Memories are made in the kitchen. It could be when you make holiday cookies with your grandma or fried chicken with your dad, but it leaves a good taste in your mouth and the sweet aroma of family in your mind. You want to build those memories with your children, as well as educate them about food. Here are some ways to teach them about nutrition and how to make healthy choices.
- Baking a Base
To get away from consuming too many processed foods, you can begin to teach your kids about nutrition by baking together at home. Choosing a product like gluten free bread mix will give you a base to make bread, cookies, pizzas, crepes and more for a wide variety of meals at home. Then, you can add fresh ingredients like cranberries to bread and cookies, eggs and spinach to crepes and sun-dried tomatoes on pizzas. Have fun with each creation by taking photos of what you make together and hanging them on the refrigerator to celebrate the best bakers in the house.
Picking a Fruit of the Day
Good nutrition begins with good choices, and there is no better way to teach this than to lead by example. Pick a fruit of the day each Saturday and work it into as many meals as you can. Let your kids help in deciding what recipes you follow. For example, you can cut up apples to cook in your oatmeal for breakfast, apples and peanut butter as part of lunch and homemade applesauce for dinner. Use this as a teaching moment to discuss all the benefits of apples, the different types of apples and where they are grown. Have your children research so they learn how to investigate successfully.
Choosing New Materials
The grocery store is a wonderful classroom where you and your kids can interact with all kinds of foods. Everyone has their favorites, but each time you go to the grocery, make sure to ask each person to pick a different food to cook with that week. They can either have one in mind that they have researched for a particular nutritional benefit or they can pick one based on what captures their attention in the produce aisle. Introducing variety will keep your kids engaged in making great food choices based on nutrition, availability, price and taste.
Your adventures in the kitchen are always guided by what is age appropriate for your children, but when they are old enough to read recipes, teach them the value of the foods they are working with. If you are making a recipe with green beans, talk about how they are high in vitamin C and fiber, and the importance of these in good health. Show them good sources of information so they know where to look for themselves. This is also a great time to talk about the difference between cooked and raw fruits and vegetables. Spices are also important to educate your young ones about because there are many health benefits spices bring to the recipes they may be choosing. Spices and whole foods work side by side in healthy, nutritional meals.
Cooking and Cleaning
The process of cooking and the importance of cleaning should be taught at as early an age as possible. Unless you are a vegetarian, you will be working with meats, and educating your children about the proper handling of these materials is essential for good health. Along with that is teaching them how to clean up and sanitize their cooking or baking areas before and after food handling. Hand washing is a given when working with food and cooking utensils. Also, be sure to teach safe practices concerning stoves, ovens, knives and appliances.
Spending time with your children in the kitchen can be lots of fun and will give them the experience and education they need to make good nutrition a lifestyle.