Well it has been a long winter! I am delighted to be back with the freshness of spring and many cooking classes under my belt. My focus has shifted back to children and how to engage them in cooking with us. Here is just a quick snapshot of why we would want to cook with the children in our lives:
Do you struggle to find quick, nutritious snacks and meals to offer your children? With our very busy lives it is often challenging to find the time to prepare healthy meals. There is a healthy solution!
Children are naturally curious and adventurous so why not introduce them to food by making it fun.
They are so pleased when they make something for others and receive praise for a job well done!
Children will jump for joy when they learn to cook!
Benefits of Cooking with your Children
Cooking with the children in our lives is a wonderful way to spend quality time together. They feel good about themselves when they contribute to the daily chores at home and cooking can be so much fun. Children love to have the opportunity to show us what they know and can do. They are proud of themselves when make something the whole family enjoys together.
Cooking with children does take time and patience. It can also get pretty messy and the food may not be just the way we grown ups like it, but believe me it is worth the effort. Preparing food to eat and share with others teaches children so many life-long skills while engaging them in a fun and healthy activity. And the fact is that children who help with the planning and preparation of meals also are more likely to eat what has been made. Younger children need tasks that they can accomplish safely and sometimes older children can help them when they get stuck.
Older children are able to read and interpret recipes. They can help younger children measure and and mix. Show older children how to properly clean cutting boards and counters and what good personal hygiene is when preparing food. Work with older children to set up the work area with all utensils that will be needed, and gather all ingredients before starting to cook. Teach them to develop the ability to plan for their menu by preparing all ingredients that must be chopped, peeled, etc. so that the actual cooking process goes smoothly and quickly. This organization and planning helps the cooking process go smoothly adding to their sense of accomplishment.
Think about involving children in the entire food preparation process starting with making the grocery list, shopping, putting food away, setting the table, cooking and sitting together to enjoy the fruits of your labors.
In the grocery store teach your children how to read nutrition labels. Help them understand the difference between fresh and processed foods. Teach them about healthy fats, whole grains and beans, alternatives to meat and the importance of a balanced diet for overall good health. Introduce children to vitamins and minerals and how to shop for the highest quality foods at the best prices. Show children the content of sugar or salt that is in their favorite processed foods and offer them healthier alternatives they can make. In doing so we are teaching them about important nutrients and healthy food choices which they can carry all their lives.
The benefits of shopping and cooking with children are many.
They learn what healthy foods look and smell like
They learn about important nutritional information
They are more likely to eat the healthy food that is presented to them
They get to spend quality time with you
They may focus their time and energy in more healthy endeavors rather than being connected via phone, computer, TV etc
So what are you waiting for get into the kitchen with your children and have a blast! Try this recipe from Shari-Lynn Demaris’ cookbook it has become a favorite of some of the children in my life!
Tofu Nut Balls
½ cup uncooked short grain brown rice
1 cup water
2 Tblsp shoyu
½ lb firm tofu
½ cup ground almond
½ cup whole wheat bread crumbs
Sea salt to taste
1-2 Tblsp sesame oil
1 cup safflower oil (it is less likely to burn)
1) Wash, rinse and soak the rice.
2) Place prepared rice and water in small saucepan. Bring to a boil, cover and lower heat cooking for 35-45 minutes until rice is very soft.
3) Place shoyu and ½ the tofu in a blender and then add about ¾ of the cooked rice. Blend into a thick paste.
4) Place remaining tofu in a large bowl. Add the blended mixture to the bowl along with the bread crumbs and almond meal. Mix well, then add the remaining rice and sea salt to taste.
5) Make small balls with your hands or flatter batter and use cookie cutters for special shapes.
6) Pan fry balls in the sesame oil for 15 minutes or pan bake them at 350 for 30 minutes.