Can three year-olds really cook? and do you really want them in the kitchen at this age?
I know there are a lot of different answers to these questions but all in all I am coming to the conclusion that, yes they can cook and believe it or not, yes we do want them in the kitchen from time to time, learning the art of preparing the family meal.
Of course you have to pick your days and NEVER get them in there when they are grumpy, hyper or contrary- so what does that leave me? I hear you ask. Well not much but on that occasional day when the stars have aligned, they have woken up on the right side of bed and they are actually happy and content, this is when I would invite them in to 'help' with food duties.
Of course cupcakes, cookies, biscuits and slices will always entice the adorable side out of your children, and so it should but I think we should also introduce the day to day meals to kids and show them just how yummy a savory meal can be if we add a few pinches of spice here and whack in a bit of cheese there. After all we do want to encourage healthy eating, don't we?
Based on what Alex, my three year old likes to eat this month (and believe me, it changes on a monthly basis) I decided to make some dishes I knew wouldn't cause a show down at the dinner hour. Every now and again I get sick of being the mean mum who makes her children eat what is in front of them. Occasionally I would like to sit, relax and enjoy my own dinner without having bits of chewed up food thrown onto my plate because it couldn't possibly sit on the side of my child's plate reminding him of the poison I am trying to feed him.
Beans, legumes and pulses get Alex's taste buds watering. I can even add tomato to beans and he will eat it (as long as it is cooking is some way shape of form). This brought me to the Boys' salad I developed for kidspot. I wanted the recipe to be so easy a three year old could feel like he/she actually made lunch. It isn't a taste sensation or blow your mind ingredients, just a combination of flavours and textures I know the whole family can enjoy. Mum and dad can happily sit down to the Boy's salad and honestly say what a yummy lunch they have made, while the three year old gets complete satisfaction in saying 'I made lunch today'.
I did use tinned (canned) corn purely so he could see I didn't do a thing to help (the sacrifices we make for our kids!), the other reason I developed this recipe the way I did was to encourage the older sibling to help his brother. Everyone knows 7 year-olds think they can do everything so I encouraged Alex to ask his big brother to cut the tomatoes and measure the dressing ingredients.
The end result was pretty cool, not only did they keep the verbal fighting to a minimum (like I could prevent that from ceasing!) they both were so proud of the fact I didn't have to come into the kitchen and help, and what do you know, they ate every bite on their plate!
If you are feeling in the mood and need to boost your kids moral or get them interested in a fresher diet, try giving the salad a go, you all could be very impressed with the end result!