I just finished reading Animal Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver. I didn’t totally love the book, but I did agree with one point the author reiterates over and over again: cook with your kids.
Kingsolver makes a solid case for how important it is for the next generation to learn how their way around the kitchen. She believes that kids who cook with their families have more confidence, they learn where their food comes from, and they master valuable skills they’ll need throughout life.
From our experiments going on here in the Hergenrader Test Kitchen, kids do learn a lot by helping make dinner. And breakfast. And every snack in between.
For example, my kids are a tiny bit more willing to try dinner they’ve helped make. When they cook, their confidence grows just a little bit. And, as lifelong eaters, they’ll need skills like how to swiftly crack an egg.
Kingsolver doesn’t mention the messy parts of cooking with kids. Like how gross it is to crunch your way through an omelet, filled with little egg shells. Or how clumsy cooks spill almost every ingredient they add to a mixture. Or how little kids can’t help but repeatedly sample batter with the same finger.
(No, really! Come to dinner at our house!)
So, our kids’ confidence in the kitchen is growing, which Kingsolver says is very important. She calls cooking an art of confidence, meaning the more faith you have in yourself, you more you’ll master cooking. She encourages families to have lots of fun cooking.
Last week I decided to bake a batch of Paleo Breakfast Cookies. I’ve been tinkering with Breakfast Cookie recipes lately, trying to pack as much protein and nutrients into the convenient cookie form that we could eat on the go.
Elisabeth helped me measure the ingredients and mix everything together. More than once I complimented her on her assuredness as she mixed in eggs (without shells!) and plopped in the messy coconut oil.
Right before we formed the cookies, I thought to add a little hemp seed to the batter. Hemp seed contains tons of protein. It’s also filled with all the amino acids, lots and lots of fiber, and healthy omega fats. I handed the bag to Elisabeth and told her to add “a little.”
I turned around to clean up the huge mess we’d made and heard Elisabeth say, “OH NO.”
She had poured about two cups of hemp seeds into the batter. Our Paleo Breakfast Cookies (with hemp seed) had become Hemp Cookies (with a side of hemp).
What to do? Throw them away so our family wouldn’t look like a bunch of hippie stoners? (For the record, hemp seed doesn’t contain any of the THC that makes you high).
But coconut flour and oil are expensive. I couldn’t stand to waste it.
So, we baked up the cookies and hoped for the best.
They were delicious! All that hemp seed added a nutty flavor that complimented the walnut taste and brought out the deep aroma of the coconut.
Barbara Kingsolver was right about this one. In the kitchen, child’s play and bravado can make the most delicious meals.
But she forgot one important ingredient to cooking….sometimes our best recipes come from our biggest mistakes.

Paleo Breakfast Cookies
makes 12 or so cookies

  • 1 cup coconut flour
  • 1/4 cup coconut sugar
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 walnuts
  • 1 cup (or more) hemp or flax seeds
  1. Preheat oven to 350º.
  2. Combine all ingredients in mixing bowl.
  3. Line baking sheet with parchment paper. (The coconut oil will ooze slightly, so don’t forget the parchment paper.)
  4. Form small balls into cookies. Press each cookie slightly with your thumb.
  5. Bake on a cookie sheet for 14 minutes.  Allow to cool completely on the cookie sheet before removing.  Freezes well.
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