Holden and I used to cook together a lot. Before his little brother Milo joined our family, Holden would stand by my side at the kitchen sink and crack eggs, stir with a whisk, or rip greens for a salad. Unfortunately, I must confess, I now put the two of them in front of a 25 minute kid show while I race to get dinner together most nights. So I was a perfect candidate for this lesson a few weeks ago.
At the Oakland Eat Real Festival, an amazing event aimed at helping folks “put the food back into fast,” Holden cooked on stage as part of the children’s cooking demo. Along with 3 other children, he helped make “Scissor salsa salad” under the guidance of Shayna Marmar.
Shayna is a from-scratch cooking teacher-extraordinaire. She started Honeypie Cooking & Events in Oakland to bring fresh, seasonal, and delicious foods back into our kitchens.
As she was leading the children through food preparation, Shayna talked about eating fresh real whole foods as often as possible. We sat on hay bales as she encouraged us to get our children more involved in the creation of their meals. She has seen many parents who said their children hated veggies eat their words while their kids ate salad for the first time.
I emailed her after the event to find out if she had any tips for the Rookie Moms who want to cook more with children, and she told us to get out the safety scissors:
While safety scissors are not generally thought of as a cooking tool, they work great in helping kids of all ages cut various fruits and vegetables. Keep a pair in your kitchen drawer, specifically for cooking, and your child will instantly be able to assist with food preparation tasks without the use of a sharp knife.
Help your child along by cutting the fruits and vegetables into slices/strips beforehand. Foods that can be cut with safety scissors include tomatoes, bell peppers, apples, peaches, cabbage, and cucumbers, among others.
She offered a ton of great hacks for getting kids involved in cooking; here are a few other tips I picked up from the demo:
- Leave your perfectionism at the door; better that the food products are kid-made than perfect.
- Do rough cut prep in advance so kids can avoid a lot of waiting time as well as large knives on counters.
- Think about what foods can be torn by small hands: lettuce, herbs, bread…
- For safer cutting, have a pair of kids’ safety scissors dedicated for use on food (see above) or use a butter knife for other foods that won’t easily fit in the scissors.
Don’t have a rolling pin? Wash some tools from the play-doh kit or use a cleaned can. Let kids use their hands to pound out dough and smash out tortillas.
- During the final tasting, ask kids “what would you change next time? what would you add more/less of?” to get them thinking and engaged in the process. Holden said “more tomatoes,” a big boy said “more spicy,” the little girl said “just right,” and the big girl refused to taste it. (can’t please everyone!)
I want to thank Shayna for sharing her tips with us!
Shayna offers cooking classes & parties for older children, teens, adults, and families as well as workshops for teachers & parents highlighting tips & tricks for involving children in the process of preparing and eating wholesome and tasty foods.
She can also turn your next kids birthday party into a healthy cooking party, emphasizing fun in the kitchen. How brilliant is that?!