We teach our children to talk, to walk, to brush their teeth and respect other people. I taught my children all of those things to the best of my ability. I also tried to instill a love of reading in them (which sort of succeeded) and a love of food. When they were little and I was working full time it was hard to cook a meal each night. We ate a lot of fast food and pizza. I did, however, take them to Chinese Restaurants and the occasional Vietnamese Restaurant and of course, living in South Florida, we ate at a lot of seafood restaurants.
I also cooked as much as I could with as much variety as I could muster given the time issues I had. It worked. I raised two adventurous eaters. With all the other things there are for children to learn, eating well may seem like something that can be sort of pushed down the list. As long as they have a healthy diet, some people reason, it really doesn’t matter. I disagree. Enjoying great food can be such a wonderful adventure and if you teach your children to love food at an early age, it’s something they can take pleasure in their whole life.
When I cooked at home while my kids were young, I tried to incorporate a variety of foods prepared in different ways. A good way to start expanding your child’s culinary horizons is to start with foods they already like. For example, most kids like pizza. Try varying the types of cheese you use and toppings. Vegetables make great pizza toppings. Don’t make a big deal out of it, just put some sautéed vegetables on top of a homemade crust with feta cheese or goat cheese. Act like it’s no big deal – just pizza and see what happens. You can do the same kind of thing with mac n cheese. Maybe vary the cheese or add something crunchy and good to the top. Another good starting point is pasta. Kids love spaghetti. Maybe mix it up a bit with pesto or grilled vegetables. The point is to get them used to the idea of eating different types of things.
Be trustworthy! Don’t try to sneak foods into their diet that they hate. As they get older, you can reason with them about how fun it is to eat different types of food and how much they miss by being picky eaters, but while they’re little, lay off hot peppers or other things they really dislike.
Let them help in the kitchen! This is huge! They will certainly want to try something they helped make. Tearing up salad greens, mixing dressings, stirring the pot a bit, measuring ingredients. Teaching your children to cook is just as important I think as teaching them how to tie their shoes. It can really be fun to spend time with your kids in the kitchen as long as you’re patient and encouraging.
Give them a little patch of ground to grow whatever they want. Help them plant it and water it and then show them how to prepare it. I guarantee they will want to at least taste the finished product!
So, all of this being said, I’m kind of curious. What do your children like to eat or did they like to eat when they were small? Inquiring minds want to know…
RMWPosted in She Shoots, She Writes | 9 Comments »