Fun in the Kitchen

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Today was about having some fun with the kid while enjoying the delights of baking.  Baking in its own right is great fun, but add baking with kids and it’s even better.  No, not because there are delicious sweets to eat at the end of the day, though that is an added bonus, but because it’s one of my favorite ways to spend time with my kids.

My love of baking is mixed with warm and joyous childhood memories.  I remember, from a very young age, watching my mother and grandmother, when she visited, in the kitchen baking up a storm and as I grew older I was invited to join them.  Through the years of baking together, I have experienced the joy of baking.

From the moment my son was old enough to eat a cookie; I was busy in the kitchen, I couldn’t wait to pass on my love of home baked cookies.  I started him off with my favorite, peanut butter cookies!   Now, Alexander actively participates in baking, he loves to crack the eggs and if the recipe calls for egg whites or yolk he insists on doing the separating.  Thankfully my girls, age 7 and 9, also love to bake.  I`m thrilled to pass the tradition on to them.

There are more reasons to bake that just for the fun of it.  Read on to find out more.

5 Reasons I love baking

1) I control the sugar content: I want my family to eat well, this means I want to limit our sugar intake.  In doing so, I don`t want to take away the pleasure of dessert; instead I want my family to understand the place of sweets in our lives. Sugar; when consumed in excess can have a negative impact on our life, some of the potential negative consequences may include cavities, diabetes, heart disease and carrying extra weight, which makes us less likely to be as active as we`d like to be.

In our house, on school days, foods that have added sugar are off the menu.  Monday to Friday desserts include things like cut up fruit, apples and strawberries are the kids favorite, or for a splash of extra excitement apples with peanut butter for dipping.   During weekend day, it’s a different ball game, I roll up my sleeves, the kids to strap on their aprons, and together we dive into the world of baking.

This weekend we made ’chocolate whoopee cookies’.  I can’t even begin to tell you how delicious these two homemade dark chocolate cookies stuffed with homemade marshmallow filling tasted. All up, there was one cup of sugar divided between the 30 cookies including the filling, this equates to 8 grams of sugar for each Whoopie.  Not Bad! When you consider one Mrs. Field’s Chocolate Chip cookie has 18g of sugar.

2) It’s something we can do together:  Doing activities with the kids is very important to me; as a full-time working mum, my time is stretched very thin and I often question if the kids and I are spending enough quality time together.

Baking with the kids comforts me.  Why, because its quality time we enjoy together, and its fun!  These concepts, spending quality time and having fun, are very important to me.  Many years ago, I read a saying, ‘’families that play together, stay together’’ and it struck home.  I want to play with my kids long after they are grown with their own adult lives, baking I hope will be one of the things that we’ll be able to enjoy for many years to come.

3) It’s a great opportunity for teaching basic maths:  When raising kids, there are small windows of opportunity to teach them something without sounding like we are teaching.  These often occur when everyone is relaxed enjoying a meal or doing something fun, like baking.  This is a fantastic time to really hit home the basic math lesson about fractions, addition, measuring etc.

When a recipe calls for a ¼ of a cup of milk, I grab a pen and paper and draw a big pie.  I then ask the kids to divide it in half.  The pie is further divided into parts which I label in relation to the recipe we’re making.  Finally, the kids run off to get the measuring cups and spoons and figure out which one to use.  If the ½ tsp or ¼  tsp is in the sink for washing I ask questions like, how may ¼s make up a ½. This is a great way to test their knowledge and understanding.

For addition, I show them the measuring cups and then tell them how much we need of each ingredient, in this case it was 125 grams of sugar or half a cup, after a bit of discussion they figure out which one to use, are very proud of themselves,  and off they go.  The kids have fun and they don’t realize they are learning at the same time.

4) I know exactly what my family is eating.  I`ve always been a baker; I love dessert, but the store bought cookies and cakes, while convenient, just don’t taste as good to me.  This could be because, as a Nutritionist, I know how many food additives are used in package goods and it turns me off, but I don’t believe my thought process is so advanced.  Simply put, I prefer the taste of home cooked dessert and I enjoy knowing exactly what ingredients are in it.

5) Baking is an important life skill.  One that I believe western society is losing.  The adage goes “use it, or lose it” and baking, like everything else in life, is a skill that we develop and perfect over the years. The skill is often passed down from generation to generation, but in today’s fast paced world, it’s hard to find the time to fit baking into our lives.  With commercial baked goods so readily available one would ask why bother, it’s just so easy to opt out.

Waiting for 10 or 12 minutes for the cookies to bake can be a great time to sit and have a chat with the kids, and when the second batch is in the over you can add a glass of nutritious milk and enjoy the fruits of your labor.  The calcium and protein from the milk and the delicious cookies or cakes will keep you going until dinner.  If you don’t have time to cook the left over batter you can pop it in the fridge and finish the cooking later.

I wrap up with a parting message, teaching our kids how to bake helps them build their reading skills and their confidence around food.  One day when they grow and leave the nest, baking their own desserts for friends or family will help them to stretch their hard earned dollar further than buying commercial goods ever will.

Do you have great ideas for baking with kid? If so, I’d love to hear them, drop me a line at stay connected.

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