Cooking With Kids: Simple Kid-Friendly Recipes

Trying to get kids eating healthy can be difficult. Trying to get them to eat local, seasonal, sometimes unfamiliar veggies can be even more of a challenge. But pairing some seasonal fruits and vegetables with other foods they’re more familiar with can be a good way to ease kids into eating, and thinking more locally and sustainably. With a little creativity, you might find that children are more willing to experiment with food than you would expect. Even better if you can encourage them to share in the preparation of their food.

Here are some fun and simple kid-friendly recipes, mostly from our cooking workshops with St. George’s YouthNet. YouthNet runs after-school programs and day-camps for kids from the neighbourhood, and gardening and cooking has long been a part of their programming.

APPLESAUCE

16 apples, peeled, cored, and chopped
3/4 cup water
1/4 cup white sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg

In a large pot, combine apples, water, sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Cover, and cook over medium heat for 15 to 20 minutes, or until apples are soft. Take them off the stove and allow them to cool, then mash with a fork or potato masher.

THAI PEANUT BUTTER SAUCE
250ml jar

4-5 Tbsp peanut butter
2/3 of jar filled with soy sauce or tamari sauce
1/3 of jar filled with rice vinegar or lemon juice
1 tsp chili flakes or chili paste
2-3 tbsp brown sugar

Mix well in the jar and you’re done!

STRAWBERRY SPINACH SALAD

1/2 cup strawberries, mashed
1/4 cup water
1 Tbsp sugar
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp chopped lemon balm
salt to taste

Combine the mashed berries, sugar and water in a small pot, and cook over medium heat until berries are quite soft. You want an almost jammy consistency to the strawberries. When cooked, whisk in the oil, vinegar and lemon balm, and season to taste. Voila! The perfect topping for spring salad!

SPANAKOPITA

1 1/2 lb spinach, tough stems removed, coarsely chopped
1 1/2 cups crumbled feta cheese
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
4 eggs, lightly beaten
2 Tbsp chopped fresh mint (optional)
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg (optional)
salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1/2 lb filo dough (20 sheets), thawed if frozen
8 Tbsp (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled

Heat a large fry pan over medium-high heat. Add the spinach with only the rinsing water clinging to the leaves, cover and cook until wilted, about 1 minute. Drain well on paper towels, then squeeze out as much of the remaining liquid as possible. Place in a large bowl and add the feta cheese, kefalotiri cheese, eggs, mint, and nutmeg. Stir well to combine. Season with salt and pepper.

Preheat an oven to 375°F. Lightly butter a baking sheet. Cut the stack of filo sheets lengthwise into 3 equal strips. Remove 1 strip and cover the remaining filo with a slightly dampened kitchen towel to prevent it from drying out. Place the strip on a work surface and brush lightly with melted butter. Place another strip on top. Brush the second strip lightly with melted butter. Place a heaping teaspoonful of the filling about 1 inch in from the bottom of the strip. Fold the uncovered end over the filling on the diagonal to form a triangular shape. Bring the bottom of the triangle up against the straight edge. Continue folding in this manner until the tip of the strip is reached, forming a triangular pastry. Brush lightly with melted butter. Place on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining filo and filling.

Bake until golden, about 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and transfer to a platter. Serve immediately, warm or at room temperature.

NO-RISE PIZZA DOUGH

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast
2 tsp vegetable/olive oil
1 tsp sea salt
1 Tbsp sugar (or honey)
1 cup warm water (110°F/45°C)

Combine flour, salt, sugar, and yeast in a large bowl. Mix in oil and warm water. Knead well. Spread out on a large circular pizza pan and top as desired. Use seasonal toppings where possible. Bake at 375 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes. Eat and enjoy.

OATMEAL CRANBERRY MUFFINS
Makes 12 muffins

1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/4 cups oats
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/2 cup low-fat buttermilk
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 Tbsp canola oil
1 large egg
3/4 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup cranberry sauce

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a large bowl combine flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. In a medium bowl combine applesauce, buttermilk, sugar, oil and egg. Make a well in dry ingredients and add applesauce mixture and dried cranberries. Stir until just moist. Fill muffin cups 2/3 full, adding a tsp of cranberry sauce in the middle of each cup. Bake for 16-18 minutes.

EASY VANILLA CUPCAKES

1 cup (250 mL) unsalted butter, softened
2 cups granulated sugar (500 mL)
4 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract (10 mL)
3 cups all-purpose flour (750 mL)
1 Tbsp baking powder (15 mL)
1/2 tsp salt (2 mL)
1 2/3 cups milk (400 mL)

Into a large bowl mix butter and sugar; beat until fluffy. Beat in eggs, 1 at a time. Beat in vanilla. Whisk together flour, baking powder and salt; stir into butter mixture alternately with milk, making 3 additions of dry ingredients and 2 of milk. Spoon into paper-lined or greased muffin cups.

Bake in 350ºF (180ºC) oven until cake tester inserted in centre comes out clean, 20 to 22 minutes. Remove from pan; let cool on rack. (Make-ahead: Store in airtight container for up to 24 hours.)

GINGER SNAPS

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (Speerville Mill does a nice unbleached flour)
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup butter, softened
1 cup white sugar
1 egg
1 Tbsp water
1/4 cup molasses
2 Tbsp white sugar

Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C). Sift together the flour, ginger, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, and salt. Set aside. In a large bowl, cream together the margarine and 1 cup sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg, then stir in the water and molasses. Gradually stir the sifted ingredients into the molasses mixture. Shape dough into walnut sized balls, and roll them in the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar. Place the cookies 2 inches apart onto an ungreased cookie sheet, and flatten slightly.

Bake for 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven. Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container.

Updated from posts originally published in 2011, 2012 and 2013

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