Photos courtesy April Hamilton

Tips and tools for cooking with kids

Get started cooking with your kids—it’s never too early or too late. Even if they are not ready to chop onions with an 8-inch chef’s knife, they can stir the onions you chopped as they aromatically sauté. They can measure, mix, mash, spin salad and grate cheese. Follow their lead to gauge interest instead of forcing them. Before you know it, you’ll be having tons of fun in the kitchen with your helper at the ready. Suddenly, all smiles, dinner is on the table (I call it cutting your prep time in half!).

As I say with all activities, don’t get hurt, have fun! Kitchen safety is a continuum, and by now everyone knows step one—hand washing!

With a few kitchen essentials, your junior chefs are ready to go:

Vegetable peeler. I like the type with the wide handle and blade perpendicular to the handle. Whittle ribbons of squash, peel carrots/make carrot curls, make parmesan curls and shave a cucumber into ribbons.

Box grater. The large holes of a box grater are great for all sorts of things. Turn a tomato into salsa, right in the bowl. Grab the swimming goggles and let them grate a little onion in there, too. A dash of hot sauce, pinch of salt and some torn cilantro. Ready for chips! Of course, this tool is also good for grating cheeses or even carrots for a rainbow salad. Eat your colors!

Melon baller. Not just for melons! Great for hulling strawberries and kiwifruit and for making little balls of avocado.

Large bowls. These are key to keeping things clean. Kids can whisk and stir with abandon and the contents stay inside an oversize bowl.

What do kids love more than pizza?! Find the perfect recipes for cooking with sous chefs of all ages by clicking here.