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In the Kitchen with Kids

Kids love to watch and help their parents cook and bake. Cooking together is not only a great way to spend time with your kids, but can serve as an ideal opportunity to teach kids valuable skills and lessons about health and nutrition.
Step2 50's Diner Step2 50's Diner
Ages: 2 - 7 yrs.
The Step2 Company, $149.99

With a cooking/meal prep area, a booth for seating customers, realistic sound effects and accessories including plates, utensils and pretend food, this set inspired our young testers to embark on hours of imaginative play. Little details add to the set's charm and include a mini-jukebox that plays three songs from the 1950's, the realistic sounds of boiling water on the range and a sizzling skillet and a small buzzer that dings near the food pick-up area. One tip: a power drill makes assembly much easier.

Little Tikes Makin' Mudpies Little Tikes Makin' Mudpies
Ages: 2 & Up
MGA Entertainment, Inc., $39.99

Little Tikes Makin' Mudpies is an outdoor kitchen set ideal for creative kids who love to be messy. It includes both a working sink (when an adult fills it with water) and a working mixer. Children add the dirt and creativity to end up with pies, cakes, & cookies made of mud.

Servin’ Surprises™ Kitchen & Table Servin’ Surprises™ Kitchen & Table
Ages: 2 & Up
Fisher-Price, $80.00

The Servin' Surprises Kitchen & Table is a great combination of two classic toddler toys. The toy is both a play kitchen and a kids' table for crafting or eating. Unlike traditional "cabinet" style play kitchens that are placed along a wall, this one takes the form of an island, as it is built into a round table shape. There are burners, an oven, food, trays, and toy silverware. Playing with this food is a lot of fun, and young children had a great time putting it in and out of the oven and passing out slices of pizza and cookies to the whole family.

Pretend & Play Ice Cream Shop Pretend & Play Ice Cream Shop
Ages: 3 - 5 yrs.
Learning Resources, $26.99

From the moment we opened this toy, it was a big hit with our testers, who found it very fun and entertaining. They love to play in their toy kitchen, with play food and utensils, and this toy became an instant favorite addition to their ever-growing collection. They loved wearing the apron, taking their turn as the "ice-cream maker", and creating and sharing desserts with the family.

ABC Food ABC Food
Ages: 3 - 6 yrs.
Developer: Junyoung Yang   Developer: Jared Allen   Developer: Guillermo Krovblit  
Peapod Labs LLC,

Designed for pre-school children, ABC Food offers a unique and fun format for learning the letters of the alphabet. Children can click on any of the blocks to see an image of a food that begins with the appropriate letter. Each screen also offers either an interactive activity or a video to accompany the food. The app developers selected beautiful images to use and the videos are fun and informative. From entertaining songs about vegetables to an explanation of how baby carrots are made, this app not only teaches the ABCs but offers a terrific introduction to the world of food.

Toca Kitchen Toca Kitchen
Ages: 3 - 8 yrs.
Contributions From: Eric Alm    Designer: Jens Peter de Pedro   Director: Emil Bemer    Producer: Emil Ovemar   
Toca Boca,

Toca Kitchen comes from the popular developers at Toca Boca. The interface is clean and easy to use, and it engages a child in an activity that interests them (in this case, cooking) in an accessible way. With each item, from slicing or cooking in a grill, the user can see quickly the effects of their choices, and just when my son thought he'd 'done everything', he discovered more combinations he could try.

Fruits & Veggies Wooden Magnetic Set Fruits & Veggies Wooden Magnetic Set
Ages: 3 & Up
Mudpuppy, $18.00

The Fruit and Veggies Wooden Magnetic Set by Mudpuppy contains thirty-five wooden magnets in the shapes of different fruits and vegetables. Each piece has an illustration of the food depicted, and they are all distinct enough that one can recognize what is depicted. The magnets are great for encouraging healthy eating. For preschool aged kids, the magnets can be used for introducing new vegetables and fruits. They can also help parents introduce the concept of food groups.

Healthy Gourmet Salad for Green Eaters   Healthy Gourmet Salad for Green Eaters
Ages: 3 & Up
Hape International Inc., $24.99

Oh, Julia Child, you would be proud! It's a gourmet salad for little ones. This toy is clever and cool. The salad comes with felt lettuce pieces and vibrant wood vegetables, including onions, peppers, cucumbers and tomatoes. It also comes with bottles of vinegar and oil, as well as a peppershaker that, when you shake it, sounds like there's really pepper inside. There are even utensils for your child to toss his or her creation.

My Creative Cookery Club My Creative Cookery Club
Ages: 3 & Up
Hape International Inc., $109.95

More than one cook can prepare and clean up with My Creative Cookery Club. The all-in-one wood unit has an oven with a see-through door, cupboard or refrigerator, cook top, sink and utensil rack. Velco’d veggies and bread, pots and pans, and the essential salt and pepper are included, too.

The Tea Otters The Tea Otters
Ages: 3 & Up
BeginAgain, $25.00

A tea party with a twist-and a guest. A sea otter becomes a tea otter and brings her own dishwasher-safe lemonade pitcher (with lid), four cups, and saucers to the party. On a picnic blanket, or even in the bathtub (yes, everything floats) this eco-friendly Made-in-the-USA beverage set is crafted from recycled plastic. Those with latex allergies should be aware that the she-otter (who sailed from China) is made from natural rubber.

Whip-it-up Mixer Whip-it-up Mixer
Ages: 3 & Up
Hape International Inc., $24.95

Manufactured by toy company Educo, the Whip-It-Up mixer is actually a decent replica of an old-fashioned mixer. It has a beater your child can spin using the wood knob on top. The arm lifts so that you can put the bowl underneath it. There's another knob on the side your child can turn to select the speed setting. The toy also comes with a bag of flour and a bag of sugar. Both of which are made out of soft white pillows, a fact that parent testers loved.

Zebra Mix - Brownie Bites, Chocolate Chip Cookies, and Cupcake & Frosting Kit Zebra Mix - Brownie Bites, Chocolate Chip Cookies, and Cupcake & Frosting Kit
Ages: 4 - 12 yrs.
Zebra Mix, $6.99

The Zebra Mixes include all the dry ingredients (organic and natural) to bake delicious brownie bites, cupcakes, or chocolate chip cookies. Just add butter, eggs etc. The "special sauce" in these mixes may not be edible, but it is fun and educational. The Safari Baking Map - a full-color, double-sided, poster size instruction sheet that explains each step of the process. On one side are level 1 instructions (for ages 4 to 9) and on the other are level 2 instructions (for ages 9 and up). Games, fun facts and more are also included. This is terrific way to introduce children to the fun (and maybe even some science) of baking. Our testers suggested that Dads - who may be unaccustomed to the inner workings of a kitchen- would find this a perfect activity for nights when Mom is working late.

Applesauce Season Applesauce Season
Ages: 5 & Up
Author: Eden Ross Lipson   Illustrator: Mordicai Gerstein  
Roaring Brook Press, $17.99 (Hard Cover)   

Each year soon after school starts, the narrator's family begins their annual experimentation with apples; no two batches are exactly the same, as the dish is determined by what apples are available at the farmers' market at the time. Equally important to the applesauce equation is what remains constant: always include at least three varieties of apples in each pot; add a touch of cinnamon sugar and butter; and, most of all, never make the sauce out of season. The book emphasizes the connection between food and family, and author Eden Ross Lipton gives genuine warmth to her storytelling. Mordecai Gerstein's cheery illustrations bring even more life to the text. A simple recipe for applesauce rounds out the book and makes for a good family project.

Ages: 6 - 10 yrs.
Andrew Queen, $15.00 (CD)   

Canadian children's artist Andrew Queen sings and plays guitar, jug, gut bucket and jaw harp, along with other top-notch folk musicians. Queen and co-writer Karen Stille are guaranteed to tickle funny bones with the zany adaptations of familiar tales and traditional comic campfire songs he performs. Underneath the silly stuff, Queen inserts messages about being aware of where healthy food comes from and valuing local farms that grow it. The accompanying lyric booklet includes yummy recipes, too.

Cook It In A Cup Cook It In A Cup
Ages: 6 - 14 yrs.
Chronicle Books, $16.99

Cook in a Cup! is a cooking set that appeals to both the beginning chef (for example, with the one-ingredient, microwave-based scrambled eggs or layered nachos) and the more experienced child (classic muffin and cupcake recipes and more interesting dinner entrees). The set encourages the development of kitchen skills and creativity. Although our young kitchen staff occasionally needed guidance and assistance, as expected with any cooking set for kids this age, the recipes are easy to follow, largely nutritious, and genuinely appetizing-even to picky eaters.

Orders Up! Orders Up!
Ages: 6 & Up
Gamewright, $15.99

In Orders Up!, players pretend that it's rush hour at the Ring-a-Ding Diner. The die is rolled to add dishes to one's tray, and players rush to serve tables of hungry diners. Players might pick up a Free Meal or the Special of the Day as they roll the die. If a player rolls a bell, then all players race to grab their meal first. The game requires quick reaction and observation. As they race to fill orders, players will hone valuable hand-eye coordination and visual observation skills.

The Quest to Digest The Quest to Digest
Ages: 8 - 11 yrs.
Author: Mary Corcoran   Illustrator: Jef Czekaj  
Charlesbridge, $16.95 (Hard Cover)   

Humorous text and illustrations follow an apple's journey through the human digestive system. Discover why mucus is so important to your body and how food particles are absorbed by the small intestine and turned into energy. Readers also learn why we burp, vomit, and pass gas. Book Descripton

The United States Cookbook The United States Cookbook
Ages: 8 - 12 yrs.
Author: Joan D'Amico  
John Wiley & Sons, $12.95 (Hard Cover)   

Noted nutrition text author Karen Drummond teams with Joan D'Amico to help you eat and cook your way across the country. The journey begins in New England, travels down the coast to the Mid Atlantic and the South, traverses the Mid- and Southwest, crosses the Rockies and finishes on the Pacific Coast. Easy-to-follow historical facts, state foods and a recipe utilizing these foods provide a fun and different approach to learn about the United States.

Around the World Cookbook Around the World Cookbook
Ages: 8 & Up
Author: Abigail J Dodge  
DK Publishing, $19.99 (Hard Cover)   

A showcase of more than 50 recipes from around the world, each recipe section highlights a different region and the countries within it, emphasizing the food as well as the history and culture. Especially helpful is section on basic cooking techniques the "Gather Your Gear" section, which explains the different tools needed for the recipes and how to use them safely (steps that might be dangerous are marked with a warning symbol so adults know to stand by and help with those).

The Jumbo Vegetarian Cookbook
Ages: 8 & Up
Author: Judi Gillies   Author: Jennifer Glossop   Illustrator: Louise Phillips  
Kids Can Press, $14.95 (Hard Cover)   

The "Kids Can" Press knows how to present a child-friendly cookbook. This is a no-frills (no photos, not a lot of art) yet very happy book. The recipes, rated as beginner, intermediate or advanced level, are straightforward and simple to follow.

The Spatulatta Cookbook The Spatulatta Cookbook
Ages: 9 - 12 yrs.
Author: Olivia Gerasole   Author: Isabella Gerasole  
Scholastic, $16.99 (Hard Cover)   

Tween-age sisters Belle and Liv Gerasole present this charming cookbook filled with family recipes, seasonal specialties, and their own wry comments about both. The recipes are organized by season, subtly underscoring the use of fresh produce. A vegetarian section is predominately salads, but they’re hearty enough for meals. Snacks are simple and healthy. The girls have also included an informative section on basic kitchen skills and a glossary of terms every chef should know.

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