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Article:    Cooking with Kids

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It's messy, it's time-consuming, but it's fun and educational too. Cooking with kids can be considered an art project, a lesson in math, an adventure in "food appreciation", or all of the above. Depending on their ages, kids can help read recipes and organize ingredients, mix, measure ingredients, and set the table for the grand finale. 

While preschoolers can get involved with some of the steps involved in baking cookies, tossing salads, and the like, children from ages 8 and up (with adult supervision) can participate in virtually every step—from reading recipes and shopping for ingredients all the way to the dinner table. Here are some of our choices for software and cookbooks that really inspire kids to want to cook. 


Cooking with Kids: Cookbooks


Nickelodeon characters, "Nickelicious" stickers, and accessible recipes add up to a great time. A Nick Cookbook: Stir Squirt Sizzle includes fabulous, glossy, full-color pictures of food, with whimsical cartoon characters throughout. With this truly fun cookbook, kids can make "Fairly Odd Pancakes", "Plankton in a Blanket" (complete with a picture of Plankton from SpongeBob Squarepants caught in a crescent roll along with the more traditional wrapped hot dogs!), "Bikini Bottom Butterscotch Brownies", "Timmy's Mom's Apple Pie", and the like.

[For more information, or to buy Stir, Squirt, Sizzle: A Nick Cookbook at]


Combine easy-to-follow recipes with some whimsical magic, and you have a very inspiring cookbook for kids. Hocus-Pocus Magical Cookbook features just over 50 kid-friendly recipes, each featuring a secret ingredient. Children find out the secret ingredient by twisting the dial on the inside front cover--"megnut" is nutmeg, and "yelotangy" is mustard, for example. The book comes with a magic wand and each recipe is presented as a potion. Enchanted Eggs, for example, comes with the tag, "to bring about adventure" and a fun chant. The book features fun and educational sidebars that teach kids a few interesting facts about food and suggest easy-to-duplicate experiments with food. There's even a Peace Potion designed to "make world peace". Fun, "doable" recipes are featured. Although there aren't any color photos of food, the book is magically illustrated in pretty pastels and completely inviting.

[For more information, user reviews, or to buy: Hocus-Pocus Magical Cookbooks at]


The Kid's Cookbook (Williams-Sonoma) makes a great introductory cookbook for children approximately 8 and up. This one is brimming with color photos, tasty and tempting recipes, and well-presented instructions. This book is especially good for showing the steps taken to complete a recipe through photographs.

[For more information, or to buy The Kid's Cookbook: A Great Book for... at]


Simplicity at its best! Although making smoothies can't officially be classified under "cooking" with kids, smoothie-making is certainly a creative food preparation adventure. 

Frozen bananas...the staff of life? After trying out a few recipes for Smoothies found in this book, you may just agree. Smoothies: 22 Frosty Fruit Drinks presents ingredients for some of the most scrumptious "tropical vacations you can take in a blender". Smoothies are easy and delicious—ideal for children just beginning to gain confidence in the kitchen. Because good results are not dependent on exact measurements, and ideas for new smoothies are virtually endless, smoothies make fun kitchen experiments for the whole family. 

[For more information, or to buy Smoothies: 22 Frosty Fruit Drinks at]



Cooking with Kids: Software


Cook'n for Kids CD-ROM by DVO is a fun and inspiring program that offers all kinds of kid-friendly recipes, from main courses to beverages. Children can scroll through pictures of food items organized into categories like side dishes and sweets, choose to view instructions for each recipe, and watch entertaining videos that teach them some cooking lingo (like "chilling"). Some far-out recipes, like Curdled Vomit Salad and Gorilla Poop, will certainly grab their attention! We tried a number of recipes with fantastic results: Shepherd's Pie, Grasshopper Flip, Hot Chocolate Mix, and yes, Gorilla Poop (it's a no-bake chocolate dessert that tastes terrific). Children can skip straight to the Learning section of the CD-ROM to find out about cooking utensils and terms, or play a few games--matching, secret recipes, and more. There are 10 printable secret recipes to find and collect. Special menus for things like family get-togethers and Halloween parties group recipes together according to themes. This is a great little software that kids enjoy. Instructions are very clear, and although the humor in the video clips is sometimes corny, the program is far from dry and boring. Great fun!

[For more information, or to buy: Cook'n for Kids at]


Cooking with Kids: Video/DVD


coverFor the very young, Elmo's Magic Cookbook from Sesame Street is a fun video/DVD that guest stars Emeril and introduces children to the "magic" of cooking. Simple recipes are demonstrated, and children are given the confidence that they can cook, as long as there's a parent around to help them out. 

[For more information, user reviews, or to buy:  Sesame Street - Elmo's Magic Cookbook (VHS) Elmo's Magic Cookbook (DVD) at]

















March 2003/Updated November 2004, February 2005

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