Healthy Summertime Kids: Get that garden started!
Cooking is a great way for kids to play with their food and increase their exposure and likelihood of eating well. All school-year long I hear the excuse “I don’t have time to cook”…..No, not only from adults, but from children! My response? Make time! It is especially easier to make time during the summer, so no excuses here.
Why?: Without the knowledge of how to cook, we are forced to rely on packaged foods or restaurant foods which often include excess added sodium and fat, with too few vegetables. When you cook your own food, you can decide what to include and what to leave out. After all, if you cook your own food you will save money and eat healthier. Who doesn’t want that?
Get started: Beginning your culinary adventure, no matter how large or small, can be a bit intimidating–even more so if you are a complete beginner. Familiarize yourself with cooking videos to learn techniques, and then make the recipe on your own. Search online for easy recipes or subscribe to a cooking magazine for inspiration. Hint: follow the recipes! As a beginner, do not use the recipe as mere suggestions–follow them completely. This will ensure good results and a positive experience. Remember to fully read the recipe first, and have all of your ingredients ready to go. Once you master a few recipes, you may feel comfortable to put your own twist on them. Try adding one new ingredient, or making one substitution. You will soon become comfortable making your own recipes and using others as inspiration rather than a blueprint.
Make mistakes: It is only natural to make plenty of mistakes when cooking, especially if you are new to it. This is a great learning opportunity for children! Be a role model and solve the problem together. Point out the mistakes and note how to avoid them next time.
Put ’em to work!: Delegate tasks as often as possible to the children. Younger children can be great helpers for tearing lettuce, breaking off the stems of green beans, mixing ingredients (especially with their hands), measuring, and licking the bowl! Older children, while supervised, can begin to use knives for slicing and chopping (I like to begin them with “lettuce knives” which are large, plastic serrated knives for cutting softer foods), peeling, using the stove, or handling meats (don’t forget to wash your hands promptly!)
Eat!: Children are more likely to taste foods they are familiar with. Help them to familiarize them self with all the foods in the recipes, and the kitchen. Encourage picky eaters to play with their food, and they will be more likely to eat that food.
Teaching children (and yourself) how to cook is the staple for a healthy life, so give them the gift of health this summer!
Marina works with the families of children with Autism, Asperger’s, PDD-NOS, ADD, and ADHD to create a unique roadmap towards improved health. Parents are valued as equal partners and are ultimately responsible for the case management of their child’s treatment. Together, a realistic nutrition care plan will be developed to both fit the child’s lifestyle, yet meet his or her health needs in a safe manner.
Book an appointment here for personalized nutrition for children and families. If healthy eating habits don’t start now, when will they?