Help! My teenager is a vegan

vegan cooking, ingredients, from scratch, recipe,

Recently I had the pleasure of cooking with a teenager who had recently decided to eat a vegan diet. 

Worrying

When teenagers make such decisions it can cause us (parent’s, carers and sometimes even teachers) a bit of worry. 

We worry about their nutrition… How will they get enough or the right mix of proteins, iron, vitamin B12?
Will it cost loads more to buy substitutes?
Am I going to have to cook several different dishes.

Information


I spent some time putting together some reading materials for this young lady which I know she will dip into when she’s alone later. It covers matters such as protein complementation, plant sources of iron and how-to get B12 on a plant based diet. I will share some of the nutritional information with you below.

We chatted informally while we cooked and I managed to drop in some useful nuggets of info.


We looked through s few cookbooks, some vegan, some not and discussed how we might cook certain dishes. 

Why

Many teenagers experiment with their ethical beliefs and dietary preferences. It’s a natural way of finding out who they are. Our job is to support them as best we can.

I’m not a dietitian, but I do have an understanding of nutrition. It was not hard at all to find some reading materials that would suit her. 

Turn it around

Showing an interest in food, ethics and diet in this way is a great way to get our young people into cooking and to start them taking an active role in their own nutrition. 

My advice…

Don’t fight it…. Go with it, support them on their journey!

Romanesco gnocchi vegan dairy free recipe sundried tomato cook from scratch


Pictured is the dish we made. It’s Romamesco sauce with pasta. Adapted from Joe Wicks recipe for Romamesco Gnocchi. Romanesco sauce if often made using peppers, for my recipe I have just used sundreied tomatoes from a jar. We added yeast flakes (excellent sauce of B12) instead of parmesan.

Romanesco gnocchi tasty alternative adapted vegan dairy free recipe sheet free

You can use my adapted recipe here if you’d like to try it. My (non-vegan) children love this sauce either on Gnocchi or stirred through noodles and it freezes really well in an ice cube tray for future use.

For other recipes – vegan and non vegan, check out my recipes page here

Some nutritional information to help

What about protein?

One of the important things to remember when following a vegan diet is that plant sources of protein do not contain a complete set of the Essential Amino Acids (EAAs) needed by the body.

Most plant based proteins are of Low biological value (LBV) proteins – an incomplete set of the EAAs.

A vegan diet can provide all of the essential amino acids necessary for good health by combining a variety of sources of protein across the meals in a day. This is called protein complementation.

Protein complementation

This means that the amino acids in one LBV source of protein may work together with the amino acids in another source of LBV protein to form a complete set.

Some examples are below: Beans on toast, rice and bean salad, lentil soup with toast, nut butter sandwich, cereal with almond milk. There are many more.

Protein complementation does not have to make use of food that is eaten in the same meal, but could be spread across a day or so for example.

There are some exceptions which do contain the full set  of amino acids and are known as high biological protein sources. These are quinoa and soya. Soya comes in many forms to be used in cooking such as tofu, soya beans, soya milk, tvp (textured vegetable protein). 

B12

The other nutrient which you should be mindful of is vitamin B12. 

B12 is not found in plant food sources. For a vegan, this could be found in fortified foods such as cereals which state that they are fortified with vitamin B12. Or they could consider taking a supplement. 
There is a good product called Energevita yeast flakes which contain B12 which can be sprinkled on top of foods such as salads or pasta dishes instead of cheese.

Marmite is also a good source of B12 a spoonful of which can be used in all sorts of cooking to add flavour and nutrition. I have even been know to drink a spoonful in a cup of boiling water!

Iron and Vitamin C

Vegans and vegetarians should also ensure that they eat a variety of foods rich in iron and combine them with a good rich in vitamin c.

Vitamin c helps the body to absorb iron which is more difficult to absorb when taken in plant based sources than animal based sources. 

Try not to worry

I hope this has helped you not to worry. Try to see this as a new adventure, an education and a way of expanding yours and their culinary repertoire. Vegan cooking does not have to be expensive, or include lots of unknown fussy, hard to find ingredients.

Teach your child how to chop an onion

teach teacher chop an onion how to dice claw bridge safety knife hold grip children cook cookery

How to chop an onion for beginners

Chopping an onion is one of those things that everyone has their own way of doing it.

If you have your own established way of chopping an onion, please carry on. My method below is not the only way to chop an onion, however it is an easy way to teach a child to do so.

Before you begin – please do read my previous blog on teaching your child to use a knife safely and effectively. You can find the link here

When doing this with very young children or those with stiffness of joints or difficulty gripping I recommend the use of a vegetable holder. It looks like an extended comb with a handle. 

Bridge hold

bridge hold claw grip onion teach teacher cookery hold safely safety knife lesson cookery kids

For others I start by teaching them two safe grips for the vegetable: Bridge hold – useful for cutting a larger/round vegetable and keeping it stable. Lay the veg flat side down (if possible) and make an arch over the food with your thumb on one side, fingers on the other. The knife goes under the bridge.

Claw grip

chop claw grip onion teach teacher dice safety vegetable knife chopping board fingers hand children cook cookery lesson

Claw grip – useful for fine dicing and slicing and often useful for long thin items such as carrots/celery.

Make your hand into a claw and grip the item like this using your finger nails as buffers for any possible slipping with the knife. 

To start off with…

Talk your child through the anatomy of the onion. Let them hold it and describe the textures, and shape. Identify the root (the hairy bit) and the shoot (the pointy bit). This is a good chance to teach children where their food comes from. Onions do no grow on trees, they are not made in factories, they grow in the ground.

You could also talk about the papery skin and it’s colour. This could lead into a discussion about different types of onion – how many members of the onion family can your child name?

This is a perfect lead into a bit of gardening – if you so wish. Or maybe a tip to the garden centre to identify other members of the onion family.

A note on how to hold the knife…

One more tip … Children often hold a knife or spoon by the very end of the handle. This gives them weaker/more wobbly control. R

emind them to hold the knife firmly, with the hand along most of the knife handle and as close to the blade as possible.

My safety knife and vegetable holder

* I totally recommend my safety knife, but can’t sell them to you as they are out of production.

Anyone know of someone who can help me with this?

I’d love to get them made, they are so useful…. I pretty much use mine all the time at home!

My cookery teacher job – a peek behind the scenes

private cookery lessons with Kate, Make with Kate cookery teacher kate ferrer behind the scenes job teach teacher

My cookery teacher job – a day in the life

Sometimes the young people I teach, their parents/grandparents/carers comment on how they’d love to do a job like mine. 

It is the best job in the world for many reasons, not least  because it’s creative, I’m my own boss, I’m helping others to be able to do what I love doing and ultimately I’m making a difference. 

This is all the tip of the iceberg; the fun and games you see above the surface. 

If you peer behind the curtain however, there is much more going on in the background that makes all of this possible. 

My Day – It’s not all cupcakes and pasta making you know!

Take today for example. My ‘day off’ as some would call it. 

8.00 am

I dropped the kids at school, loaded up my car with every piece of electric equipment in my store room, unloaded the car and assisted Dave/Bumpa who does our PAT testing to make sure that all of my electrical equipment is safe and fit for purpose. 

10.30 am. Following this; car loaded up and unloaded again, I finalised arrangements for my primary school job on Friday. This involved printing off and sharing risk assessments, planning documents, recipe cards and designing a worksheet. 

12.00  I then took a break to walk the dog and help unload our fish tank into our new home. 

2.00 pm Next I went to the primary school for a pre-event site check, sorted out my DBS check documentation, checked for electrical points discussed timings, allergies, staff and set up. 

3.30 pm Then I collected the kids from school, made and ate dinner.

6.30 pm I’m off out again to take the eldest to Boys brigade then sat in the car and did two hours of marking for school tomorrow. A usual Monday night for us until she’s finished. Sometimes – weather permitting, I squeeze in an evening walk/jog for half an hour around Westgate whilst I wait.  

Do I begrudge any of this?

Would I change a thing? 

A BIG NO.

I love every little bit!

The sad truth is … that despite Food preparation and nutrition being a compulsory part of the KS1, 2 and 3 curriculum in the UK, children and young people still get very little access to hands on cookery and food education.

This is due to heavy pressure on time spent on other ‘more important’ parts of the core curriculum, a lack of funding – it’s not a cheap subject to teach – large class sizes and lack of equipment or facilities.

There is also a shortage of qualified food teachers for secondary schools. This is often a subject taught by non subject specialists as a timetable filler. I don’t have a problem with this if the teacher is on board, keen and enthusiastic about it. Enthusiasm and passion go a long way in getting children started on the road to food discovery and enjoyment.

I hope my ‘day off’ has not put off any budding food teachers out there. I can’t think of a more important job to do than to teach our future generations how to feed themselves and others – properly.

If you have any questions about a job as a cookery teacher in a school or how to set up as a self employed teacher etc, I am very happy to help.  

You can find out more about training to become a teacher here. Training is essential if you want to work in a school and helpful, but not essential if you are setting up as self employed.

I’ll write up some future blog posts based on answers to your questions.

cookery teacher job teach teacher Clubs and classes childrens kent east kent thanet ramsgate westgate broadstairs margate birchington cookery craft cook learn to bake make holiday summer easter teacher school

What did you do today?

How I got my kids to help me with the housework

I’ve been asked to share my new household task system designed to get my (reluctant) children involved in housework. It’s been brewing for a while now, but it’s taken time to come up with something that ticks all of my boxes and feels right for us. You are very welcome to use my plan, or tweak it to suit your family / household. For this reason I’ve provided a copy of our task list and also a blank template that you can customise.

Below I’ve outlined how I came up with the idea and my reasoning behind each aspect. You may or may not agree, it might be right for your family, it might not. We are all different, but perhaps it will inspire you to build your own system that is just right for your own set up.

It’s lonely doing it all by myself!

It get’s pretty lonely being stuck in the kitchen washing up / clearing up, hanging out washing etc alone…. most of the time.

Not to mention frustrating that I now don’t know whose knickers are whose, and no one was willing to help me sort them.

I was feeling annoyed that my ongoing household drudgery was keeping me from spending quality time with my children… in fact I’d often say to them “If someone would just help me… I’d be able to do x with you before bed… ” Sadly, this did not have the desired effect.

Money can’t buy you love

My eldest had recently asked if she could earn some pocket money by doing jobs for me. I have to admit, the way I was feeling, this was a tempting proposal.

Tempting as paying her to do the tasks might have been, I’m stubborn, and a bit old fashioned too. I don’t want my children ONLY helping me if I affix a payment to it!

My dream is to have a family camaraderie, for us to be a team, for them to appreciate what I do, and for me to be able to show my appreciation to them for their help and support.

Reluctant pre-teens

So, I knew what I didn’t want, I also know what they wouldn’t want too!

A long list of rules and an arduous rota to follow, chase and manage was not looking appealing to me or them.

So I really had to get my thinking cap on.

Whilst I really did not want my household helpers system to be all about payment, I did think that pocket money in some form could be tied in somehow if  cleverly worked out.

Firstly, I established  how much pocket money I’d be prepared to give my children and I settled on £5 each per week. However, I still want them to value money and understand the concept of working for it, so this money  would need to be earned, but not before we’ve worked together as a team with no recompense but good feelings and camaraderie.

Part of a family team

I’d love for us to feel more like a team, and for them to enjoy the camaraderie that I know comes with working together. I also hope that my children will learn some life skills from this. Even if my system doesn’t stand the test of time, for the period that it does last, I hope to be able to teach my children how to do a variety of household tasks independently … and properly!

New house – new rules

We’ve just moved house, and returned from holiday, so I feel that this is the perfect time to implement new systems. It’s an excellent time to start new habits, and to naturally teach the children where things go, and how I run the household. They each have their own print out and refer to it daily.

How it works

household chores tasks children help helpers pocket money earn teach cleaning washing ironing make system rota cleaning family kids children parents

There are two basic rules:

  1. Five family tasks must be completed each week
  2. No moaning or arguing over any tasks

There are two categories of tasks; Family tasks (unpaid, general daily tasks – always need doing!) Paid tasks (mainly weekly tasks, things they might not do already, but could learn to do independently, and most importantly – these are things I don’t really want to do myself)!

The paid tasks have different weightings, some are worth £1, some £2, some £4 etc. My children have been told that they can earn up to £5 per week with a combination of tasks. They could do a £4 and a £1 task, or 5 £1 tasks.

We have a blackboard tally chart in my kitchen that we keep a record on of how many family tasks have been completed, and how much is owed for that week on paid tasks.

chalkboard tally cleaninghousework household chores kids learn teach pay pocket money system

You are very welcome to download and use my system here 

household chores tasks children help helpers pocket money earn teach cleaning washing ironing make system rota cleaning family kids children parents

Here is the blank version if you’d like to customise it.

 

https://www.canva.com/design/DADAPcB4X0k/view 

This system is still very much in it’s infancy. We are just a couple of weeks in and I can see some tweaks I’d like to make, and some rules I need to establish with my girls – who are experts at seeking and testing out loopholes in the system! I’d love to hear your thoughts / feedback on my idea so far!

a word about creativity

creativity creative blooms taxonomy learner creative creativity make sew create draw paint build children kids child
Read on for some of my musings on CREATIVITY and it’s role in my classes and clubs…

Did you know that creativity is considered to be the highest of the learning skills on Blooms Taxonomy?

Bloom’s Taxonomy

Blooms Taxonomy is a classification system used in education to identify the different thinking and learning skills that may be drawn upon in a task / lesson / activity.

Here’s my own version of Bloom’s taxonomy – I’ve added in  some of the ways how we practice each learner skill in my cookery and craft sessions.

blooms taxonomy bloom's Bloom's creativity evaluation analyse create cook craft art children

Bloom’s taxonomy is organised on a hierarchical system; those at the bottom of the triangle are lower level tasks than those at the top. Sometimes it is necessary to be able to achieve those at the bottom before being able to attempt those at the top.

For example, in order to create something new, a child must solve problems. They will experiment to find out what works and what doesn’t. They will analyse other similar products to decide what works and what does not and they will apply both learned knowledge and new understanding to help make the new thing.

In being creative, we will learn by our mistakes. Mistake are an integral part of being creative.

To be creative, a child must not feel scared of failure, they must be up for a challenge and feel relaxed enough to be able to make mistakes and learn from them without fear of reprimand or feeling stupid.

So, being creative, although fun, and one of the most rewarding things one can be/do, is not an easy thing to achieve. It’s fun, but it’s also a journey. It’s also an elusive state of being that can only happen properly when the conditions are just right.

The environment must be accommodating, inspiring, relaxed, not too tidy (in my opinion – tidiness can kill creativity).

A starting point is useful – some raw materials, some imagery, a problem to be solved…

A creative person needs to be relaxed…. thoughts cannot flow when there is other stuff to worry about, or time is limited. Too many restrictions can stop the creative flow too.

Often the fun is in the process not the outcome.

I try to encourage creativity in my classes.

creativity

I like to think that my holiday clubs are the perfect opportunity to foster creativity.

We have long enough together that we do not need to rush from task to task.

Children can spend longer on tasks that capture their imagination. Although I might start with a suggestion of a possible outcome and certain materials will be provided, I allow children to follow the path that their creative journey takes them.

An example of this was over the summer, at our summer club when a wooden box (intended in my planning to become a mosaic decorated keepsake box) became a fabric embellished handbag.

Here is the handbag in progress….. 

creativity creative blooms taxonomy learner creative creativity make sew create draw paint build children kids child

…Or in cookery lessons when weird and wonderful flavour and ingredient combinations are discovered to be amazing….or not!

One of my greatest joys is being privy to children’s creativity and watching it unfurl before me. I am always so taken by surprise at what the children make, and where their journey takes them. I feel honoured to be part of their journey.

I’m looking forward to see what happens at the Spring Cookery and craft club… I promise I’ll show you some pictures if you don’t manage to sign up to this one.

If you’d like to read more about my classes, or holiday clubs – read on here

My top tips for pancake making

pancakes pancake crepe recipe tips top how to learn cook teach cookery scotch american maple syrup lemon sugar

pancakes pancake crepe recipe tips top how to learn cook teach cookery scotch american maple syrup lemon sugar

My top tips for pancake making

I am a total pancake fiend! I eat them regularly all year round. I’ve experimented and tweaked my pancake recipes many times, and put together a fab little guide for you if you are interested (it’s at the bottom of this post). I’ve also managed to come up with ten top tips for perfect pancakes. I hope you like them.

Perfect pancake batter

Add the eggs to a well in the centre of the flour first. Spoon upright (vertical) stir from the middle with little circular movements.
Then add the milk a little at a time keeping the spoon vertical and stirring fro the middle allowing a little flour to be incorporated at a time.

Hot pan

Make sure your frying pan is really hot before you start.
Give it plenty of time to warm up.
The first pancake is always the worst pancake, and I think it’s because the frying pan is not usually hot enough.
So don’t worry if your first one is a flop … rest assured,  the next one will be so much better.

Use butter or coconut oil

I like to use butter for the nicest tasting results.
You can choose your favourite type of fat for frying to get the best flavour for you.

Get your jug out.

Pour crepe batter into the frying pan from a jug or use a soup ladle.
Thicker batters can be dolloped in straight from the bowl using a large serving spoon.

Hands off!

Don’t use a flipper or fish slice until the pancake is properly cooked on one side.
Don’t pat the pancake!
No shifting
Avoid lifting the edges prematurely
No sliding it around.
Understood?
Your pancake will move by itself when it’s ready just with a little shake of the frying pan.

Don’t be a show off. 


If you don’t know what I mean by this – you need to check out the Pancake episode of Pepper Pig.
It is really not necessary to flip  pancakes up in the air.
Use a fish slice for goodness sake.
I’d rather have more pancakes to eat than a mushy mess that’s been on the ceiling or floor!  

Keep them warm.

Store the pancakes on a warm  plate in a low heat oven, or on a warm plate covered by an upturned mixing bowl or tea towel. This way you can all sit down together to enjoy the pancakes which will still be warm!

Offer a selection of toppings

Here are some of my faves: Natural yogurt with fresh fruit and maple syrup, Cinnamon and sugar, lemon and sugar, maple syrup, sliced banana and cinnamon. Tinned fruit, fresh fruit or defrosted from frozen are all excellent accompaniments to pancakes.

Be experimental.

Once you have a foolproof recipe have a play…. try different types of flours, different milks, add a dollop of natural yogurt or butter milk to increase fluffiness of American pancakes. Try adding cocoa powder, or cinnamon to your batter. Let me know any winning combinations you come up with.

Kids can help. 


Make sure you teach your children how to make pancakes.
The best way to do this is to get them involved every time you make them.
Let them help with weighing, stirring, ladling and flipping.

Get my pancakes guide! 


I’ve written a pancake guide.  It has my all time favourite go-to basic pancake recipes. They’ve been tried and tested hundreds of times by me and my girls so you know they will all work! It also has lots of serving suggestions and ways to get your children involved in helping out. Sign up to my newsletter here to get the guide.

cookery craft school summer learn children creative cooking cook recipe healthy activities childcare kent ramsgate margate thanet east kent broadstiars  

Giveaway

competition win healthy children fussy eater safety knife personalised plate win winner cookery eating family food parents children kids

competition win healthy children fussy eater safety knife personalised plate win winner cookery eating family food parents children kids

It’s giveaway time!

I’ve joined up with Jane from Created4U to giveaway the following to one lucky person:

  • Child safety knife
  • Vegetable holder (to keep little hands safe)
  • A hand painted plate personalised with your child’s own drawing

Read on to find out more about these fab products and find out how to enter!

Personalised plate – featuring your child’s drawing £25

Jane from Created4u will giveaway a hand painted plate personalised with your child’s drawing. Customers have told Jane in the past that their fussy eaters have been happy to try new foods when eating from a plate they have designed themselves. Could this work for you? Either way, this giveaway will bring pleasure to any child and is a lovely way to keep your child’s art work forever.

About the plate…

Jane will copy your child’s art work onto a 21cm diameter ceramic plate. The copied drawing and writing of your child’s name will then be hand painted onto the plate using underglaze paints best matched to the colours your child uses. The plate will be dipped in a clear glaze after drying for 24 hours. After another 24 hours the plate will be ready to fired in our kiln, the firing process takes another 24 hours ( 8/9 hours to fire up to 1010 degrees Celsius & 16 hours to cool down). We only fire our kiln with a full load in it to be as economical and eco-friendly as possible with our use of electric. Therefore the finished plate it can take 7-14 days to produce for you. Will then post the plate out to you and let you know when the plate is on its way too you.

personalised plate child drawing win competition fussy eater child family food eating mealtime win winner

Using your plate … Your child will be able to eat off this plate as normal and it can be washed by hand.  If you use a dishwasher please ensure you place it in the dishwasher without any other item touching it as this can cause chipping on the rims otherwise. Please do not put the plate in a microwave oven or a very hot oven as this can cause the plate to crack and break through high thermal shock. The plates are made from earthenware clay and this does not like sudden high intense heat. The plate can be warmed in an oven if desired but please put the plate into a cold oven and allow it to warm up as the oven does to a low heat.

Safety knife £6

Did you know that children who help to prepare food are more likely to taste what they cook. The parents of children who attend my cookery classes report back that their child is much more relaxed around food. They start to taste new foods that they have previously rejected. This knife and veg holder make food preparation safe and easy for children as they learn to handle a knife properly and safely. I’ll giveaway one knife and one vegetable holder to the lucky winner from our draw.

About the knife…

This fabulous knife allows children a feeling of independence and empowerment as they build their food preparation and knife skills safely.

The knife is easy to use in much the same way you would use a sharp knife. You do not need to use a sawing motion to cut through fruit and veg. It can be used on any fruit and veg even harder ones such as onions, small potatoes and apples.

The knife is so easy and efficient to use that I use it myself for most food preparation tasks at home

learn safe knife skills children friendly knife kids girls boys children young cooking preparation food onion vegetables safe learn quality buy

Vegetable holder £6

This looks like an extended comb. It’s a fab little tool which children find helpful to hold fruit and vegetables in place while they cut, keeping their fingers safely out of the way.

The extended prongs are inserted into the fruit or veg and the child holds the handle above to secure the fruit or veg into place and stop slipping. It allows for finer slicing, dicing and chopping as the knife can slide between the prongs. Excellent for teaching children to cut onions, apple, potatoes etc

learn safe knife skills children friendly knife kids girls boys children young cooking preparation food onion vegetables safe learn quality buy

Suitable for use by children aged 6 and upwards. (adults like using them too!)

Blunt slightly serrated stainless steel blade

Chunky blue sparkly plastic handle

Dishwasher safe

Would you like to enter to win?

Last entry for the giveaway will be on 7th February at Midnight. We will announce the lucky winner on 8th February.

All you need to to enter is click below.

cookery craft school summer learn children creative cooking cook recipe healthy activities childcare kent ramsgate margate thanet east kent broadstiars

Good luck!

When your child wants to help in the kitchen…

help helping kitchen washing up children toddler preschooler cooking learn to cook mum dad family child children task age appropriate
Mummy … can I help?

Sometimes help in the kitchen from your child feels like the last thing you want or need. Pictures of the mess, and images of dinner just not getting cooked. Or perhaps dinner burning whilst you assist your young children may float through your already busy mind. Meanwhile you’re desperately searching for an excuse for your child not to ‘help’, or for something easy/ non messy / non dangerous that they could do instead.

It’s not all doom and gloom though. There are so many wonderful benefits that it’s a shame to pass up this opportunity.

 

  • Your child will gain valuable life skills
  • You’ll have a team of helpers for preparing meals
  • You’ll get to spend time together whilst getting a chore done.
My kitchen helper checklist

I’ve put together a guide to age appropriate jobs that children can help with in the kitchen without causing you too much stress or angst at a busy time of day.

It’s free, downloadable and printable – a perfect addition to your fridge door, or maybe inside the larder cupboard door. You can quickly refer to to it and assign a task. 

 

Use it like a checklist

You could also use it a bit like a checklist and cross off tasks that your child can now manage independently. The age guide is really just a suggestion as all children are completely different and will manage things at different ages, however it is helpful to give you a starting point.

cookery craft school summer learn children creative cooking cook recipe healthy activities childcare kent ramsgate margate thanet east kent broadstiars <<< Download here

The age bit is just a guide – we can all enjoy the toddler ones!

Don’t think that just because your child is now a tweenager they won’t enjoy playing with an off-cut of pastry – they will LOVE it. I’ve listed that job under toddlers and pre-schoolers because it is something they can do unassisted, but it is also something that everyone can enjoy doing.

It’s never too early to get your child involved with cooking.

In my opinion it is an essential part in having a healthy relationship with food for life.

Feel free to enjoy using the guide however it fits your family best.

As always I’d absolutely LOVE to see and hear from you how your family is getting on. I love to receive and (with your permission) share pictures of children cooking at home.

Here’s a pic of my lovely Mary bunny ‘helping’ with the washing up quite a few years ago now. I wish she’d still want to help me like this now!

help helping kitchen washing up children toddler preschooler cooking learn to cook mum dad family child children task age appropriate

How to make your own small piping bag

kids cook learn ramsgate kent lessons teach home baking icing piping bag royal icing gingerbread men fine motor skills children cook recipe
Our favourite biscuits to make (and eat) are gingerbread and for these we fill our homemade piping bag with royal icing. However once you know how to make your own, you can fill the piping bag with melted chocolate, frosting, whatever you fancy. Read on to find out how to make your own piping bag.

So we’ve been making rather a lot of these biscuits lately. My eldest wanted to make them for a school project and event, I made some for the school cake stall at their Christmas concert and I ran a class making them. Unfortunately we ran out of time to ice them and I’d really like to share that part of the process today so that you can have a go at home.

We made a special effort with the icing and I made up a stiff batch of royal icing (egg white and icing sugar) and some homemade piping bags.

kids cook learn ramsgate kent lessons teach home baking icing piping bag royal icing gingerbread men fine motor skills children cook recipe  

I was blown away by the outcomes, they had really improved their technique from last time (probably about a year ago). I loved seeing the concentration on both girls faces, and listening to the unusual silence that accompanied the painstaking decoration process. This was a real feel good moment.

You can watch my “how to” video here

If you’d like my family friendly gingerbread recipe – you can receive it here by signing up for my newsletter

Why you should bake…

Here’s why I think making and decorating gingerbread men with your children is super good for everyone…

Family time
As well as being a sweet treat, gingerbread men must be praised because the process of making and decorating involves spending valuable time together.

Good quality ingredients
The ingredients that go into the biscuits are completely within your control. There are no added nasties to make the biscuits last longer, look better, hold together better, more crisp etc. You can include wholemeal flour, free range eggs etc according to your personal preferences / needs.

Nutritional education (you didn’t think I’d actually leave this out did you?
When you make treats yourself, your children can appreciate for themselves just how much sugar and fat goes into biscuits and later on they will be able to make informed decisions about how many they want to  / should eat.

Numeracy skills
M practiced weighing out the ingredients independently. There are loads of ways you can include numeracy in your baking time with your children, but that’s a whole other blog post.

Literacy skills
Following instructions. There are many technical words in recipes and these can be a challenge to children. So here’s a good opportunity for you to start to demystify the world of baking.

Scientific understanding
In my class we talked about the jobs that different ingredients do and why we were using them in this recipe. E.g. bicarbonate of soda. The more you cook, and talk and ask questions the more they will pick up, sometimes subconsciously.

Improves handwriting (fine motor) skills
Icing the biscuits is an excellent way of practicing fine motor control skills, especially for children who struggle with handwriting. We made our own mini piping bags from greaseproof paper and cut a tiny nozzle. The girls had to concentrate really hard to get the designs they wanted. Their outcomes were so much improved from last year, it was really exciting to see.   Find out how to make the piping bags here

Teach your child to use a knife safely in the kitchen

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“How do you teach them to use knives when cooking?”

This is one of the things I get asked most often. Along with “Do you use a special knife?”

I hope to answer some of your questions here, but look out for more knife articles and guides coming here soon.

Which knife do you use?

When using sharp knives, I demonstrate first, I teach safe knife handling techniques and I teach safe hold of vegetables.

Each child receives 1:1 attention until they are fully competent using a sharp knife, and even then they are never left alone, but watched closely.

If cutting soft fruit or veg, or with very young children, we sometimes just use normal cutlery knives – the children have to saw a bit, but I feel happier with them doing that a little more independently which builds their confidence.

However the sawing motion with cutlery knives has been irking me somewhat lately, it seems a bit unnatural to progress from that onto a very sharp knife that can slip through the veg so easily when they are used to the applying more pressure and a  sawing motion. I kind of wanted a happy medium to bridge the gap. (scroll down to the bottom to find the results of my search)

Parental nerves

I’ve also noticed that (as a parent) when I allowed my children to use sharp knives at home, my anxiety (even though I teach hundreds of children sometimes on a 1:26 basis at school to use knives safely) went through the roof and I felt like I wanted to grab the knife from my child and just stop the whole thing.

Kids do pick up on this – and it makes them nervous… which in turn can make things more dangerous. So really it is best to remain outwardly calm and confident, but so much easier said than done!

young person safe knife child family friendly cookery skills looked after children's home cookery lessons 1:1 food hygiene food safety independent living

Teach your child the basics first! 

It’s far more important to cover the following basics first regardless of which knife you use.

  • Start by showing your child around the knife. Teach them how to identify which is the sharp edge and which is the blunt edge.
  • Establish your household knife ground rules. Where are they stored? Who is allowed to get them out? Do they need to ask first? When are they allowed to use a knife in the kitchen?
  • Teach your child how to pass the knife safely to someone else.
  • Show your child how to carry a knife (if they are walking around with one)
  • Demonstrate the safe way to hold a knife.
    Children naturally start by holding kitchen implements at the very top end furthest away from the action. This gives them far less control and a clumsy motion – and we certainly do not want that when handling knives!
    So encourage them to hold the knife as close to where the handle meets the blade as possible with a firm grip using the whole hand and not just fingers.

 

Teach by showing
  • The best way to teach is by showing / demonstrating.
  • Show your child how to cut by placing the point of the knife on the board first and then levering the knife downwards from there.
  • Demonstrate how to hold the fruit or veg safely. I’ll show the main grips I use in more detail in another blog – coming soon in video format.
  • Encourage them to work slowly and methodically and to keep their eye on the job at all times. No talking whilst chopping!
Make it age / ability appropriate
  • Use soft fruit and veg for little children such as banana, cucumber, mushroom etc
  • Do not use very small fruit and veg (e.g. grapes) for young children or beginners – there is not enough for them to hold onto
  • Don’t worry about the pieces being too big, too small or uneven. It’s the technique, not the end result that is important to begin with.
  • Make sure that little children are working at the appropriate height so that the work surface is about waist height – I often use the kitchen table as it is lower and kneeling on a chair is often a good way to start at the right height.
  • Make it fun! If it’s tedious, or you are striving for perfection, your little one will tire of it and possibly not want to do it again. Celebrate successes and reward them for their achievements.

Here is a video my nephew Sam and I made together to show off his culinary skills.

cookery children fussy eaters food family shopping cooking healthy balanced meal cook bake learn lessons ramsgate kent thanet East Kent

There is so much more I can talk about on this topic, so watch this space for further articles.

If you’d like to make sure you see new articles as they are published, why not join my mailing list here: cookery craft school summer learn children creative cooking cook recipe healthy activities childcare kent ramsgate margate thanet east kent broadstiars

 

About my favourite Child friendly knife

Although it’s not essential to buy and use a child safety knife, the confidence that owning a good one can bring very quickly is wonderful. ]

If things are a little tense for you when your child ‘helps’ in the kitchen, this could bring you a bit of  reprieve whilst still allowing your child to help and teaching them all the good tips, skills and advice above.

The knife that I recommend is my favourite because it cuts anything and everything that you could possibly wish to cut in the kitchen (but not fingers) easily and effortlessly. Yet it is blunt and cannot easily cut your child’s fingers. In fact, it is so easy to use (even for onions!) I use it more often than not now at home… and my mum (who helps at my cookery classes) has asked to buy one too!

child safety knife knives kitchen cooking learn to teach child children kids kid safe safety

 

Here it is.

If you’d like to see this fab knife in action – take a look at this video of me trying it out. You can watch the video by clicking on the photo.

Whilst I am able to use my own stock of these when teaching, I don’t currently have a supplier and therefore unfortunately these knives are no longer for sale. I’m working on an alternative supply for these, so please do sign up to my newsletter for updates if you are interested and would like to know as soon as they become available.