If you love getting your kids into the kitchen, there’s no better time than the holidays to set aside an afternoon or two for making special treats!
We all know the benefits of cooking and baking with our children, from subliminal math and science lessons to promoting healthy eating. But the holidays provide a special time to also share our own favorite childhood memories and talk with kids about our cultural traditions.
Whether you’re celebrating Christmas, Divali, Hanukkah or Kwanzaa – or, perhaps, if you’d like to give your kids some exposure to a different holiday – try these eight recipes. They feature wholesome ingredients and easy directions that allow even your littlest ones an opportunity to join in the fun.
Held on Dec. 25 each year, the Christian-rooted holiday of Christmas celebrates the birth of Jesus and includes the cultural tradition of Santa Claus bringing children gifts. These two treats put a fun spin on things.
PB + Celery Reindeer
Snacks just don’t come any cuter. A holiday take on the traditional “ants on a log,” this healthful snack adds pretzel antlers and fresh raspberry noses to crisp celery stalks filled with peanut butter. They’re fun to assemble and so easy to make, even wee cooks can put them together. According to Cara at Fork and Beans, if your child has nut allergies, these are just as delicious with your favorite seed butter.
Mr. Grinch may be a mean one, but the delicious bark named for him is super sweet! Christine from I Dig Pinterest came up with this tasty chocolate snack because her kids just love How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Once you’ve melted and spread the green-tinted white chocolate, the kids can have a ball adding decorations – M&Ms, sprinkles, and hearts two sizes too small.
The eight-day Jewish celebration of Hanukkah commemorates the dedication of the second Jewish temple in Jerusalem, and the miracle of a one-day oil supply lighting lamps for eight days. Typically, it falls in either November or December. Try these goodies to celebrate.
Carrot Parsnip Latkes
Let’s face it – most kids will probably turn up their noses at parsnips. But if you shred them, add another sweeter root vegetable, and fry the patties to a delicious crisp, yours just might change their minds! Served during the eight-night Hanukkah celebration, latkes are traditionally made with white potatoes and served with applesauce and sour cream. Using less starchy vegetables gives this dish a nutritious boost. (Weelicious also suggests a more healthful side of low-fat Greek yogurt.)
This deliciously colorful platter makes fruit even more fun to eat. Ilana Eck at Stylish Spoon says her fruit menorah took just minutes to assemble – including the time it took to prep the fruit – and disappeared shortly after she set it down between her girls. Banana slices and raspberries form the base, and blueberry “arms” hold up mango and clementine “candles” representing the lamps that burned for eight days on one day’s worth of oil.
This five-day “festival of lights” is observed by Hindus, Sikhs, Jains and some Buddhists to celebrate the victory of light over darkness and good over evil. It is most associated with Lakshmi, the Hindu goddess of prosperity. It traditionally happens between mid-October and mid-November. Expand your family’s palate with a pair of treats from this tradition.
Sweet treats abound during the festive, five-day celebration of Divali, and this one takes just 20 minutes to make! A delicious almond fudge, badam burfi is made with almond flour and flavored with cardamom and rose water. While making the dough can be a little tricky, little ones could easily help with kneading and rolling, then cutting it into shapes. Manali at Cooking with Manali suggests the festive addition of edible silver foil.
Coconut Til Ladoo
Teach your kids about alternatives to processed sugar with this festive Divali treat. The simple recipe uses just three ingredients – sesame seeds, dates and coconut. It’s lower in calories and super nutritious, because dates are packed with minerals (including iron!), antioxidants and plenty of fiber. Total time, with cooking and prep, is just 30 minutes. Pro tip: Chef Sandeep Pande suggests adding texture by rolling the Ladoo in coconut flour.
Kwanzaa, from the Swahili phrase meaning “first fruits,” is patterned after African harvest celebrations. Focused on African culture, the holiday is observed from Dec. 26 through Jan. 1. Give these a recipes a go to get involved in the holiday.
Benne Seed Wafers
Aside from a few steps, like pre-heating the oven, this 100-year-old traditional Kwanzaa recipe is simple enough for almost any kid to handle. Arlee Greenwood of Small Potatoes explains that “Benne” is the Bantu word for sesame, a seed brought by slaves from Africa to America. Along with step-by-step instructions (and adorable photos), this recipe shares a bit of history and information about the holiday.
Sweet Potato Cupcakes
Sweet potatoes are a Kwanzaa favorite, and these delicious cupcakes sneak a little more nutrition into a dessert your kids will love. It’s as simple as blending the cooked and mashed vegetable, which is a rich source of Vitamin A, into a prepared spice cake mix. Have the kids pipe on cream cheese frosting, and let them get creative with cupcake decorations. This My Food and Family recipe takes just 20 minutes to prepare.
Looking for even more holiday recipes? Check out our Season’s Eatings cookie roundup for more.