Last night my daughter ate a dinner of pasta (gluten-free) with a sauce of olive oil-sauteed red onions, zucchini, cherry tomatoes, yellow bell peppers and chicken apple sausage. There was nothing left in her bowl… not because she is an amazing kid who eats anything, but because tonight she cooked it with me.
Let me back up a bit and introduce you to Michelle Stern of What’s Cooking. I was introduced to Michelle on Twitter by Stephanie O’Dea, the Crockpot Lady — this is the virtual blogger world that I live in, but we all live in the Bay Area and I now know them as real people. Michelle teaches cooking to kids. She has built a business around it, not because she is a businesswoman as much as she is a teacher, which is where she and I really connected. It turns out that she was a student teacher for a science class at the same high school where I was teaching history. Our paths didn’t cross at that time, but here we are now!
Michelle’s work inspires me to get my kids more involved in cooking and understanding where their food comes from. Her blog is full of great advice… recently she gave two tips for cooking with kids:
- “Let go of perfection.” – I don’t know about you, but this is a hard one for me!
- “Let kids DO.” – seems obvious, but this is easy to forget.
- And I would like to add: “Have patience.” Give them time to learn.
Michelle and I met up for the first time at the farmer’s market where she encouraged me to buy kale to make kale chips (they were yummy!) Her passion has stuck with me since that day, although I really do forget to involve my kids enough in food preparation.
But not last night! Last night my daughter cut cherry tomatoes in half with a serrated knife for the first time. I taught her how to hold the knife, how to hold the tomato and how to cut with a forward and back motion. She was so proud of herself. (If your child isn’t ready to use a sharp knife, you can let him/her use a butter knife to cut olives, as shown in the picture.) She also stood at the stove on a step stool and stirred, as I added each ingredient. The result was that she felt that she cooked the dinner, and so of course she thought it was delicious! (Bonus: little sis also ate most of it, even the yellow peppers, because big sis was eating it!)
Involving your children in the preparation and cooking of healthy food helps them to appreciate it, understand it, and best of all — eat it!