Kid-friendly recipes you can make together

Literacy: it’s a skill we often take for granted, but one people of all ages may grapple with in their daily lives. This January 27th is Family Literacy Day — a day designated to raise awareness about literacy and promote literacy-building activities.

So why are we discussing it in a food feature? Because literacy isn’t just about reading textbooks and stories — it’s about the everyday ways we understand and apply information. It could be analyzing a report at work, consulting a map or following instructions to complete a task. (And yes, that includes recipes!)

While cooking is a valuable skill in itself, experts also say it’s one of the ways parents and grandparents can turn an everyday activity into a learning opportunity. Making a grocery list, comparing prices, reading labels and following a recipe all involve literacy — and you won’t find a better reward than a tasty treat for all of your effort.

Here are some delicious recipes you can make with the youngsters in your life.

Tuna Cheddar Melt

Perfect for lunch or dinner, small hands can help with the mixing and sprinkling.

Serves 4
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 1 minute

1 can (6 oz) flaked white tuna (packed in water), drained
1/4 cup diced celery
1/4 cup diced red bell pepper
2 tbsp diced green onions
2 tbsp light mayonnaise
1 tbsp low–fat sour cream
1 1/2 tsp lemon juice
pinch of salt and pepper
2 whole wheat English muffins, sliced in half and toasted
1/3 cup shredded cheddar cheese

1. Preheat the oven to broil. Line a baking sheet with foil.

2. In a small bowl, combine the tuna, celery, red pepper, green onions, mayonnaise, sour cream, lemon juice, salt and pepper until mixed.

3. Divide filling over the English muffin halves and place on the baking sheet. Sprinkle with cheese. Broil for 1 to 2 minutes or until the cheese is melted.

(Source: News Canada. More information on the importance of healthy eating and great recipe ideas can be found online at, and

Old School Mac and Cheese

A favourite comfort food, this recipe puts boxed mixes to shame.


1 lb Irresistibles Life Smart Whole Grain macaroni pasta

Breadcrumb Topping:

6 slices Metro Irresistibles white bread, crusts removed
3 tbsp butter, melted
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup grated Irresistibles sharp white cheddar
1/4 tsp salt

Cheese Sauce:

1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp salt
3 cups milk, warmed
6 cups of a mix of your favourite Metro Irresistibles local cheeses


1. Preheat oven to 350F. Coat a 9-inch baking dish with non-stick cooking spray. Boil noodles until tender. Drain well and set aside.

2. Topping: pulse the bread in the food processor until coarse crumbs. Place in a medium bowl and toss with melted butter, Parmesan, 1/4 cup cheddar and salt. Set aside.

3. Cheese sauce: in a large saucepan, melt butter over low heat. Remove from heat and whisk in flour and salt until smooth. Return to low heat, cooking for 1 minute. Pour in half the milk whisking constantly. Raise the heat to medium and add remaining milk. Continue to whisk 6-8 minutes until mixture has thickened and coats the back of a spoon. Remove from heat, stir in cheddar, Gruyere, Velveeta and cooked macaroni. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer to prepared baking dish, top with breadcrumb mixture and bake uncovered for 30 minutes or until heated through and top is lightly browned.

(Source: News Canada. For more great winter recipe suggestions visit

Light and Luscious Fruit Sauce

Perfect for dipping, this reader submitted recipe makes it fun to eat fruit for a snack or dessert.

Ingredients for 6 Servings:

1/2 c Vanilla or Plain Yogurt
2 tbsp sugar
1 tsp grated orange rind
2 tbsp orange juice
1 cup thawed Cool Whip
2 cups fresh fruit


Mix 1/2 c. (125 ml) vanilla or plain low fat yogurt with sugar in medium bowl.

Fold in grated orange rind, orange juice and thawed Cool Whip. Chill.

(Submitted by reader JoanneU)

Peanut Butter Banana Bread

Sometimes you can’t beat the allure of baked goods! This recipe combines two kid-friendly flavours in one tasty loaf.


Peanut Butter Filling:

2/3 cup (150mL) peanut butter
3 tbsp (45mL) granulated sugar
1 tsp (5mL) vanilla
1 egg yolk
1/2 cup (125mL) chocolate chips

Banana Bread:

1 3/4 cups (425mL) all-purpose flour
2 tsp (10mL) baking powder
1/2 tsp (2mL) each baking soda and salt
1/2 cup (125mL) butter, melted and cooled
2/3 cup (150mL) granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 cup (250mL) mashed very ripe bananas, about 2 large
2 tsp (10mL) vanilla


1. There should be no rack above centre rack as banana bread rises fairly high. Preheat oven to 350° F (180° C). Lightly grease a 9-inch (2 L) loaf pan. To make filling, in a medium bowl, beat peanut butter with sugar, vanilla and yolk. Stir in chocolate chips. Set aside.

2. In another medium bowl, whisk flour with baking powder, soda and salt. Put melted butter in a large bowl and whisk in sugar. Whisk in eggs, then stir in bananas and vanilla. Stir flour mixture into banana mixture just until combined.

3. Scrape half the batter into loaf pan. Then spoon half the peanut butter mixture in small dollops onto batter. It’s best if they aren’t touching. Then top with remaining batter. Dollop with remaining peanut butter mixture, pressing gently into batter.

4. Bake in centre of preheated oven 45 minutes. Lay a sheet of foil over top to prevent too much browning. Continue to bake 15 to 25 more minutes until a toothpick inserted in centre comes out clean. Cool in pan 10 minutes on a rack. Run a knife around edge, then turn out. Delicious warm or at room temperature. Makes one loaf.

Nutrients per serving (1/12 loaf): 357 calories, 19 g total fat (8 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat, 6 g monounsaturated fat, 3 g polyunsaturated fat), 68 mg cholesterol, 7 g protein, 42 g carbohydrates, 2 g fibre, 23 g sugars, 315 mg sodium, 208 mg potassium, 19 mg calcium (2 % DV), 1.3 mg iron (9 % DV).

(Source: News Canada. More great recipes can be found online at


Chewy Double Chocolate Chip Cookies

Of course, cookies are a classic — and you can’t go wrong with double the chocolate! You could also substitute butterscotch or peanut butter chips instead.

1 cup margarine, softened
2 cups white sugar
2 eggs
2 tsps vanilla
2 cups of white flour
3/4 cup of cocoa
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp of salt
2 Cups of semi-sweet chocolate chips

Cream margarine and sugar. Stir in eggs and vanilla. Add cocoa, flour, baking soda and salt. Stir and add chocolate chips.

Drop from teaspoon on cookie sheet and bake in oven, on middle shelf at 350 degrees F for 8-10

Cookies will be soft when taken out of oven.

(Submitted by reader peppsi)

Low-fat oatmeal muffins

Looking for a baking idea that’s healthy too? These muffins pair whole grains with low-fat milk and apple sauce to keep them moist.

1 cup rolled oats
1 cup whole-wheat flour
1 cup skim milk
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
2 egg whites
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

Soak oats in milk for 1 hour. Combine whole wheat flour, brown sugar, baking power, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt in a large bowl. Mix applesauce and egg whites in with oats and milk. Form a well in dry ingredients and then pour in wet ingredients: stir just enough to moisten (add additional milk if desired).

Spoon into muffin pans ensuring that they are well coated with nonstick spray.
Bake at 400 F for 20-25 minutes.

For kids, add 1/2 cup of chocolate chips or peanut butter chips. For adults, try the partner for this recipe, Spicy apple chutney.

Plus see what else is cooking in our in recipes archive.