When the weather is miserable, the last thing you want to do is drag everyone to the park. But how can we make sure the kids aren’t climbing the walls bored at home?
How about teaching your child to make their own snacks as a fun project at home? It’ll give them a head start in learning about food preparation and independence. Most importantly, it’s a wonderful activity to do at home when the it’s miserable out.
Homemade snacks are a great choice to bridge the gap between meals. If your child has helped make them, there’s a good chance they will enjoy eating them too. Take a look at these tips and recipes and create a little fun in the kitchen with your child. You’ll be making snacks together that the Great British Bake Off would be proud of!
A ‘Helping’ Hand
A very young child in the kitchen can sometimes be more of a hindrance than a help – but have a few recipes up your sleeve that are easy for everyone to join in with. They could come in handy on a wet afternoon.
Using American-style ‘cups’ is a simple way to get kids started measuring and feeling ingredients. With no scales and numbers involved, these cups are great to scoop measured items. You can even get sets of bright, chunky colourful cups that are easy for small hands to hold.
Of course you can have fun making the usual cupcakes and iced biscuits. But how about working on a kitchen project that creates healthy snacks? Cooking healthy snacks from the start can really help a young child to understand different techniques. Plus it can prevent them from developing quite such a sweet tooth.
You can enjoy them right away or save some for school lunch boxes and for when you’re out and about. Your child may feel quite a sense of achievement if they have helped make the ‘functional’ food in the house.
These are so simple and incredibly delicious. Your child will learn two important kitchen skills making these – how to melt chocolate and how to prepare bananas. They aren’t really a snack for taking out with you, as they need to be stored in the freezer.
3 large, just ripe bananas
100g bar of your favourite chocolate
1 tsp coconut oil
4 tbsp coconut flakes
9 lolly sticks or reusable straws
Together, peel the bananas and carefully cut them into 3 pieces. Push a lolly stick or straw into the end of each piece and then place on a baking sheet. Freeze the banana pieces for 2-3 hours.
Whilst the banana is freezing, you can toast the coconut flakes until golden. Ask your little fingered helper to use their hands to crush the cooled flakes a little, into smaller pieces.
When the bananas are nearly ready to be removed from the freezer, your child could break the chocolate into pieces and place into a glass bowl. You can then heat the bowl directly over a small saucepan of simmering water until the chocolate has melted. Stir in the coconut oil.
Remove the banana pieces from the freezer. You and your child can now dip the banana tops into the melted chocolate and then the coconut flakes. The chocolate will set pretty quick so get those flakes stuck on!
Either eat immediately, or they will be quite happy in the freezer for 1-2 weeks.
This recipe allows your child to really get stuck in. Measuring the flour out will be pretty easy. This early introduction of rubbing butter into the flour will be quite messy but a lot of fun!
The mixing and mashing of the milk with the raspberries will take you back to your own “mud pie” making days. And your child will enjoy seeing the milk turn a glorious pink. You can use a star shape cutter or get your child to pick their favourite shapes!
90g butter, fridge cold
2 ½ cups of plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
¼ cup caster sugar
⅔ cup milk (any kind)
½ cup frozen raspberries
2 tsp freeze dried raspberry pieces
For the Icing
1 cup of icing sugar
1 tbsp freeze dried raspberry pieces (plus a bit extra for sprinkling)
Pre-heat the oven to 190°C/375°F/Gas Mark 5. Ask your child to measure out the plain flour and sugar into a large bowl, along with the baking powder. Tip in the butter and show your child how to rub the butter in, trying to encourage them to use their fingertips only. Leave to one side once the flour and butter resembles breadcrumbs.
In a wide bowl add the milk, frozen raspberries and freeze dried raspberries. Give your child a fork and ask them to mash the berries into the milk. After a little while the raspberries will defrost and turn the milk a lovely shade of pink or purple.
Make a hole in the middle of the dried ingredients and tip in the milk mix. Stir it all together until a soft dough is formed.
Roll the dough out on a floured board until you have an even thickness of about 2cm. Using a star cutter, get your child to cut out 18-20 stars (this will depend on the size of your cutter). Place the stars on a greased baking sheet and bake for 18-20 minutes until puffed up, golden and cooked.
In a small food processor, whizz the freeze dried raspberries with the icing sugar. Add a little bit of water to make a bright pink icing, that is the right consistency for drizzling.
When the stars have cooled, drizzle over the pink icing. Then quickly sprinkle over any freeze dried raspberry pieces.
Store in an airtight container for 2-3 days. These can be frozen without the icing for 2-3 months, They taste lovely when warmed in the oven briefly to refresh them.
This recipe is great for kids who like to get hands-on while they’re cooking.
½ cup peanut butter (crunchy or smooth)
1 tbsp coconut oil (melted)
1 cup of flour
¾ tsp baking powder
¼ cup milk
½ cup brown sugar
3 tbsp jam (whatever flavour you like)
Pre-heat the oven to 190°C/375°F/Gas Mark 5. Help your child to crack the egg into a small bowl. Encourage them to measure out the peanut butter, coconut oil and milk. Using a whisk or wooden spoon, stir them together.
In another bowl, add the flour, baking powder and brown sugar. Stir in the peanut butter mixture until a soft dough is formed. You may need to help a bit more here.
Together, roll 15 small balls from the mixture and place on a baking sheet. Ask your child to push their thumb into the middle of each ball, not going all the way through though.
Heat the jam with a little water to loosen. This can get really hot so it may be best if you then fill the thumb prints with the jam yourself.
Once that’s done, bake for 15-17 minutes, until golden and the jam is bubbling.
Cool on a wire rack and store in an airtight container for up to 1 week.
Cooking with Older Kids
As your child grows up, they may want to take on more responsibility in the kitchen. These recipes will allow your child to use scales to measure out more accurately. They can create really nutritious snacks that they could include in their own packed lunches. This helps them move towards taking on more independence. Learning to feed themselves is an important life lesson!
Once they’re confidently preparing these recipes, you could encourage them to come up with their own flavour combinations. Developing different tastes at an early age can really help children grow up enjoying a variety of foods. Plus they won’t be afraid of trying something new.
This is a no-cook recipe so it could be left to your child to do on their own! Sometimes it’s hard to let a child make a mess in the kitchen. But when a recipe is this easy, it’s a good time to close the door and let them get on with it!
2 small apples
1-2 tsp lemon juice
190g rolled oats
30g hemp seeds (hulled)
1 tbsp almond butter
1 tbsp coconut oil (melted)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tbsp runny honey
2 tbsp linseeds
12 dried apple rings
1 tbsp extra runny honey
Wash the apples and grate them, without peeling. Squeeze out some of the juice from the apple and add to a clean bowl. Tip in the lemon juice as this will prevent the apples from turning brown. Add all the other ingredients except the apple rings and extra honey.
With damp hands (this makes it easier), create 12 balls, squeezing them quite tightly to make them firm. Spread the remaining honey onto the apple rings and press an Apple Bomb onto each. Store in the fridge in an airtight container.
If your school allows almond products, this is a great lunch box addition. Or you could easily replace the almond butter with pumpkin seed butter if you wanted to take these to a nut-free school.
Cheese and Marmite Mini Bread Loaves
Teaching a child that a snack doesn’t have to be sweet, allows them to explore and develop tastes for new ingredients. Mini bread loaves are a great snack. Who doesn’t want their own little loaf of bread?
This one is flavoured with cheese and marmite but can be made with alternatives. These include sun dried tomatoes, cooked onions, cheese, olives, nuts and seeds. You’ll need a mini loaf tin for this one.
70ml olive oil
70ml Greek yoghurt
1 tbsp Marmite, dissolved in 1 tbsp boiling water
120g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
50g Cheddar cheese
½ tsp sea salt
Pre-heat the oven to 190°C/375°F/Gas Mark 5.
In a jug, whisk the eggs, oil, yoghurt and marmite together. Grate the cheese.
Sift the flour, baking powder, salt and grated cheese (reserve a little) into a large bowl and make a space or well, in the middle with your hand. Tip in the liquid from the jug and gently stir the ingredients together to combine.
Grease an 8 x mini loaf tin. Spoon the bread batter into each of the holes and even the surfaces. Sprinkle with the rolled oats and reserved grated cheese. Bake for 18-20 minutes until golden, risen and cooked through.
These are best served warm or within 1-2 days.
This is a snack that you child can make so easily and it’s rocket fuel! It has no processed sugar in it but there will still be queues to lick the bowl. Buckwheat, linseed and oats will provide a great boost in energy for everyone to enjoy. Plus it’s a great recipe to get your young ones using the kitchen scales and measuring items.
40g salted roasted peanuts
50g buckwheat groats
30g ground linseed
190g rolled oats (plus a bit extra for sprinkling)
70g butter (or olive oil spread)
2 tbsp runny honey
1 really ripe banana
Pre-heat the oven to 190°C/375°F/Gas Mark 5.
Put the peanuts in a small freezer bag and bash into small pieces with a rolling pin. Reserve a few of the peanut pieces, and add the rest to a bowl with the buckwheat, linseed and rolled oats.
Heat the butter in a small saucepan until melted. Stir in the honey and mash the banana into the buttery mix. Crack the egg into the mixture and give it a good whisk.
Add the banana and butter mix to the dry ingredients and stir until well combined. Press into a greased 8 x mini loaf tin and sprinkle over the reserved peanuts and oats.
Bake for 25-30 minutes until golden and cooked through. Cool on a wire rack and store in an airtight container for 3-4 days.
Ready, Steady, Bake!
With really young children you don’t need to buy expensive cake mixes. Using cups to measure and recipes like these, and your child can learn from the start that baking can be really simple.
Spending time with your child in the kitchen is a great activity and it will provide some wonderful memories for them growing up. And all from the comfort and warmth of your kitchen.
Here are some final tips to bake your way to happiness:
- Make it a fun activity
- Always supervise or manage cooking when there’s heat, sharp knives or edges and raw ingredients
- Choose recipes rather than cake mixes, to teach “making from scratch” from the start
- Try making some healthy snacks they can enjoy in their packed lunch
- Don’t be afraid of kids making a mess!
- Allow your child to make a few mistakes – it’s the best way to learn.