You want to know how to raise a healthy eater? Be one. And teach your kids to cook. Oh, yes, it slows you down and it’s a drag but in the long run, having a kid who can cook does as many good things for you and your household as it does for them and their lifelong health success.
Kids who help in the kitchen become children who are not afraid of food. They will taste more, try more and be more likely to seek out real food when they go off on their own. When I hosted my Food Network show called Just One Bite, I saw family after family with picky kids that didn’t need to happen. Much of the time the reasons were that the parents were running from pillar to post with lessons in everything from archery to zamboni driving. My advice was always the same…take time out of those activities to nurture the slower smoother side things that support that busy life and see results. Like including kids in food prep at least on weekends.
One of the easiest meals to start with is homemade pasta. It quite literally uses four ingredients and doesn’t need any special equipment. You can make lasagna sheets or fill ravioli pillows by hand with elbow grease, a rolling pin and a knife. (Although, I recently acquired a KitchenAid stand mixer and roller/cutter attachment that made quicker shorter work of the whole thing and kept my own teenager in the kitchen with me. Family events like these will transcend to the next generation, I have no doubt!)
Kids as little as 2 love to mix and knead the dough. Rolling it through the cutter attachment is safe and fast and just as fun as making play dough! Quick cooking noodles that can be tossed in extra virgin olive oil and parmesan cheese are every kid’s favorite. Over time, they will eventually agree to add tomatoes or herb and maybe even sauce, but that’s not the point! Empowering a child with a skill in the kitchen and spending time with a parent goes much further than today’s meal.
Here are some other recipe ideas that kids can have a hand in.:
- Homemade pasta
- Homemade chicken fingers
- Chocolate protein spread
- Deconstructed sushi in a bowl
- Date Balls
What kinds of ways have you included your kids in the kitchen? Did it help?
Theresa Albert is an author and private, on call nutritionist in Toronto. She is @theresaalbert on twitter and found daily at www.theresaalbert.com