From baking to “snacktivities,” there are a lot of ways to get kids involved in the kitchen. Today I’m sharing a few of my favorite simple recipes that kids love and require just a few pantry staples (and not much cooking). When children create a positive relationship with a food, (by picking it out, washing, growing or cooking it) they are more likely to try new foods. Getting kids involved in the kitchen is a great way to educate through play. For younger kids, adding pre-measured ingredients, mixing, rolling, sprinkling and spreading are all fun ways to get involved. For older kids, measuring, cutting, blending, and giving them different flavor or ingredient options is a great way to foster independence and increase self efficacy. The most important part of cooking together is being together.

You might like the idea of having little kitchen helpers and find the reality to be, well, messy. It’s true, having kids in the kitchen is not the most efficient and tidy way to cook, but I find the life skills learned are well worth the extra clean up on most days. My best strategy for cooking with kids is to invite them to join me when I am feeling patient and the recipe is forgiving, meaning the recipe will still be edible if not followed exactly. On days when I’m feeling rushed or impatient I ask the kids to join me in cooking on another day. This avoids unnecessary stress and keeps the kitchen atmosphere peaceful.

In an effort to create healthy food relationships, as parents, we are in charge of what is served and our children are in charge of how much they will eat of it. That doesn’t mean a child can’t have an opinion about their meal. I find limiting options (to about two) is a reasonable way to help children feel empowered and heard. My kids would love to choose snack foods for every meal, but with each meal comes the opportunity for me to teach them how to construct a nutritionally-balanced plate. Over the years I have seen their increased comfort and pride in selecting options they know will help their body grow and thrive.

Although most of our food is stored in the refrigerator, I find having a well-stocked pantry to be helpful for inspiring meal ideas and for times where you find yourself unable to get fresh groceries. As we all learn to navigate the changing times, many of us are finding ourselves at home with a desire to provide healthy food options. Now more than ever it’s especially important to be prepared with affordable and nutritious foods. Below are some of our favorite pantry staples that are cost-effective and nutrient-packed:

Dried Beans (black, pinto, kidney, white), Lentils, Grains (rice, quinoa, buckwheat, millet, oats), Dried Fruits (cranberries, raisins, apricots), Nuts and Seeds (cashews, almonds, walnuts, sunflower and pumpkin seeds), Crackers, Rice Cakes, Wraps, Roasted Seaweed, Kale Chips, Nut-butter, Pasta (buckwheat, rice, quinoa), and Granola are some of our must-haves.

Find me on Instagram @thefamilyfoodproject for weekly recipes and more tips for feeding your family!

BBQ Spiced Chickpeas

  

Ingredients

1 can/jar chickpeas

1tsp avocado oil or neutral oil

1/2tsp ground cumin

1/2tsp garlic powder

1/2tsp smoked paprika

1/2 tsp maple sugar or coconut palm sugar

1/2tsp sea salt

1/4tsp onion powder

1/4 tsp black pepper

Recipe:

Rise and dry chickpeas.

Add all ingredients to a bowl and mix together until chickpeas are evenly coated.

Sauté in a warm pan until the chickpeas start to brown. Option to roast in a 300 degree oven until crispy.

Raw Cookie Dough Bites

Ingredients

2c raw cashews

1/2c unsweetened flaked coconut

3 large medjool dates, pitted

1/2tsp sea salt

1/2tsp vanilla extract

1/3c dairy free mini chocolate chips

dye-free sprinkles (optional)

Recipe:

Soak dates in warm water, set aside.

Add cashews and coconut flakes to a food processor and blend until a flour texture is achieved. Add drained and softened medjool dates, salt and vanilla and blend again until the mixture is fully incorporated and holds together when squeezed.

Add 1/3c mini chocolate chips (or to taste) and mix in by hand.

Roll mixture into ball shapes and roll in sprinkles if desired.

Keep refrigerated.

Fruit Wraps

Ingredients

Coconut wrap or tortilla

Nut/Seed butter of choice

Apple or banana

Granola (optional)

Cinnamon

Recipe:

Gently warm up wrap to make it more pliable.

Spread the wrap with nut butter (use sunflower butter for a nut-free option).

Slice apple into matchsticks or option to use a whole banana, dried fruit or even jam.

Sprinkle granola if desired.

Roll up and cut into slices.

Top with cinnamon.