Cooking with a Toddler: Making Almond Milk

I can’t stress how beneficial cooking is for children. Some of the benefits include:

  • Independence
  • Self esteem and confidence
  • Fine motor skills
  • Gross Motor skills
  • Sequencing
  • Practical life skills
  • Math preparation- counting, measuring, fractions etc.
  • Language
  • Grace and Courtesy
  • Concentration
  • Sensorial- Taste, Color, Testure, Smell and even sounds

We make almond milk every 3 to 4 days and my son does most of the making at 13 months old. To cook or do any food preparation with toddlers, it is important to be organized and prepare your ingredients ahead of time. Ideal recipes should not have too many ingredients or too many steps.

To make almond milk, we use the following ingredients:

  • 1 cup of raw almonds that have been soaked for about 12 hours and rinsed. We make them first thing in the morning so I usually soak them the evening before.
  • 5 dates, pitted and softened by soaking in hot water for 10 minutes
  • 2.5 cups of water

Utensils needed:

  • Blender
  • Milk bag (we cut of one foot of a new panty hose)
  • Scoop (we use a measuring cup)
  • Large and small Pitcher

Our process

He puts on his apron and washes his hands. Then it’s time to start!

The first step is to scoop the almonds into the blender. Sometimes he is only able to scoop one almond and other times he scoops a lot. When there are only a few almonds left and he tries to scoop and is unsuccessful, he pours from the bowl. Problem solving
The first step is to scoop the almonds into the blender. Sometimes he is only able to scoop one almond and other times he scoops a lot. When there are only a few almonds left and he tries to scoop and is unsuccessful, he pours from the bowl. Problem solving
This is how he left the tray when he was done with the almonds. I have noticed that for each step, he leaves the tray how he finds it when he starts. An illustration of why it is so important to be organized and orderly
This is how he left the tray when he was done with the almonds. I have noticed that for each step, he leaves the tray how he finds it when he starts. An illustration of why it is so important to be organized and orderly
Next he adds the water. I pour into the little pitcher and he pours from the little pitcher into the blender and  puts down the pitcher. He usually has to do this at least 6 or 7 times. Repetition leads to mastery. He used to spill the water but today I was shocked because the tray was dry when he got done. This is also building perseverance and concentration.
Next he adds the water. I pour into the little pitcher and he pours from the little pitcher into the blender and puts down the pitcher. He usually has to do this at least 6 or 7 times. Repetition leads to mastery. He used to spill the water but today I was shocked because the tray was dry when he got done. This is also building perseverance and concentration.
Next he add the dates. We could probably add this before the water but we just let it soak for longer
Next he add the dates. We could probably add this before the water but we just let it soak for longer
He then wipes up any spills. There was none today! and puts away the tray
He then wipes up any spills. There were none today! and puts away the tray
Then it's time to get in the kitchen helper! Order is so important to children. Whenever you make something, try to keep the process consistent. He anticipates each step. On the days we make milk, when he comes into the kitchen and seen the red bowl of almonds, he points to the blender and tries to pull out his kitchen helper. He also knows what comes next after each step.
Then it’s time to get in the kitchen helper! Order is so important to children. Whenever you make something, try to keep the process consistent. He anticipates each step. On the days we make milk, when he comes into the kitchen and seen the red bowl of almonds, he points to the blender and tries to pull out his kitchen helper. He also knows what comes next after each step.
There are no pictures of the milk being blended because he prefers to watch while holding on the mummy. The sound of the blender is still a little scary. This was a good time for a water break though. Whenever he's done drinking, he goes
There are no pictures of the milk being blended because he prefers to watch while holding on the mummy. The sound of the blender is still a little scary. This was a good time for a water break though. Whenever he’s done drinking, he goes “Ahhhh!” I love it!
Next I pour the milk into the milk bag and he squeezes. I have to give it a final squeeze when he is done though.
Next I pour the milk into the milk bag and he squeezes. I have to give it a final squeeze when he is done though.
And the milk is ready! I pour it into the pitcher and he puts the lid on.
And the milk is ready! I pour it into the pitcher and he puts the lid on.
We have oatmeal immediately after and he sees me pouring in the milk. I love that he sees and is part of the entire process. For him, almond milk doesn't come from a fridge in the grocery store, it comes from almonds!
We have oatmeal immediately after and he sees me pouring in the milk. I love that he sees and is part of the entire process. For him, almond milk doesn’t come from a fridge in the grocery store, it comes from almonds!

This process takes about 40 minutes and he is engaged the entire time. It would probably take me 10 minutes at most to make it by myself but the rewards are greater plus it seems to taste better when he makes it 🙂

Do you cook with your children? what do you make?

Let me know if you make some almond milk and Live a Good Life!

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18 thoughts on “Cooking with a Toddler: Making Almond Milk

  1. This is great : ) Once we are settled enough to bake in my class, I should do a step by step of our banana cookies – maybe Solu would like to see pictures of children his size making something he’s also made?
    Also, my grandfather used to say “Ahhh!” after having a drink and he taught some of my very small cousins to do it to. Thanks for reminding me of him.

    1. Thank you starhillgirl. Both Solu and I would enjoy seeing the pictures. So glad we reminded you if your grandfather. I’m not sure who Solu picked it up from but it’s so cute!

      1. Lotus and I made the banana cookies today. They were so lovely and soft. What a great recipe! Before we started cooking I showed Lotus the pictures of Solu making cookies too. Lotus was then extra excited to be making cookies just like Solu!

  2. Sounds delicious and simple. Do you do anything with the left over almond pulp? Lotus and I do lots of cooking together. She especially likes making pies, muffins, cookies, pancakes and juice but also likes being involved in what ever I am making: If I am chopping then she wants to chop; if I am grating, then she wants to grate; if I am stirring something on the stove then she wants to stir it too. I try to involve her in what ever way possible, when ever she shows interest. Yes it takes more time but it is definitely so worthwhile. We have lots of fun together and Lotus learns so much and is much more likely to eat the end product when she has been involved in making it.

    1. Liz, it is both delicious and simple. Added it once to our pancakes and also in an egg slice but I have a bag sitting in my freezer. I keep meaning to research if they would be good to feed birds so that we can take some to the park. I’m looking forward to Solu being able to do more but he really also enjoys being in the kitchen and helping out. For now he washes vegetables, cracks eggs (50% of the time he is successful), pours, scoops and does a lot now that I think about it.

      You make a good point about being more likely to eat the end product. Involving the child is a great way to encourage the child to eat. Thank you for your comment!

  3. I love reading about the activities you do with your child, as my boy is the same age-it’s so inspiring.
    When making this recipe, do you use skinned, blanched almonds or just plain raw ones?

  4. We have a breakfast routine. Amelia (14months now) hands me eggs one by one and I crack and put them in the bowl. I then hand her back the shells and she deposits those into a bucket. She will stir a bit and I will help to scramble them up properly. Usually, she will then get busy with the pepper grinder. She likes to put the lid on and off. While she does that I will fry the eggs. They are ready at about the same time she has lost interest in the pepper grinder. She will fetch her plate and take it to her table. When she has had enough, she climbs off of her chair and pushes it back in.
    After breakfast we take the bucket of waste and throw it into the worm bin.
    She sits with me during other meal preparations, but can’t really participate yet. Like when I peel carrots, she will take the peeler and run it over the carrots, but soon gets bored with it and rather sits and munches on a carrot, or plays with the peels.
    I don’t make almond milk, but I do make coconut milk. Maybe I can let her help with that. I use boiling water, but she could probably scoop the coconut into the blender. 🙂

    1. That sounds very much like our breakfast process except he sometimes cracks the eggs and he pours the scrambled egg into the skillet before I turn it on. Also, depending on how hungry he is, he might eat his egg while standing in his kitchen helper or carry the plate with the eggs on it to his table in the living room. I love how children all over the world are the same and have the same tendencies. This is one of the things I love about Montessori. I would love to hear more about your worm bin and how you make your coconut milk. Thank you for your comment!

      1. The worm bin is a simple DIY project. All you need is a drill and three black plastic containers. A neighbour gave me the worms. I think its a really great way to reduce waste and also a lesson on the circle of life and how everything is connected. I still want to make a compost bin for the things the worms can’t eat as well. Here is a link that shows how to set up worm bins: http://www.working-worms.com/content/view/40/

        The Coconut Milk is Two Cups of shredded, unsweetened coconut and 4 cups boiling water. You let those sit and soak for 2hrs, then blend it for a minute or 2. After that, strain it through a cheesecloth and you have your coconut milk. People say that the leftover pulp is coconut flour, but it isn’t at all like the coconut flour I buy and doesn’t work in the recipes I have. So for now, that just goes to the worms.

      2. Thank you so much Amanda. The worm bin sounds interesting. I will keep it in mind for when we have the right space and can find worms. I will definitely be trying the coconut milk soon!

  5. Hi Junnifer, I love this post. We absolutely cook together here, Joshua loves cooking. We mainly make treats such as cakes, cookies, things to share with family and friends. Joshua loves being able to give these little treats out and about with people. We are working toward him being able to perform a whole recipe on his own. At 2.5 I measure everything out for him and tell him okay now pour in the flour, add the eggs….. turn up the mixer and he does it all himself. If he is struggling he says “Mama help” and I will help him. We made some delicious chocolate cookies the other day and he did all of it himself barring a few things like the oven part (“hot, dangerous”) but it was probably the first time he had put everything in in the order that was required. It required a lot of preparation on my part but it was totally worth it. We have made banana bread together before which is a real hit here. I suppose we should make a dinner together, something like home made pizzas would probably be very ideal as the dough needs to be made and he can make his own pizza up.
    We really got into practical life last year and Joshua hasn’t looked back. We have aprons for tasks, kitchen apron and art smock apron. I am thinking he might need an apron to water some plants with, an apron for working in the garden but not too sure but I digress. I totally agree that this is so important and I know Joshua has benefited from “farm to table” – really seeing where things come from, that food doesn’t just come out of a packet, that we make dinner/meals in the kitchen. That we can use the oven or the stovetop to make different types of food. That we need to clean, cut, wash, chop and WORK to get our food together. That if we are involved in this process that we appreciate our food all the more. I certainly see this in Joshua and I am so glad to see this post with Solu loving the process so much. At Solu’s age I believe that I started this process with Joshua and Joshua now rushes to the kitchen to help me “Mama I help” he calls when he sees me getting out a few things to prepare the kitchen for him to help me cook something.
    Lovely post, I am going to share this one as we LOVE cooking.

  6. My son is also 13 months and I cannot imagine him doing any of this. How do you get them involved in the process? Normally my son is walking all around the house or if I’m in the kitchen he will go through the cupboard. The only “Montessori” thing we have incorporated is standing up diaper changes where he will lift his legs to help me take his pants off and such. How can I foster this kind of development? He isn’t interested really. Is it just still too early?

  7. Great photos of the process – and the recipe! Thank you for the inspiration. My daughter doesn’t drink milk so this might be an interesting experiment to try with her to see if she’d like to eat it. Mind you, she helps pick the vegetables from the garden and prepare the vegetables all the time and that rarely encourages to eat them. 🙂 I really like how you have a small table for Solu to do food preparation on as well as the kitchen helper. The little tray for food prep makes so much sense and I love how you have prepared this activity. My daughter also used to be very frightened of the blender and now just looks at it with wide eyes.

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