Children have always enjoyed spending time in the kitchen with their parents, and cooking together is a great time for both parents and kids as they make new memories and share some happy moments.

Do you have a favourite dish that you cook with your children or do you need new some fresh inspiration and new recipe ideas? In this post we share some funny dish ideas that you and your family will love to cook and eat. So get ready, a family party is about to start!

Before you start cooking, think about this: did you know that cooking boosts your child’s overall development?

Each time you let your children cook with you, you are also preparing them for success and happiness in school and life. Stirring the ingredients together, measuring a cup of water, and kneading the dough are all activities from which children can unconsciously pull several benefits.

As you cook, for instance, you label the various ingredients and explain each step of the recipe, which increases your child’s vocabulary and linguistic skills. You can also help their basic math skills by doing something as simple as counting eggs or pouring water into a measuring cup. Moreover, mixing the ingredients, rolling up the dough and using spoons and whisks etc allows kids to train their fine-motor skills, which in turn aids academic abilities like writing. Whilst you cook, you also introduce your children to scientific concepts as they witness what happens when certain ingredients are mixed together: Imagine a child watching small grains of salt vanishing in water and think how interesting it will be for them to witness such phenomena.

In relation to life skills, the more kids cook the more they increase their levels of independence. When children are able to successfully complete a recipe, they feel a sense of confidence which boosts their self-esteem. Moreover, the experience of creating meals together can lay the foundation for healthy eating habits.

Cooking together is always worthwhile, so keep that in mind when you think about taking your child into the kitchen!

  1. Caterpillar of Meatballs (ingredients for 1 caterpillar)

You need:

  • 2 medium sized boiled potatoes
  • 1 small zucchini
  • 1 egg
  • 3 tablespoons of grated Parmesan
  • 2-3 tablespoons of breadcrumbs
  • Salt as required
  • 1 tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Put the boiled potatoes in a bowl and let your kids mash them with a fork. Cut the zucchini into long thin strips and add it to the mashed potatoes along with the eggs, cheese and breadcrumbs. Mix and season with salt. You need to create a firm mixture (if the dough is too soft, add more breadcrumbs) to make  the  differently sized meatballs that will be the parts of the caterpillar’s body. Cook the meatballs in a pan with a tablespoon of oil, turning them often until they turn brown.

Then it’s time to decorate the dish. Children love decorating food, as you can see when they play with Silly Spaghetti. With this toy children can twist the pasta into any shape they like, attaching the 13 pieces to decorate the food, creating either a yummy meal or a crazy face!

Back to the caterpillar, your children can arrange the potato meatballs one after another in order to recreate a caterpillar’s body. You can make the eyes with the black olives and the antennae with two strips of carrot, for example, but try follow your child’s imagination when creating such details.

  1. Ladybird Salad

As you know, eating healthily is not so easy for children. When they see greens on a dish, they can often throw a tantrum. But if the dish is visually tempting, the salad may suddenly not seem so bad after all. So, Ladybird Salad is a great way to encourage your child to eat their vegetables.

Ingredients (for 1 kid):

  • 10 cherry tomatoes
  • 5 pitted black olives
  • Half cucumber
  • Lettuce as you like
  • A pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon of extra virgin olive oil

Wash the cherry tomatoes, cut them in half and make a 3/4 cut, where you will insert a piece of olive. If you want your kids to cut the tomatoes, remember to guide and supervise them. Use the rest of the olive for making the insect’s head. Cut the cucumbers into slices and spread the lettuce leaves and the slices of cucumber on a serving dish to place the ladybirds on. Season with oil and a pinch of salt and you will see how your children will be eager to tuck into the fun salad!

One fun secret to healthy eating is offering lunches and dinners in which the vegetables are disguised. Get them used to healthy foods and freshly-cut vegetables with the Hape Healthy Salad playset. If they have fun preparing a healthy meal, they will be less reluctant to eat it later!

Basket of Citrus Rice

“Mummy, why don’t we cook rice?”

Well, why not go one further and make a delicious and healthy citrus risotto?. Children love to help prepare this dish and over squeezing the oranges into the bowl, a fact underlined by the popularity of the Hape Smoothie Blender!

Prepare the following ingredients (for 3/4 persons):

  • 100g of red pumpkin
  • Vegetable broth as needed
  • 20 g of extra virgin olive oil
  • Grated orange peel to taste
  • One and a half cup of orange juice
  • Parmesan as needed
  • 1 large onion
  • 150 g of rice

As you lightly brown the onion with the oil in a saucepan, let your child make the orange juice, but pay attention to the peel as you will use them as a basket in which to place the rice later, so remember to cut the oranges in half and save them. Once the onion is cooked, add the red pumpkin and cook with the vegetable broth. When the pumpkin is soft enough, your kids can add the rice, orange peel and juice. Cook for 18-20 minutes, adding a ladle of vegetable broth if the rice appears too dry. Once it’s ready, fill the basket with rice and have fun decorating!

Fruit Animal Pancake

Little ones love pancakes, so why not combine them with a healthy dose of fruit? Take:

  • 2 medium eggs
  • 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • 200g of flour
  • 150 ml of milk
  • 80g of sugar
  • Half a bag of baking powder
  • A pinch of salt

Use seasonal fruit and honey to decorate. Children love colorful fruit!

Start by beating the eggs with the sugar in a bowl. Then add the oil, milk and a pinch of salt. Now combine the baking powder and the flour and slowly sift into the bowl whilst whipping. Continue to whip the mixture until it thickens sufficiently. Place a non-stick pan on the stove and, when heated, pour in a ladle of the mixture. When bubbles appear on the surface, turn the pancake over. It really only takes a few minutes!

Now look at your fruit basket and get inspired. What animals do you see? Cut out kiwis, bananas, blueberries and make ears, eyes and moustaches. Spread honey and get decorating!

 Have you tried one of these recipes? Which recipe inspires you the most? Why not try one and have a great time with your family full of love, flavour and fun!