Think about it… many of your happy food memories were probably in your mum or grandmother’s kitchen, right? Cooking (and eating!) with your little ones isn’t just a great way to create delicious memories for them too, it’s also good for connecting while imparting a love of nourishing oneself from the inside out. 

Can anything top the smell of your grandmother’s warm date muffins fresh from the oven, or the comforting aroma of the spices your mum mixes for her lamb tagine (that you’ve been trying to perfect but haven’t quite managed yet)? There is a warmth and comfort in the smells and flavours of childhood. Smells are a strong nostalgic trigger and can take you straight back to those happy, carefree days. In fact, science shows us that smells ring memory bells because they’re processed by the olfactory bulb, that part of the brain with direct connections to two areas strongly connected with emotion and memory: the amygdala and hippocampus. Interestingly, visuals, sounds and touch don’t pass through these areas, which is why smell is so successful at triggering memory. To create nostalgic memories for your own kids, why not dedicate some time to whipping up something healthy and moreish together? 

There are many reasons why it’s a good idea to get your children involved in cooking or baking. While they do make a mess and should definitely not be trusted around knives or stoves, the reality is, children who cook grow into confident young adults more capable of taking care of themselves and understanding what’s healthier for them. According to the New York Times, there are many great reasons why children should be exposed to cooking: 

1.They’ll be more inclined to taste new things 

If your children are busy plucking herbs, chopping tomatoes or de-pipping watermelons, it increases the chance of them eating the dish once it’s finished. It also helps to cultivate an open-minded approach to new flavours. 

2.They’ll learn responsibility 

Carefully breaking an egg into a bowl or spooning batter into hot oil (best left for older kids) are things we would not normally encourage our children to do, but if we are there to guide and teach them the dangers – as well as how to do it correctly – their confidence will grow. 

3. You get to talk to them about healthy eating habits (and moderation)

Yes, licking out a bowl of sugary muffin batter might not be your idea of healthy eating, but if they enjoy that aspect of the experience then you can encourage them to help you with salad at lunchtime, or shelling pistachios for example. Plus, healthy eating is all about moderation, right? Use this time to connect with them and explore the reasons why we eat certain foods, and why some things are for treats only. 

We love this delicious, healthy jam tart recipe courtesy of Sneakyveg.com. Make your kids feel part of the action with our adorable Belle & Boo apron, and once the treats are ready to eat, set up a little indoor picnic using our Children’s Lane bowls and plates. Don’t forget to invite all the dolls and soft toys too! 

Raspberry Jam Tarts 

Ingredients: 

  • 350g frozen raspberries
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 3 tbsp maple syrup or honey (optional)
  • 4 tbsp chia seeds
  • 225g whole meal spelt flour
  • 100g butter or dairy-free alternative, diced
  • 4-5 tbsp cold water

Jam filling: 

  • Place the raspberries and lemon juice in a small saucepan and heat through until the raspberries start to cook. Squash gently with the back of a wooden spoon so that they start to break down.
  • Remove from the heat and stir in the maple syrup or honey and the chia seeds.
  • Leave to cool, then transfer to a container and put in the fridge to set for an hour or two.

Pastry: 

  • Rub the butter into the flour with your fingertips, or in a food processor, until the consistency is like breadcrumbs. Gradually add the water and mix until you have a firm dough. Wrap in cling film and chill for 30 minutes.
  • Pre-heat the oven to 180°C (fan)/200°C/gas mark 6.
  • Grease a small muffin tin.
  • Roll the pastry out onto a floured work surface to a thickness of around 5mm. Cut out 12 rounds and press them into the muffin tin. Lightly prick each one with a fork. 
  • Fill each pastry case with raspberry filling and bake for 15–18 minutes until the pastry is cooked through.
  • Allow to cool in the tin for 10 minutes before removing and allowing to cool completely on a wire rack.

Your children will love the novelty of eating something they have created from scratch, especially if it means spending quality time with you.