by Marilyn Walls, M.S., PCC Nutrition Educator
There are many reasons for including your kids in preparing food. Kids have natural curiosity, as well as an attraction to cooking. (The famous Easy Bake Oven is now gender neutral.) Working together in the kitchen can help move kids away from fast food and toward better nutrition. A good way to start is by taking your children to the store with you. If they are old enough, let them write the shopping list. At PCC, you might begin your trip in the produce department, where kids twelve and younger get a free serving of fruit each visit.
How can I encourage my kids to help in the kitchen?
A child’s abilities in the kitchen can vary. Younger children may like to do the stirring, while older ones can use knives and the stove. Even young children can wash and clean vegetables for salads or arrange foods on platters or plates. Find kid-friendly recipes. You can go to the PCC website for a variety of recipes your kids will like. Bread, rolls or muffins give children the chance to knead the dough, use a rolling pin, fill baking pans or design their own roll or cookie shapes. No matter what you choose to cook together, the idea is to build teamwork and family traditions.
Any tips for saving money on all the extra treats we're baking?
Save money by buying in bulk. Cookies are a natural choice for this season. PCC has all the baking ingredients you’ll need in the bulk section: flour, sugar, chocolate chips and even vanilla. Besides saving money, you avoid extra packaging by shopping in bulk. And, you can buy as little or much as you need, so perhaps your kids can decide how much to get, as well as which ingredients they like, whether chocolate chips, raisins or nuts.
Is there an easy way to navigate all the food sensitivities in my family?
This time of year brings food sensitivities into the spotlight. At PCC you can find alternative flours, sweeteners and dairy substitutes. The PCC website can serve as a source of information for buying and cooking with ingredients such as gluten-free flours.
What's a good creative activity involving holiday food?
Kids love to decorate the goodies you’ve made together, using their imaginations. For parents concerned about the artificial dyes used in some sprinkles and food colorings, there are natural options. Food colorings made of glycerin and plant-based ingredients are available. Another idea is to use the candies in the PCC bulk department, which have no artificial coloring. The variety of shapes and hues give your kids opportunities for creative design. Don’t forget raisins or dried cranberries as decorating materials.
May delicious aromas and the sound of laughter emanate from your kitchen during this special time of year!
About Marilyn Walls
Marilyn Walls, M.S., is a graduate of Bastyr University, where she subsequently taught for three years. She has been a long-time staffer at PCC, where she has created healthy recipes and shared her knowledge about vitamins, supplements, herbs and essential oils. She loves to read, and has written articles for local publications. Marilyn is currently writing a book on Alzheimer’s disease and brain health.