Cooking With Kids

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by Leah Brooks is the founder of Young Urban Modern Chefs (Y.U.M. Chefs)


When you invite your child in your kitchen, you are giving them positive food experiences with healthy foods that will last them a lifetime. During our after school cooking classes at Y.U.M. Chefs, we give children age appropriate cooking tasks so that it is safe and matches their skill level.


During class we highlight seasonal vegetables in nearly every lesson. Last week, we featured broccoli.

In the beginning of class, some kids said “yuck” the moment we excitedly held up the broccoli crowns when talking about the menu for the day.

We let each child taste the broccoli raw – some liked it, while some didn’t. We had the children chop up the florets and toss them with olive oil and salt on a baking dish and we roasted them. They came out of the oven slightly crispy. Most of the kids gobbled it up like popcorn and exclaimed that they liked the crispy broccoli. Even the kids who “yucked” the broccoli at least tried it by the end of class. We taught the kids about how cooking the broccoli changes the texture and flavor, and even if you don’t like a certain vegetable in its raw state you might like it cooked. We have found that when you create a positive experience for the kids, even if its just letting them touch the broccoli, smell it, try it raw, chop it up – they are more willing to taste it, and give it another chance. It becomes a fun activity. We don’t lecture about nutrition in class, we embrace the fun of cooking with vegetables, which is the first step in getting your kids used to trying new foods.


In my book “Baking with Kids” I offer some helpful tips called “for smaller hands” that parents decide which tasks to give to young children (aged 5-7). These tips have been tested in my four years of teaching cooking classes, and I have found that they create a positive experience for both the parent and child. Parents of students in my classes have even told me that their kids actually help them put dinner on the table faster by helping with small tasks. Being in the kitchen together can naturally spark conversations about how to make healthy food choices. And its fun!

Baking with Kids is just the book you need to help teach children to bake. Show your children how to safely use basic equipment in the kitchen and explain all about the important ingredients they’ll need to make the most delicious baked goods. Recipes include muffins, scones, breads, pretzels, crackers, pizza dough, pie crust, cake, cookies, cupcakes, and more! In the book you’ll find activities with simple step-by-step photo illustrations that will guide kids through each recipe and inspire creativity throughout.


The following recipe for the seasonal winter Orange Pomegranite scones is a fun and delicious recipe from Leah’s book, Baking with Kids. Pomegranites are healthy and beautiful fruits. The kids love collecting the jewel like arils for the recipe – just make sure they wear an apron as it can stain clothing!


Makes 8 to 12 scones


1 cup all-purpose flour ¾ cup whole wheat pastry flour 4 teaspoons baking powder ¼ cup sugar Zest of 1 orange (save the orange for juice; see below) Pinch of salt 5 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces ½ cup freshly squeezed orange juice (from 2 or 3 oranges) ¼ cup whole milk yogurt 1 pomegranate (large enough to yield ¾ cup pomegranate arils), or dried cranberries or currants if pomegranates are not in season 1 egg 1 tablespoon water


Measuring cups and spoons Liquid measuring cup Large bowl Medium bowl Small bowl Microplane zester Citrus juicer Baking pan Parchment paper Whisk Knife or bench scraper Wooden spoon or spatula Cookie cutters (optional) Pastry brush


1.    Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Line a baking pan with parchment paper and set aside.

2.    In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder, sugar, orange zest, and salt. Add the butter and toss it with the flour until the butter is completely coated. Using a bench scraper, 2 butter knives, or your fingertips, cut the butter into the flour until the mixture is crumbly with pea-size chunks. Stir in the orange juice and yogurt and mix with a wooden spoon or spatula until just blended.

3.    To remove the arils from the pomegranate, score the pomegranate around the diameter of the fruit. Working over a bowl to catch the juice, pull apart the two halves. Use your finger to gently pull the arils from the white pith of each half. They will come away easily.

4.    Sprinkle a light dusting of flour over your work surface and turn out the dough. Press the dough into a rectangle until it is about ½ inch thick. Cut the dough into 3 equal pieces. Into one third of the dough, press ¼ cup of the pomegranate arils. Press another third of the dough over the pomegranate. Sprinkle another ¼ cup of arils over the second layer, pressing them into the dough. Add the final third of dough on top, dotting it with the remaining ¼ cup pomegranate arils. Note: after the dough is cut into thirds, this last set of steps is perfect for small hands!

5.    Cut your scones into triangles or squares, or use cookie or biscuit cutters. Gently combine the scraps, if there are any, and cut out more scones. Note that smaller scones will take less time to bake. Place the scones on the lined baking pan. Note: have children help cut out the scones. Use a bench scraper to mark out the dough first, so the scone sizes are consistent, if you’re not using biscuit or cookie cutters.

6.    Whisk the egg and water together thoroughly to make an egg wash, and brush it over the top of the scones. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, or until golden. Allow to cool on the pan for 5 minutes before transferring to a serving dish or platter.


Photo by Jacob Bindman.


Click here to purchase “Baking With Kids”

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