Mocha Dad and Moms: In the Kitchen with Kids

Teaching Your Children to Cook is Important

Growing up in a large family, I had to learn how to cook at an early age. Although my mother always emphasized the importance of this valuable skill, my 11 year old self didn’t fully appreciate having to cook meals. Now I’m thankful for the things my mother taught me in the kitchen and I can honestly say that cooking is my passion.

I have been teaching my own daughters basic kitchen fundamentals. I’ve found that the key to maintaining their interest and making cooking fun is to let the kids do as much as possible. I let the girls do everything from stirring batter to baking cakes. I would also ask my girls to tell me what flavors they liked and I allowed them to select the meals. If they loved a particular food or flavor then the chances of their finding enjoyment in preparing it was much greater.

Even if you find that a child does not seem overly fond of cooking, let them help you wash veggies, season meat or peel potatoes. Younger kids enjoy these tasks and it helps you out at the same time. It is also a great idea to watch cooking shows together or even buy your child his/her own apron.

When the meal is finished, praise your children and tell them that “their” food was really delicious. This small act gives them such a sense of pride and boosts their confidence in their cooking skills.

As parents, it is important to give our children the tools they need to grow in the world. It is amazing how important knowing how to cook can be in your life.

Perfect Roasted Chicken


  • 1 whole chicken (4-5 pounds)
  • 3-4 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp granulated garlic
  • 2 tsp Cajun seasoning (or any other seasoning blends or spices you have on hand)
  • Freshly cracked pepper to taste


Rinse chicken and pat dry with paper towels. Season entire chicken with the dry seasonings. Rub Dijon mustard all over the bird. Bake at 400 degrees on a rack for about 60-80 minutes depending on how brown the chicken gets as well as the internal temperature meets 190 degrees. I like to bake it for 60 minutes and then flip it over (breast side down) for the remainder of cooking time to get the underside nice and brown. Your chicken will come out perfect. Even a kid can make it (with adult supervision)

– Shelly

Sheliza “Shelly” Ismail is a great cook who writes the blog Mom Files.

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Give Kids Some Ownership in the Meal Making Process

My kids hate dinner.

They never complain about breakfast and lunch. In fact, there’s a party in their tummies whenever we serve pancakes or peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. But dinner is just an exercise of pushing food around their plates until we excuse them from the table. For some reason, food served after 6 p.m. is completely unappetizing.

After many years of dinner time frustration, I had an epiphany. I decided to invite my kids participate in the dinner making process. I figured that they would be less inclined to criticize their own work.

One evening, I gathered all three kids in the kitchen and doled out their assignments. I gave my daughter, Nee, the job of Sous Chef since she was the oldest. Her two younger brothers, N and X, were, by default, line cooks.

Our task was to prepare Sesame Tuna with Orange Salsa and Mexican Rice. Although they didn’t approve of the meal choice, they were eager to help cook.

Since N and X were too young to use a knife or heat, they transported all of the ingredients to the preparation stations. Their faces beamed with pride as they placed fruits and vegetables on the counter.

Nee watched as I taught her the proper way to handle a knife. Then I handed her the knife and carefully supervised while she diced some of the vegetables.

With all of the cutting done, I let N and X coat the tuna with sesame seeds. Nee and I took turns flipping the fish in the skillet until it was done.

After we cooked the rice, the kids were actually looking forward to eating dinner. Unfortunately, their cooking the meal didn’t make them enjoy it any more than usual. But I was happy that they enjoyed cooking with their dad.

Sesame Crusted Tuna with Orange Salsa


  • 1 Large Orange
  • 1 Avocado
  • 1 Small Jalapeno pepper
  • 1/2 Small Red Onion
  • 4 Teaspoons Fresh Lime Juice
  • 2 Tablespoons Minced Fresh Cilantro
  • Salt
  • 3 Tuna Steaks (8 ounces each), 1 inch think
  • 2 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil
  • 3/4 Sesame Seeds



  1. Chop orange into half inch pieces.

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  2. Slice the avocado into half inch pieces
  3. Dice the jalapeno pepper
  4. Mince onion into 1/8-inch pieces
  5. Measure out 2 tablespoons of minced onion and store the rest
  6. Combine the orange, avocado, jalapeno, red onion, lime juice, and 2 tablespoons of cilantro in a mixing bowl. Season with salt and refrigerate.


  1. Pat fish dry with paper towels, then rub thoroughly with 1 tablespoon of the oil. Season with salt and pepper.
  2. Spread 3/4 cup sesame seeds in a shallow dish. Press both sides of each steaks into the sesame seeds to coat.
  3. Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking
  4. Gently lay the tuna in the pan and cook until the seeds are golden brown (about 1-1/2 to 2 minutes)

Stay Strong,




Questions: Do your children help in the kitchen? Did you help in the kitchen when you were a child?

Mocha Dad and Moms is a regular column where I discuss parenting topics with moms. If you’d like to be one of the featured moms, send me a message with your idea to

About author

Frederick J. Goodall

Frederick J. Goodall is the founder of Mocha Dad - a parenting website focused on fatherhood. He is passionate about parenting and helping men to be great dads, husbands, and role models. You can contact him at or on Twitter at

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