why i love cooking with my kids

Earlier this month, my kids asked me what I wanted them to make me for Father’s Day.

My answer? Nothing, unless we make it together!

It’s not because I need control of the kitchen, but rather because it’s one of my favorite activities to do as a family.  And it’s also one of the best things we can do as a family. Together.

To be honest, when we look back at the past year with COVID, one of the strongest takeaways and outcomes is that if you shared a house with others, you were eating more meals together.

Study after study continue to show the significant, measurable scientific proof about the lifelong benefits of family meals.  Food is way more than fuel for our bodies; sharing meals is nourishment to the spirit, brain and health of everyone in the family.  


More specifically, family meals are:

  • Linked to higher grades and self-esteem in kids;

  • Result in kids who are more likely to be more positively social as adults, respectful and fair;

  • Shown to exhibit lower levels of depression and violence;

  • More likely to have higher intakes of fruits and veggies, which are of course tied to lower levels of disease;

  • Less likely to suffer from obesity.


The list continues.

Now, for me, as a dad of two young girls, I also just love being in the kitchen myself and with them.  

It sparks conversation, connection and time together. Hence my answer when they asked what I want them to make me for Father’s Day. It wasn’t just a straightforward list of options. 

Now all this said, I offered some direction of what I was hoping for and what I was hoping to make with them, then let them take the lead so they felt empowered and not like I was stepping on toes.  

Remember, more is caught than taught.

Have I convinced you to make family meals your thing too?  

And if you don’t have kids, that’s cool – even cooking on your own or with a partner has positive benefits, so have at it.  


Here are a few of the items we be prepared on Father’s Day with their help.  

And I can assure you, no dad jokes were spared during our time in the kitchen!


BREAKFAST

Dad McMuffin

Similar to an egg McMuffin, but with a little twist (and a lot of flavor).


  • 1 Sprouted Grain English Muffin (we love Food for Life Brand)

  • 2 over easy eggs

  • ½ avocado, sliced

  • Calabrian chiles, chopped

  • Mozzarella cheese

  • Everything but the Bagel seasoning


Directions

  1. Toast the muffin with a bit of mozzarella on one side, so it melts

  2. Meanwhile, cook the egg over a medium sized pan until desired doneness of the yolk (we like dippy, as my kids call it)

  3. While the egg is cooking, carefully slice the avocado and add it to the toasted muffin.

  4. Sprinkle the egg with Everything but the Bagel seasoning, top with Calabrian chiles if you like heat (FYI – these are found near the condiments in most grocery stores).  

  5. Eat, drip egg yolk all over your hands, and enjoy.

NOTE: Our kids hate the Calabrian chiles, but the rest of up their alley.


SNACKING

Popcorn Bar

This may sound silly, but it’s a fun way to add a high quality snack to your day. 

We pop our kernels following the directions on the package.  And, no, no microwaved popcorn here – the actual, fresh popped kernels results in a much better product.

After popped, we spray the popcorn with Avocado Oil spray and then include bowls with a variety of toppings, such as:

  • Parmigiana cheese

  • Nutritional yeast

  • Salt

  • Pepper

  • Curry powder

  • Cayenne pepper


And, like the Taco Bar, everyone creates their own bowl of deliciousness.  


Taco Bar

Taco bar is one of the best meals to get everyone involved and offer a whole lotta’ grub for everyone.  For example, our 9 & 12 year old girls decided they were going to be vegetarian about 6 months and it’s still going strong.  For that reason, this works wonders because if my wife and I want meat, we can offer that.  Since the kids don’t, there’s other options too.


Ingredients

  • Tortillas (pick your fav brand).

  • Beans, drained and rinsed

  • Tomatoes, chopped

  • Cheddar cheese, shredded

  • Spinach, finely chopped (it’s more nutritious than iceberg lettuce)

  • Salsa

  • Avocado

  • Onions (for caramelizing)

  • Ground beef (if desired)

  • Shredded jackfruit (for our vegetarian kids to add some texture)

*Really any veggie can work – mix, match whatever you have and whatever you desire


Directions

  1. Prepare all ingredients by chopping, shredding and cooking ground beef if needed.

  2. This one is hard to list directions since it depends on the veggies used. Kids can be involved in chopping and shredding, depending on ages and of course supervision.  Ours have been using appropriate knives since they’ve been little (while we help where needed).

  3. The key here is laying out different bowls with all the ingredients and then letting every mix and match ingredients to create their own taco.  

  4. This one below should actually be prepared first in the day for proper resting and enjoyment when the times comes (and sometimes, before).


DESSERT

Ice Cream Sandwiches (this one is an absolute fav)

First, the cookies. This is a recipe we adopted from King Arthur’s website with just a tad less sugar than they included.


Ingredients

  • 1 cup smooth peanut butter

  • ½ cup brown sugar, packed

  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

  • pinch of salt (plus some for the top after baking)

  • 1 large egg

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 1/2 cup chocolate (or peanut butter) mini chips

Instructions

  1. Preheat your oven to 350°F.

  2. Beat the peanut butter, sugar, baking soda, and salt at medium speed of your mixer, until well-blended.

  3. Add the egg and vanilla, and blend on low-medium speed until incorporated.

  4. Stir in the chocolate chips.

  5. Scoop the dough by the tablespoonful onto a parchment-lined baking sheet and push the top of the dough to flatten just slightly.

  6. Bake the cookies for 8 to 10 minutes. 

  7. Remove them from the oven, and cool right on the pan. The tops should be slightly crinkled and you will want to pull them BEFORE they begin to brown on the edges

This recipe needs to be prepared early in the morning, so the cookies have time to cool.  Ideally even the night before.  Then, here’s the key, adding your favorite ice cream in the middle of two cookies, putting them on a baking sheet and adding them to the freezer for several hours until the ice cream hardens in the middle.  It’s a fav in our house and the perfect finish to a wonderful day of eating.  

There you have it.  A few of our favorite cook together options – simple & tasty, but also ones that allow us to be together and prepping food.  


Those who cook together, stay together and even if cooking is the lowest on your list of things to do, even just simple eating takeout together has its benefits!




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