I don't know about you, but cooking is a big deal in our family. Yes, there are the days when just putting dinner on the table seems like a chore, but more often than not, the children are excited about helping in the kitchen, and waiting to reach the point when they can prepare a meal all by themselves. Of course, there is always the trouble of getting them to cook healthy meals, not just sweets or fried foods. I have found, though, that when a child cooks (or at least helps cook) the meal, they are more apt to eat even the dreaded "greens" or other healthy foods. They seem to take a personal interest in foods that they prepare!
One way I have found to incorporate some good-for-you foods is by making it colorful. Cook up some various vegetables and present it as a colorful side dish. Stir-fry is a wonderful way to do this, and most children enjoy eating the veggies when they're cooked in a tasty sauce.
Our family also likes to add rice with various meals. One of my favorites (and even the kids like it surprisingly) is a casserole-style dish made of rice (I personally enjoy wild rice, but the kids prefer white rice) topped with broccoli and cauliflower, and cheddar cheese melted on top. This is such a simple (and low-cost) meal, yet everyone who has tasted it thinks it is delicious! Obviously rice can be added to many casseroles for some added nutrition. It is also a wonderful base for various meats; there's a reason why Red Lobster and most steakhouses offer chicken, fish and steaks on a bed of wild rice!
Another way to encourage your children to eat healthy is by thinking outside the box. Everyone knows a garden salad is nutritious, but many children I know won't touch the leafy green lettuce! However, when you make a fruit salad or maybe add some different ingredients to your salad, children will be encouraged to at least try it out. Instead of serving french fries with dinner, offer your family some carrot, celery or broccoli with a dipping sauce. And if you design your veggies in a fun shape, eating vegetables becomes a happy time.
If you're looking for another way to encourage your children in healthy cooking habits, why not let them enter the Ben's Beginner's Cooking Contest? This contest is for children ages 5-12, and would be a fun way to get any kid excited about cooking healthy! For more information about Uncle Ben's and the cooking contest, visit the Uncle Ben's Facebook page.
And please share any tips you have for cooking healthy with your children! I am always looking for new ways to encourage healthy eating and cooking habits!
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.