Who remembers the first time they actually cooked a meal from a-z on their own?
The first time you were home alone and made something more than pouring a bowl of cereal?
As someone who lives to eat, I am always excited to introduce kids, especially adolescents, to cooking. I stay motivated to do this because I believe society is in crisis with its relationship to food. We are so far away from the reason we eat in the first place. It has become tied to taste far more often that fuel for our body. The easy access to everything has detached us from the origins of food. We do not consider the veggies that someone has to pick from the ground, the animals someone has to raise, and the means of transportation that it takes to get food from its source to our table.
I recently read an article that discussed cooking skills in teenagers being very poor. Many teens associate food with body size, meaning they are not fully conscious of what they eat because they consider themselves physically active - this translates into very very unhealthy habits.
I believe most kids are excited to cook if given the opportunity. They are excited to learn how to create a meal. We all love to eat, especially food that is savoury, comforting, warm soul filling food. The main reason for this is that food can represent connection. Teaching your child to cook is teaching them to take care of themselves, teaching them to connect with their body. Cooking with interesting and different ingredients that stimulate the senses is not just about taste but it is about cultivating curiosity and exploration. With today's technology and the convenience of online shopping with places like Hello-Fresh, introducing your child to the art of cooking and the skill of self care is easier than ever. Places like Hello-Fresh provide recipes, pre-measured and pre packaged ingredients. If your teenager is keen on challenges - research products like this available to you.
Personally I believe if a child can eat they can cook. Introducing your child to the intricacies of food preparation is a process and it starts at their first bite! It must grow as they grow.
When a child gets to the age of 10, 11, 12 the biggest obstacle in their way to learn the skill of cooking is their parent. I think we get focused on needing to be efficient and we do everything for our kids.
As a language school that teaches cooking to kids while introducing them to a new language, we see first hand how magical it is for kids to cook. The most amazing part of our cooking classes, especially at summer camp, is that kids start talking about how they can make this for their families, there is an almost immediate desire to share the recipe with mom or dad or a sister or a brother. So it is never just about the act of cooking, again it's about connection and it’s about giving kids a new Language of love!
How do you get started on this venture with life incredibly busy? Well here are our 5 suggestions
- Start with 3 ingredient recipes. The internet is filled with great recipes and ideas to make cooking as easy as 1+1+1! Our favorite place to look for inspiration is Pinterest. But we have also found some good recipes on Kidspot.com. One of our favorites is Beetroot dip! Baby canned beet roots, cream cheese and mint leaves spread on your favorite crackers is a hit and super easy to do.
- Start with recipes that involve a microwave only. We have used a vegan mac and cheese that kids are crazy about! It is made with nutritional yeast as a substitute for cheese. It’s so easy and it sparks a conversation about alternatives to cheese without compromising the taste.
- Did you know you can make a ton of things in a rice cooker? Get ready for this, Cheese bread in the rice cooker! Just teaching your child this simple recipe could be life changing! It’s easy safe and ignites creativity because every time they make it they can check out what’s in the refrigerator to add to the bread. Best of all a hot homemade bread with dinner!
- Raw food recipes! Does that sound complicated? Well here is an crazy easy idea, chocolate pudding made with avocados! A ripe avocado mixed with some cocoa powder and sweeten to taste with maple syrup, stir by hand or with an electric blender and Voila the most healthy version of chocolate pudding ever!
- Smoothies are probably the easiest way to get kids interested in creating tasty things. I always have a big bag of mixed frozen fruit on hand. A blender, Water, cups of frozen fruit, a few pitted dates as a natural sweetener and great source of fiber, and a handful of spinach! What a great way to start a day.