Hilary Meyer
October 20, 2009

When we were kids, my mom loved to bake with my sister and me. She would put my sister in charge of mixing the dry ingredients and I was in charge of the wet. We loved having a job in the kitchen and we looked forward to eating the delicious cookie recipes we made as our after-dinner treat.

It turns out my mom was onto something by keeping us busy in the kitchen: experts say that when kids help plan, cook, serve and clean up after meals, they'll be more interested in eating with the family since they have a stake in the meal. Since it's so important for kids to eat a healthy diet, choose to make healthy recipes kids will love. While sweets should be a limited part of any child's diet, a little treat in moderation is OK once in a while. By making these suggested recipes for healthier versions of kids' favorite desserts, you can teach kids about replacing less-healthy ingredients with healthier ones while you have fun cooking together.

Here are three easy recipes to bake with your kids:

Apple Cupcakes with Cinnamon-Marshmallow Frosting: Even little ones can help with this recipe by putting the cupcake liners in the muffin tin. These cinnamon-spiked cupcakes stay healthy because shredded apple replaces some of the oil and keeps the cake moist.

Swirled Cheesecake Brownies: These beautiful brownies are made with whole-wheat flour and use reduced-fat cream cheese in the marbled topping. Help your kids cut them into bite-size pieces for fun finger-food eating and to help keep the calorie count in check.

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies: These oatmeal chocolate chip cookies have the familiar flavors of brown sugar and chocolate, but get a sophisticated twist from tahini (sesame paste). Tahini helps to lower the saturated fat by more than 66 percent while adding a nutty flavor to an old classic. As a result these cookies have less butter than regular chocolate chip cookies and they get a boost of fiber from oats and whole-wheat flours. Kids can help out by mixing the ingredients together. You can store the cookies in an airtight container for up to 2 days or freeze for longer storage.

Watch: How to Make Slice & Bake Sugar Cookies