This week I'm letting the Chef go first, since he's so keen to share. My theme this week is to take a break from the busy schedule when school is in and try to cook a meal with your kids!
Last week I gave a cooking class to a bunch of 10 kids, aged 7 to 11 years old. I introduced them to some exotic fruits and vegetables, and had them taste these foods raw and cooked. Then for kids in the class that could see on top of the stove, I also had them learn the basic skills to make the perfect omelet. Did you know not as many kids hate Brussels sprouts as you think?!
I had a blast and I would like to tell all the parents out there, you should do the same during spring break. Any day is great, actually, but during the break usually there is a bit more time to spend together. Older children can also show younger siblings. Your children need to be introduced to different foods if you want them to be able to fend for themselves once they leave the family nest. Start as early as possible and force them to experience the kitchen. Yes, I use the word force because some kids need to be pushed until they do. Force them to touch food, cook food, and of course they have to taste everything too. It is also a great idea to have them read labels of what they eat to realize what’s in it. So many kids have health problems, weight problems, attention problems and energy problems. You are what you eat, so teach them to eat better and when they leave your house they will have the skills necessary to give themselves the proper nutrition they need to become our next world leaders.
If anything, do it for the same reason as I did - I just want to be able to have a great meal when I go visit her when she is living on her own. I started teaching my daughter at 7 years old so she had lots of time to practice! Yes, it’s a selfish reason, but she eats well and knew how to cook basic meals at age 17. She is 20 now, and just sent me photos of a rack of lamb she cooked for her boyfriend.
I hope I can help illustrate the Chef’s point, as I can tell you that many of my memories of Spring Break as a child did involve cooking. We didn’t go away when I was little, so entertaining ourselves in the kitchen was one of the ways we could make our own fun. Even when I got older and we did go on a ski holiday, I remember being in a condo that had a kitchen and making fun meals like gourmet pizzas and chili. It is memories like these that turned me into the Foodie I am today!
We need to be reminded on a regular basis that we are connected to the rest of the world, and what we do (or don’t do) makes a difference. One of the most basic ways we can do that is with our food. It is a product of our planet, and our culture. It is the history and the future all wrapped up in nice little packages. Doesn’t that sound a bit like our children? Such precious cargo, we need to remember to take good care of every single bit of it. Children need to know that every moment in their lives have the potential to make a difference so they can take all those moments in and value each one. So should it be with the food they eat.
I don’t mean to sound preachy, but since everything is connected, doesn’t it make sense that we should have good habits about how we fuel ourselves? And since we are a species that can enjoy an experience, should we not make the most of those experiences? We have to eat, so why not enjoy the process? If children learn to think about enjoying and respecting their food, then it naturally becomes a part of their lives, enriching them not just with nutrients but also with memories.
Please try to spend some extra time with your food this week or maybe try a new food this weekend that you see at the grocery store. If you don’t have kids to challenge you, see if you can think like a kid and make your food fun! There are plenty of recipes on my Happy Gourmand blog, and on the Chef Instead website.