Children should be taught to adopt a healthy lifestyle since a young age. With health issues like obesity, diabetes, and eating disorders affecting even kids there days, its best the young ones understand and practice healthy eating habits as early as possible.
One easy way to start this practice is by teaching your child to cook. Barbara J. Brandt, author of Your Kids: Cooking!, agrees. “It is imperative that kids learn to cook, especially today when their only other option is commercially prepared processed food that has been proven to be causing unprecedented heath issues in our children.”
Brandt’s book/DVD set teaches kids to cook using video demonstrations and a unique kid-friendly recipe format that makes it possible for them to prepare 20 complete meals on their own, with minimal supervision.
Benefits of cooking
Brandt points out that cooking can benefit children in many ways:
- Kids who learn to cook eat healthier because they are able to prepare delicious food using fresh and wholesome ingredients.
- They are empowered to make healthy food choices that are right for them, which is the definition of independence – not being influenced or controlled by others.
- Their food choices are not influenced or controlled by food companies that want to sell them unhealthy food full of salt, sugar, fat and preservatives.
- They learn organizational skills, time management skills, how to follow directions, food safety, math, science, patience, and humility, among other values.
- One of the best by-products of their learning to cook is that they gain an appreciation for what it takes to get tasty, healthy food on the table. It also helps them gain an appreciation of what it takes to keep the kitchen clean.
Get the child involved
It may be hard for parents, at times, to get their child interested in cooking. So how do you get the kiddie involved? “By letting their kids be in charge of the process, starting with picking out which recipes they want to make, to shopping, and especially when preparing the recipe,” answers Brandt, offering a solution.
Allowing kids the opportunity for their input and choices to matter is usually all it takes to spark an interest in kids to learn anything. “They spend all day in school being told what they are going to learn and rarely have a chance to engage in active learning. When they are allowed the freedom to choose and feel like they are really contributing to their family in a meaningful way, they become very excited and motivated,” says Brandt.
“It is imperative that kids learn to cook, especially today when their only other option is commercially prepared processed food that has been proven to be causing unprecedented heath issues in our children.”
A few points need to be kept when teaching your young one to cook. “Safety, safety, safety,” emphasizes Brandt on the most important point, “In my book, we take great care to educate kids about the dangers they may encounter in the kitchen, and group them into “hot stuff,” “germy stuff,” and “sharp stuff”.”
Keep the teaching process simple, advices Brandt. “Just introduce them to the basic concepts of the five food groups and how to build a healthy plate.”
They also need some understanding of the difference between fresh ingredients and processed ingredients and to understand why fresh is better than processed. “Teaching them these basic things is really all they need to get started with learning about cooking and eating healthy,” she adds, summing up.
Try these recipes with your kid
Banana Oatmeal Muffins
Made with oats, yogurt and bananas, these muffins are an easy-to-make delicious snack full of whole grains, dairy, and fruit.
- 2 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
- 1 cup yogurt
- 3/4 cup sugar of your choice
- 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 2 ripe bananas
Method: Combine all the ingredients together and mix well. Bake at 400°F for 15-20 minutes.
The name is sometimes enough to make kids turn up their noses to the idea. If that might be the case with your kids, try calling them Green Meanie Balls, or Martian Bites, or anything but spinach balls!
- 20-oz frozen spinach (thawed and thoroughly drained)
- 1 box stuffing mix (chicken flavour)
- 1 cup Parmesan cheese
- 5 eggs (lightly whisked)
- 1 onion (finely minced, or grated)
- 1/2 cup butter (melted)
- 1 tsp oregano
- 1 tsp basil
- 2 cloves garlic (crushed)
- 8 oz mozzarella cheese (finely grated)
Method: Combine everything in a large bowl. Mix together until the spinach is evenly distributed throughout the other ingredients. Form into small balls. Bake at 350°F for 15 minutes.