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Sherrie Norris Lovin’ Spoonful Cooking Column: Celebrating April As Month of the Young Child

By Sherrie Norris

April 1 has long been considered April Fool’s Day, a fun day to play innocent tricks on family and friends. I feel quite sure, and hope it’s the case, anyway, that these shenanigans will still take place today — probably on overload! We have to do our best to try to maintain a normalcy (or even better!) within our homes, as difficult as it might seem.

April 1 also signals the beginning of a special month to celebrate children, and that’s also something we need to do as much as possible — every day!

Those precious “littles’ can’t help what’s happening all around them. They rely on us adults for the reassurance and security they need to get through these uncertain times. We need to try hard not to feed into their fears. While being as honest and open as we can be with them, let’s try to alleviate added stress in their little lives.

Sadly, those special events and observances that are usually scheduled in April for “Month of the Young Child” are on hold, as most everything is for all of us. But, let’s not miss the opportunity to make this as pleasant for our children and grandchildren as we can.

As part of the month-long focus, April is also Child Abuse Prevention Month. Try to keep the disagreements at a minimum, overlook some of those pesky habits of your family members that usually drive you up a wall. Look for the good in each other. We can usually discover that for which we are searching!

State and national statistics related to child abuse and neglect are alarming, and even more sadly is the reality that many cases exist than are actually reported. A child is the greatest blessing a parent will have ever receive. I just wish every mom and dad would realize what an awesome gift they have been given.

Let’s all try to focus on the needs of these children – not just their physical needs — but let’s support the healthy development in all areas of their lives.

I recently read that about 90% of the brain is developed by age 5 and the first 1,000 days (3 years) are a window of opportunity to invest in for the future. That means that all activities young children engage in – from simple routines to exciting adventures — can have a lasting impact on their growth and resilience.

We might not have access to all the extra-curricular opportunities that we normally do, but we can still make our “staycations” worthwhile.

Let’s try unplugging for a few hours every day – get those kids away from the screens. Have fun — sing, dance, enjoy story time, create art, hike around the house, exercise and yes, cook together.

Let the kids use their own imaginations to come up with special meals and treats based on what you have on hand. Encourage the older ones to do most of the preparation and serving. And yes, let everyone take part in the cleaning up, afterward. With anything fun, comes responsibility. We can incorporate some of life’s greatest lessons with the simple things.

Make every moment count.


Banana Chocolate Crunch Popsicles

1 banana

Chocolate syrup

Chopped nuts or granola

Peel banana, place popsicle stick in one end. Dip banana in chocolate syrup and roll in nuts or granola. Freeze for 2-3 hours.


Ants In the Rocks

Graham crackers

Chocolate chips or raisins

Place graham crackers in a plastic sandwich bag and break into coarse pieces. Add a few chocolate chips or raisins to make ants; seal the bag. Let the kids take outside for a treat or let them pour it into a small bowl at the table.


Strawberry Delight Smoothie

1 cup milk

1 cup vanilla yogurt

4 large strawberries (or 1 cup frozen strawberries)

1 small banana, sliced

Place in blender and blend for one minute.

Makes enough for one large serving or two small; double as needed.


Kids Crunch Party Mix

1 cup plain or frosted animal crackers

1 cup bear-shaped crackers

1 cup miniature pretzels

1 cup salted peanuts

1 cup M&M’s

1 cup yogurt- or chocolate-covered raisins

In a bowl, combine all ingredients. Store in an airtight container.

Substitute any of the above for similar ingredients you may have on hand.


PBJ On A Stick

2 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches

4 wooden skewers

1 cup seedless grapes

1 small banana, sliced

Cut sandwiches into 1-in. squares. Alternately thread grapes, sandwich squares and banana slices onto each skewer.

Serve immediately.


Mini Corn Dog Muffins

1/2 cup melted butter

1/2 cup sugar

2 eggs

1 cup buttermilk or regular milk

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1 cup cornmeal

1 all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp. salt

8-10 all-beef hot dogs, cut into 1-inch pieces


Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Mix together all ingredients, except for hot dogs.

Grease or spray a mini muffin pan; spoon 1 tablespoon batter into each mini muffin cup. Place one hot dog bite into the middle of each cup.

Bake for 8-12 minutes or until cornbread is golden brown. Cool in pan for 5 minutes before removing.

*If using regular size muffin pans, cut hot dogs into larger pieces and increase the amount of batter (to fill about 2/3) in each muffin cup.