You are sneaking vegetables in your fussy eater’s food as a way to meet their daily nutrition requirement but are you wondering if there is an easier way to get them to eat healthy and try new things?
Research has shown that kids are more likely to try a new food, maybe a vegetable or textured food if they were involved in the process of cooking it.
Bringing your child into the kitchen with you is a great way to foster their budding confidence and laying the foundation for healthy eating habits.
While it might be a daily chore for you, it is a fun learning activity for your child. There are a surprising number of lessons they can learn and practice while cooking with you, including motor skills, coordination, science, mathematics, language and art. Following instructions and hygiene, that you otherwise nag about, is much easier to teach in the kitchen.
They are also introduced to kitchen equipment, the cooking process and different foods while spending time with you.
Some activities to engage and teach your child in the kitchen are
- Washing vegetables and fruits. Also, a fun way to teach them their names, colors and shapes
- Soaking lentils
- Stirring/ mixing ingredients. Be careful about the temperatures.
- Mashing with a fork or potato masher
- Sprinkling flour, cake decorations and sugar, put an old newspaper underneath to avoid too much mess
- Measuring with a cup
- Cutting soft ingredients like butter, banana, avocado or cooked vegetables, using a butter knife
- Crushing biscuits for a base
- Peeling soaked almonds or a fruit using a hand. Peelers are sharp.
- Squeezing juice from a lemon, using a squeezer
- Tearing leafy greens and herbs
- Sieving. Fix the sieve over a large bowl and tap it, instead of shaking it around to avoid making a mess
- Using a pestle and mortar. A light wooden one rather than heavy metal ones
- Kneading. Light kneading with a little help from you.
- Rolling, shaping and cutting dough. Use plastic cutters and a lighter rolling pin
- Buttering bread and spreading sauce or jam on a chapatti
Some helpful tips
- Keep your recipes simple, like a sandwich or a fruit salad.
- Ensure safety. Keep your kid away from the hot stove, appliances, sharp knives and scissors. Make sure the food they are working with is at room temperature.
- Be patient.
- Expect a lot of mess and be ready to clean up later
You will notice a big boost in your child’s confidence as he starts helping you in the kitchen and enjoying his meals. Cooking together will give you both memories that will stay with you a long time, but also with the added bonus of developing your child’s taste buds in a decidedly healthier manner.