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Kitchen Basics for Children: 3 Easy Tasks for Little Chefs

Britney is the web editor at Kiwi magazine, a publication devoted to green and healthy living for families. She has previously written for Parents magazine and The Huffington Post.

Allergy-Friendly Food for FamiliesCooking with your children can be… interesting.

When I was growing up, my sisters and I definitely baked eggshells into a few batches of (accidently) crunchy cookies. Mom was constantly cleaning flour fingerprints off of the countertops, and always reminding us to stop sticking our fingers in the dough. 

But mess aside, the kitchen was a place for my family to learn everything from cooking basics, to the art of sharing. Below are three simple tips you can teach your own child while whipping up your favorite recipes. This advice (and more!) can be found in Kiwi Magazine’s Allergy-Friendly Food for Families cookbook.

Teach Your Child to Roll Out Pizza Dough

Step 1: Handling pizza dough might seem intimidating — but it's actually so easy, a kid can do it! After your dough has risen to double its original size, have your child punch it down into a bowl.

Step 2: With your child, get ready to roll the dough by dusting a rolling pin and a clean countertop with flour. Point out that the extra flour will keep the dough from getting stuck on any surfaces.

Step 3: Together, flatten the dough into a disk. Demonstrate the rolling technique by pushing the rolling pin down into the dough, then away from you. Repeat, occasionally rotating the dough to roll out a circle. Hold the rolling pin with your child and try rolling together a few times, then let them try on their own. Continue until you've created a circle that's the size you want.

Step 4: Carefully lift the pizza dough onto your prepared baking sheet. If it tears, don't worry: Grab a small piece of dough from the edge of the circle and patch the hole.

Ready to get rolling? Here’s a Whole Foods Market® recipe for the classic Pizza Margherita.

Teach Your Child: How to Crush Nuts

Step 1: This is a pretty simple task that most kids really enjoy. First, have your child measure out how many nuts are needed for your recipe. Then pour them into a large, zip-top bag.

Step 2: Before zipping the bag, have your child squeeze out as much air as possible.

Step 3: Place the bag flat on a surface. With a rolling pin or mallet, have your child roll or hammer the nuts into tiny pieces. Now they’re ready to be added to any dish or dessert, like these chocolate fudge bites!

Teach Your Child: How to Frost a Layer Cake

Step 1: This activity is for your more advanced little chefs. After the cake has cooled completely, have your child spread a thin base layer of frosting across the top of one of the cake layers (to keep in from crumbling). Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Step 2: Using the same spatula, have your child place a big scoop of frosting on the center of the cake. They can move the spatula in small, circular motions to spread the frosting across the top.

Step 3: Place the second layer of the cake on top the first layer. Repeat steps one and two.

Step 4: Have your child spread another base layer of frosting on the sides of the cake. Then place a bigger scoop of frosting on the sides and use the spatula to spread the frosting across the sides. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Here are a number of layer cake recipes to choose from, including vegan and gluten-free options.

Now, look at that: You’ve got yourself a little chef in the making. Do you know any other fun and easy kitchen basics for children? Sound off in the comments section below!

Visit our spring gatherings site for more expert tips on what to cook and how to cook it, being the host- or host-ess with the most-est and fun ideas for cooking with kids.

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(Images: Used with permission from Kiwi magazine; Chocolate Fudge Bites photo by Andrew McCaul)

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Anna Crosby says …

I make little cupcakes with my almost two year old. http://www.toddler-recipes.co.uk/toddler-buns.html Tiny amounts so if it all goes on the floor it's not too disastrous! I would also add whisking to the above list, either hand or electric. It's easy for them to do and apparently satisfying!

Marsha says …

Tell your little one to "tickle" the flour when making pastry. Learned this trick from Ceebeebies.

Elaine Hoffman says …

Great idea to have "little hands" as part of your regular newsletters. Thanks!

Allergy mom says …

Wow. Is this book for real? Every other word seems to be contrary to allergies in my house. "Kiwi" publishing. Kiwi is highly allergic food and my son has. Pizza dough is flour and my son use to be allergic to wheat, rolling nuts? Is this firm real? Where are the unique allergy free ingredients. Not a lot of work put into this book was there?

Roberta Etzkorn says …

My granddaughter, who is three, has been in awe of cooking since before she could walk. She has now mastered egg cracking, mixing, stirring and rolling out dough. She's helped me make Biscuits, Pancakes, and a number of things using box mixes. The main thing I've learned when cooking with her is to let her make mistakes, then show her how it's done and she always has to promise that she will eat whatever she's cooked. Another is to let her touch the food and get a feel for it, clean hands are a must, and lastly and this is a biggie, don't worry about the mess — I've never met a mess I couldn't clean up especially with a little one's help.