Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Cooking With Kids - A Teaching Moment

Sometimes I will get to catch a glimpse of how Food $ense is changing my life. There are lots of times when I feel like so many of the hurdles that I am trying to overcome are still Mount Everest size and I am running at a snail's pace - there are actually times when I don't even WANT to eat healthier.

But there are other times, when I get a little bit of a peek into the lives of my family and I see that I actually AM making a difference. Perhaps it is still a struggle for me - maybe it even always will be. But I am determined to break the cycle and give my kids a better life, to teach them that they can give themselves a better life and most importantly - that they are Worth having the BEST Life! 

My son (who is the youngest of the bigger kids) had become quite the "foodie". He likes to help me in the kitchen while I am making food and he likes to plan menus and shop with me. He is always excited to try new foods and recipes. He even likes to help dish up the plates and style the food "just so" and the plates look pretty. I really enjoy cooking with him, as he is becoming a huge help in the kitchen.

It has gotten me excited to get the other kids to help as much as I can. So where are some good places to start to get your kids helping you out in the kitchen??

  • As Always My Plate has some great ideas on where to start for each age group. This is a list of suggestions for Toddlers - Preschoolers. (sometimes a hard age to get involved in the kitchen. 

  • Epicurious has an entire website devoted to Cooking with Kids!  They have a fantastic article on ways to get your kids involved in the kitchen - tools they recommend for little hands, 

  • Kids Cook Monday - Now how is THAT for a meal planning idea! They have a list of tasks from age 2 all the way up to 12.  Keep in mind that any task in the kitchen is going to first need some teaching and then lots and lots of (supervision as well as) practice. Nobody is born knowing how to crack an egg without getting it everywhere!

I am learning that most kids love to help prepare food. In addition, the more involved they are in harvesting and preparing healthy foods, the more likely they are to eat them. Of course, the ways kids can be involved will depend on their dexterity, their ability to follow directions, and their age and

The following is a list of age-appropriate food preparation tasks brainstormed by teachers

These are all recommended for supervised groups of about six children at a time. (God Bless YOU if you have that many!!) 

Grades K-2
• Cracking eggs
• Crumbling
• Cutting soft items (with scissors or nylon Curious Chef knives; you can parboil carrots and other hard veggies to make them softer)
• Grinding
• Juicing
• Kneeding
• Mashing
• Measuring (you can pre-measure and then have each child measure part, knowing that the entire amount will eventually get mixed in)
• Picking off stems
• Presentation (decorating with flowers, for example)
• Pushing buttons (on a blender, for example)
• Rolling/Wrapping
• Scooping
• Spinning salad
• Spreading
• Sprinkling
• Squeezing
• Stirring
• Tearing leaves, etc.
• Using an apple peeler
• Using an egg separator
• Using a food mill
• Using a mortar and pestle
• Washing (you can give each child 1-2 leaves)

Grades 3-6
• Blending
• Chopping, slicing, dicing, and mincing with round-tipped steak knives
• Collecting compost
• Doubling or tripling recipes
• Grating
• Reading recipes
• Sautéing
• Seasoning
• Washing

Grades 7-12
With appropriate supervision and instruction, children in this age group are generally
capable of just about any task described in a recipe. Cooking with this age group also
provides us with excellent opportunities to teach or reinforce their learning of math
skills, such as adding or multiplying fractions or graphing food waste over time. For ongoing
cooking instruction, children this age can start to improvise in the kitchen or use
their own ideas to improve upon recipes.