Skye McAlpine is the blogger behind From My Dining Table and has one son, Aeneas, aged 3. Celia Munoz runs children’s clothing brand La Coqueta Kids and has five children, Flavia, aged 8, Lucas, aged 7, Siena, aged 6, Bosco, aged 4, and Hugo, aged 3.

Why should kids get involved with cooking?
Skye McAlpine: Cooking is something that growing up I did with my mother, just like eating, cooking is a social, family activity. I am mindful that it is important for me to cook with my son, Aeneas, because I want him to learn that food isn’t just nourishment for the body, there is so much more to it than that. It is nourishment for the soul, it is memories and nostalgia, and cooking and eating together as a family is a huge part of that.
Celia Munoz: Cooking with children is so important, not only because it is truly one of the best activities you can do indoors when it’s raining, but also because it gets everybody involved. I want my children to see where food comes from so they get to appreciate the goodness and importance of the ingredients a lot more. In a way I think it gets them closer to the idea of what is healthy, and what is not.

Food isn’t just nourishment for the body, it is nourishment for the soul, it is memories and nostalgia, and cooking and eating together as a family is a huge part of that

How can you make cooking relevant and engaging for children of all ages?
SM: I think it’s mostly about what you cook. I always say that I love to cook because I love to eat, and I think it is no different for children. I find that if the children are excited to eat something, they tend to really enjoy making it too. And I think that is the case for all ages. Recipes like my salted honey ice cream are great because you can taste it as you go along, and that becomes part of the fun. Taste and flavours are a huge part of what makes cooking fun.
CM: I find cooking with children always works best when they have to prepare and lay out the ingredients before starting to cook. In this way, they learn about the process of making a meal. What engages my children the most is when there is something such as picking, or cutting, or chopping to be done, it makes them feel extremely grown up and appreciated. I also find it very helpful that they can wash and cut vegetables while I do other things.

What are the ideal things to cook / bake with kids?
SM: I find that hands-on cooking works well, so making pastry where you knead the ingredients together with your hands and roll it out, or making fresh pasta dough, for example, are both great ways of cooking with children. Recipes where the children can get heir hands dirty are also great, as are very simple recipes where you can hand them the ingredients and let them take the lead.

What are your go-to meals when short of time?
SM: One of Aeneas’s favourite things to eat is pasta with pesto so that is my go to when we’re in a rush. I often make fresh pesto in bulk and then store it in the fridge for a few days so I have it to hand, otherwise I use a good quality sauce from a jar. Other favourite’s when time is short are spaghetti alla carbonara, scrambled eggs and smoked salmon on toast, or tinned sardines on toast with a simple tomato salad.
CM: If I am in a hurry, I would prepare a quick salad nicoise or Greek salad with some nice grained bread. A bowl of yogurt accompanied with dried fruit, nuts and a dash of honey is also a great way of eating something healthy that only takes minutes to prepare. I’m also a big fan of green smoothies as I find them really easy and quick to make. They are a great source of energy that allow you to go a whole morning without feeling hungry.

Any advice for parents who are not natural cooks?
SM: I am a completely self-taught cook and I genuinely believe that everyone who likes to eat is a ‘natural’ cook, the rest is just a matter of a little confidence and a little practice. I would say, have fun with food, dinner looking perfect is not what cooking is about, it’s a chance to be in the kitchen, an excuse to spend time with family and to let your creativity run wild. Try to cook with high quality, fresh ingredients because it is almost impossible to go wrong with them.
CM: I am definitely one of them! I think the best thing to do is to follow blogs such as Skye’s and follow their recipes to the letter. Her recipes are so easy and the results are always delicious.

Over the next three weeks we will sharing three of Skye’s delicious recipes with you, including a no-churn ice cream recipe and a vegetable tart recipe, both of which offer great ways of getting the whole family involved in cooking. 

For more about Skye please visit frommydiningtable.com
For more about Celia please visit lacoquetakids.com
Photography by Lesley Colvin

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