Grammy Can I help cook

Teaching children basic cooking skills by using simple recipes that demonstrate safe procedures and tools. Teaching children nutrition by using USDA's MyPlate model to identify recipe food group(s), and individual portion size.

Preschooler Makes Carrot Cupcakes With Grammy Using a babycakes® Cupcake Maker…..”cupcake maker $29.99, cupcake maker cookbook $15.99, the look on Nicole’s face… priceless.”

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My 5-year-old granddaughter Nicole and I made carrot cupcakes using my new babycakes® cupcake maker. This cupcake maker produces 1-2 bite cupcakes. One small cupcake counts as 1/2 ounce of Grains, and contains 94 Total Calories. Nicole’s 1400 calorie Daily Food Plan  includes 5 ounces of Grains.

Nicole’s 1400 calories Daily Food Plan includes a limit of 120 Empty Calories, or calories from food components such as added sugars and solid fats, that provide little nutritional value. Empty Calories are part of Total Calories. Most of the time Nicole’s Empty Calories are tucked away in the nutrient rich foods that she enjoys from the five Food Groups, but they still add up quickly. For example 1 regular slice of whole wheat bread contains 13 Empty Calories. One small cupcake contains 48 Empty Calories. If you want to look up or compare Food Groups and/or Limits of your favorite foods you can do this by using Food-A-Pedia, a MyPlate SuperTracker tool as below:

Cupcake, not chocolate, with icing or filling (Twinkies, Tastykake Krimpets, Little Debbie Snack Cakes, Hostess Snowballs)
Choose an amount:
1 small cupcake
Total Calories: 94

Food Groups
Grains ½ oz.
Empty Calories* 48
Solid Fats 11 Calories
Added Sugars 37 Calories
Saturated Fat 1 g
Sodium** 100 mg





1 small carrot cupcake with cream cheese icing =

 1/2 ounce Grains
(94 Total Calories which includes 48 Empty Calories)

Nicole Enjoys Her Cupcake Snack

Nicole Enjoys Her Cupcake Snack
Bread, 100% whole wheat
Choose an amount:
1 regular slice
Total Calories: 69

Food Groups
Grains 1 oz.
Empty Calories* 13
Solid Fats 7 Calories
Added Sugars 6 Calories
Saturated Fat 0 g
Sodium** 132 mg
The cookbook that accompanies the cupcake maker has many recipes for cupcakes and icing. I also purchased a larger cookbook with 175 collection of best recipes. There are endless possibilities for decorative creativity with colors and flavors for: cake, icing, and topping.

Nicole and I prepared and iced carrot and vanilla cupcakes. She gained experience with the basic skills of: measuring, sifting or whisking dry ingredients, stirring dry into liquid ingredients, filling the cupcake liners on the counter, and using a piping bag to decorate with icing. The cupcake maker does get hot, like a waffle iron. It does work-around the oven, but it still bears caution with the heat hazard. I had Nicky pre-fill the babycakes® cupcake liners on the counter, and then I lifted the filled liners into the cupcake maker. These small cupcakes bake in 6 to 8 minutes. The cupcake maker does not need to be preheated, but once it is hot you can bake batch after batch of cupcakes in succession. Going fast keeps pace with the preschooler’s attention span – mine too! I removed the baked cupcakes to the cooling rack.

Grammy’s Carrot Cupcakes* – 20 small (22 g) cupcakes

1/2 cup all-purpose flour – measure by spooning the flour from the canister or flour sack into a dry ingredient measuring cup, and level off with a dull table knife or straight edge spatula.

1/2 cup whole wheat flour — measure by spooning the flour from the canister or flour sack into a dry ingredient measuring cup, and level off with a dull table knife or straight edge spatula.

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt


1 1/4 cups shredded carrots (about 3 medium)

1/2 cup chopped pecans (can buy chopped)


3/4 cup granulated sugar

2 large eggs, at room temperature

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1 tsp vanilla extract

1. Sift together flours, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt onto waxed paper. (or you can also whisk these dry ingredients together in a medium bowl.)

2. Ask Grammy to: pour the sifted ingredients into a medium bowl, using the wax paper as a funnel.

3. Ask Grammy to: shred carrots using medium shredding disc Cuisinart DLC- 837 (or fine shredding disc DLC-8). The DLC-837 disc comes with the Cuisinart food processor. (or shred by hand using a grater). The convenient bags of pre-shredded carrots, that are sold in Grammy’s supermarket, are too coarse a shred for this recipe

4. Stir in carrots and pecans, tossing lightly to coat. Set aside.

5. Ask Grammy to: beat sugar, eggs, oil and vanilla for 1 minute or until light-colored, in a large bowl, using an electric mixer on medium speed.

6. Using a wooden spoon, stir in flour mixture until blended.

7. Place 6 cupcake liners on the counter.

8. Ask Grammy to show you how to: fill each liner with 1 1/2 tablespoons batter, using a leveled medium cookie scoop. Now you do it!

9. Ask Grammy to: transfer the 6 filled liners to the hot cupcake maker; bake for 6 to 8 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean; use the fork tool to transfer cupcakes to a wire rack to cool. Repeat with remaining batter.

*(The original cupcake recipe appears in the 175 best babycakes® cupcake maker recipes  pg 33. I modified this recipe by using: 1/2 cup whole wheat flour + 1/2 cup all-purpose flour. I also had Nicky practice sifting the dry ingredients, although the cookbook authors say this isn’t necessary; I didn’t toast the pecans.)





Nicky Safely Peels a Carrot

Nicky Safely Peels a Carrot

Shredding Carrots

Shredding Carrots

Shredded Carrots

Shredded Carrots

Set Up Dry Ingredients

Set Up Dry Ingredients

NIcky Measures Flour

Nicky Measures Flour

Nicky Whisking Dry Ingredients

Nicky Whisking Dry Ingredients

Fill Cupcake Liners on Counter

Fill Cupcake Liners on Counter

Nicole Filling Liners

Nicole Filling Liners

Cooling Rack

Cooling Rack

Grammy’s Light Cream Cheese Icing (you can’t pipe this icing)

6 ounces Reduced Fat cream cheese, softened

3 tablespoons honey

Reduced Fat Cream Cheese

Reduced Fat Cream Cheese

1. Ask Grammy to: beat cream cheese, in a medium bowl, using an electric mixer on medium speed, until smooth. Add honey; beat 1 minute more.

2. Ask Grammy to show you how to: spread this icing on cupcakes with a small straight spatula. Now you do it!

Grammy’s Cream Cheese Icing (pipes like a dream)

1 (8 ounce) package regular cream cheese, at room temperature (Do not use Reduced Fat)

1/4 cup butter, at room temperature

1 1/4 cups confectioner’s (powdered) sugar, sifted

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1. Ask Grammy to: beat cream cheese and butter for one minute or until light and creamy, in a medium bowl, using an electric mixer on medium speed.

2. Ask Grammy to: gradually beat in confectioner’s (powdered) sugar until blended.; beat in vanilla.

3. Ask Grammy to show you how to: ice the cupcakes either by spreading on with a small straight spatula or using a piping bag. Now you do it!

Nicole Piping

Nicole Piping

Finished Piped Cupcakes

Finished Piped Cupcakes

“Grammy Post-It Note:” MyPlate is now on Facebook:

“Grammy Post-It Note:” MyPlate is now on Pinterest:

“Grammy Post-It Note:” since we started all this bonding over cooking skills Nicky and I are closer, more cuddly. It was subtle at first, and then I began to realize that all this togetherness and cooking is reaping cuddle benefits, and so much happiness. Of course, we still do Disney puzzles, go to the library, swim in the “hot” pool, and play Old Maid, UNO or Hide & Seek together.

“Grammy Post-It Note:” I like to work-in practice sessions whenever we have some free time, even if we don’t actually prepare a full recipe. Examples: measuring dry ingredients or peeling carrots – less TV more cooking skills practice, as long as Nicky agrees.

“Grammy Post-It Note:” I was surprised at how easily Nicole used the piping bag. I demonstrated once and she was able to apply enough “squeeze” pressure to complete the turns. The finished product looks at least as professional as store-bought cupcakes.

Age Appropriate Cooking Skills – this list will build on itself as child matures and learns new skills

Skill Age Safe Tool Safe Work-around Tool* Date Skill:
Peel carrots 4 and up safe vegetable peeler 3/2/13
Measuring dry: flour,   baking powder, soda, salt 4 and up dry measuring cup,   measuring spoons 2/16/13
Sifting or whisking dry ingredients together 4 and up sifter and wax paper, or whisk, bowl 4/12/13
Stirring: dry into liquid 4 and up wooden spoon, bowl 3/15/13
Fill cupcake liners   on counter 4 and up
Grammy demonstrate and then Nicky
cupcake liners, medium cookie scoop (1 1/2 Tablespoons) 4/12/13
Icing with spatula 4 and up
Grammy demonstrate
small straight spatula
Icing with piping bag 4 and up
Grammy demonstrate and then Nicky
piping bag, tips 4/12/13
MyPlate presentation 4 and up child’s plastic dinner plate 3/15/13

* work-around the safety hazards of heat or sharps (as a general rule children should not use the: microwave, oven or stovetop unsupervised until age 10-13 years old. They can use a knife with supervision at age 10-13.)

USDA Selected Messages for Consumers:

  • Enjoy your food, but eat less.
  • Avoid oversized portions.

Author: Grammy Can I help cook

retired rd culinary school graduate wife/mother/grandmother

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