Mom’s Kitchen Counter Cooking School

Kids That Learn to Cook Grow Up Eating Healthier

Envision walking the supermarket aisles and picking up a favorite pasta sauce and breakfast cereal, then adding favorite fruits and vegetables to the cart. When we think about the grocery brands we buy or our go-to recipes, they tend to begin with one common thread—the influence of our mothers—our first teachers about food and cooking.

In their Project EAT study, University of Minnesota researchers found that Mom has the biggest impact on the family’s eating habits and continues to play a significant role in our food choices, brands and how we cook, even influencing our ideas about health itself by their example.

Cooking Together

Most of us learn about cooking from our mothers, and one way moms have a tremendous impact on their children is by collaborating on recipes and cooking meals together. The idea of an at-home “kitchen counter cooking school” doesn’t focus on a hard and fast course on cooking; instead, it’s a place where family members gather around the counter and cook together. This almost guarantees that meals will be healthier and more fun, affording a sense of ongoing adventure where kids can explore ingredients from around the U.S. and even the world. Consider creating a “United States of My Plate” project by preparing a recipe from each state during the summer, and then rating the recipes based on taste and flavor (startup tools are at ChooseMyPlate.gov).

Our senses are engaged during food preparation activities. While chopping red peppers for a recipe, we are noting their appearance, feeling their texture, smelling their fragrance, hearing the sounds of preparation and likely tasting some on the spot. Involving more of our senses as we explore our food makes the whole activity more enticing. It helps to adopt Julia Child’s motto: “Learn how to cook, try new recipes, learn from your mistakes, be fearless and above all, have fun.”

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