Some of my favorite memories from growing up are being creative with my Mama. Whether it was art projects, putting on elaborate plays, or helping out in the kitchen - it always sparked excitement and was so much fun.
As Isla gets older, we're having so much fun building our own memories and traditions together, and she especially loves cooking (also read: eating all the ingredients as we go). I'm really excited to introduce the first in our new cooking series: In The Kitchen With Mama.
Cooking with toddlers can be messy business, but with a little planning ahead it can be fun (and productive!) for everyone.
My Three Rules of Thumb:
👍🏻 Rested Kiddo.
- Things can go downhill fast if you have an overtired kid on your hands! Finding the "peak" happy time of day to cook together helps a lot.
👍🏻 Prep Ingredients in Advance.
- Fumbling with packages, going in and out of the fridge and pantry, all that waiting can lead to a restless toddler! Getting all of your ingredients out and easily accessible as you follow the recipe means less idle time.
👍🏻 Easy Access Workstation.
- Rather than working at our smaller counters, we usually do most of our prep at our kitchen table! There's lots of room to spread out and get messy. This will look different for everyone, but the space with the most room and least distractions works best.
After few minutes of grownup prep time, and you should be ready to guide your child through their recipe as a happy team!
For our Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free Pizza, we went with some of our favorite allergy friendly brands:
- These paleo, gluten-free, dairy-free pizza crusts are something you can feel good about eating AND enjoy too! These are no empty carbs - they're made from mainly cauliflower and almond flour, but you'd never know it. They're a crispy thing crust that tastes delicious - our favorite pizza base!
- As a former cheese-lover, I'm pretty picky about my dairy free alternatives! Violife makes some of my favorite options. Usually I don't like the vegan cheeses much before they're cooked, but the flavor and texture of their shreds is so good that even I sneak a few pieces out of the bag!
- This organic, gluten-free, vegan, non-gmo pizza sauce comes from one of my favorite brands! Field Day carries so many great sauces, and this one is no exception. It's not packed full of sugar like a lot of pizza sauces, and is absolutely delicious.
Quick, simple, feel-good ingredients, and super easy to accomplish for a quick fun dinner with your toddler! This is one of our favorite busy-day meals to make together.
We start by bringing all of our ingredients to our kitchen table workstation, and get right to saucing-up that crust! I usually describe or demonstrate how to do a step the first time we cook something, and then let her take the wheel (or in this case, the spoon).
Once we have a nice sauce base (and my little tomato lover does an obligatory taste test), we start adding our "cheese." I never worry about the in progress mess or the look of the final product when we cook together - this is all about fun and sensory experience!
We add a good layer and, of course, eat about a 1/4 of it to make sure it's "good!" Then - for good measure, a little more sauce!
Then we pop it in the oven (this part is mama's job) and set the timer together for 15 minutes. In our over, I usually need to add 3-5 minutes after this to finish it up, but 15 minutes is recommended on the CAULIPOWER box.
While we wait, a little gourmet "decontructed pizza" appetizer is a great way to pass the time! I usually do a quick wipe down of the table and pop our dishes in the dishwasher while she snacks.
After our timer goes off, we let the pizza cool for a few minutes (easily the hardest part!) and then its time for the best part of all: the taste test!
I think my favorite part of cooking together is seeing how PROUD she is of what she creates. Our little people are so excited to explore this world and learn new things, so experiences like this where they can see, smell, taste, and touch the product of their work is so rewarding for them. You can't beat that million-dollar pizza pride smile!
This pizza is really so yummy, and it's great to know that it's a delicious healthy spin on something thats usually junk food. Toddler made, and toddler approved!