4-H and Foods, sounds pretty yummy to me! In fact cooking projects are a great example of how youth learn about foods by partnering with adults in the kitchen to plan and prepare them. Most 4-H cooking projects explore the science, nutrition and history of cooking while promoting healthy eating and resource management.
As an adult partner you will help youth learn how to select, prepare and store food items. You can help them explore the many methods of cooking, which include roasting, stir frying, grilling, barbecuing, smoking, boiling, steaming, braising and microwaving. The USDA’s MyPlate (http://www.choosemyplate.gov/) can help you to plan meals and make balanced food choices.
Remember when cooking with kids safety is first. Have supervision. Never allow youth to cook without asking for permission. Remind youth that clean is good! Keep hands and surfaces clean, if the children you work with have long hair be sure to tie it up. Also be sure that they do not have loose clothing that can catch on fire. Help youth identify and know how to safely use common tools in the kitchen including knives and other sharp objects, hot items such as broiler, toaster, stove or microwave and teach them measuring methods. Remind youth to keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold. We certainly don’t want any of those food borne illnesses coming our way.
Help youth read the directions and follow the recipes. They should check to be sure that they have all of their ingredients before beginning their cooking project. If the project requires cutting skills start simple with something soft like a banana and a plastic knife. Demonstrate the technique then have them try the actions. Teach them the following rules for working with knives.
- Cut with caution.
- Focus on one task at a time.
- Never point a knife at a person.
- Always hold knife by handle.
- Use a cutting board.
- Go Slow. Take your time to learn how to cut. Beginners can start with sturdy plastic knives.
Remember to demonstrate how to wash produce and handle meat safely so you do not have cross contamination of foods. Help youth find what it is about cooking that excites them! There are recipes for snacks, side dishes, main dishes, quick breads and desserts that are great starters for youth cooking. Great projects to start with are the national 4-H Foods Curricula, or Florida Department of Agriculture Xtreme Cuisine, Nebraska 4-H has some easy kid friendly recipes or see the handout made by Bay County Extension about kid friendly foods.