Children Will Surprise You


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I’ve been teaching cooking classes for children for over 2 years and I am always happy when parents are amazed at the foods their children will eat during the classes. I have seen parents awestruck that their child ate vegetables willingly, and I have heard several variations of the exclamation: “I can’t believe he/she ate something that didn’t resemble a bagel or a pizza!”

There’s a delightful combination of factors at work that permits them to eat more eclectic foods or variations of foods they wouldn’t eat at home. There’s the very obvious one that the children made it themselves and they take ownership of the process and the result. While also potentially a contrary factor, peer pressure can work well when the children see their classmates eating the recipe.  And of course, when mom isn’t the one asking them to at least try the new food, we get a different response!

During our classes, I lead the kids in making a recipe using a particular ingredient like a seasonal vegetable or an ingredient relevant to the cuisine we are cooking. In the past month, we have been cooking with butternut squash and beets. Even I was a bit amazed at the voracity with which the kids in all of my classes ate fresh gnocchi prepared with butternut squash and beets!!

Here’s a simple recipe for Butternut Squash Gnocchi that you can make at home with your chefs! (Adapted from blogs online).


1 butternut squash, cut lengthwise and seeded

3+ cups of flour

1 tsp dried rosemary, or 1 stalk fresh – minced

1 tsp dried thyme, or 4 fresh single sprigs – minced

1 tsp salt


Sprinkle the squash with salt and a bit of olive oil and add a bit of water to the pan.

Bake squash in Pyrex or baking pan (face-down) for 30-45 minutes, or until tender.

Once squash cools scoop out flesh and mash or puree with a hand mixer.

Add the herbs to the squash, and then add 1 cup of flour at a time until the dough isn’t sticky.

Make little balls out of the dough and then boil in salted water for 10 minutes, or until they float to the top!

No sauce was needed for the kids to gobble them up, but you can melt a little butter with sage leaves if you’re so inclined!! Enjoy!!

Sharon-NDiaye-Cooking-with-Kids-269x3001Sharon NDiaye

Email: shar[email protected]


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