Parenting: Cooking with youngsters

Monday, January 10, 2011

In this Parenting Perspective report, I'm going to focus on a fun way to get your young children to eat a variety of healthy foods.

It doesn't HAVE to be difficult, just get them cooking! So says Personal Chef Debi Reichert, "I've found, across the board, from toddlers to teenager, even, that when kids make something themselves, and become personally invested in the process, that they are willing to try things that they are never willing to try otherwise."

Chef Debi suggests, when introducing young children to cooking, try a recipe that is fun, healthy and tasty. She showed my 3-year-old daughter, Emma, and 5-year-old Luke, how to make homemade chicken tenders, dipped in light ranch dressing and coated with crushed baked potato chips.

First step: washing your hands well. Then, crushing the potato chips in zip lock bags (who can resist?!) Then, using tongs so not to touch the chicken, show your children how to take the uncooked chicken out of the bowl of ranch dressing, coat them in the crushed chips, and line them up on a baking sheet.

By cooking with your children, you can expand more than just their palettes. It can teach skills like measuring, math, and following directions. Even by letting our children cut fruit, with an age-appropriate knife, you can encourage them to reach for healthy snacks, while improving hand-eye coordination.

One fun snack idea, creating a rainbow of fruit pieces on skewer. "Most kids like eating food off a stick, and it's a great way to reinforce the idea of eating a rainbow everyday: assortment of different colored fruits and vegetables, something you really should eat for a healthy diet," says Chef Reichert.

After 30 minutes in a 350-degree oven, I'm happy to report that my little chefs LOVED their own cooking. I'm looking forward to trying out more.

Happy Parenting! Cecily

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