Cooking with Kids: Starting a life-long, healthy relationship with food
We all know the hurdles of cooking with kids – finding bits of dough carefully stuck in crevices under the table by little fingers…ring any bells?
It's all too easy to avoid cooking with little ones because of the mess but one of the best things you could do for your child is to get them cooking early. By getting children involved in cooking is a great way to get them to try new things (even vegetables!).
Plant the seed of a healthy eating future
If you have your own veggie patch or allotment, try getting your kids involved in the growing and harvesting as well as the cookery. If a child is able to raise and nurture a vegetable from seed, harvest it and then cook it for dinner, they are far more likely to try it (and enjoy it!). Building that relationship with food is key.
As a baby, my daughter was very wary about trying new foods but when I encouraged her to pick blueberries, raspberries, runner beans and tomatoes from the garden she couldn't get enough! I'm certain that the process of seeing where the food came from and picking it herself made it all the more engaging and enjoyable than seeing it for the first time in an un-recognisable form on a plate in front of her. I would be wary!
Children naturally find joy in cooking
It's obvious really - look at how many 'play' kitchens are sold every year for toddlers! Why not get them involved in the real kitchen - stirring, mashing, pounding... What fun!
By getting your kids cooking from a young age you are helping them develop a life-long interest in food. When I say cooking, I don't mean cup-cakes either – get them to cook a cup-cake and sure as anything they'll love eating cup-cakes! Get them cooking REAL food.
Children's Field to Fork Cookery
At Earthwise we've teamed up with the fantastic Jo Ingleby who was awarded 'BBC Cook of the year' for her work at Redcliffe Children's Centre, cooking with 2-4 year olds. Together with Jo we run Children's Field to Fork Cookery Days at The Community Farm in Chew Magna where children can harvest veg from the fields and then cook it up into a feast to share!
On Saturday 19th December we're holding a Festive Family Cookery day at the farm for your little ones (and you!) to learn some tasty festive recipes to try and home. The idea is that parents will go home equipped with tasty, child-tested recipes and skills to help your little ones to help you cook your Christmas dinner! OK, not all of it…
Tips for getting kids started with cookery
- Take the pressure off for little ones - think of it more as play and experimentation to start off.
- If you're worried about mess then try laying a plastic table cloth on the floor to make it easier to clear up.
- Buy yourself a child-safe knife – we use 'lettuce knives' which are plastic but still sharp enough to cut vegetables effectively.
- As soon as your child is old enough to handle a knife, encourage them to chop up bits of soft vegetables and mushrooms. Make sure to cook what ever they've managed to cut up - they'll be so proud for helping out!
- Struggling with the knife? They'll have loads of fun tearing up leaves like lettuce, cabbage and kale.
- Kids love getting manual so anything that involves squidging and pounding (bread making), mashing, grinding (in a pestle and mortar) or tearing – your kids will love getting involved.