Make Cooking Count!

maxresdefaultMaths is such a huge part of cooking.  It is the perfect way to get children to learn mathematical skills without even realising.  During the course of a recipe, you can count, weigh, estimate, recognise numbers, use spatial awareness, recognise shapes and even use simple division and multiplication, addition and subtraction.

 Recognising the opportunities for practice or introduction of mathematical skills is key.  Rather than asking a child to tip a bowl of blueberries into a mixing bowl, ask them to count them in.  When pouring cake mix into a muffin tray to make cupcakes, ask your child to count how many rows and columns there are.  Ask children to estimate how many tomatoes (or whatever!) are in a bowl and then count them to check.  Use different shape cookie cutters and introduce or recap each shape name.

We use digital scales a lot with our older foodies in our after school class and these are great to practice recognising 2 and 3 digit numbers.  They are also really good for children to understand the concept of estimating and rounding.  Sometimes 102 grams is absolutely fine when you are aiming for 100 grams, however, it is funny to see how adamant some children are that they need to get the weight spot on!  It is fun to add or take away tiny amounts to get that exact number!

Happy cooking and counting!

Recipe of the Month

Our recipe of the month for July just has to be our Easy Peasy Pasta.  We were so excited about the idea of making our own pasta with our Little Foodies and we were completely amazed by how easy it was to make and how well the kids managed!

We have to admit, making pasta from scratch is not something either of us had ever attempted before we decided to do it for Foodies.  We had also envisaged it taking ages to make and rest – not to mention that we thought a pasta making machine was essential!

We could not have been more wrong – we did find many recipes which involved resting the dough for a good 30 minutes (not d-oable in our classes) but we soon realised this was not really necessary when we were not going for Michelin Star standard!

The beauty of making pasta with kids is the simplicity of the ingredients (flour, egg and water so you almost always guaranteed to have those at home), the consistency of the dough (non sticky and elastic so not much mess) and the kneading (super fun for the kids as they can really play, mould, squidge, punch – whatever they want!).

Our foodies enjoyed rolling their dough out and comparing it to their head size!  It does take quite a bit of rolling but it is great to practice long, slow rolls rather than short, quick rolling.  They also really enjoyed using pizza cutters to cut their dough into long strips like train tracks (a good opportunity to introduce the idea of parallel lines too).  It takes minutes to cook and a little pesto or passata is just perfect with it!FB_IMG_1500497421840

If you want to have a go at making pasta yourself follow the link below for the recipe we based ours on!  Enjoy!

Pasta recipe



Starting from scratch….

As we are nearing the end of our first year of running Fun Little Foodies classes, we have been looking back at all the things we needed to do to get our classes up and running.  When we first thought about running cooking classes, we looked into buying a franchise.  We looked at lots of options as well as cooking, but it the end we decided we would challenge ourselves and Start from Scratch.  There is a lot to be said for this approach – and a lot of hard work too!  As teachers, we had absolutely no idea about how to run a business!  We learnt everything from scratch, and are still very much learning!  However, we found that we absolutely loved the creativity and freedom it gave us.  If we want to do something or change something… we can!  Starting from scratch meant that we needed a name, a logo, a business plan, a venue and countless recipes, activities, stories, games and songs!  We have been so lucky to have eachother to bounce ideas off and have enjoyed thinking of everything which has built our business, all by ourselves!

In fact, one of the key principles of our cooking classes is the idea of Starting from Scratch.  When you cook from scratch, you know exactly what you are putting into your food.  Using less sugar and salt is one obvious benefit of this!  We try, wherever possible, to teach our Little Foodies how to make simple things from scratch, for example, bread, pastry, scones etc.  Again, like anything else, cooking from scratch allows for so much more freedom that ready made food.  You can add things that you like, and leave out the bits you don’t like!

Sometimes having the confidence to start from scratch is all you need to start a new adventure!

Recipe of the month!

Our recipe of the month for June is our mouth-watering Mediterranean Vegetable Tarts.  The great thing about this recipe is it’s versatility – you can add anything you like as a topping and use up any leftover veg you have in the fridge!  Kids also love pesto and Mediterranean vegetables are naturally sweet and juicy making them popular with children!


Puff pastry is a great ingredient to keep in your freezer.  We used shop bought pastry in our classes for this recipe due to the time constraints, however we did have a go at making our own puff pastry at home (rough puff pastry anyway…) and it was surprisingly easy!  Follow the link below to have a go!

Rough Puff Pastry

This recipe required the children to really practice their rolling and chopping skills.  They tried so hard and their skills are really improving.  It also allows a little creativity as many children made a face or pattern from their vegetables too.  Our linked activity for this recipe was all about sunshine as we talked about vegetables that grow in sunny countries!  We included some number recognition too as the children had to find the numbers 1-10 for the rays of sunshine!


Food for Talk

All Foodies love talking about food as well as eating!  I could spend hours discussing favourite meals and analysing menus in restaurants.  We probably don’t realise how much time we spend thinking and talking about food on a daily basis, but being an essential part of every day, we think and talk about it an awful lot!  This idea got me thinking about how much language is involved in cooking and how much children benefit from this.  When you cook with kids, they are being exposed to a huge amount of new vocabulary – from naming new ingredients and equipment, to using a really wide range of verbs, many of which they may not hear out of a cooking context, e.g. mash, beat, whisk, are fairly specific to cooking.

Vocabulary aside, cooking also encourages children to discuss and explain their own tastes and preferences for food – they use describing words to talk about the taste, smell and texture of  food and they learn to give reasons for their opinions.  In our classes, we often ask children to explain why we are doing something, for example, ‘why are we holding the butter in our hands?’.  Many of children can now offer an explanation for this – ‘because it will make the butter melt’.  We are so proud when they start making these links and explaining them!



Getting inspired!

One of our favourite parts of running Fun Little Foodies is being creative and thinking of recipes that we know our Little Foodies and their accompanying adults will enjoy!  We spend a lot of time finding, changing and sometimes creating recipes and then thinking of great stories and activities which will link with these recipes.  Lots of people ask us where we get our recipes from and the answer is ‘lots of places!’ – the internet, recipe books and sometimes we just make them up!  However, the book which was our first ‘go to’ book for cooking with our own children, before Fun Little Foodies even started, was the Tickle Fingers Cookbook.

Katie’s little boy was bought this book by his Uncle and Auntie for Christmas when he was two and immediately, we found and tried out so many recipes which we knew children could enjoy cooking as well as eating!  This book really did inspire us to cook more with our own kids which then led to the idea that we could cook with other people’s kids too!  Annabel Woolmer, the author of Tickle Fingers is a huge advocate of cooking with toddlers and we recommend this recipe book to all our Little Foodie families!

We are now having a little go at putting together our own mini recipe book which will include around 20 of our favourite recipes from our first year of foodies and photos of our fantastic little foodies having fun in our classes this year.

If you have any great recipes or recipe books that you recommend we would love to hear about them!


Recipe of the Month

Our Recipe of the Month for May is our fabulous ‘Cheese and Tomato Moons’.  These were a real hit with our little Foodies and we had great fun making cheese and cracker rockets while they were cooking to complete our space theme for the session!  The best thing about this recipe is making your own pastry!  We then filled our moons with tomato puree, cherry tomatoes and cheddar cheese.  You could use any filling you like and you can use the pastry recipe to make all sorts of pies and pasties.

Our cheese and cracker rockets are a really fun way to get children trying different types of cheese – we used feta for the windows and Red Leicester, Edam and Gouda for the rocket nose and wings.  It is also a good opportunity to talk about different shapes and even introduce mathematical language such as half and quarter to young children.  If you would like a copy of this recipe please comment below……. 5, 4, 3, 2,1, BLAST OFF!!