a dollar,” he explains. “When you cook at home, you save money, and in return you’re eating healthier and spending more time with your kids.” Plus, kitchen time provides an opportunity to talk that might not be so common in your day-to-day life. Making Cooking Fun When you involve your kids in the kitchen, their ages and ability levels are important considerations. Young children can do simple tasks like stirring, rinsing produce and tearing lettuce. As they get older, they can read recipes, use their math skills to count and measure ingredients, and even use a knife. Zakaria, who has worked in professional kitchens for more than 25 years, offers these tips for fun and successful cooking endeavors. n Get kids involved from the beginning. For example, Zakaria brings his kids to the grocery store,
Involving kids in the kitchen helps them learn important skills and brings families closer together Ready, Set, Cook! H ow to ride a bike. How to swim. How to tie their shoes. As a parent, you’ve taught your kids many skills. Here’s one more to add to your lesson
where he lets them pick out the healthy foods they want to eat.
“Google some recipes and pick the ingredients together,” he suggests. n Choose colorful foods. Kids love color, and when you pick fresh fruits and vegetables that are in season, they can see the vibrant colors and taste the rich flavors. n Let them dress the part. Consider providing your cooking kiddos with an apron and chef’s hat. “That’s ownership for them; they feel proud to be in the kitchen with you.” n Make sure they aren’t just watching. This isn’t a demonstration. “If you want your kids to be in the kitchen, they have to be involved ,” he advises. n Keep it easy. Start with simple ingredients your kids recognize and easy-to-follow instructions. That will help hold their interest longer and allow their confidence to grow. Zakaria suggests involving your kids in the cleanup as well, but ultimately, the mess isn’t important. “At the end of the day, you’re spending time with them,” he says. “That’s the most important thing. They’ll remember that.”
new flavors, and research shows that eat - ing at home is healthier than eating out. “If you introduce your kids only to prepackaged meals and fast food, that’s all they will understand,” Zakaria says. “And once they fall into the trap of eating unhealthy foods, you risk them continuing to go down that path. If you start cooking with your kids at a young age, then you’re instilling in them that it’s possible to make great food at home.” As a father of four, he also believes it’s important to cook at home as much as possible for budgetary reasons. “For me it’s about teaching kids the value of
plan—cooking. It’s a skill you can start teaching at any age, and it can have a significant impact. Benefits of Cooking with Kids When you teach your kids the basics of cooking, you’re helping them grow into independent adults, says Mo Zakaria, executive chef at Rady Children’s. Plus, cooking is a chance to let them explore
12 HEALTHY KIDS MAGAZINE SUMMER 2022
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