When was the last time your family experienced a memorable mealtime? These days, we eat fast and frenzied, and we rarely eat with our families. Cooking has been sacrificed for convenience. What about those rare times when we do eat at home? Old-fashioned memories, rituals such as saying grace, sit-down dinners and family conversations have all but disappeared. The late Julia Child believed food was much more than sustenance and children must be taught that cooking is akin to art. As a parent, you may get inspired to see cooking through the eyes of Julia Child, who said, “…cooking is as creative and as imaginative an activity as drawing, woodcarving, or music.”
Let’s take family cooking and mealtimes back! Families can learn to enjoy healthy foods and be selective about food choices. Parents can give their children access to healthy foods, encourage regular physical activity and demonstrate good habits themselves. The investment payoff is huge and translates into creating memorable mealtimes—like making smiley-face pancakes on a Saturday morning, picking fresh produce from a local garden, or adding beauty to the table by letting your children find backyard flowers for the table centerpiece. Eating well can also include a creative table setting, good conversation and a grateful heart for sharing time with family.
The process of cooking stimulates creative family time and passes a legacy to the next generation through teaching the art of eating. Cooking activities allow food to become a powerful learning tool, empower kids and produce positive changes in the overall health and wellness of a family.
As a parent, you can create a healthy nutrition culture in your home and teach your children to love food. Don’t be afraid to let kids experiment in the kitchen. Kids need to experience foods ‘hands on’—taste, touch, smell and listen to the sizzling, bubbling, crunching as they go.
FamilyCook Productionsbased in New York City is on a mission to bring families together around delicious, fresh food while helping parents find creative ways to balance time constraints in a modern family life. Lynn Fredericks, a mother and founder of FamilyCook, says the first two stages of including children in the process of making a meal are simply, “don’t worry about the mess and don’t worry about how long it will take to cook.”
Over the years, FamilyCook’s field testing confirms that children do love to cook; if they prepare the food, they will try it. As families learn about food and preparing it, they feel empowered to take positive control over their diet and a multicultural meal is celebratory and promotes overall well-being. Lastly, as a parent, consider keeping the family mealtime legacy alive by getting involved with your local community and school system to make food literacy a priority in education. Bon Appétit!
Guest Post by Kindy Peaslee, Registered Dietitian and Nutrition Coach for EverydayHealth.com and itscalorie counter tool. She also loves creating family-friendly recipes at her personal nutrition sitehealthy-kid-recipes.com.
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