Ask any parent and they'll tell you that a typical weeknight is a blur of activity: after-school sports, homework, packing lunchboxes; there's barely time to cook dinner, much less plan a fun and engaging family activity. But before you give up on school-night quality time all together, consider this: some of the things you do on weeknights can easily be turned into a family activity, like cooking or baking with your kids.
Making dessert together is a good way to spend more time with your family on a weeknight — and also gives you a head start on fixing dinner or tracking down treats for school lunches. Everyone loves sweets, and you can easily turn your dessert-making session into an opportunity to teach your children about health, nutrition, and cooking in a fun and accessible way. If you’ve never cooked with your children before, here are a few things to keep in mind:
Make It Fun
Give your kids lots of colorful ingredients to work with (like fresh fruit) and encourage them to be creative. Most desserts can be made in individual sizes, so if you have more than one child, each can have their own to assemble and decorate.
Keep Kids Safe
Even if your child won’t be using a knife or scissors under your supervision, be sure to take a minute to talk to them about kitchen safety. Quickly and clearly point out potential hazards in the room (like the oven, stovetop, or knife block) and then let your children know that they will be using so many fun kitchen tools that they won’t need to go near those things anyhow.
Make Healthy Choices
Just because you’re making desserts, doesn’t mean you can’t make something healthy; cooking with kids is a great way to teach them about health and nutrition. Instead of saying things like “sugar is bad for you,” focus on something positive; let your child know that fresh fruit can help them grow healthy and strong and give them energy to run and play!
If you’re planning on making dessert this week, why not let your kids help? We’ve even got a few fun, healthy, and kid-friendly ideas to get you started.
Banana “Ice Cream”
This delicious frozen dessert only requires one ingredient: bananas. Let your kids help you peel the bananas and then, with a plastic (or child-safe) knife, let them cut the bananas into coins. Place the coins on a baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap, and freeze while you cook, eat, and clean up after dinner. Then, take the bananas out of the freezer, place them into the bowl of your food processor, and let your kids push the button to start the machine. In just a few minutes you’ll have delicious and creamy banana “ice cream.”
Your kids will love creating this silly dessert. Take two wedges of apple and spread a little nut butter on each. Then, sandwich five miniature marshmallows between the apples (the nut butter should be on the inside of the wedges to help hold them together) so that they resemble teeth.
Kristie Collado is The Daily Meal’s Cook Editor. Follow her on Twitter @KColladoCook.