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Health and Wellness

Get kids in the kitchen this holiday season

This holiday season get some extra help in the kitchen by involving your kids with the cooking. By giving them simple tasks with grown-up supervision, youíll get a chance to expose them to a variety of foods; and teach them about healthy eating and food safety.The holidays provide the perfect time for practice, and there are many ways your children can help in the kitchen no matter their age. Make sure to use cooking supplies that will not break, and provide a stool, if necessary. Some age-appropriate activities:

  • 2-year-olds: scrub vegetables; wash and tear lettuce and salad greens; break bread into pieces; carry unbreakable items to the table
  • 3-year-olds: dump flour and other ingredients into a large bowl; practice stirring; help create delicious muffins, pancakes or cupcakes
  • Preschoolers: make funny food faces with an assortment of fruit such as peaches, pears, mandarin oranges and apple slices, along with raisins, to use for making fruit faces on dessert plates for the family
  • 5 and 6-year-olds: help prepare a salad by tearing lettuce and snapping green beans; or measure dry ingredients for cookies and use cookie cutters to make shapes
  • 7 and 8-year-olds: help prepare breakfast by cracking the eggs and toasting the bread
  • 9 and 10-year-olds: help prepare dinner by kneading pizza or bread dough and cooking it in the oven
  • Age 10 or older: help prepare snacks by microwaving popcorn, simmering soups or chopping vegetables
  • For most ages: put a few clear, unbreakable plastic cups on the table and give your child cut fruit, yogurt and granola or breakfast cereal for layering into parfaits
Having more help in the kitchen might also mean a little more mess. Have fun with the cleanup and show children how to wash fruits and vegetables, as well as kitchen surfaces. Always follow food safety basics. Turn these four simple foodborne illness prevention tips into a game:
  • Clean ñ Wash hands often with soap and warm water for 20 seconds before and after preparing food. Sing “Happy Birthday” two times while washing or find another favorite song to sing.
  • Separate ñ Keep raw meats and ready-to-eat foods separate. When teaching your kids about cross-contamination, use different colors of cutting boards to help remind them about the importance of keeping foods separated.
  • Cook ñ Cook to proper temperatures. Give your kids their own thermometer to make them feel like scientists. This goes for reheating leftovers, too. Have you been reheating leftovers to 165∫?
  • Chill ñ Refrigerate promptly to 40∫F or below. Let your kids read the thermometer temperature to you. Safe food storage will help protect them from foodborne illnesses.
For more information on ways your kids can help out in the kitchen or for food safety information, visit

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