Cooking may soon be a lost art. More and more people are eating out; fewer high schools are offering cooking classes; and processed foods are everywhere. Parents (and grandparents) can change this trend. Let’s involve the children in our lives with cooking.
Remember our parents – making meals for the family. We would seldom see frozen dinners, food mixes (just add water and cook), or boxed foods. Our parents/grandparents started with fresh foods – vegetables, potatoes, noodles, fruits, milk, and grains.
How can we bring back the art and health of home-cooking? How about involving our children (grandchildren) in the kitchen? The time together will build bonds and also teach cooking skills. Each child’s age will determine how involved they are in the making/baking of food products. Memories made together will last a lifetime.
One guide from the Kids Eat Right website (www.kidseatright.org) offers this advice when involving kids in the cooking process.
Children ages 3-5: They are so excited to help in the kitchen and do need to be supervised closely. They may also have a short attention span. Skills for this age may include: using cookie cutters; rinse fresh fruits / vegetables in a large bowl filled with water; clear tabletops; mix simple ingredients; use a pastry brush to oil breads, vegetables or other foods.
Ages 6-7: As the fine motor skills are developing, they are able to complete more complex tasks. Skills for this age may include: crack eggs into a bowl; use a vegetable peeler; use a blunt scissors to cut green beans; clean the seeds from a pepper; prepare instant pudding; or prepare lettuce for a salad.
Ages 8-9: Each child has special skills and talents and each child is unique in the skills. Tasks suited to this age include: rinse and clean vegetables; use a can opener; beat eggs; measure and mix dry ingredients; use of a food thermometer; juice citrus fruits; and pound chicken on a cutting board.
Ages 10-12: Even though this age can work independently, it is important to monitor their skills. Tasks to try: boil pasta and vegetables; simmer ingredients on the stovetop; following a simple step-by-step recipe; slice and chop vegetables, and use the microwave.
We all may remember a “mistake” we made when learning to cook. One memory from my youth involved preparing a Halloween cake. When preparing the orange frosting and not knowing at the time what “confectioner’s sugar” was – I used regular granulated sugar. Needless to say, the cake was a failure. But as the saying goes from Albert Einstein: “Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.” Another saying says – Mistakes are sometimes the best memories.
Proceed to have fun with your little ones – borrow them from the friends or neighbors if needed – and create some memories and learning. Kids are so much fun!
Check out www.kidseatright.org for recipes and videos to share with the children in your life. Here’s one to try!!
Carrot Fries Recipe
By Marie Feldman, RD
French fries? Forget them and try these for way more antioxidants and fewer calories! They’re super easy to make, too.
1 pound of carrots
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 400ºF.
Peel the carrots and cut them into strips about in ¼-inch thick and a few inches long.
Coat a baking pan with cooking spray and spread the carrots onto it. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Bake 15 minutes. Flip them over and coat them with a bit more cooking spray, salt and pepper; bake another 15 minutes until lightly browned.
Serving size: 1/4 recipe
Calories: 45; Total Fat: 0g; Saturated Fat: 0g; Cholesterol 0mg; Sodium: 370mg; Total Carbohydrate: 11g; Dietary Fiber: 3g; Sugars: 5g; Protein: 1g.
Joan Bahr, MS is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator at Southwest Health in Platteville. Joan works with families to help them make food choices that will positively impact their health for years to come. Joan is a Lafayette County Farm Bureau member where she and her husband also raise grain and cattle. Between them, they have three children and seven grandchildren. Joan is also an avid half-marathon walker. She can be reached at Southwest Health 608.342.5025 or at Epione Pavilion 608.744.3966.