Image courtesy of Tim Chin Image by: Image courtesy of Tim Chin
Canadian Living: When did you start encouraging your kids to spend time in the kitchen?
Aimée Wimbush-Bourque: My three were always with me in the kitchen, even if that meant just cooing from a high chair as a baby. From a young age they learned that it was a safe, yet exciting place to be—the pulse of the home! When they were around 18 months, I started letting them get involved next to me, and always under close supervision. They mixed ingredients, washed vegetables and played with dough. As a result, all three have really taken to cooking and baking. Currently Clara, 3, is up for any task and is often chagrined if I begin without her! Mateo, 7, gravitates slightly more toward baking, while Noah, 9, loves cooking, really cooking, using the stove and preparing full meals.
CL: What are some good recipes to begin with?
AWB: When children are quite young (2 or 3), begin with no-cook foods to keep it simple. Wraps can be fun when you let them choose from an assortment of fillings. Smoothies are great, too, and kids can help add ingredients. They’re ready in a flash, which is good for those short attention spans.
When it comes to cooking, French toast or scrambled eggs are a must-make! Not only do kids love them, but they cook up quickly for those hungry little tummies. Pancakes are a staple in our house and my eldest knows a basic recipe by heart. Muffins and drop cookies are a good introduction to baking. We also like to make frittatas, baked apples, pizza, pasta and salads. It helps to have a good recipe that has simple steps that children can do themselves—supervised, of course—and delicious results that will leave them excited to cook and bake again.
Aimée's three children rolling out dough
CL: What’s your best advice to deal with picky eaters?
AWB: Be the example. Really. Kids emulate what we do, and showing them you’re open to new foods is one of the best things you can do to encourage them to do the same. Also, let them get involved in cooking, because they will take pride in what they make and open up, ever so slowly, to new tastes and textures.
CL: Are there any specific kitchen tools that are essential to get kids started in the kitchen?
AWB: Other than a well-fitted apron? Not really. They really prefer to use your tools! And you may as well let them, rather than investing in more kitchen equipment you’ll just have to store. I have a few adorable cookie cutters, but that is about the extent of “kid stuff.”
CL: Do you have any best tips to build a kid-friendly kitchen?
AWB: A sturdy stool and a child’s apron are a good start. Beyond that, keep a stack of dishtowels or paper towels nearby because there will be spills! If they can’t reach the sink yet, provide a small step stool, because frequent hand washing is a must.
Image courtesy of Aimée Wimbush-Bourque