Set aside a bit of extra time to cook with your kids. It's great fun, and they'll never realize that they're improving their math and reading skills too.
Surfing for Recipes: Sit down with a cookbook or go on-line and help your child pick out a recipe to make with you. Younger children may enjoy dumping ingredients into a bowl. Older kids can read the ingredient list and help measure. Then, use Canada's Food Guide to Healthy Eating to figure out which food groups are in the recipe.
Go with the Grain: Stock up on boxed pasta, rice or whole grain side dishes. Your child's job - to pick one out and help you make it. Read the box with your child for creative ways to jazz up the dish. Most are simple enough for a child to help prepare.
Salad Night! Set aside one night of the week as kids' salad night. Your child is in charge of what goes in the salad (plan ahead so that you have all the ingredients on hand) and gets to wash and tear the lettuce. He or she can then tell you what to slice and dice, and finally kids love tossing it all together with a delicious dressing for the family to enjoy. Ask your child to count how many different food groups are in the salad.
Kangaroo Pockets: Whole wheat pita bread halves pose as empty kangaroo pockets that need filling. Set out a variety of ingredients and ask the kids to fill their kangaroo's pocket for a tasty snack or lunch. Try hummus dip, lettuce, cucumber, tomatoes and cheese, or jelly, peanut butter and sliced bananas. Let the kids help prepare the ingredients, too.
Bugs in a Bag: Let your kids go on an archeological dig for incredible edible bugs. Place a graham cracker or two in a small plastic bag for each child and seal. Have them use their hands to finely crush the crackers into sand (you might need to help them with the back of a large spoon). Then add raisins, dried cranberries, nuts and cut-up fruit roll-ups. Shake the bags and then let the kids dig for tasty critters, naming each species as they find them.
Magical Sun Tea: Using a fruity herbal tea blend, let the kids add 6 to 8 tea bags to 1-litre of water in a plastic jar or pitcher. Seal the container and set outside in the sun for about 3 hours. Have the kids check the tea every 15 minutes the first hour to watch the magical colour change. Then let them mix the tea with some seltzer water, fruit juice or lemonade for an "I-helped-to-make-it" thirst quencher.
Jazzy Fruit Cubes: Add a little nutrition to drinks year-round by asking the kids to keep some fruit cubes on hand in the freezer. They can pour fruit juices into ice cube trays and add small bits of fresh fruits (grapes, berries), then freeze. The cubes add colour, fun and a bit of nutrition while keeping the kids tuned into fruits.
On the Road Again: Heading out on an excursion with the kids? Before you leave, let them create their own snack-attack bags to take along rather than stopping for food on the road. Set out selections of dried fruit, cereals, air-popped popcorn, nuts and gummy-type candies. Let the kids spoon their favorite blend into a resealable plastic bag and hit the road.
Funny Face Veggie Pizzas: Help the kids slice and chop some fresh veggies. Let them spread some pizza sauce on individual pizza crusts, toasted English muffins or pita breads, and then add veggies to create funny faces: pepper strip mouths or eyebrows, pitted black olives or sliced zucchini for eyes, and a button mushroom nose. Use shredded reduced fat cheese for hair. Bake until cheese is melted and enjoy!
Recipes suitable for Kids 7 to 9 years old