Gear to get kids cooking — for real or for play


Introducing kids to cooking can be more than fun. It can teach skills and perhaps set children up to be healthier eaters.

Temporary mess in the kitchen, lifelong payoff.

Here’s a look at some of the latest gear for budding chefs, from toys to the real thing.

Pretend play

Play kitchens were a coveted toy at least as far back as the 1950s, when Sears’ catalog offered the all-steel Rite-Hite range, fridge and working sink for just under $30. Little Tikes toy company introduced their Efficiency Kitchen in 1977, with a microwave, range, fridge and sink, and followed up with the 1980s Party Kitchen, featuring a jaunty green canopy, fold-down peninsula, sink, two burners, cupboards and a wall-mounted phone.

If you’re feeling nostalgic, there are loads of vintage play kitchens for sale online. And Little Tikes is still in the marketplace with the Home-Grown Kitchen, a corner-shaped unit with battery-driven cooking sounds like boiling water and sizzling stove.

Should you be in the market for a play kitchen that looks like a grown-up designer one, you’ll find many options.

KidKraft’s Farm to Table kitchen nails the country-chic trend with lights, running water and cooking sounds, a farmhouse sink, hooks for cooking tools, and window boxes “planted” with plastic onions and carrots that can be chopped and prepared. The Create & Cook kitchen has a vintage vibe, and is equipped with lots of cooking and storage sections. Three food sets let you make faux avocado toast, peach popsicles and apple pie.

Pottery Barn Kids and West Elm have collaborated on a midcentury-modern toy kitchen with two-burner stove, oven and sink set in a poplar frame with white MDF (medium-density fibreboard) cabinetry. Or choose the Chelsea kitchen, with Shaker-style cabinets in white, gray, blush pink or black, with brass-toned hardware.

For play prep gear, Pottery Barn Kids’ cream-colored, solid-wood toaster pops out two perfectly done slices of (fake) bread with a flip of the lever. And there’s an Italian cookery bundle with a metal pasta pot, sieve, ladles, serving dishes and soft faux ravioli and bow-tie pasta made of felt.

Melissa & Doug’s sliceable, wooden, cookie dough set comes with icing toppers, a tray, spatula and oven mitt for some sweet pretend baking. Start the play meal off with a tasty salad, using their 50-piece set of felt greens, veggies, chicken and shrimp, as well as bowl and utensils. Self-stick tabs give the vegetables a crunchy sound when sliced. Time for a beverage? A coffee maker comes with three pods, faux cream and sugar, and a menu card so little baristas get the order right.

Getting real

Cooking in a real kitchen with kids isn’t just about ingredients, recipes and prep, says Food Network star — and Santa Rosa resident — Guy Fieri. “It’s about harnessing imagination, empowerment and creativity.”

Parents should begin with basic food safety, says the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Start by pulling long hair back; wash hands, surfaces and tools; separate raw and cooked foods. The association outlines the ages at which skills can be introduced. The youngest …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Entertainment


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