Does your little one love to cook?
It’s not too soon to start. From around eighteen months, little children are ready to begin engaging with fun kitchen activities, just as they are with other forms of play and interaction. From around age 3, cooking can become a really valuable tool for learning numbers and communication skills.
Cooking can also help your child feel more comfortable around food. If you’ve got a fussy eater on your hands, try getting them involved.
Before we get to the recipe, here are some ideas to help you make the most out of this cooking activity with your little one.
Use lots of descriptive words when you get hands on. Crunchy, mushy, wet, dry, cold, sweet, noisy, red, yellow, full… Take opportunities to practise counting. We need four biscuits, one, two, three, four. How many bowls have we got?
Don’t be afraid to get messy! But talk about washing your hands first, and why it matters.
Remember to be patient. Cooking with children can be frustrating for adults. Let go of the idea of it looking perfect, or being done quickly; give you and your child time to enjoy it as a learning and play activity.
Give lots of praise, too. Sharing a meal you’ve made with your friends and family is a lovely feeling – so make sure they feel proud of what they’ve achieved. It can boost their emotional development, and help them build secure bonds with others.
Strawberry and banana cheesecake
Serves 4; no cooking involved; 10-20 minutes
- 4 digestive biscuits
- 6 strawberries
- 2 bananas
- 250g mascarpone cheese
- 300ml creme fraiche
- chocolate buttons or sprinkles for decoration
- 4 small bowls, ramekins, or small plastic tumblers (or one large bowl)
- 2 other bowls for mixing, a spoon, a small knife (not sharp)
If your child is very young, pre-slice the strawberries and bananas, and mix the mascarpone and creme fraiche together yourself. If your child is able to use an ordinary butter knife, help them do the cutting themselves; the fruit should be soft enough to cut. Not sure? Try it and find out!
- First, wash your hands.
- Count the digestive biscuits. Then crumble them up into a bowl. You might find it easier to put them into a freezer bag to keep it all together.
- Divide the crumbled biscuits into four quarters. Then use fingers or a spoon to press the biscuit crumble into each bowl or tumbler.
- Using your fingers, over the biscuit with a layer of strawberries. Then add a layer of bananas.
- Using a spoon, mix together the mascarpone and creme fraiche in another bowl until they’re thick and whippy. Then scoop the mixture onto the top in a thick layer.
- Add any decorations you like. Chocolate works well with these flavours.
- Wash your hands again!
- Chill the cheesecakes in the fridge for ten minutes, or till you’re ready to eat.
Try using crumbly biscuits like Hobnobs. Pick different fruits: blueberries and raspberries make good layers and are easy for little hands. Use tinned custard as an alternative topping.
Recipe based on Banana Strawberry Crunch.