Young Chefs in Training – Cooking Nutritious and Delicious Foods with Your Kids

Do you cook with your children?

If not, you’re missing special bonding opportunities and precious times to share fun lessons about making food nutritious and delicious. Who knows? You could be mentoring a young chef in training.

Meals offer parents multiple opportunities to include children of every age and ability level in the kitchen. All kids can participate in planning menus and shopping for groceries. Your younger kids can help with many easy tasks, from setting the table to preparing and mixing ingredients. Older kids can prepare easy snacks and meals themselves. Regardless of their age, collaborating with your children in the kitchen can inspire them to try new and more healthy foods.

Pita Pizza Recipe*

In this video, Chef David Kamen of the Culinary Institute of America demonstrates how to make a delicious and nutritious Pita Pizza while cooking with his young daughter Teshley.


Here’s the recipe Chef Kamen and Teshley made:

1 C Super Quick Chunky Tomato Sauce (see the recipe below)

1 C grilled boneless, skinless chicken breast, diced (about 2 small breasts)

1 C broccoli, rinsed, chopped, and cooked

2 Tbsp grated parmesan cheese

1 Tbsp fresh basil, rinsed, dried, and chopped (or 1 tsp dried)

4 (6½-inch) whole-wheat pitas


1. Preheat oven or toaster oven to 450°F.

2. For each pizza, spread ¼ cup tomato sauce on a pita and top with ¼ cup chicken, ¼ cup broccoli, ½ tablespoon parmesan cheese, and ¼ tablespoon chopped basil.

3. Place pitas on a nonstick baking sheet and bake for about 5–8 minutes until golden brown and chicken is heated through. Serve immediately.


Prep time: 10 minutes (15 minutes with homemade sauce)

Cook time: 8 minutes (23 minutes with homemade sauce)

Yield: 4 servings

Serving size: 1 pita pizza

Each serving provides:

Calories 275
Total Fat 5 g
Saturated fat 1 g
Cholesterol 32 mg
Sodium 486 mg
Total fiber 7 g
Protein 20 g
Carbohydrates 41 g
Potassium 362 mg
Vitamin A 15%
Vitamin C 50%
Calcium 10%
Iron 15%

Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet.

Super Quick Chunky Tomato Sauce

Older children can chop the roasted red peppers and help cook the sauce.

2 tsp olive oil

1 tsp garlic, chopped (about 1 clove)

1 jar (12 oz) roasted red peppers, drained and diced (or substitute fresh roasted red peppers)

2 cans (14½ oz each) no-salt-added diced tomatoes

1 can (5½ oz) low-sodium tomato juice

1 Tbsp fresh basil, rinsed, dried, and chopped (or 1 tsp dried)

¼ tsp ground black pepper

Tip: How do I roast a red pepper and take the skin off? 

First, place the red pepper on a nonstick baking sheet under a broiler for about 10 minutes or until the skin is blackened. Once the pepper is blackened, place it in a plastic bag or bowl wrapped with plastic, and let it rest for 5 minutes. Scrape off the burnt skin and rinse the pepper under cool water. Then, chop it up according to the recipe instructions.


1. In a medium saucepan, heat olive oil and garlic over medium heat. Cook until soft, but not browned (for about 30 seconds).

2. Add diced red peppers, and continue to cook for 2–3 minutes until the peppers begin to sizzle.

3. Add tomatoes, tomato juice, basil, and pepper. Bring to a boil. Simmer for 10 minutes or until the sauce thickens slightly. (Sauce can be pureed for picky eaters.)

4. Use immediately. If not used immediately, refrigerate the sauce in a tightly sealed container for 3–5 days or freeze it for 1–2 months.


Prep time: 5 minutes

Cook time: 15 minutes (add 15 minutes if making homemade roasted red peppers)

Yield: 12 servings 

Serving size: ½ cup sauce

Each serving provides:

Calories 31
Total fat 1 g
Saturated fat 0 g
Cholesterol 0 mg
Sodium 76 mg
Total fiber 1 g
Protein 1 g
Carbohydrates 4 g
Potassium 66 mg
Vitamin A 6%
Vitamin C 15%
Calcium 2%
Iron 2%

Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet.

To get more recipes that you can make with your children, download Keep the Beat Recipes: Deliciously Healthy Family Meals.

Reprinted with permission from Keep the Beat Recipes: Deliciously Healthy Family Meals . U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. National Heart Lung and Blood Institute. NIH Publication No. 10-7531. Page 34. December 2010.