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.


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

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

Directions:

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

Ingredients

Ingredients

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

MyPlate

MyPlate

MyPlate

MyPlate

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.

Example:

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

Food Groups
Limits
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
Limits
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
5/6/13
Browning quesadilla
Flipping
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)
5/6/13
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.)


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Preschooler Age Appropriate Cooking Skills Using Safe Tools: practice has many benefits

I want to establish a good foundation of age appropriate cooking skills that will be incorporated into the simple recipes. There are so many benefits to learning how to cook by practicing these basic skills, and progressing to the next level. First I did some Internet research on what are considered age appropriate cooking skills (jobs or activities). In general there is a consensus  as to what is a kid appropriate task at each age category. I have become so much more conscious of the other benefits to the child that learning to cook provides, ie the benefits beyond the motor skill. For example some social benefits are: boosting self-esteem, creating family time and bonding, and working together as a team, just to name a few.

Certainly all of the resources that I consulted agree we must protect our preschool children from using heat or sharps in the kitchen until they are older. Children don’t worry about being burned or cut from these hazards. The problem is that they’re sure they won’t hurt themselves because they’ve never hurt themselves. We must protect them, while progressing their skills to the next level. Another thing is that all my grandchildren always want to “do it myself”. I will try to demonstrate the correct way to perform a skill or task without taking over for them. After all we are building self-confidence and pride through practice. I came to the realization early on that this was my experience as I progressed through the curriculum at The Culinary Institute of America (CIA): mathematics, food safety, product knowledge, skill development, nutrition, and purchasing – just to name a few of the courses. We were provided with a basic tool kit to which we added unique tools as time went on.

I decided that for this Sunday I will get started with age appropriate cooking skills practice using safe tools. Simple recipes will be introduced as she accrues more skills. I can also assess which skills my 4-year-old granddaughter, Nicky, has already learned. For example: she already cracks eggs perfectly, no shells, without any instruction or demonstration. She spreads the appropriate amount of margarine on the toast, again with no instruction. This skill reminded me of pasting at Lakeshore on Saturday mornings.

Nicky and I are planning on going to Bed Bath and Beyond to collect some replacement tools for my worn out ones, and provide Nicky with her own basic  tool kit for her drawer (just like the Culinary Institute of America). I’m going to prepare a shopping list for a basic safe tool kit. We’ll also look for ideas to organize the kitchen cabinets.

In the meantime my mind will figure out some safe work-around tools for avoiding the safety hazards of heat and sharps. This will allow my preschooler to contribute to the entire family meal without getting hurt, for example: the crock-pot, or the rice cooker. I was trying to allow my preschool age grandchildren to prepare more than cookies. It seemed that as a young child I made more cookies than anything else. It wasn’t until I got older that my mom allowed me to prepare the protein/meat portion of the meal. I do remember that when the Connecticut summer day was very hot and muggy my mom would allow me to prepare a “cold” no-cook evening meal for the family. We would eat outside in the backyard on a picnic table. I would enjoy preparing tuna salad, hard-cooked eggs, fruit salad, and many other refreshing cool dinners that didn’t require the use of the stove. This past experience provided me with safe “no heat hazard” ideas for the preschool cook.

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:
Washing hands 2 and up stool, hand soap, towel 1/27/13
Washing strawberries 2 and up stool, colander 1/27/13
Spreading 4 and up small dull butter knife 1/27/13
Peeling a hard-cooked   egg 4 and up 1/27/13
Cracking an egg 4 and up small non-skip bowl   with handle 1/27/13
Whisking 4 and up small whisk 1/27/13
Flipping practice 4 and up spatula 1/27/13
Cutting an apple 4 and up apple cutter (sharp:   needs Grammy supervision) 1/27/13
MyPlate presentation 4 and up child’s plastic dinner plate 1/27/13

* 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.)

We set up her breakfast on her Dora the Explorer plate. She has been using this plate since she can remember. This visual presentation reinforces the USDA’s MyPlate food model. Nicky will be able to see the Food Groups displayed on her familiar plate. There are also MyPlate portion plates available. Nicky almost always has a mid-morning snack of at least 6 baby carrots. This completes the Vegetable section at breakfast, and fulfills one of USDA’s Selected Messages for Consumers Messages: “Make half your plate fruits and vegetables.”

Next time we will go shopping for Nicky’s basic Tool Kit (just like the Culinary Institute of America). I will prepare a shopping list for us. I want to replace my worn out tools, and purchase some organization tools as well like a spice rack.

I welcome your comments on your own experiences teaching your children or grandchildren to cook.

Basic Skills that Nicky practiced this past Sunday 1/27/13:

Washing Hands

Washing Hands

Washing Strawberries

Washing Strawberries

Spreading

Spreading

Peeling a Hard-cooked Egg

Peeling a Hard-cooked Egg

Cracking an Egg

Cracking an Egg

Whisking

Whisking

Flipping With a Spatula

Flipping With a Spatula

Cutting an Apple (with supervision)

Cutting an Apple (with supervision)

MyPlate

MyPlate

MyPlate Presentation

MyPlate Presentation

Nicole Ready to Cook

Nicole Ready to Cook
(her apron has been handed-down for 4 generations)