Do your kids help you in the kitchen?
Even if they aren't, it’s never too early to include your children in mealtime preparation! No matter the age of your child, allowing them to help in the kitchen is a great way to familiarize them with healthy foods and encourage the development of fine motor skills. Cooking and baking both work to give your children the opportunity to become more comfortable with food, which can help them make healthier choices when they aren't with you.
My niece and nephew have started to take an interest in learning more about food, the science of cooking and learning about where food comes from. They know that I have a blog so there are always lots of questions about cooking and pairing of different flavour combinations. I am so thrilled that this has been happening that I've encouraged my brother and sister-in-law to send them to summer cooking camp.
I've found that involving them in preparing food allows them to experiment with flavours, while becoming familiar with raw and natural foods and how they interact. in fact, studies have repeatedly shown that children who prepare food with their parents will be more likely to eat well and understand a balanced diet. You can easily include your children in age appropriate food preparation to spend quality time together while giving them skills necessary for their future. Both at their home, and mine we get them involved in chopping tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers.
While my niece and nephew will soon be heading into their tweens *gulp*, I've got friends wth preschoolers who've said that cooking with kids at that age can be fun and entertaining, as well as educational; have your young child wash vegetables in the sink, or seek out ingredients from your fridge to help. By being present in the kitchen, young children will be experiencing the touch, sound and smell that comes with preparing food. Some preschoolers will enjoy being more hands on by mashing potatoes or pouring ingredients into the bowl. At this age and stage, be prepared for a few spills and giggles; it’s all in the name of learning!
If you’re unsure of where to start, consider enrolling your child in a cooking class to develop their skills at any age. Throughout summer break, you can find great kids camps for tweens such as this one from Petits Chefs Academy, or this one from Chef School. You can locate more of these camps in your area on google and often through community centres as well.
If your child is a little older, he or she may be interested in teen cooking classes, such as this one by The Chef Upstairs. It is never too late to encourage healthy eating through hands-on, food preparation.
What are you doing with your kids this summer?
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