Starting Young

This past President's Day, I spent the day having a blast making healthy snacks in the Anchor kitchen with some pretty awesome kids. Ranging in ages 6 to 11, they helped make carrot protein balls, kale chips and carrot fries. Although the oven and sharp knives were off-limits, they were still able to push the carrots through the food processor, separate the kale leaves from the stems, season and stir the mix, and shape the protein balls. Even when it comes to using the stove or a sharp objects, with close supervision, younger kids can help stir the pot or cut veggies with a dinner knife. Before you know it, you can assign them a day of the week to cook dinner while you put your feet up and relax!

It’s never too early to get your kids involved in the cooking process and learning the basics of nutrition. If you have a picky eater, having them help you in the kitchen can make them more likely to eat the healthy food you’ve cooked together.

Often, kids are just scared of food that’s unknown or that looks different (a safety mechanism that was helpful back when we were foraging for our food) but by introducing them to food before they have to taste it, the fear can quickly evaporate. You also may not realize it, but our kids are constantly looking to us for examples of what is good or safe to eat. If your three year old sees you happily chowing down on some brussel sprouts or a pile of asparagus spears, they will get the signal that these are safe, healthy foods to eat. Not that it's ever going to be completely easy, of course. They will inevitably throw a fit today over the one vegetable they loved last week, but repetition not only sets a standard of what they should expect to see at meals but can also help ease their fears over a new, slightly frightening looking vegetable (even I get a little overwhelmed at the sight of an artichoke!). It may take more than one night of having broccoli on their plate for them to even acknowledge it. Try talking about the shape, color and texture of the foods they are eating, and encourage them to just touch the tip of their tongue to the item before taking the first bite. It can be frustrating, but try to remember, patience is the key!!

Here is a link to an excellent article from the BBC outlining what activities you can get your child involved with in the kitchen: