Getting your kids in the kitchen can be a great way to spend time together as a family. Involving them in the cooking process is also a wonderful opportunity to show them a healthy lifestyle can be simple, tasty and fun!. Here are three simple tips to make cooking with your child enjoyable.
1. Pick a new fruit or vegetable
When you're at the grocery store with your children, ask them to pick out a fruit or vegetable they would like to try. In the produce section, see how many fruits and vegetables they can identify and have them guess what their new vegetable or fruit may taste like. By including them in the process, children are more likely to be excited about trying something new rather than fighting you about it. Look up recipes together and see how many different ways you can find to prepare your new item.
2. Give your kids a simple task in the kitchen.
Getting your kids to taste new foods is often a challenge, but it can be a lot easier if they get involved in the kitchen. Whether it’s peeling carrots or snapping green beans, give your child an age-appropriate task to help prepare the meal. When children play a role in creating what they eat, they’ll have more interest in foods they may have initially shunned. And who knows—you may inspire your child to embrace their inner chef!
3. Get creative.
Teaching your kids about eating healthy can be educational and fun. As long as you’re creative, you can get your kids excited about cooking. Try these tips:
- Plant an herb or vegetable garden and use the results to prepare delicious meals for the family.
- Select a country on the map and learn about its culture and food. Find a recipe native to that country and try it out as a family.
- Pick your own fruit! Check out local farms and orchards for seasonal fruit picking that’s open to the public. This is a great way to learn about where produce comes from and how it grows.
Mary Saph TanakaContributor
Mary Saph Tanaka, MD, MS, developed her love for cooking at a young age, with fond memories of planting and cooking vegetables from the garden with her mother. She regularly utilizes locally grown ingredients and her knowledge of nutrition and herbs to prepare nutritious meals for family and friends. She is completing her pediatrics training at UCLA Mattel Children’s Hospital as part of the Community Health and Advocacy Training program. She developed the recipes for the recently released book “’Eat Your Vegetables’ and Other Mistakes Parents Make: Redefining How to Raise Healthy Eaters” written by Natalie Digate Muth, MD, MPH, RD (Healthy Learning, 2012).
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I know we should eat more family meals. Any tips for encouraging my family to do so?