It’s Not All Mary Poppins


Everyone knows that a good way to get children to try new food is to involve them in its preparation. We know that. We don’t necessarily do that.

But you know? It’s winter. If the temperatures are at least -15C (without a wind), we go outside. But as you can imagine, at -15, the tots don’t last neeeearly as long as they do at +15C. And in January and February in Ottawa, we get more than a few days a whole lot colder than -15. So. A lot more indoor hours to fill, and, I know you may find this hard to believe, but even crafty Mary gets tired of crafts!!!

Why not, I thought, fill some of those hours with food preparation? I have a weekly menu. I know what’s on the list for that day and the next. This could be fun!

Very often, even when we do involve kids, they’re baking, not cooking. They’re making cookies and muffins and cakes. All fine for teaching a certain set of kitchen skills, but nothing to do with familiarizing them with foods they might not otherwise choose to eat. What kid needs to be coaxed to eat cookies? (And if they do, why on earth would you?? If you’re coaxing your child to eat cookies, stoppit right now!)

Now, I’ve done real cooking with the children before, but sporadically and infrequently. It’s time, I decided, to get systematic about this!

So as of this week, in the hour between arrival and our outing, I thought we’d hit the kitchen. On Monday, we made muffins, of course. Yes, I know it’s baking, not cooking, but Muffin Monday is a tradition, thanks to Hannah! No messing with tradition!

Tuesday: They helped make the green bean dish, because apart from chopping the onions, it’s simple, simple, simple.
Wednesday: Baked apples! They can drop the goodies down the core of the apple. Also, because Thursday’s tofu needs to marinate, they’ll help me mix the marinade and put the slices of tofu in the pan.
Thursday: They can help make the cheese sauce for the cauliflower. (Shall I send them home knowing the word ‘roux‘, just to show off??)
Friday: Veggie frittata cups. They can choose one veggie each, I’ll chop them all up, they’ll spoon the veggies into the muffin cups and pour the egg mix over top, I’ll put it in the oven. Teamwork!

I like it. What are the advantages? It…
– keeps us busy
– fills in time we can’t be outside
– it’s companionable
– familiarizes the tots with their food
– making it more likely that they’ll eat their food
– gives them kitchen competence
– and builds a sense of teamwork…

all in a happy atmosphere of relaxed camaraderie.

And if they’re really, really good? I’ll let them do the dishes, too.


February 20, 2013 Posted by | food, health and safety | , , , , | 6 Comments