During a cooking session, you can teach children about nutrition, work with them on measurements, particularly fractions, and share your culture through your family's food history. With cooking experiences, kids also can learn how important it is to read carefully and follow directions.
On the subject of nutrition, you can explain the importance of eating a variety of foods. Some foods provide protein; others deliver carbohydrates and fats; and others supply vitamins and minerals. Although all foods contain a variety of nutrients, some are better at providing certain nutrients than others.
For example, the foods in the meat and meat-alternates group, including eggs, are good sources of high-quality protein for energy and strong muscles. You can go online to www.mypyramid.gov to create for each child - based on age, sex and activity level - a list of recommended daily servings from each of the food groups.
The fun part, of course, is in the preparation and eating. For the greatest likelihood of success, assign the kids tasks suited to their ages and abilities. The youngest ones can help stir; older children can measure ingredients; and teens can slice and dice, and do the actual cooking. Choose a recipe that includes ingredients with wide appeal and let the children add ingredients such as favorite flavorings.
Brontosaurus Egg and Wagon Wheel Frittata were designed with kids in mind. In addition to being easy to make, these recipes are based on all-natural eggs that offer the highest-quality protein of any food - and kids love 'em.
For more information about the nutrition value of eggs, and to access more recipes, log on to www.incredibleegg.org.
1 frozen waffle or bread slice
1 teaspoon cooking oil or butter
1 tablespoon shredded reduced-fat cheddar
Salsa, taco sauce or ketchup
Let the frozen waffle thaw for five or six minutes. With a 2- to 3-inch-diameter cookie cutter, cut out the center of the waffle (or set a drinking glass upside down on the waffle and cut around the glass with a small knife). In a medium-size omelet pan or skillet (6 to 8 inches) over medium heat, heat the oil or melt the butter. Sprinkle a few drops of water into the pan. If the drops "dance" and sizzle in the pan, it's ready for cooking. Place the waffle and the cutout in the pan. Break the egg and slip it into the hole in the waffle. Immediately turn the heat down to low.
Let the waffle cook until the bottom is lightly browned, about three minutes. With a pancake turner, carefully turn over the cutout and the waffle with the egg inside. Sprinkle the egg with the cheese. Cook until the egg white is completely set and firm and the egg yolk begins to thicken, about three to five minutes more. With a pancake turner, lift the cutout and the waffle with the egg inside onto a plate. Spoon salsa, taco sauce or ketchup on top of the egg, if you like. Makes one serving.
Nutrition information per serving using waffle and corn oil without optional topping: 233 calories, 14 g total fat, 221 mg cholesterol, 348 mg sodium, 116 mg potassium, 15 g carbohydrate, 11 g protein and 10 percent or more of the RDI for vitamins A and B12 , niacin, riboflavin, thiamin, calcium, iron and phosphorus.
Wagon Wheel Frittata
1 tablespoon cooking oil or butter
1 package (10 ounces) frozen broccoli spears
1 tablespoon water
1 can (4 ounces) button mushrooms, drained
1/3 cup skim or low-fat milk
1½ teaspoons Italian seasoning, crushed
6 thin tomato slices
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
In a 10-inch omelet pan or skillet over medium heat, heat the oil or melt the butter. Add the broccoli and water. Cover and cook until you can break the broccoli spears apart with a fork, about five minutes. Take the pan off the heat. Arrange the broccoli spears around the pan so the stems point to the center. Set the mushrooms, rounded sides up, between the broccoli spears. In a medium-size bowl, beat together the eggs, milk and seasoning until they're thoroughly blended. Pour the egg mixture over the broccoli in the pan.
Cook the egg mixture over medium heat until the eggs are almost set on top. Take the pan off the heat. Place the largest tomato slice in the center. Cut the rest of the tomato slices in half and arrange them around the big slice so they look like wagon wheel spokes. Sprinkle the cheese evenly over the top of the frittata. Cover the pan and let it stand until the eggs are completely set, about five minutes. Cut the frittata into wedges and serve it from the pan. Makes six servings.
Nutrition information per serving of 1/6 recipe using corn oil: 133 calories, 8 g total fat, 214 mg cholesterol, 196 mg sodium, 261 mg potassium, 5 g carbohydrate, 10 g protein and 10 percent or more of the RDI for vitamins A, B12 and C, riboflavin, calcium and phosphorus.