marinade your drumsticks or chicken winds the day before, whenever you have a little time, and when it’s dinner time, just pour the whole thing on a baking sheet, pop them in the oven and that’s it. (If I have time, I put sliced potato under them, with some salt and bits of butter… yum!)

Leftovers, leftovers, I love you…

If I cook something my kids like, I make extra, and let them have it for their school lunch the next day. You should hear them calling dibs on their favorites! 🙂

Child labor, here I come!

Have the kids pack their lunchboxes

I’m sure lots of you are already doing this. If you have space, store the things they will need within their reach, and outside of your work triangle.

  • Small containers and sandwich bags
  • Water bottles
  • Fruits&veggies
  • Packaged snacks
  • Peeler, apple cutter, cutting board
  • Napkins, spoons, etc.

They will enjoy the independence, and be more likely to eat what they packed for themselves.

Ask your big kid to be on kitchen duty in the morning

Okay, I’m lucky, my sons are over ten already. My younger is on duty in the morning, and my older helps with dinner prep when I need it. Morning duty can include, depending on your kids’ age and the food you eat for breakfast:

  • Unloading and loading the dishwasher
  • Setting the table
  • Preparing cereals, eggs, sausages or hot dogs
  • Making tea
  • Finishing sandwiches, washing veggies
  • Putting the lunches in the stay-warm containers for everybody
  • Putting away everything after breakfast
  • Helping the younger ones

It is a great help, and I tell them every day how much I appreciate it. It saves me a lot of time!

My time-saver tips at a glance

  1. Freeze cooked food for later
  2. Plan your meals ahead
  3. Teach your kids to help in the kitchen

Well, that’s it, folks. I hope you’ve found something useful for your life and your family. Let me know if you have any tricks that I could try in the comments below! Take care!

Additional resources