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Preschoolers and young elementary aged kids can do a whole lot more in the kitchen than you might think. Here are some summer-friendly recipe ideas that will help you have tons of healthy fun with your children.

It's summer and school is out in most places. For parents with young children, now is the right time to create some great memories and engage in wholesome family fun. You don't have to look beyond your home, either! If you fondly remember baking cookies with your parents as a child, you'll know that your own littles will probably have a fantastic time in the kitchen. 

Parents — let go of your kid/kitchen related anxiety, embrace the mess, have tons of fun, and enjoy making and eating your meals together. 

By teaching your children to cook from a young age, you will offer them a skill that will last them a life-time and that will make their spouse ecstatic one day. You'll give them a true sense of independence right away, and will instill a sense that healthy, home-made meals are important and fun. 

All you need is some inspiration to get you started. 

Quirky Salads Kids Will Love

There is no doubt that salads are the ultimate summer food. All that fresh produce will give the whole family a vitamin and mineral boost, and keep everyone hydrated too. Best of all, salads are easy and quick to prepare and don't usually involve much (if any) actual cooking. They're a nice place for kids to start.

Do your kids normally start fussing the moment they heard the word "salad"? Don't be skeptical. They are likely to feel different if they make the salad themselves, and will almost certainly proudly devour the product of their own labor and creativity

Not all salad ingredients combine well together, but many do. My kids, who are four and seven years old, have more fun if they to decide what to put in their salad, rather than working from a pre-created script (AKA recipe). 

To start off with, go shopping together as a family. Tell your kids that they will have the opportunity to make salads themselves, and allow them to pick most of the ingredients. 

Some of the things you might like to suggest are lettuce (a usual suspect that is also entirely optional), rocket, baby spinach, basil, olives, cucumber, parsley, fresh and sundried tomatoes, celery, beans, bell peppers in different colors, carrots, spring onions, and avocado

We also love strawberries, which are great with baby spinach, raw zucchini, fresh figs, mushrooms, different kinds of sprouts, water cress, and red cabbage. Don't forget to stock up on cheeses (mozzarella is always great), eggs, nuts, sunflower seeds, and raisins either. 

A good dressing is what really makes a salad come together. Some simple choices that your kids can help make are:

  • Olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper
  • Honey, mustard, olive oil, and lemon
  • Home-made mayonnaise
  • Lemon juice, garlic, olive oil, salt, and yogurt
  • Sesame oil, soy sauce, chopped fresh coriander, and garlic
  • Fresh orange juice, mayonnaise, lemon juice, salt and pepper
How do you help your preschool- and young elementary aged kids achieve salad success?

Obviously, get them to wash their hands thoroughly before they start. Really tiny kids can use a plastic knife to cut ingredients up into little pieces, but kids older than four or so can definitely learn to use a real knife in my experience. Just sit with them while they are doing it, show them how to hold the knife, and make sure they always cut away from their body. 

Not all ingredients need to be cut, though. You can get your kids to rip up stuff like basil, lettuce and mozzarella with their hands. They can grate carrots and cucumbers, for instance. Have an open mind, don't shy away from what appear to be weird combinations, and above all have lots of fun

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