Spending time cooking with your kids can help them build healthy eating habits from a young age.
School holidays are just a few days away. This is a great time to teach your kids about nutrition and cooking! Children will be able to try new foods and can get a bit of a confidence boost when they see family and friends enjoying their creations. The most important take home message is that getting your children involved in the cooking will help promote future health and healthy habits by teaching them about nutrition and how to prepare healthy meals.
The American Dietetic Association says “to be safe, cover a few ground rules before getting started in the kitchen. Teach kids to wash their hands with warm, soapy water while singing two choruses of “Happy Birthday” to kill all germs.‘’
Keep them interested
Most children will enjoy helping out in the kitchen. Start up interesting conversations about healthy foods while you are cooking, point out the various food groups. Children are more likely to eat foods they have made themselves, so this is a great way for them to try new nutritious foods.
Start with teaching your children the basics. For example cracking eggs into a bowl or how to measure ingredients using different utensils.
Some great holiday tips
Keep your children enthusiastic about cooking, by assigning them an appropriate task (based on their abilities) for a holiday recipe.
Some ideas depending on your child’s age:
- 2-year-olds can:
- Wipe tabletops
- Wash fruits and vegetables
- Tear up lettuce
- Help carry ingredients
- 3-year-olds can:
- Knead and shape dough
- Mix or pour ingredients
- Shake liquids in a covered container to mix them
- 4-year-olds can:
- Peel fruit like oranges or hard-boiled eggs
- Mash bananas or cooked beans
- Set the table
- 5 to 6-year-olds can:
- Measure ingredients
- Press cookie cutters
- Pour liquids into batter
- 9 to 10 year olds:
- Stir hot mixtures,
- Cut foods with a table knife
- Over 10 years:
- Slice or chop vegetables
- Boil potatoes
- Simmer ingredients on the stove.
Let them be creative
Setting out 3-4 healthy foods, let your kids experiment with making a new snack or sandwich.
- A new kind of bread (whole grain or rye or low GI)
- Whole grain crackers
- Mini whole wheat rice cakes
- Small pieces of whole-wheat pita bread
Spreads could include:
- Low-fat cream cheese or cottage cheese spread
- Sugar free peanut butter or nut butter
- Bean dip
Toppings could include:
- Sliced apple or banana
- Raisins or other dried fruit
- Slices of cucumber
- Cherry tomatoes cut in small pieces
Munchwize Registered Dietitians are based in Cape Town.
For more information on childhood nutrition, click here
Parenting tips – Getting kids into the kitchen. www.wecan.nhlbi.nih.gov.
E.Cunningham. 2015. The joy of cooking with kids during the holidays. www.eatright.org