Fostering a child's love of good food and having fun in the kitchen is something that we should all be encouraging. Before you begin to conjure images of flour dusted floors and icing smeared clothes, consider that it is possible to involve the little ones in some really simple food related activities that are fun and healthy (and won't leave you icing the bickies surrounded by mess - long after the kids have lost interest!)
But why bother to begin with?
For one, it can be a whole lot of fun. More importantly though, it is also a great bonding activity to share the experience of making something together or learning more about where our food comes from. In a world where we are all so time poor (kids included), taking time to do this encourages the family to chat, catch up, laugh together all while doing something really enjoyable - and tasty!
Teaching our children to cook and create is also a fantastic and important life skill. Knowing how to throw together an omelette, grill a steak or knock together a salad might just save your later twenty-something from a life of two minute noodles down the track.
Getting the kids in the kitchen can also encourage healthy eating, as kids are more likely to actually eat their creations if they have been involved in the process. This is of increasing importance in a nation where poor nutrition and obesity are on the rise.
From the paddock to the plate, here are our top five ways to foster healthy eating:
1. Get the kids involved in simple and age appropriate meal preparation tasks. The youngest of the family can help with things like shelling peas and washing produce, whilst older kids can assist with peeling vegetables and measuring and mixing ingredients.
2. Make your own pizza night! A seriously simple but healthy take on takeaway night. Using better-choice pizza bases such as wholemeal flatbreads and simply lay out an array of healthy toppings loaded with veggies. Think capsicum, olives, mushrooms, tomatoes - the more colour the better! Each family member then gets to make their own pizza. This works really well with getting children to try different foods as they admire their creations! And who doesn't love a pizza!?
3. Juices! Supermarket shelves are groaning with sugary and nutrient poor drinks for children. A far superior choice is to juice your own at home in a cold press juicer such as the MOD Cold Press. This allows you to control exactly what goes in (and stays out). You can also add sneaky vegetables like carrot, cucumber and baby spinach that can't be tasted by your little ones when combined with things like apple and pear. Kids adore dropping pieces of produce into a juicer and seeing the amazing juice come out the other end!
4. Buy produce together at the market. Take the family to the local farmer's market and have the kids help you choose the produce that you will later turn into a meal. Encourage them to choose their "favourite" piece of produce and ask the farmer to explain what they should look for in each piece. For example, how to choose a ripe avocado.
5. Take the kids fruit picking. Pack up the tribe for a day trip and get them involved at the very core of where our produce comes from. Kids love to see where fruit and veg come from and are highly likely to "sample" the produce during the picking process!
So, there you have it. MOD's favourite ways to encourage the kids to develop an awesome relationship with food.
Team MOD xoxo