Kitchen pretend play can be an ideal time to begin talking about the importance of healthy foods with your little ones.

By starting to teach about nutrition and kitchen safety rules at a young age, you could help establish healthy eating habits that will last a lifetime.

Next,  try spending time with the kids in the (real) kitchen.

Match your kids’ skill levels with various tasks for safe kitchen fun. Here are some suggestions from the Mid-Atlantic Dairy Association for age-specific tasks:

3-Year Olds

  • Wash fruits and vegetables
  • Stir ingredients in a bowl
  • Tear lettuce

4-Year Olds

  • Grease pans
  • Open packages
  • Mash bananas with a fork

5- to 6-Year Olds

  • Measure ingredients
  • Set the table
  • Garnish food

7- to 8-Year Olds

  • Roll and shape cookies
  • Beat ingredients with a whisk
  • Find ingredients in a cabinet or spice rack

9- to 12-Year Olds

  • Open cans
  • Use a microwave oven
  • Use an oven and knife (with supervision)
  • Shred cheese and vegetables

 

 

What child doesn’t love mac n cheese?

Involve even the youngest child in this cupcake version.

Recipe created by Chef John Folse, Cheesemaker and Owner of John Folse & Co, Gonzales, Louisiana

Makes 10 servings

Ingredients

  • 3 cups skim milk
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups reduced-fat Cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 3/4 cup part-skim mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 8 ounces elbow macaroni, cooked and drained

Directions

Preheat oven to 350°F. In a medium saucepan, slowly add 1 cup of milk to flour, stirring constantly until all lumps have dissolved. Add the remaining milk, stirring thoroughly. Place on stove and simmer 15 minutes, stirring occasionally until sauce thickens. Add 1 cup Cheddar, 3/4 cup Mozzarella and 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese; stir until blended. Add macaroni, stirring gently to coat well. Line muffin tin with paper muffin cups and place one scoop of macaroni mixture into each muffin cup. Top with reserved 1/2 cup Cheddar. Bake 15 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool for 5 minutes before serving.