Cooking With Kids: Stovetop Popcorn

source: rilmara

The art of homemade popcorn is one that has fled with the simplicity of microwave popcorn. I remember fondly my mom popping kernels on the stovetop, then turning them into wonderful caramel corn in the oven. But from about middle school onward (and that was, oh, 20 years ago now), I don’t remember even having popcorn that wasn’t from a microwaved bag or the movie theater.

When I started being a little more aware of what we were putting into our bodies, however, I decided to bring stovetop popcorn back into my life. (Did you know there are PFCs in the lining of a microwaved popcorn bag, and one of the chemicals in the butter flavoring has been linked to Alzheimer’s?) This way you can control your own ingredients, not to mention change the toppings to your liking! And it’s a great snack to make with kids. Popcorn is a whole grain and has a lot of fiber, making it a healthy snack that seems indulgent.

Here’s the recipe and then we’ll talk about how your kids can help!

Stovetop Popcorn

  • 1/2 c. popcorn kernels
  • 1 T oil (I like to use coconut oil)
  • optional toppings: salt, melted butter, Parmesan cheese, cinnamon, etc.
  • equipment: a large stockpot, aluminum foil
  1. Put oil in stockpot and heat over medium on the stove. When the oil is melted (if it’s a solid like coconut oil) or warm, add popcorn kernels.
  2. Cover stockpot with a layer of aluminum foil. Use a sharp knife to cut a few slits in the foil to let steam escape.
  3. Shake the pot every few minutes until kernels start to pop. While it’s popping, shake continuously. When pops are 4-5 seconds apart, remove from heat.
  4. Season to taste and enjoy.

We like to sprinkle our popcorn with salt and then drizzle with a couple tablespoons of melted butter. For an even healthier snack, try a pinch of salt and a good sprinkle of nutritional yeast, which is full of B vitamins. (If you’re nursing, it’s also a galactagogue, increasing milk production!) Parmesan cheese is also tasty and is salty enough by itself usually.

My 4-year-old daughter will pour kernels into the pot and then help with toppings once the popcorn is cooked. An older child can do pretty much all of this by him or herself depending on his skill with the stove.

So pop some corn, pop in a movie, and your kids will think you’re pretty much the best parent ever.

(Psst: you can also make chemical-free popcorn in the microwave with just a brown paper lunchbag, too!)

Do you make popcorn at home?

Make It With Your Kids: Lemon Cupcakes

Lemon Drop Cupcakes

Let’s be upfront about this: these cupcakes have no redeeming qualities when it comes to nutrition. They are made with boxed cake mix, boxed pudding mix, soda, and whipped topping. Just so you’re warned!

But every once in awhile I think it’s OK to slide on my “real foods” morals and make something because it’s easy. These are great to make with kids for a few reasons:

  • Only two ingredients in the cupcakes and four in the icing.
  • Cupcakes are fun to eat and easier than slices of cake.
  • Because there are no eggs in the batter, you can let your child lick the bowl without guilt. Or do it yourself.
  • Lemon is yummy.
  • This makes 24 cupcakes without a giant mess, huge ingredient list, or time-consuming steps.

So gather your little ones in the kitchen and bake!

Lemon Cupcakes

  • 1 lemon cake mix
  • 12 oz. lemon-lime soda
  • 8 oz. whipped topping (Cool Whip)
  • one box instant lemon pudding mix
  • juice of 1/2 lemon (about 1 Tablespoon)
  • 1/2 c. milk
  1. Line muffin tins with muffin papers. Preheat over to 350F.
  2. Mix together cake mix and soda until batter is smooth. Fill muffin papers about halfway with batter. Bake for 18-20 minutes, until done.
  3. Meanwhile, fold together whipped topping, pudding mix, and lemon juice until uniform. Add milk and stir for 1-2 minutes. Scoop frosting into a large ziploc bag and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
  4. When cupcakes are completely cool, push frosting down and to one side of the baggy. Snip corner off the baggy to make a pastry bag. Pipe frosting onto cupcakes. Decorate with lemon zest or sprinkles – or anything you can find in the fridge!

Basically any recipe where kids can dump and mix are great for cooking together. Here are some other recipes I like to bake with my kids:



Spice It Up! by Beth Bence Reinke

source: tomcochrane

When your child helps you cook, she probably loves to measure and pour ingredients, especially from all the fun little bottles in your spice rack. Not only do spices make foods taste scrumptious, they’re loaded with health-promoting antioxidants. Studies show spices have amazing health benefits. For instance, cinnamon may help control blood sugar. Ginger soothes tummy troubles. Turmeric, found alone or in curry powder, works against cancer and inflammation.

Scientific evidence shows spices can work together to fight carcinogens, so blending them together is even better.  Encourage your young chef to mix and match spices with different kinds of foods to create new flavor combinations. Go ahead, spice it up!

Want a recipe to make with your child? They can definitely help measure spices and mix components in this delicious Indian condiment, Pineapple Raita. (Serve with Indian Pork Kebabs, which have a lovely spice rub, too!)

How do you let your child help in the kitchen?

Beth Bence Reinke holds a Bachelor’s in biology & secondary education, a Master’s in nutrition, and is a registered dietitian. She writes articles about food, health and nutrition for magazines and websites such as ParentLife, Smart and and is the wellness columnist for Living Light News, a Canadian newspaper. Overall, Beth has written 220+ articles and numerous devotionals for publication.

Cook With Your Kids

christopher.jpgOK, I admit it. I like to cook! And so do my kids, especially 6-year-old Christopher. We made scrambled eggs together one day for breakfast this week. But Christopher loves to mix, stir, blend, pour, and … taste as we go! And remember, not all cooking involves the stove. One of our favorites is the Friday morning smoothie! We love to feature cooking info in ParentLife and thought about sharing a few great Web sites for cooking with your kids. So surf and find the perfect recipe you can use to have some fun cooking time with your child!

Disney’s Family Fun —

Parents® —

“Parent Helpers; Cooking With Kids,” PBS Parents —

Cooking With Kids —

Tell us some of your favorite things to cook together!