Written by Stephanie Roque, MS, RD, CD

Let’s be perfectly honest… It’s often easier to whip up a meal yourself without the kids pulling on your legs and running around the kitchen. However, there are three crucial reasons to involve your kids in the cooking process that will strongly resonate in their malleable minds.

1. Values

According to the United States Department of Agriculture, nearly half of all money spent on food is away from the home (1). This trend is not only expected to climb in the future, but is also strongly associated with higher consumption of overall calories and less nutritious food choices (1). It is crucial for the health of generations to come that we begin to preach, teach, and practice healthy behaviors for children to carry into adulthood. By cooking with your children and emphasizing values revolving around wellness and nutrition, your children are infinitely more likely to apply this knowledge down the road as they begin to formulate their own food preferences.

2. Bonding

Although a simple notion, it is nonetheless important to consider the quality time you can spend with your children in the kitchen. While improving the quality of your family’s diet, you’re able to spend time together while accomplishing one of life’s most imperative daily goals: nourishing your bodies. Perhaps you decide to tackle a new recipe together or teach your children a recipe that has been passed down through generations within your family; each moment is a chance to bond and make the most of the seemingly monotonous task of cooking.

3. Skillset

As previously mentioned, cooking with your kiddos can be pure chaos. However, the moments of chaos and mess harbor an immensely valuable opportunity for learning. Yes, learning how to use a mixer to make dough can result in a facial of all-purpose flour. We’ve all been there. It’s important to remember that every mess and mistake is part of a learning process, and children who develop the skillset to cook will be equipped with essential knowledge as they progress into adulthood.

Here are a couple of recipes to kick off culinary adventures with your kiddos:
Source: www.thekidscookmonday.org

pumpkin pancakesPumpkin Pancakes

Source: Our Blessed Adventures (ourblessedadventures.com)

Ingredients:

  • 1 cups flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • ¾ teaspoon cinnamon *
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger *
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves *
    or
    2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice *

Preparation:

  1. Together: Mix together all your ingredients (be careful not to overmix).
  2. Adult: Pre-heat griddle or large pan.
  3. Adult: Add a little butter to the griddle and then pour your batter on.
  4. Together: Flip pancakes once they begin to bubble in the middle.
  5. Kid: Top pancakes with butter and syrup, if desired.

black bean tostadaBlack Bean Tostadas

Source: Working for Cookies (workforcookies.wordpress.com)

Ingredients:

  • 1 15 ounce can black beans
  • ½ teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 4 whole-wheat tortillas
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 ounces Monterey Jack Cheese, grated
  • 4 cups frozen corn, thawed
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes, quartered
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • 1 bunch scallions, chopped
  • 1 lime
  • Few sprigs cilantro for garnish (optional)

Preparation:

  1. Adult: Preheat oven to 475 degrees.
  2. Together: In a small bowl, combine black beans, garlic salt and chili powder.
  3. Together: Brush both sides of tortillas with olive oil and place on a baking sheet. Top with cheese and seasoned beans. Put in oven for 10 minutes.
  4. Together: Meanwhile, combine corn, tomatoes, avocadoes, scallions and lime juice in a large mixing bowl.
  5. Adult: Remove tortillas from the oven.
  6. Kid: Top tortillas with corn mixture and enjoy!
  7. Optional: Brush additional tortillas with olive oil and bake alongside the tostadas. Once baked, break them into pieces and use them as chips for the remaining corn mixture.

Wishing you delightfully chaotic cooking adventures with your kiddos,
Stephanie Roque, MS, RD, CD

Citations:

1. Food Consumption and Demand. United States Department of Agriculture, 2014. www.ers.usda.gov/topics/food-choices-health/food-consumption-demand/food-away-from-home.aspx#nutrition

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Stephanie Roque

Stephanie Roque

Stephanie is a Vermont native and registered dietitian at the Utah Department of Health. She graduated from the University of Vermont with a Master of Science in Dietetics degree with a focus on community nutrition, and enjoys exploring cultural cuisines, spending time with friends and family, and cooking as the optimal form of meditation.
Stephanie Roque

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