Cooking in the Kitchen: Children’s Edition

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As part of the 4-H Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) we teach youth participants the importance of eating healthy and being active. The number one topic they love to talk about is cooking. When I ask participants their favorite part about cooking it is spending time with their family. Did you know there are many ways your child can help in the kitchen? Here are some helpful tips that can make our children in the kitchen a big success.

Let’s start with the basics. In our Fight BAC lessons, we talk about kitchen safety and why it is important to be safe in any cooking environment. The four key points we teach are: Cook, Clean, Chill, and Separate.

  1. Cook; make sure all foods are cooked to their proper temperatures. We show youth how to use cooking thermometers to tell when their food items are done.
  2. Clean; make sure you have clean hands, clean cooking utensils, and a clean cooking space. We teach youth proper hand-cleaning techniques and how to clean their prep and cooking areas with soap and warm water.
  3. Chill; keep cold foods cold and put them away as soon as you finish. You want all your chilled foods to stay at the proper temperature for safe eating.
  4. Separate; keep all raw meats away from your fresh and cooked foods to avoid cross-contamination.

Let children pick a recipe that they would like to make. By letting them pick it gives them a sense of accomplishment when they are done preparing the food. Help them gather all materials such as food, utensils, and other things they may need to prepare the recipe. This is a great time to show them how to measure ingredients, how to read a recipe, and also share family traditions. If the recipe allows modifications, let them put their own twist on it. Some of the best cooks in the world love taking ordinary recipes and adding a special twist. Remember to make it fun and exciting to make memories that will last a lifetime.

Below is a popular EFNEP recipe that everyone can enjoy making:

Oven-Baked Nuggets


  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons low-fat milk
  • 2 ¾ cups of cornflakes, crushed
  • 2 tablespoons Italian seasoning
  • 1 pound of boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut in nugget size pieces
  • Non–stick cooking spray


  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. Whisk egg and milk together in a small mixing bowl with a fork.
  3. Place cornflakes in a plastic bag; crush finely. Add Italian seasoning to crushed cornflakes and mix well.
  4. Dip chicken in egg mixture, place in bag with corn flakes and shake to coat.
  5. Place coated chicken on a baking sheet coated with non-stick cooking spray.
  6. Carefully place pan in oven and bake 15 minutes, or till nuggets are done.
  1. Remove and serve with your choice of dipping sauce and side dishes.

For more information about a healthier lifestyle,  contact Joanna Rogers, Youth Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program Assistant, at 910-671-3276, by email at, or visit our website.

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