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Seasonal Cooking with your Kids

It’s fun to cook with your kids just about any time of the year, not just at Christmas time or during the summer when they’re home from school and you have extra time to spend together. If you make it a priority to cook with your child throughout all the months of the year, you’ll not only be making more time to spend together but you can also take this opportunity to teach your children about different seasonal foods, like pumpkins and apples in the fall or fresh fruits in the summertime. After all, cooking is more than just learning how to use the stove or mix the cookie dough. It’s an education in food and the culinary arts, which includes learning about the endless possibilities for creating delicious and nutritious foods for your family, no matter what the time of year.

Autumn

Autumn’s bounty provides a wealth of foods from which to create a number of kid-friendly dishes. Fresh fruits and vegetables abound, like apples of all varieties, cranberries, pumpkins, butternut squash, and many other favorites. Kids might turn their nose up at some of these, but if you’re creative, you’ll find uses for them that will have your kids clamoring for more.

o Apples – Apples are a wonderful fruit that have so many uses. You can eat them hot or cold, by themselves or as a garnish, such as on top of a salad. Some favorite kid-friendly recipes for apples include homemade applesauce, baked apples, or apple dumplings. You can even make simple apple turnovers or apple pie by using pre-made crust.

o Cranberries – Thanksgiving calls for plenty of cranberries. Join your child in making homemade cranberry sauce or make some baked goods, like quick bread or coffee cake, and include cranberries in the mix.

o Nuts – The fall is a bountiful time for nuts of all sorts. For an easy recipe, make sugared walnuts or pecans by tossing them in egg whites, coating them in a mixture of sugar and cinnamon, and baking them. Yum!

o Pumpkin – Go pick a pumpkin or two and hollow them out so you can use what’s inside and carve the rest. The meat from the pumpkin is great for simple pumpkin quick breads, pie, pancakes or waffles, and pumpkin cookies.

o The holidays – Winter brings us Christmas and Hanukkah, which provide a good opportunity not only to learn to make cookies and other sweets but also to cook favorite ethnic foods. If you’re Jewish, teach your child to make latkes. Those who celebrate Christmas can choose other traditional dishes pertinent to their background like Italian panettone or German springerle.

o Comfort foods – Winter calls for foods that fill us up and “stick to the ribs.” Teach your child to make some simple favorite “comfort foods” like mac and cheese, grilled cheese sandwiches, chicken soup, or meat loaf.

o Valentine’s Day – This holiday is all about chocolate. Do some candy making with your children or teach them how to make your favorite chocolate dessert.

Spring

Everything is new, fresh, and clean in the spring and food turns from heavy comfort dishes to lighter fare. There are also plenty of holiday favorites to enjoy as well.

o Easter – Here’s a chance to teach your child how to make the perfect hard-boiled egg. When they’re done, you can have fun coloring them together. You can also make some favorite Easter baked goodies like hot cross buns and Russian Easter bread.

o Passover – The Passover tradition also includes some foods that kids can help create, including matzo ball soup, kugel, or flourless chocolate cake.

o Mother’s Day – Teach your child how to make some breakfast favorites so that he/she can serve you breakfast in bed on your special day!

Summer

o Create a Picnic – Work together with your child to design a menu for a picnic the whole family will enjoy. Include lots of finger food, a pitcher of fresh-squeezed lemonade, and perhaps some sweets for dessert.

o Fruits – Make good use of summer’s wonderful supply of fresh fruits by including them in some simple recipes like strawberry or raspberry muffins, peach cobbler, fruit smoothies, and more.

o Popsicles – Even your smallest chefs can make delicious summer popsicles in a snap. Use fresh fruit or fruit juices for a variety of flavors. Or how about freezing some bananas and coating them in chocolate for a favorite summer Boardwalk-style treat?