You don’t have to like it, you just have to try it!
I’ve been repeating this “rule” to my three year old after attending kids cooking classes with Mandy dos Santos from Little People Nutrition.This is Mandy’s Number 1 Rule and it’s working. This phrase has been instrumental in getting my child to taste food even if half the time, she spits it out. Still, it’s progress.
The cooking classes aimed at kids 3 to 6 has been a big hit. Lots of smiles all around!
The kids dutifully follow Mandy’s instructions in preparing ingredients and creating dishes. They’ve been cutting, filling, stirring, pouring, playing and of course tasting food.
In the first session, the kids made fish fingers while in the most recent session, pear and chocolate crumble was the dish of the day.
In addition to cooking, Mandy provides information to the kids and caregivers about the origins and benefits of ingredients. We learned about the health benefits of fish as well as the origins of chocolate making these sessions both entertaining and educational.
If you can’t make it to Mandy’s cooking classes, try cooking at home with your kids. Mandy encourages all of us to cook with our children. She points out that the skills required in cooking such as pouring, stirring and cutting are a great way to improve motor skills. Also, by being involved in the cooking process, this encourages children to try new foods and flavours. This is especially useful if you have a fussy eater. In addition, you can develop your children’s language skills by reading the recipe out loud to them and describing the ingredients as well as introducing culinary and foreign words to them such as pureeing, sautéing, etc. Cooking is also a great way of introducing simple number skills to children such as measuring 3 chocolate buttons, one handful of flour, ½ teaspoon of sugar in a fun environment.
For some ideas on what to cook with kids, check out Mandy’s free e-book 14 Healthy Kids Recipes on her website Little People Nutrition. There’s information on Mandy’s cooking classes on the website as well.
If you’re after some recipe books, there are great books available that are filled with delicious snacks, meals and drinks to make with your kids. The Mummy and Me cookbook by Annabel Karmel is a great step by step guide for kids with plenty of pictures of food preparation and cooking. I also love Cook School by Amanda Grant which has recipes targeted for kids aged 3 – 5 years, 5-7 years and 7-10 years. For an Australian cookbook, check out Small Fry: Inspiration for Cooking with Kids by Susie Cameron & Katrina Cook.
My child has been so inspired by cooking classes that she now wants to help me in the kitchen. I poppped in to Kmart and picked up some cute kids-sized cooking utensils. Mandy suggested a plastic lettuce knife for kids to cut things. She also recommends Kiddie Kutter knives as they are safe for kids to use and work by using a sawing action.
Whatever you make with your kids, have fun, make a mess and remember you don’t have to like it, you just have to try it!