Roll Up Your Sleeves This Spring Break!

I’ve always had a strong affinity for baking and cooking, even as a toddler.  My earliest culinary memory dates back to 1993, as I decorated my first gingerbread house.  I’d like to think that my repertoire has since expanded, but don’t get me wrong: I can (…okay, do) still make a mean gingerbread house.  I have very fond memories of time spent in the kitchen with my mom, and I look forward to spending such quality time with my own kids someday.

                  For many of us, Spring Break is right around the corner.  Who wants to place bets on how long it’ll take to hear the first, “I’m bored!” (Or is that a feeling this tech generation has never experienced?!)  I can’t help but suggest rolling up your sleeves and cooking with the kids.  Planning, prepping, timing, measuring, following multi-step directions—these are all skills that are developed through the culinary arts!  Beyond that, this hands-on activity has something for all ages and abilities: from stirring to dicing, every kid in the family can contribute to the product!

                  Incidentally, March is National Nutrition Month!  Kids may be talking about what constitutes as nutritious in school, so this is an opportune time to turn preach into practice!  By clicking here, you’ll be redirected to a slideshow from the Food Network that embeds recipes to five healthy and kid-friendly snack recipes: Cinnamon-Raisin Soft Pretzels, Strawberry Chocolate-Chip Muffins, Gluten-Free Cheesy Crackers, Taco Popcorn, and Peanut Butter Balls!  Admittedly, these snacks do sound more like an indulgence than health food, but you may be surprised; each pretzel, for example, has only 160 calories, 8 grams of sugar, and 3 grams of fat! 

If you’re really on board the nutrition wagon, there are countless healthy meal recipes at your fingertips as well!  My favorite resource is the web, as recipes are free, easy to find, available instantly, and easy to scroll through while cooking or baking.  Speaking from personal experience, another great resource is the local library.  Kids will enjoy browsing through the pictures and picking a book to bring home.  Like recipes from the web, borrowed cookbooks are free!  Family recipes are also a special source.  Not only do I hold generations-old tips and tricks in my recipe book, I also have recipes from throughout my life, ranging from Mommy & Me cooking classes to present-day cooking classes!

Should you not be a spatula savant, there are plenty of class opportunities throughout the valley!  This month, Sur La Table is offering 3-day Spring Break camps for kids (8-12) & teens (13-17) alike.  Classic Cooking Academy in Scottsdale is offering canning classes for kids too!  Once National Nutrition Month has passed, you may want to consider the kids cupcake class in April! ;)   While not healthy per se, Sweet Basil in Scottsdale is offering a pizza and pasta class for kids this month.  In my defense, the BBQ chicken pizza comes with corn relish!  The white pizza comes with tomatoes and basil!  The chicken and pasta casserole come with mixed veggies!  At least these dishes aren’t the veggie-foreign classic cheese pizza!

Whatever strikes your kids’ fancy, the key ingredient is fun.  Happy Spring Break, and bon appetite!