Kids in the kitchen

It may sound simple, but one of the best gifts we can give our children is knowledge around food. From where food comes from to how it can nourish your body and how to prepare it, this education is truly profound.

Cooking is a life skill that will set kids up for health and happiness. It will enable them to appreciate the quality of what they eat, as well as the abundance of food they’re lucky enough to have on-hand in Australia.

Visiting farmers markets and produce regions with your family is a beautiful way to open them up to this world. Another way is to cook with them at home. You don’t need to turn them into mini MasterChef contestants – a brûlée torch in the hand of a seven-year-old probably isn’t a good idea. But following a few simple recipes together, of the type of food they enjoy to eat, is a good start to setting up these foundations.

You might even win a few battles at the dinner table if your broccoli-adverse child has tossed their most-loathed vegetable through pasta themselves. At the very least, they’ll have a greater appreciation of what’s on their plate.

It’s a good move to start their cooking repertoire off on a sweet note. We’ve created a recipe for delicious apricot muesli balls and peach fruit leather (see recipes, below) for you to make at home. What we love about these little bites is they solve both the lunchbox and the hurried breakfast-while-running-out-the-door issues. Win!

And because we’re all about making mealtimes easy and delicious here at Katering at Home, we’ve helped solve the ongoing lunchbox dilemma with our weekly menu that includes Vegemite scrolls, pizza scrolls, and our ever-popular banana loaf.

When the weekend rolls around, bundle the kids into the kitchen to prepare our pre-mixed pancakes for breakfast. They can get creative with toppings and have a go at flipping the pancakes in the pan – supervised, of course. Or let them bake our cookie dough and watch their sense of self-accomplishment rise with the cookies.

You never know, they might enjoy it all so much they give you a night or two off from cooking (one can dream). For the other nights, there’s always us!

Apricot and muesli breakfast balls

Prep time: 15 minutes

1 cup (nut-free) toasted muesli
½ cup apricots, roughly chopped
2 Medjool dates, roughly chopped
40g honey
30g butter, melted
2 tsp pepitas (pumpkin seeds), toasted and roughly chopped
2 tsp sunflower seeds, toasted and roughly chopped
½ cup desiccated coconut

Place muesli, apricots, dates, honey and melted butter in a food processer. Process for 2-3 minutes or until well combined.
Add pepitas and sunflower seeds and stir to combine.
Place coconut in a shallow dish. Roll tablespoonfuls of mixture into balls. Roll balls in the coconut to coat.
Store balls in a sealed plastic container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

Peach fruit leather straps

Prep time: 10 minutes

3 cups roughly chopped peach (about 6 peaches), skin on
1 tbsp honey

Preheat oven to 80–100C (or set to the lowest temperature).
Line a baking tray with a non-stick silicon mat or baking paper.
Using a hand-held blender or a food processor, blend peaches and honey until smooth. Using a spatula, spread mixture evenly over the baking tray.
Place in the oven for 2–3 hours (or overnight if you have a very low setting), or until mixture is set and dry.
6.    Allow to cool slightly, remove mat or baking-paper and place on cutting board. While leather is still on mat, cut into strips using a pizza cutter or very sharp knife.
7.    Place leather on strips of non-stick baking paper before rolling. Store in an airtight container for up to three days.