With the kids out of school, I am looking for ways to help keep my two boys busy during the summer months. When not on vacation or in summer camp, I run “Camp Kristyn”, where I plan a few special activities for my boys as part of a staycation…biking along the city pathways, geocaching and hands-on food activities.
During the school year, our schedules seem relentlessly busy. Summer-time schedules are often more relaxed, and offer a window of opportunity to enhance our family food skills. Food skills include knowledge about food and nutrition, as well as other skills such as meal planning, modifying recipes, and actual food preparation. Last summer, I taught my boys how to bake banana bread, make ice cream and make popsicles as part of Camp. Over this past year, I continued to help my kids explore in the kitchen with making muffins, cookies and pancakes. They also learned how to make pretzels, pizza, tacos, sport smoothies and several variations of eggs (scrambled, omelet, baked). This summer, I would like them to learn how to build a salad and dressing, how to make pasta, tomato sauce and meatballs, while also showing them how to make some of their favourite sweet treats.
Cooking lessons for kids often begin with baking. Expanding your teaching to include meals and snacks helps kids learn about food and nutrition, while also teaching them handy life skills from which you will eventually benefit. You can guide your child with hands-on teaching while taking advantage of kids’ inclination to eat what they have helped prepare.
There are several recipe sources available…your own food traditions, friends and family, the library, online blogs, books, magazines and more! This kind of activity could include a field trip to the farmer’s market, grocery store or to a U-pick farm.
Take advantage of summer and give your child a private, hands-on cooking class(es). Here is a fun recipe to get you started. Prepare these fruit and yogurt popsicles in the morning so they are ready for a mid-afternoon snack.
This popsicle recipe is more of a method of blending together a creamy yogurt (at least 2% M.F.), fruit (fresh or frozen), fruit juice and adding in sweetener. Here are a few popsicle-making tips:
- Taste your creation as you prepare it and adjust to your taste preference.
- When working with frozen treats, sweetener of some kind is needed to create an acceptably sweet product. Compare the perceived sweetness of 1 cup of cola (7 teaspoons of sugar) versus 1 cup of tea sweetened with 7 teaspoons of sugar. Foods served at cooler temperatures benefit from a little more sweetener.
- You can add in natural sources of colour to your popsicles, based on the kind of fruit and/or juice chosen.
- Play with different flavour combinations – raspberry and vanilla, mango and lime, strawberry and mint, blueberry and lemon. In this variation, I chose a blackberry mango combination after being on family vacation where my kids slurped up smoothies and especially enjoyed the blackberry mango combination.
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Written by a Registered Dietitian.