Cooking with kids: Simple tips and easy recipes from Kimberly Evans

Tis the season to sit back, relax, and turn your kids kids and teens lose in the kitchen. Wait, what? Let’s be honest, while we all want our kids to know more about cooking and a healthy lifestyle inviting our kids and teens to get busy in the kitchen is more nerve wracking than relaxing. And while there is some truth that a messy kitchen is a happy kitchen most of us don’t want to spend the lazy days of summer cleaning. The good news is that helping our kids build healthy habits does not always have to end in a mess. Here are a few ways to starting places:

Have your kids create a grocery shopping list. You might give them a few parameters such as “pick 2 colorful veggies, 2 colorful fruits, and 1 fun food” or “pick ingredients for an energizing breakfast”. I use an app called “wunderlist” and have a shared grocery list that members of my family can add to – this does not always mean that I buy everything added to the list but it gets everyone involved. This is a first step!

Let your kids choose. For example “choose a new vegetable that we have never had” or “choose a snack with protein”. Now, just because your kid might be willing to choose a new vegetable does not guarantee they will eat it, but again it is a starting place.

Set aside food prep time. Involve your kids in the kitchen outside of normal meal times. There are many ingredients that can be prepped for the week such as shredding cheese, chopping herbs, and making a sauce or two. This might be a less hectic and less stressful time to have a helping hand in the kitchen.

Make cooking and eating fun. There are simple gadgets that kids and teens can use in the kitchen that can get them involved with minimal mess!

Microplane Zester. Hand over the task of zesting citrus peel, ginger, garlic, and parmesan cheese.

Manual Citrus Juicer. Little hands might need some extra help with this but there is something magical about juicing that kids love.

Bamboo Utensils. These are my latest obsession for many reasons. Not only do they come in a portable little case and are reusable, they are actually very functional while also being safe. I have recently cut an avocado, cucumber, and a pepper with these.

If you are worried that you are raising kids who will not know how to cook, finding opportunities for them to be in the kitchen is an important! Like any other skill knowing how to cook takes some practice! Maybe turn them loose in someone else’s kitchen?

Fun Recipes to Try:


Makes about 20 pieces. Serves 5.


– 1 1/2 cups short sushi rice
– 2 cups water
– 2 Tbsp sugar
– 1/4 tsp salt
– ½ – 1 cup coconut milk
– 1 1/2 tsp vanilla

A variety of fruit and berries:

– Strawberries
– Mango – Use a potato peeler to shave thin slices off the mango.
– Kiwi
– Blackberries
– Raspberries
– Blueberries
– Toasted coconut


In a medium pot combine the rice, water, sugar and salt. Cook on low heat for about 20 minutes or until all the rice absorbs the water. Add the coconut milk and vanilla. The mixture should be moldable. Cook a few minutes longer if it’s too runny. Add coconut milk as needed.

Lay a bamboo rolling pad on a countertop or cutting board, and place a square of wax paper over top. Spread the rice about 1/2 inch thick over the paper into approximately a 7″ x 5″ rectangle. Slice fruit of choice into long pieces.

Toast a 1/4 cup of coconut shreds for 3 minutes.

Lay the fruit pieces on the rice, and roll up carefully. If rice sticks to the paper too much, try spreading it a little thicker.

Coat the rolls with toasted coconut. Slice each roll into 6 pieces.

With the rest of the rice, roll into balls and place thin slices of kiwi or strawberries over top (like nigiri) with half a blackberry on top to look like fish eggs.


Blend 1/4 cup raspberries with 1/4 cup water and 1 TBSP honey to make a dipping sauce.

No-Bake Energy Bites

1½ cups whole rolled oats (chopped lightly in food processor)
1½ cups crispy rice cereal
½ cup shredded coconut (sweetened or unsweetened)
¼ cup chia seeds
¼ cup flax seed (ground)
½ cup natural peanut butter
¼ cup coconut oil
¼ cup honey
¼ cup mini chocolate chips or cocoa nibs

Stir together peanut butter, coconut oil and honey in a small mixing bowl until smooth.

Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl.

Pour peanut butter mixture over dry ingredients and mix until evenly combined.

Press 2 tablespoons of mixture together and roll into small balls.

Store in a covered glass container.

Chill energy balls for 30 minutes then enjoy.

Store in refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

Written for Healthy Living by Kimberly Evans MS RD.
Kimberly Evans is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and food enthusiast with over 30 years of experience in helping clients achieve health as a lifestyle. She firmly believes the “good life” should be every day life.Kimberly has a life long love of ballet, running and yoga. Kimberly is passionate about making it easy to connect to multiple sources of nourishment to support your health and vitality.