By guest author, Emily Connell Gronholt, Nutritional Medicine Practitioner
There is no better time to be getting our kids in the kitchen, with school holidays looking completely different this year as the country grapples with the spread of coronavirus.
The idea of letting kids in the kitchen can be daunting, and you might be wondering ‘why would I now, of all times, want to add that additional stress into my life’.
However, healthy behaviours and positive relationships with food start at an early age, so it makes sense to get kids started in the kitchen sooner rather than later to promote good health and life skills.
Teaching our children to take control of their health
One of the big barriers to people not cooking with their kids is not having enough time. I get it! It’s not an ideal time to be engaging kids in cooking when you are running in from soccer training after a full day of work knowing that you have 15 minutes to get through the dinner/bath/bed routine.
However, when seeking any positives of this coronavirus tragedy, one may be that many of us potentially have more time at home, with our kids, than ever before. It’s our time to shine as parents!
By setting aside a few hours each week to teach your kids some simple cooking skills, you will set them up for a life so they can make informed choices about what they eat and take control of their health.
A chance to come together
Cooking brings people together – and cooking with kids is no different. In this time of high stress and change, which unavoidably is also impacting our kids, spending time together doing positive activities doesn’t just get those carrots peeled quicker, it is a chance to talk and to connect.
It’s not just cooking!
As well as teaching kids important information about food, where it comes from, and how to prepare it, cooking also teaching valuable academic skills:
- Maths: get kids to measure, count or weigh ingredients and work out fractions
- English: get kids to read the recipe, even better design their own and write it down. Read the ingredients and get kids thinking about what words they recognise and what words sound like chemicals. This is a great discussion starter for thinking about what makes up the food we eat, what are ‘real whole foods’ and what ‘foods’ are not food but instead a highly processed chemical cocktail.
- History: why not investigate what foods or meals they ate during the Renaissance!
- Geography: try an international recipe
- Science: cooking is all about chemical reactions. I always love watching what happens when you mix the bicarb of soda with the melted honey and butter when baking a batch of Anzac biscuits
- PDHPE: cooking is an excellent opportunity to discuss how food is medicine and how the food we eat influences our mood, our energy, our growth, our skin, our sleep – our everything!
Start with easy, healthy recipes
You might want to start with a family favourite recipe that you can make together. Or jump online to get some inspiration.
Here are a few sites to get you started:
Choose age-appropriate tasks
Children as young as two can start helping – they can start by washing the fruit and veg or breaking up the broccoli. Three-year-olds can mix or shake up dressings. Four-year-olds can mash bananas and set the table. Five-year-olds can measure, and break eggs (if you don’t mind eating a bit of shell).
Keep it simple – it can be as easy as starting them on spreading some avocado on a rice cracker or adding ingredients to a smoothie or mixing some bliss balls or scrambling some eggs.
Cooking for confidence and belonging
Yes, it’s probably quicker doing it yourself, but one of the most fabulous skills you can gift your child is the ability to cook. It allows them to feel like a valuable part of the family, helps develop responsibility and builds their confidence.
Emily Connell, BHSc Nutritional Medicine, BAppSc Occupational Therapy
Emily is a Nutritional Medicine practitioner, writer, speaker, facilitator and trainer. Emily combines her passion for Nutritional Medicine with her background in Occupational Therapy, mental health & management to support people to achieve health & inspire wellness.
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