October 5, 2010

Cooking with Kids!

Your kids see you cooking in the kitchen from day one of their lives. Do you desire to raise healthy, wholefood loving children? Children are going to learn to eat from example, exposure and experience!

Right around the ripe age of 7-9 it is time to start your kids in the direction of independence in the kitchen! (You want them cooking meals for you by age 10 right :)). "Kids Cooking" is one cookbook that is great for starting your kids off in the kitchen. It has pictures for the ingredients and a picture for each step of instructions.

If you have a 7, 8 or 9 year old start by having them choose one meal to make each week or every other week (or once a month). Have them start by making a grocery list from the ingredients listed for their chosen recipe. Then when it comes time for them to prepare the meal have them gather everything from around the kitchen and do each step as much on their own as possible. This particular book calls the adult in the kitchen the assistant (my kids love that part of it).

A few examples from the book include: Four ways to cook an eggceptional breakfast (4 ways to cook an egg), Guacamole, Popcorn (using the stovetop!), homemade applesauce, alphabet soup (from scratch), spaghetti (sauce from scratch, well using a can of plan tomato sauce and adding all the yummy spices, but you can explain how the sauce is just purred tomatoes, or better yet puree your own to use :)), non-yukky vegetables (cooking/steaming your vegetables just right and not over cooking them, or use the chance to talk about the benefits of eating vegetables raw too!), green salad with homemade dressing, frozen bananas (covered with dark chocolate, walnuts and coconut), banana and strawberry smoothly and even recipes for homemade playdough and giant soap bubbles.

*NOTE: This book is only one small example of a kid friendly cookbook. The recipe book, "Kids Cooking", that I have posted here was not created to be a wholefoods super healthy cookbook for kids. The point is to get your kids in the kitchen. Make it fun. They want to feel in control. This book is just a platform for talking about healthy eating habits, learning how to read a recipe and practicing cooking techniques. You can mention how a recipe calls for all-purpose flour, but encourage them to use whole wheat pastry flour or half spelt flour. Point out how they use honey for making the ambrosia salad and honey is an excellent alternative to refined white sugar. If they make the "Buried Treasure Muffins" you can talk about why you are using raw cane sugar instead of refined white sugar and inform your child that the raw cane sugar still has molasses left in it which is a source of healthy nutrients (not to mention all the chemicals used to process the refined white sugar that they are missing out on).

Your children WILL learn from example, exposure and experience. If they see you cooking with wholefoods on a daily basis then it will rub off on them. They'll get it. If you are offering a raw salad or vegetable tray a few times a week (or better yet sometime each day) eating raw vegetables will become a habit. If you go to the farmers market and pick out fresh and local (and it would be great if it is organic too) fruits and vegetables this will be part of a way of life for your kids.

Always talk about any unusually ingredient you are using. Hopefully, unusually ingredients (for example: various grains/flours, all different healthy oils, alternative sweeteners, raw foods) will not be unusually to your kids when they leave the nest!

Happy cooking with those little ones and enjoy!
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