Kitchen Education with Turkey Treats
If you had the opportunity to teach your child language skills, science, nutrition, math, art, social studies, safety and courtesy in a fun, easy way that would increase their confidence and independence, would you take advantage of it? That opportunity has arrived in the form of easy, nutritious turkey recipes!
Cooking with your children is a rewarding experience that opens the doors to many educational lessons. Plus, it is so much fun, they learn without realizing it. Here is how cooking crosses the curriculum to teach a little bit of everything:
- By reading a recipe, a child is exposed to new vocabulary words (mince, pare, etc.) and must also practice reading and following directions.
- Observing what happens to the ingredients throughout the cooking process teaches children about the properties of foods and how they react to physical and chemical stimuli, much as they would learn in a science class.
- Planning a nutritious meal that tastes great and provides necessary nutrients is an important lesson in nutrition. Teaching children how to make smart food choices now will prepare them to make healthy choices in the future. Turkey is a tasty, low-fat source of protein that children will love.
- Measuring, counting and weighting are important mathematical concepts and are critical to the success of any recipe. One miscalculation could ruin the whole recipe.
- Eating is a very sensory experience. Food must not only taste and smell good, but must be visually appealing as well. Creating an eye-catching plate is an art lesson itself and provides children with a way of expressing their creative side when cooking.
- Food plays a major role in most cultures. By learning to cook, children are not only exposed to cuisine from their culture, but may build a heightened awareness of the role food plays in other cultures.
- Cooking provides a chance to teach your child how to operate the oven, stove and other kitchen appliances safely. Once they know how to use appliances properly, they are less likely to experiment when they are unsupervised.
- Along with learning to cook comes the opportunity to learn how to eat. Mealtime is a great chance to sit down and teach your child proper dinner etiquette. There are many "rules" to be observed during the course of a meal, but it is also important to have fun.
- Try focusing on one skill at a time. Although children may not appreciate the instruction now, the experience will leave them feeling more confident and at ease in formal dining situations.
According to Kathy Acocella, spokesperson for the American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences, "Children are being left on their own more frequently now than ever before. Teaching them how to cook not only helps them prepare to take care of themselves, but offers them an opportunity to build their sense of independence while providing a valuable service to working parents."
Teaching children how to cook is also a great way to spend time with them. When you prepare a meal with your child, you have a chance to talk in a relaxed setting. Cooking also gives them an immediate sense of accomplishment that will boost their confidence and help them work toward developing more independence.
Before the first cooking lesson, teach children basic food safety practices, such as:
- Always wash hands and work surfaces before getting started.
- After cutting meat, wash the knife and cutting board with soap before using again or putting away.
- Once food has been served, store leftovers in shallow, airtight containers in the refrigerator. Avoid leaving food out for more than two hours.
Finally, review these "5 Easy Steps to Cooking Success."
- Read the recipe all the way through before starting to make sure you understand all the steps.
- Take out all ingredients before beginning. Do you have everything you need?
- Do all chopping, shredding and other food preparation before starting the recipe.
- Follow the recipe and directions exactly!
- Clean up thoroughly when you are finished. Put all food away in proper storage containers and make sure all dishes are clean.
Also remind children not only to always get adult permission, but also that cooking takes a lot of attention and should not be combined with watching television, playing video games or talking on the phone.
Pizza Turkey Triangles, Easy Cheesy Enchiladas and Honey Nut Turkey Ham Roll-ups are delicious recipes that capitalize on turkey's versatility and nutrition and are easy enough to use for children's cooking lessons. Younger children can help prepare these recipes with parents or older siblings. Older children can use these recipes to help make dinner for the family on a busy night. Either way, cooking with turkey is a great way to get children started in the kitchen and on their way to making smart food choices.