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 and Grammy Prepare a Simple Cheese Quesadilla and Learn to Use a Box Grater

Leave a comment

My 5-year old granddaughter and I had the opportunity to spend some time together this past Monday. This gave us a chance to whip up a simple cheese quesadilla for breakfast and learn a new skill: grating cheese using a Oxo Good Grips box grater. This grater has a non-slip grip and bottom ring. I’d prefer a smaller grater, but this one has many child-friendly advantages. Sure – you can buy shredded cheese, but this is a useful skill on the learning curve towards culinary expertise. We had fun. Our time together also included: watercolor painting, and hunting for empty snail shells, as Nicole rode her new Razor scooter.

Nicky’s Cheese Quesadilla– 2 servings

2 – 6″ flour tortillas ( you can also use whole wheat tortillas)

1/4 cup grated Reduced Fat cheddar cheese (or 1/4 cup packaged shredded Reduced Fat cheddar cheese)

olive oil pan spray


1. Grate cheddar cheese

2. Place one tortilla on plate; sprinkle grated cheese on this tortilla; top with second tortilla

3. Ask Grammy to: spray non-stick skillet or electric skillet with olive oil pan spray; heat pan on medium high heat

4. Ask Grammy to: place quesadilla in the skillet; cook until bottom tortilla is browned, about 2 minutes; using a silicone pancake turner flip quesadilla, and cook until second tortilla is browned, about 2 minutes

5. Ask Grammy to: remove the browned tortilla to a cutting board using the pancake turner; cut quesadilla into 4 triangles using a pizza cutter

6. Place 2 triangles on your plate (or 1/2 of the quesadilla)

Pan Set Up

Pan Set Up



Grating Cheese

Grating Cheese

Grating Cheese

Grating Cheese

Nicky Sprinkles Grated Cheese on Tortilla

Nicky Sprinkles Grated Cheese on Tortilla

Grammy Browns and Flips Quesadilla - Nicky Helps

Grammy Browns and Flips Quesadilla – Nicky Helps

Grammy Cutting Quesadilla - Nicky Helps

Grammy Cutting Quesadilla – Nicky Helps





Fruit = 1 cup mixed fresh fruit (NIcky saved 1/2 cup of her breakfast fruit for a mid-morning snack)
Grains = 6″ flour tortilla = 1 ounce (Nicky had 1/2 of the quesadilla)
Dairy = 1/8 cup Reduced Fat shredded cheddar cheese = 1/2 cup (Nicky had 1/2 of the quesadilla)
+ 1 cup low-fat milk
Protein = 1 hard-boiled egg = 1 ounce

7. Ask Grammy to: go to Food-A-Pedia to check on the Empty Calories in 1 cheese quesadilla: (remember Nicky had only 1/2 of the quesadilla)

1 cheese quesadilla:

Counts as: 2 ounces Grains + 1 cup Dairy            + 78 Empty Calories                   = 267 Total Calories

The Empty Calories come from solid fats in the tortilla and Reduced Fat cheddar cheese. Nicole’s 1400 calorie 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. One half of this cheese quesadilla = 39 Empty Calories towards this limit.


Tortilla, flour (wheat)
Choose an amount:
2 tortilla (6″ across)
    Food Info
            Nutrient Info
Total Calories: 187

Food Groups
Grains 2 oz.
Empty Calories* 34
Solid Fats 34 Calories
Added Sugars 0 Calories
Saturated Fat 1 g
Sodium** 382 mg
Cheddar cheese, reduced fat
Choose an amount:

 ¼ cup, shredded
    Food Info
           Nutrient Info
Total Calories: 80

Food Groups
Dairy 1 cup(s)
Empty Calories* 42
Solid Fats 42 Calories
Added Sugars 0 Calories
Saturated Fat 3 g
Sodium** 205 mg
“Grammy Post-It Note:” The following Sunday was Mother’s Day. We met up with Nicky and her parents for brunch, a walk on the beach, and a dip in our pool. Nicky picked me a bouquet of flowers from her own garden. It was a lovely day.
“Grammy Post-It Note:” Recently Nicole had her school checkup in preparation for starting kindergarten in September. She weighed 42 pounds and was 43 inches tall. We looked at photos of baby Nicole, and remembered together how tiny she used to be.

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:
Grating cheese 4 and up Cuisinox
cheese grater
Browning quesadilla
4 and up
Grammy demonstrate
and Nicky helps
spatula electric skillet with a
cool-touch handle
(I used a non-stick   skillet on stove top; Nicky watched)
MyPlate presentation 4 and up child’s plastic dinner plate 5/6/13

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


Author: Grammy Can I help cook

retired rd culinary school graduate wife/mother/grandmother

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s