5 Things I Learned From Cooking With My Children

Cooking with children is an adventure. A beautiful, messy and inspiring adventure. My children have the ability to teach me so many things about the world around me when I’m willing to set aside my opinions and listen to them. Cooking and working in the kitchen is no exception… I had to learn so many things first before I could enjoy seeing my children grow in the kitchen.

1) I learned I needed to find a new habit for introspective time.

I’m no stranger to yelling at my kids to get out of the kitchen. Often times, I cook in large batches and don’t want a lot of help in the thick of things. I enjoy my quiet time in the kitchen almost like I would enjoy soothing meditative time alone. I don’t want to talk and cook, I want to just be present and find pleasure in the simplicity of preparing a meal. I used to look at the mommies with their cute little pictures of baking cookies together with their kids and I would cringe. I just couldn’t seem to set aside my stress about ‘doing it right’, whatever that meant. Over and over again, I wondered how I could set aside my way of thinking and not feel like I was losing my peaceful introspective time.

As I evolved and changed in my mothering, I began to enjoy my little people underfoot in the kitchen. I had to be willing to set aside the need to cook alone always and starting checking out children’s cookbooks from our local library with my kids. This was an awesome kiddo cookbook! Worth owning in our home.  I am finding balance in not needing to have it either way always. It didn’t need to be ALL kids ALL the time (or if it was, I would buy this kiddo cookbook too, it’s our second fav!) ALL mom ALL the time. I could find balance and enjoy both ways. This worked to everyone’s benefit – I still get to knead bread solo and whip up muffins in the silence of the morning before anyone is awake. I really do love cooking solo first thing in the mornings.

2) I learned my children didn’t care about kitchen errors.

Reading a cookbook is a magical love affair in the beginning… It often includes glossy pages filled with stunningly plated food, cooked in a kitchen that is posh and has designer everything. This is by far one of the BEST cookbooks I have ever purchased. I look at those photos with awe and dive in…. but cooking with kids never results in a beautiful plating of food, the reality is we’re on thrift store plates and guess what? They don’t care and I have learned that I don’t either. It doesn’t matter to them if it’s not perfect, they are connecting through the experience of cooking together as a family.

It’s OK to them that scrambled eggs have an occasional eggshell in it or if muffin batter splatters a bit as they pour it in. They don’t care if the syrup isn’t warmed up perfectly or if the cookies didn’t have sliced almonds in them because we ran out 4 months ago and I haven’t seemed to remember to purchase more. They don’t care and I shouldn’t either.

3) I learned that mistakes can result in injury, and sometimes that just happens!

Part of cooking is learning to be safe. Using knives, cheese shredders, blenders, mixers and more all have some potential risk to them. We talk at length about being safe but the reality is sometimes mistakes are made. Luckily, no one has been hurt badly and we’ve even had some moments of laughter mixed with a bit of blood. I swear I have the weirdest kids!

I have learned to embrace all the weirdness and go with it. I probably have a lifetime supply of bandages in my kitchen cupboard and part of learning is being in an environment that you can make mistakes and do better next time. No one gets in trouble or is scolded for learning. I think about the many times I was learning something new and didn’t want to feel like I was failing, I want to extend the same grace to my kids that I would want! This quote has always stuck with me: Children require guidance and sympathy far more than instruction.  Annie Sullivan

4) I learned that my children always eat more veggies when they choose them

I have never really considered what my children eat. I know what I buy every week and I know what I don’t buy. I also know what doesn’t get thrown away! Being a mom of 6 young children is a bit like a marathon – You don’t want to build up stress about each individual thing that *might* not be perfect in the moment because you have a long haul ahead of you.

Instead of stressing about the amount of any one food item eaten on any given day, can I suggest you look at a week or longer? If you are worried some thing is missing, add it often and offer it at every chance. Need more veggies? How about a smoothie. Want more beans? Burritos are yummy and who doesn’t love black bean brownies? My point is simple – let your kids pick their veggies and keep encouraging them to try new things, but don’t lose your peace over it day to day.

5) I learned to share “my load” with my kids was the only sustainable way to carry on

I grew up with almost no chores. I don’t remember ever doing dishes, sweeping the floor, or cleaning a bathroom ever. I did do my own laundry but aside from that, I really had no work ethic instilled in me very young. Without family drama, I know it was stemmed from guilt and I found myself utterly SHOCKED that I was repeating the same pattern with my own kids a few years ago. I wanted them to have everything and sometimes I couldn’t give them that… so mom guilt set in and I didn’t want to ask for them to help around the house. Luckily, I caught my insane thoughts and realized that I want my kids to feel proud of a tidier home. I began to care more and knew that starting young with habits was crucial!

What I wasn’t expecting was the laughter that would echo through the house and the adorable memories of watching my children get soapy up to their elbows! I’m so grateful for their enthusiasm and cherish their hard work. What incredible kids I have. They could never know how deep my gratitude is for these 5 simple lessons they have shared with me.

How could I talk about being in the kitchen without sending some lovin’ out into the world with one of my late-night-mama-only recipes?! This one was born from lots of trial and error and it’s a keeper!

A Nest in the City’s – DELISH chocolate mug cake!

As a quick personal note, I have this written to suit my unique dietary needs. I am mostly wheat free and go through periods of dairy-free. This recipe is a WONDERFUL treat even in times when I’m strictly WF/DF. Furthermore, I am on a long journey to sugar freedom that includes a diabetic adaptation that doesn’t suck! One book that has helped was Trim Healthy Mama and you can learn more here. I’m SO picky, so trust me on this one when I say this recipe worth trying! You can easily use “traditional” ingredients like brown sugar, milk and flour in place of my current suggestions. 

      • 2 TB Coconut Oil
        First things first, pop this goodness in your microwave-safe mug and melt it in the cup until no solids remain
      • 1 whole egg
      • 2 TB Almond Milk (or milk if not DF)
        Add these to the warmed coconut oil and mix thoroughly with a fork (aren’t I fancy?!). Mixing the egg fully does matter in texture!
      • 2 TB Coconut Flour
      • 1 TB Collagen Powder
      • 1.5 TB Cocoa powder My FAVORITE – told ya I was picky! I might have 10 bags in my freezer…
      • 1/2 Tsp Baking Powder
      • 2 TB Monk Fruit Sweetener – diabetic/THM approved, use brown sugar if no dietary concerns

Add all of these ingredients together and cook in your microwave for 2-3 minutes. Let it rest for 1 minute and then dive in! This would be amazing with a small scoop of vanilla ice cream or with a handful of walnuts in it or cocao nibs. It’s adaptable and amazing. I’m adding raspberries to mine this morning and don’t feel a bit of guilt enjoying this with my morning drink on this beautiful spring morning. 


I would love to hear your feedback on this recipe- it’s all new to me to share my personal recipes!

2 Comment

  1. Megan Landen says: Reply

    Inspiring! And full of great resources! Thanks!

    1. anestinthecity says: Reply

      YAY! I’m so glad to hear that. It’s been a long road coming to share a kitchen with my kids. I’m getting there…

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