Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Parenting Pointers: Kids Cooking

Disclosure: I received complimentary products to facilitate this post. All opinions are my own.

Summer vacation is usually full of fun, but can also get boring with too much freetime. Plus, many families struggle with picky eaters or getting kids involved in the kitchen. I had a chance to interview Barbara Brandt, teacher and author, about kids in the kitchen.

Why is it so important to have a cookbook that teaches kids how to cook too?
Home cooking has been on the decline since the 1950’s and consequently, the majority of parents today simply never really learned to cook. What used to be just naturally passed on from generation to generation is slowly being lost and many parents simply don’t know how to cook themselves, making it nearly impossible for them to teach their kids how to cook. I created Your Kids: Cooking! because I believe knowing how to cook is a fundamental skill that everyone should have and for a variety of reasons they just aren’t learning. I’m hoping to fill that gap for parents by providing them with a resource that will allow their kids to learn how to cook, even if they aren’t able to do it themselves.

What contributes to the fact that kids who are involved in the kitchen have better eating habits?
There are a couple reasons for this I think. One being that parents are modeling better eating habits when they take the time to prepare meals using fresh, wholesome ingredients. By helping with meal preparation kids are inadvertently learning what it means to eat healthy. Second, when kids make food themselves they are more likely to be open to trying new foods and they end up eating a larger variety of foods. I also think that if kids get used to eating fresh, homemade food, they lose their taste for processed food. Once you’ve had homemade lasagna or macaroni and cheese, the pre-made processed version of these foods just don’t appeal to you anymore. That’s why I feel it’s so important to get kids eating fresh, homemade food as early as possible so they develop a taste for healthy food when they are young.

What's your favorite part of the family meal?
Well, I love to cook, so planning and preparing a family is my favorite part I guess. But that being said, part of why I enjoy cooking so much is because I love it when we all sit down together to share the meal and have a chance to relax together and enjoy each other’s company. Being able to sit down with people I care about and laugh and talk while enjoying good food is really what motivates me to cook and what makes cooking such a joy for me.

How can parents get kids involved in the kitchen, even from a young age?
Getting kids involved in the kitchen is really pretty easy as long as parents understand a few things about what motivates kids to learn. Kids want to be in charge of something. They want to have their own tasks that they are responsible for. For younger kids this might be something as simple as letting them be in charge of tearing the lettuce for the salad or washing vegetables or setting the table. Older kids can be responsible for preparing a side dish or main dish depending on their skill level. The important thing is to allow them the opportunity to learn on their own and not worry about things being done perfectly. Kids need to “own” what they learn, so the best thing parents can do is provide their kids with an appropriately challenging task and let their kids handle the challenge on their own, providing as little help or guidance as possible. If mistakes are made or things don’t turn out perfectly, it provides a great opportunity to learn and grow and improve the next time. This is how self-esteem and confidence is developed, and this in turn, is what makes learning fun and rewarding for kids. Allowing kids to be responsible for their learning in this way provides them with a wonderful sense of pride and accomplishment that will provide motivation to continue learning and growing.
Barbara Brandt’s one-of-a-kind new cooking program for kids, Your Kids: Cooking! A Recipe for Turning Ordinary Kids Into Extraordinary Cooks (June 2015) is designed especially for young cooks to prepare them for a lifetime of healthy eating habits, instill confidence, promote independence, and make family time fun. Way beyond your ordinary cookbook, Brandt takes kids through a step-by-step guide for turning fresh, wholesome ingredients into healthy and delicious meals the entire family can enjoy together. Included with the book is an instructional DVD that visual learners will love.
My kids loved this cookbook. They felt like it taught them better than just reading (especially my younger one, who still needs some help reading) and my older daughter loved feeling like she was a real chef watching a cooking show!

Barbara J. Brandt, M.Ed., has over 30 years of experience teaching, cooking, and creating curriculum for top national educational publishers including Scott Foresman, McGraw-Hill, Houghton-Mifflin, and Pearson. After receiving her Masters in Educational Psychology, Brandt specialized in writing and editing both student and teacher’s editions of award-winning textbook series. She combined her rich expertise in education, her passion for teaching, and her love of cooking to create the cookbook she couldn’t find in stores – one that actually teaches kids to cook! The result is a four-time national award winning kids’ cooking program that is bringing the pleasures, pride, and traditions of home-cooked food back to the family table. Learn more on Facebook: www.facebook.com/YourKidsCooking and Twitter: www.twitter.com/yourkidscooking

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