As childhood obesity continues to be a public health concern, we believe it’s more important than ever to get kids excited about healthy eating. We’ve found that kids are often eager to help out in the kitchen. Cooking with kids offers parents and teachers a great opportunity to teach about nutrition and healthy choices.
There are many ways kids can assist in the kitchen, from pouring pre-measured ingredients to washing produce. The key, however, is to get them to actually learn about the health and nutrition behind the food they’re working with.
In a recent Fast Company article, FoodCorps members explain how important it is for kids to be involved in the cooking/food selection process. The more involved they feel, the more likely they are to continue seeking out new, healthy food choices. “Kids who grow ingredients or cook a dish feel proud of themselves, and are more open to trying a bite.”
Pilot Light, a Chicago based nonprofit, is another organization that actively works to introduce students and kids to healthy food, nutrition, and cooking. They empower “all children with the knowledge, attitudes, and skills they need to have healthy relationships with food.” In other words, they’re experts at getting kids passionate about food.
In a recent Pilot Light video, Floriole chef and owner, Sandra Holl, makes Lifeway Kefir Panna Cotta with Stella! This is a perfect example of how easy and fun it can be to get kids cooking.
“Pilot Light’s approach is to teach kids about the food on their plates by building their understanding of where it comes from and its relevance to their daily lives. We’ve seen that when kids learn about food in this way, it piques their curiosity and they want to try new, healthy foods prepared for them. They might not like it when they try it, but at least you’ve gotten them to take that big step of trying something new,” explains Alex DeSorbo-Quinn, Executive Director of Pilot Light.
For the Lifeway Kefir Panna Cotta recipe and instructions, check out our other blog post on Pilot Light.
5 Kitchen Tasks for Kids:
Take your kids to the grocery store. Have them pick out the ingredients for the meal you’re planning to cook. Fruits and veggies can be inspected for damage and ripeness! The idea is to empower the kids as they select the ingredients for the upcoming yummy meal. Empowered children are more likely to enjoy their meal, if they selected the ingredients.
Allow kids to pour pre-measured ingredients! It’s an easy and relatively clean task for smaller children. As they pour, talk to your kids about the ingredients — the health benefits and nutrition of each ingredient.
While kids are stirring the mixtures, recap what you’ve taught them about the ingredients and the meal as a whole.
4. Choices – Give them some choosing power
Whether you let them choose the toppings/garnishes or have them select from different recipes, giving kids choosing power can go a long way in getting them to participate and engage.
Don’t forget the cleanup! Have your kids help with the clean up while the meal is cooking. Make it more fun with some music.
Both FoodCorps and Pilot Light are partners of Lifeway in the mission to bringing healthy food education to kids, students, and the general public. Learn more about Pilot Light here and FoodCorps here.