Monday, February 6, 2012

My Kitchen Sidekick

Raise your hand, nod your head or murmur in agreement if you have a child that loves to be your assistant in the kitchen. Maybe they are younger like my Isabella, or perhaps they are a tween and have recently decided that cooking is cool again. Luckily for me Isabella is in love with being my sidekick in the kitchen and I? Love this about her.

Whether she is helping me to gather the necessary ingredients, measuring with my supervision (I may love her help, but I kind of want my food to taste decent, too), or pouring in ingredients as directed, she is so enthusiastic about being my kitchen helper. She is an amazing helper and so eager to learn how to cook. A  task may seem trivial to an adult, but to her it means the world to be helping Mommy out.

As a parent I believe that one of the best gifts that I can give my children is proper nutrition. When I say give them proper nutrition I do not mean by only feeding them a healthy, well-balanced diet, but to teach them the life skills to know what being a healthy eater truly means. Sure, I can just give them their whole grains, fresh fruits, fresh veggies, but how will that help them when they are old enough to make their own healthy choices? This is where teaching in the kitchen comes in to play in my home.

If you are thinking to yourself sure this sounds like a good idea but how do I make this happen, I have a few ideas on how to incorporate the entire family in cooking healthy meals for all to enjoy:

  • Make a meal plan on Saturday and on Sunday do the grocery shopping for the week--as a family. Let your children be involved in picking out a healthy side dish or main course for a certain day. Once they are involved with the decision making they may be more apt to want to be involved. At the store let them help pick out the products that are on your list. 
  • Make meal time fun! Do you sit around the table as a family? If not, I encourage all parents to do this with their family. Maybe start a new tradition that you do at the dinner table. Have interesting dinner conversations, have each person ask another family member a question about their day, etc. Sometimes dinner can be so rushed that it is easy to scarf down your meal, leap up and rush around. Try for a more laid back type of dinner a few times per week and see if that makes it more enjoyable.
  • Let your children (age appropriate of course) help out in the kitchen. Have them help tear up lettuce for your fresh salad. Allow them to measure out your brown rice that is for a side. Tear up that fresh head of broccoli to be cooked. 
  • Remember that your plates should be a rainbow of colors at meal time. While doing your meal planning ask your children which yellow/red/green fruit/veggie/side they would like for the meal. What is a healthy (and kid loved) side that everyone would love? Could you mix all the ingredients together to make a great dish and serve it with brown rice? Use your imagination in this and see what your children will come up with.

There are so many different, fun and interesting ways to make eating healthy a fun activity for the entire family--children included! With our country's overweight and obesity percentage on the rise it is up to us, as parents, to ensure that our children are as healthy as possible. Make it a fun time for the entire family to be healthy and to get on track towards a healthier lifestyle.

Uncle Ben's is hosting a wonderful contest Let's Get Kids Cooking! on Facebook. It's super simple to enter: 1) Cook a rice inspired dish with your child and help inspire healthy choices. 2) Film your child(ren) sharing their enthusiasm in the dish and what they learned. 3) Upload the video on Uncle Ben's Facebook page on the enter contest tab.

You have until February 26th 2012 to enter--good luck!

I wrote this blog post while participating in the SocialMoms and Uncle Ben’s blogging program, for 6,000 My SocialMoms Rewards Points. For more information on how you can participate, click here.

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