The Benefits of Cooking with your Kids and a #BensBeginners Contest announcement

Getting kids to eat healthy is tough - and with Liam's special needs and dietary issues it's even tougher.  One of the ways that we're trying to encourage him to try new foods and eat more variety is to get him involved in preparing his own meals.  Even if it's spreading the peanut butter on his gluten-free bread or adding raisins or other add-ins to the cookie dough mix, we're working to expand his culinary experience.  For most kids Liam's age it's a perfect time to get budding chefs into the kitchen!  Kids aged five to twelve make excellent cooks!

Robyn has been cooking with me since she was three and a half and now, at thirteen, she is comfortable enough in the kitchen to cook dinner on her own a few times a month - everything from planning the menu, making a shopping list and doing the cooking!  It's so nice to be able to empower her (and have a night off!)
Not only can you empower the kids to take pride and responsibility for the food they eat, you can also teach valuable skills:

  • Measurement - teaspoons, tablespoons, 1/4 cup, 1/2 cup, quarts, mL, liters - lots of ways to do this
  • Reading - following a recipe, reading package directions or ingredients, reading the nutrition labels
  • Adding and subtracting - combining the nutrition facts to see how many calories a creation is, how much sodium or other nutrients are in their food
  • Writing - keeping a food journal about what they like or don't like, writing their own recipes, making changes to existing recipes to suit your family, writing a 'restaurant critique' of meals
  • Art - drawing pictures or taking photographs of their preparation and finished product
  • Nutrition - making sure that portions and variety match the Food Pyramid
Cooking is one of those basic life skills that everyone should have a comfort level with -
you can start small - asking young children to pour already measured ingredients into a bowl to mix up; as children get older, you can ask them to do the measuring, mix, roll, and eventually even chop or use appliances. It's such a great way to bond with the kids and teach healthy eating and other skills at the same time!

That's why I'm so pleased to be able to tell you about Ben’s Beginners!  a program to empower and encourage parents to connect with their kids, one meal at a time.  Launched by  Uncle Ben’s, it's national contest where you could win $20,000, along with a $50,000 grant towards a cafeteria makeover for your child’s school. In addition, you will have a chance to appear on The Rachael Ray show! Parents with children ages 5-12 are invited to submit a 2-3 minute video of you cooking a rice-based dish with your children. For more info on the contest, please check out Ben’s Beginners on Facebook!

Disclaimer: “I wrote this blog post while participating in the SocialMoms and Uncle Ben’s blogging program, for 6,000 My SocialMoms Rewards Points. For more information on how you can participate, click here.”