Cooking with children - quick and easy recipes

Looking for some healthy, delicious food to make which won't take all night? Well, Supernanny's expert nutritionist Yvonne Wake has a treat for you. Here are some fantastic quick dishes, which are so easy, you could cook them with your children


Seeing my three-year-old granddaughter cooking scones with her mummy and also rushing to help me cut up the carrots for her ten-month-old baby brother’s soup, suddenly flashed me back to my own childhood, when although our food was pretty basic (soups, stews, apple pie, roast chicken and vegetables  for Sunday lunch), it was always food that had to be prepared and cooked for the next meal.

Life was not so rushed then and we were lucky enough to sit as a family eating the very meal that we had all prepared together. I thought I might recreate a couple of those recipes, and see if you can encourage your children to take part in some preparation too.

There’s nothing like good home cooking to educate children in what a healthy meal consists of. These dishes require lots of cutting up of really important vegetables and fruit and even if they might not want to eat the food, they will still learn from the experience – as I did!

I thought about the one and only dish that my own father would cook (back then, men didn’t cook anything, so this was a family secret!). A Spanish Omelette or a ‘Tortilla’ as he called it. We would also eat it cold the next day as an after school snack, so it was always kept in a Tupperware box near the bread bin.

Spanish Omelette or Tortilla

Things you need
A large non-stick frying pan – around 8 inches in diameter. Not a heavy pan though – lightweight as your child needs to flip the omelette over.
A chopping board
Good small sharp knife – but one that won't cut off your child’s fingers!


6 medium free range eggs
One medium sized onion
One medium sized potato
Small sprig of parsley – finely chopped
Four tablespoons of olive oil

What to do next?

• Peel and cut up the onion into the smallest pieces possible. Do the same with the potato. Tiny cubes are good.
• Pour three tablespoons of oil into the pan and heat it until it starts to sizzle at you
• Toss in all the onion and all the potato
• Make sure those ingredients get covered with the oil and then turn the heat right down until the sizzling stops. Shake the pan around a few times to make sure the food is cooking right through – add extra oil if necessary and use a really good non-stick pan as the potato will want to stick to the bottom.
• Once the onions and potatoes are cooked (they need to be soft). Turn the heat off and tip the cooked ingredients onto some kitchen paper to remove the oil. They should not be brown though, just lightly cooked.
• Crack all six eggs together in a bowl and whisk them up with a fork or a whisk. Fluffy is not good, just lightly mixed.
• Pour the cooked food into the bowl of whisked eggs, yes right in!
• Add the parsley to that bowl
• Place the pan back on the lowest heat and pour in the third spoonful of oil.
• Pour the bowl of cooked ingredients and eggs into the pan. Give them a small slow stir before you pour them into the pan
• Allow this to cook slowly for about 15 minutes. Be patient and don’t keep touching the ingredients with a spoon! It needs to cook through so that there are no soggy bits of egg inside. Keep the egg away from the sides of the pan by using a plastic palette knife, but once the omelette naturally shows signs of creeping away from the edge of the pan, you will need to turn it over. Here’s where all the fun starts!
• Move the pan away from the heat. Take a plate that is bigger than the pan, and lay it on top of the pan. Control the plate by putting one hand underneath it and use the other hand to hold the pan handle.
• Flip the omelette onto the plate so that you are now looking at the cooked side of the omelette. Then slide the omelette off the plate and back into the pan. Place the pan back over the low heat and let that cook for a further five minutes or so. Turn off the heat and leave the pan with the cooked omelette for about 5 minutes.

It's now ready to eat!

Omelettes should be cooked but not overcooked and dry. They should be soft inside but not runny. As I mentioned, Omelette is also nice to eat cold, so it doesn’t need to be served piping hot. This makes a perfectly nice meal with a salad and a slice of wholemeal toast. One thing though, it takes a few goes to get the flipping right, but as I remember, that was the most fun part!

The second dish was something that we ate very often as it was easy to cook, full of nutrients, kept the colds and flu away as it was full of vitamin C. It was also something that my siblings and I could help to create -a great tasting vegetable soup.

Healthy Vegetable Soup

Things you need:
One large saucepan
Chopping board
Small sharp knife

2 tablespoons of Olive Oil
One large onion
4 sticks of Celery
One whole garlic clove
6 medium sized carrots
One large potato
4 leeks
2 parsnips
A handful of green beans
6 medium sized ripe tomatoes
One cup of Pearl Barley
1 ½ pints of vegetable stock – this can be made from vegetable cubes.

A teaspoon each of chopped up Thyme, Rosemary, and Parsley.

What to do next?

• Peel and chop all the ingredients into small cubes. This is where the children need to get involved.
• Heat the oil in the large saucepan on a medium heat
• Sauté the onion, leeks, celery and garlic for about 5 minutes. A lot of flavour is created in sautéing
• Then add the carrots, potatoes, green beans, and parsnips
• Add the herbs
• Throw in the cup of pearl barley. Wash first though.
• Stir very well and turn down the heat to the lowest temperature and add the vegetable stock.
• Stir from time to time and add water if necessary.
• Place the tomatoes on top of the vegetables and allow them to slip down inside the soup. The skins will need to be taken out once the soup is ready, but it’s good to keep it in the soup whilst it’s cooking.
• This should take about 30 minutes
• Taste as you go!

Vegetable soup contains nothing but an amazing array of antioxidants so certainly a lot of Vitamin C. This will comfortably serve a family of four. Some crusty wholemeal bread and cheese would be a good source of protein to compliment this meal.

Coming back to the present I thought I would show you how to make two of my favourite dishes which once again can be prepared by the children.

Salad Niçoise with beans

Things you need:

A very large bowl
A chopping board
A small sharp knife


About 300 grams of thin French beans - steamed
Two free range eggs – hardboiled
Ten black olives
10 small sized fresh tomatoes
5 sun blushed tomatoes
150 grams of tinned haricot beans 
150 grams of tinned flageolet beans
Ten basil leaves

The salad dressing
1 teaspoon of mustard – Dijon if you can find it
One small crushed garlic clove
One tablespoon of cider vinegar
One egg cup full of good quality Olive Oil – my grandmother taught me to measure with an egg cup and it works!

What to do next?

• Trim the green beans and steam them until they are al dente – so cooked but crunchy.
• Remove them from the steamer and let the cold tap cool them down
• Empty the contents of both tins into a sieve and wash them under the cold tap – removing all the sugary water inside the tin
• Cut the tomatoes into fairly chunky pieces
• Hard boil the free range eggs and peel when cooled
• Cut the eggs into quarters
• Place the green beans, the tinned beans, the tomatoes and the olives into the large bowl and gently stir in
• Then spread the sun blushed tomatoes around the top along with the basil leaves.
• Place the egg quarters around the top of the salad

Making the dressing

• Mix the mustard, garlic, and vinegar together with a fork
• Add the Olive Oil last and mix in with a fork or better still put in into clean jam jar with a tight lid and shake vigorously. You are looking for a nice smooth blend.

Add the dressing to the salad. The best way to add the dressing – according to my grandmother – is to drizzle it around the dish and use your hands to work it in. Make sure your hands are spotlessly clean though.

Ready to eat!

And finally, here is a tropical fruit salad which I'm sure you'll love (this is really a seasonal summer dish otherwise the fruit involved, especially the berries and the passion fruit make it expensive).

Tropical Fruit Salad  

Things you need:
A very large bowl
A chopping board
A small sharp knife


One fresh mango
One fresh papaya
Two medium kiwi fruits
Two passion fruits
Fifteen blackberries
Fifteen strawberries
Fifteen raspberries
One large orange
One small pineapple
Ten fresh mint leaves

What to do next?

• Peel the mango, papaya, kiwi, and orange.
• Wash all the berries in a colander, be careful not to be too rough, gently does it with the running water
• Peel the skin away from the pineapple and cut it in quarters
• Slice the mango off its large oval shaped stone
• Cut the papaya in half and remove and throw away the black round pips
• Cut the strawberries in half
• Cut all the prepared fruit into similar chunks or slices
• Place the cut up fruit into the large bowl
• Add the raspberries and blackberries and strawberries last
• Cut open the passion fruit and scatter inside the bowl and stir in gently
• Stir with a plastic or wooden spoon as a metal one is too harsh for such delicate fruit.
• Scatter the mint leaves around the bowl

It’s ready to eat!

There's no need to add anything else. It’s sweet enough and would be a shame to change the taste of all those tropical fruits by adding anything else. The smell is also very appealing!

Have fun and enjoy!

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