Tuesday, February 4

5 Ways to Cook with Your Kids

by Katherine Matutes, Ph.D.

While it may seem easier to plop the kids down in front of the TV when you cook dinner, doing so can be a missed opportunity to teach your kids about nutrition and have some special bonding time.

It is true that working with kids in the kitchen may require a little extra patience and energy, but it pays off in the long run.

One of the most powerful teaching tools for developing healthy habits in children is to model healthful behaviors. The ingredients and cooking methods you use in the kitchen can show your children how to be healthy. Empowering kids with a say in the menu planning, shopping and food preparation makes them much more inclined to taste something.

You also can take advantage of your child's interests outside the kitchen to keep them engaged. Ask a child who likes art to compose a colorful salad or a child who loves technology to look up a good recipe for parsnips on the Internet. Keep the interaction light and fun, so it doesn't feel like a chore. Their natural curiosity will get the better of them.

Studies show that families that cook and eat together consume more fruits and vegetables and have lower incidences of obesity. Here are 5 easy ideas to get the ball rolling in your house:

1. When planning meals out for the upcoming week allow your child to pick at least one dish they like and have them help you shop for and prepare that item.

2. At the store, encourage your kids to pick out something they've never tried in the produce section. Explain that if they try it you’ll buy it, giving them a sense of adventure and allowing them to control one ingredient selected.

3. Under your supervision, allow your child to prepare as much of the recipe as is age appropriate. This sets the stage for ownership of the final product, which develops your child's sense of accomplishment and encourages a repeat performance.

4. Start a notebook that keeps every family member’s favorite recipes and make it special with notes, drawings or even pictures.

5. Stock your bookcase with a few children's cookbooks to encourage their culinary exploration. A few fun examples are The Star Wars Cookbook: Wookie's Cookies, and Chop, Chop, which is a new kids cooking magazine that features kids preparing the recipes.

For a hands on experience, join us at the JCC for Family Cooking Together on Thursday February 20th 5:30-7:00 p.m. Families are encouraged to bring their 3rd-6th graders along to this event.

More About Katherine Matutes, PhD

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