I put together this recipe after having too many bland carrot cakes. My tiny chef, 2.5 year old Bella, has always been keen on flavours and rejects ‘beige' food, so she keeps me on my toes. This carrot cake has raisins, cinnamon, a touch of citrus and of course carrots, which all combine to create a nice festive feel with the benefit of vegetables.
When baking with young children, prep as much as you can in advance. This recipe also requires one special step: soaking the raisins in the juice of half an orange. Let your tiny chefs get their hands nice and sticky as they squeeze all the juice out! We did this step before nap time, let the raisins soak for a couple hours, and ended up with lovely, almost caramelised, raisins in the cake.
Also I recommend peeling and grating your carrots in advance - this can take awhile and you want to be ready to go once you’ve got your tiny chef ready!
Let the cake cool and decorate with icing, if you wish! We used some ready-made icing to keep it simple.
A fun fall cooking activity for all ages!
Melissa from Sweet Beets Wellness has joined us to share plant-based recipes and inspiration for cooking with kids. She is a vegan wellness coach who also teaches cooking classes for her son's homeschooling cooperative.
Watch the video below for inspiration on how to introduce this recipe to kids!
Combine all ingredients in a high-speed blender and puree until well-combined and very smooth.
Tips for Cooking With Kids!
The Tiny Chef in this video is 4-years-old and has been preparing food since he was 18 months old. He loves to eat the food he makes! For more ideas and recipes preschoolers love, check out the Tiny Chef recipe book.
These pancakes are refined sugar-free and gluten-free. You can make them with just 2 ingredients (eggs & bananas) or add a few extras (oats for texture & cinnamon for flavor). Sprinkling blueberries or chocolate chips on top is extra fun for the kiddos! Using coconut oil on the pan and covering them on the first side makes the pancakes easy to flip.
Tips for cooking with kids!
After a few days of hot weather, today's cool rainy weather inspired me to roast veggies. Our Tiny Chef loves roasted cauliflower, but it has to be nicely caramelized and soft.
Here's what we did:
1. preheat oven to 400f
2. wash & core 2 small heads of cauliflower.
3. set a sheet tray out and ask your child to break the cauliflower into pieces
4. while they are breaking, pick out the big pieces and cut them down (aiming for florets all the same size)
5. drizzle a few tablespoons of olive oil over the cauliflower (I held my 3-year-old's hand on the bottle and we did this together)
6. sprinkle seasonings (give your young kids just the right amount of seasonings - they tend to want to put them ALL on the food) - we used salt, pepper, garlic powder, & smoked paprika
7. with clean hands, mix the cauliflower, oil and seasonings on the pan and then make sure they're covering the bottom of the pan in a single layer
8. when the oven is preheated, put the cauliflower pan on a middle rack and set a timer for 20 minutes
9. after 20 minutes, use a spatula to flip the cauliflower over & set the timer for another 20 minutes
10. when the timer goes off, flip the cauliflower over one more time (it should be browning now)
11. after a final 10 minutes, take the cauliflower out to cool down (it would be a good idea to test it with a fork to see if it needs to be in any longer to get soft)
12. adjust the seasonings as needed and serve warm (we added a bit more salt to ours)
Quick Tip: Check your child's hands for cuts & scrapes before you hand them a citrus half (I'm sure you've experienced that open cut burn!). They may want to avoid one hand or just watch you squeeze the first time, until their cut heals. Use the damp towel to quickly wipe your child's hands if they start to hurt or if they just don't like how sticky they feel.
We made some quick and easy oatmeal in our Instant Pot pressure cooker (affiliate link) and my 3-year-old LOVES IT! It stores well in the fridge and is hearty enough to keep you full for a few hours.
1 cup of steel-cut oats
2 cups water
1 cup coconut milk (any variety of milk will work)
pinch of salt
handful (1/4 cup) of golden raisins
maple syrup & other toppings to taste
Mix all of the ingredients (except the toppings) together in the Instant Pot. Secure the lid and cook on Manual for 4 minutes (10 minutes natural pressure release). Add toppings and enjoy!
1. Wash or wipe their hands before they even get to the kitchen. Kids are going to touch every ingredient and put things in their mouths, so at least this way they won’t be contaminating everything!
2. Set up a work space before they get there. Lay a towel down or set out a placemat with some tools and ingredients so they know exactly where their work area is (i.e., not YOUR work area).
3. Plan for the mess. You already know they’re going to make a mess, so plan to get out in front of it. Try putting a tablecloth down that you can just shake off and throw in the washing machine when you’re done. Also, tell them before you even start exactly how you expect them to contribute to clean-up.
4. Don’t expect them to be precise. Have them measure ingredients into smaller containers that you can double-check if needed (especially if you’re baking!). Adjust expectations according to their age; for example, have toddlers hold containers or stir instead of using measuring spoons (they’re also pretty good at sprinkling and shaking spices!).
5. Keep it simple. I recommend AGAINST including your toddler in a marathon cooking session of Julia Child’s Beef Bourguignon. But if you insist on making it, they can join you for just a few minutes to help peel garlic or remove fresh thyme leaves from the stem. Choose a small task and genuinely thank them for their help afterwards. What cook doesn’t like having someone else peel their garlic?
6. Choose their cooking tasks wisely. Don’t give them an task that’s way too hard, you’ll both get frustrated (i.e., don’t get mad at your 2-year-old when they can’t roll a perfect ball of cookie dough). If you want to challenge them, choose an activity that they can ALMOST do by themselves but not quite (maybe they can scoop the dough, but can’t get it out of the scooper yet). By working on it together, you will reinforce what they can already do and help them build a little bit of new skill. Next time you cook together, see if they’ve learned to do it by themselves!
7. Remember that they’re (unpredictable) kids. Even if they’re physically capable of doing a task, they may not be ready mentally or emotionally. Check to see if they’re tired or hungry or need to go to the bathroom. Also, are they really interested in cooking or is it something you’re trying to get them interested in? You might need to start small with extra fun tasks to spark their interest (decorating cookies, topping muffins with chocolate chips, etc.).
8. Don’t try too hard to “teach.” Cooking together is so enriching. Your kids are learning about science and math, in addition to developing their fine motor skills and executive functions. The great thing is, these learning experiences happen without even trying! They’re just a natural part of the cooking process.
9. Remember to have fun! In the end, cooking is all about enjoying each other’s company, so try to keep your cool and go with the flow. You’ll have a great time together and enjoy some tasty food after all of your hard work!