Make time this season for baking cookies with your kids – you’ll be glad you did!
By: Jodie Shield, RDN
Christmas. Hanukkah. Kwanzaa. No matter what holiday you celebrate, they all feature some type of delicious cookie, pie, or special dessert. But adding extra shopping, parties, and travel to an already jam-packed schedule leaves little time for D.I.Y. baking. While it may be tempting to pick up some festive bake shop goodies, most are loaded with sugar. Plus who knows how long that fruit cake has “really” been in that box? (Could it be a regift?!) If you need some baking motivation, keep reading. I asked busy parents to share why they think it’s important to bake with their kids over the holiday season. Here are their top five reasons. Not sure what to bake? Check out my iTunes app Time To Eat Healthy – it has all sorts of quick and easy holiday treats you can make in minutes. Plus, I’m donating my December sales to charity.
- It’s a family tradition. Baking together enables you to spend quality time with each other. Your house will feel warm and cozy and smell terrific, too! You can talk to your kids about your own family traditions, while taking the opportunity to pass down your family’s heirloom recipes – like how to bake Grandma’s gingerbread house. Jumpstart your baking with my Classic Cut-Out Sugar Cookie recipe.
- You can teach basic cooking skills. You don’t have to be a pastry chef in order to bake with your child. The key is to keep your baking project simple and fun. Start with fundamentals like how to sift flour or crack an egg. Rolling cookie dough is everybody’s favorite.
- Just for the health of it. Many holiday cookies and cakes (especially those that are store-bought) are loaded with sugar and preservatives. If you bake your own goodies, you can show your child how to make tasty and healthy substitutions to trim the calories and boost the nutritional value. For example, you can substitute applesauce for oil in your favorite brownie recipe and save about 1,000 calories per batch.
- Two for the price of one. Family baking projects can perform double-duty and save you time. Have your kids help you bake cookies for the office Christmas party, a charity bake sale, or as gifts for neighbors and relatives.
- Prevent the stir-crazies. Over the holidays many kids are out of school for at least a week – away from their friends and often inside when the weather gets bad. Beat indoor boredom with a day of baking. Turn off the TV, put away the video games, and grab an apron. Your child will have a blast rolling out the dough and spreading frosting. Best of all, everyone will enjoy eating their creations.
So if you find yourself really pressed for time, try not to skip the baking altogether. It doesn’t really matter what you bake. The goodies may be gobbled up in a minute, but the memories of your little one grinning and sporting a chocolate-smudged face will last a lifetime.