Kids want to cook. So let them! Teach them where their food comes from! Show them how to use a knife properly! Why? The reason became clear to me when I was requested not to serve bone in chicken in an elementary school because of the choking hazard. I’m not making light of the potential hazard of eating a bone, my point is, when did it become a hazard for kids to eat food with bones in it? I’ll tell you when. When the chicken nugget was introduced!
We all know that childhood obesity and health related issues are at alarming numbers. Why is this happening? I think one answer is we don’t give our youth enough credit and attention when it comes to developing skills in the kitchen. The past few weeks I have learned that kids want to learn how to cook and want to try different foods, regardless of what you may think. How do you get them to try different foods? Let them help in the kitchen!
This became crystal clear to me on Saturday when I was participating as a chef judge at the Tri-county 4H Food Show. What I witnessed was a group of kids, from 1st grade up to high school, show how creative and thoughtful they are with food. There was a cornbread challenge, a cupcake challenge and a cook out meal challenge. They worked both in groups and as individuals and presented their dishes to a panel of chefs. I know how intimidating that can be, and was so proud of all the kids who participated. There were some that absolutely blew me away not just their food but with their knowledge of food. Their knowledge of different cooking techniques andscratch cook recipes. These were all dishes they created by themselves. There were ribs, pulled pork, various salads and several home made BBQ sauces! It was an awesome experience to be a part of.
I was talking to one of the young girls who was participating in the cupcake competition and she asked me “When are we going to cook again.” I was blown away. This is a young girl who participated in my first Family Cook Night at the local YMCA almost six months ago. She told me she remembered how much fun it was! It was a total coincidence that we were both at the 4H event, and knowing that she still remembers the class proves how much kids can enjoy cooking if you include them in your kitchen!
I also have done Family Cook nights at some of the elementary schools in the district I work in. One in particular really stands
out. When we started the class, this young boy’s mother commented on how excited she was to cook with her son. She told me she
was concerned about how he will do because he is a picky eater. Well after 90 minutes of chopping, seasoning, and cooking, I looked at the boy’s mother and we both were laughing because this boy was going to town trying new vegetables like artichokes and cauliflower and even polished off the chicken dish he created. So what does this prove? Even the pickiest eater will try anything if they are involved in the process.
Those of you that follow me on Facebook might remember the story of the young boy who came up to me while I was visiting an elementary school and told me he wanted to be a chef also. He asked me to try the sandwich he made by himself for lunch and tell him what I thought. It was such a cool experience for both of us!
It’s stories like this that prove to me that our kids, the children that will lead our future, want to eat better. The problem is they just don’t know how to!!
Some of my fondest memories as a kid are in the kitchen with my family. So why aren’t we creating those memories with our kids? Why are we not teaching our kids how to eat better? Why are we not showing our kids where their food comes from? You want healthier children? Then don’t just let them eat the food we prepare for them, let them help prepare it!! Show them the kitchen is like a big toy box with all kinds of things to try.
Have you ever had your kids try the spices in your spice rack? I have and guess what, now my son can make his own dry rubs, and they’re good!!!
Jamie Oliver said in his TED talk in February 2010:
“Home. The biggest problem with the home is that used to be the heart of passing on food, food culture, what made our society. That ain’t happening anymore. And you know, as we go to work and as life changes, and as life always evolves, we kind of have to look at it holistically — step back for a moment, and re-address the balance. It ain’t happening, hasn’t happened for 30 years, OK?”
He feels and I agree that kids have lost touch with food and the food culture that makes our society. That’s due to the convenience of fast food and processed foods that we adults offer as meals. Well, don’t you think its time to stop feeding our kids food that not only damages the heart in their body, but takes them out of the heart in your home?