Cook With Your Kids!
In the last few years the subject of childhood obesity has been a regular topic of conversation on health-based news sites and in national news coverage. The lifestyle and diet changes, fast-food options and high-calorie snacks which were not always around, seem to have created something of an epidemic of obesity. According to the Center for Disease Control, childhood obesity has tripled in the last 30 years. One study showed that 1/3 of children and adolescents were overweight in 2008, and that number keeps increasing.
Obesity can cause a number of health problems, from high blood pressure to joint problems, and even some types of cancer. The likelihood of suffering from sickness due to excess weight only increases based on the age of obesity-onset. Nowadays, it is not uncommon for children to have high blood pressure and many are prescribed medication to lower it. Why, at such a young age would we want to start pumping prescriptions into our children when the most effective method of solving the problem is change in lifestyle and diet, and a better relationship with food?
Research is showing that teaching children about nutrition and food preparation at a young age can help them learn to make better food-related choices now and later in life, which sets them up for success.
Cooking with the kids has multiple benefits, not only to their health (and your’s), but also on your relationship with them.
Cooking together allows you to spend time together. If going out to eat for dinner is the norm, you’re likely to have table talk while you wait for your order to be made for you, which is wonderful as family dinners are great. But imagine the boost in communication if you’re together in the kitchen preparing something as simple as spaghetti - this opens conversations to where food comes from, why it is good or bad and allows open dialogue on a topic not necessarily discussed otherwise.
Preparing a meal together can allow you to pass on family traditions. My grandma’s potato salad is out of this world and she used to make it for every family get together - it was in high demand. A few years ago I asked her for the recipe so I might keep the tradition of her amazing salad going for years to come, and she said, “I don’t have a recipe”, so instead, I helped her make 10 pounds of potato salad. The process of peeling hard boiled eggs, cutting up onions and potatoes and mixing just the right amount of mustard in to get just the right flavor will always stick with me, and the thought that I am the only person in the family with this recipe is special to me.
Perhaps one of the most empowering aspects of cooking together - for parents and children - is the confidence-boost developed in the process. I’m not saying, “Give your eight-year-old an 8 inch chef knife and let them go to town on that sweet potato”, but allowing them to peel potatoes or push the buttons on the food processor or toss the noodles with pasta sauce will make them feel confident in their abilities because they helped make dinner. Think about how good it feels to prepare a lovely meal - you feel good about yourself and your skills in the kitchen no matter how simple the meal, and it gives you the desire to share your creation! You can only build from the basics, and whether you’re baking cookies or boiling water, the skill set is one that kids cannot learn anywhere but from you (until they're older and go to culinary school!).
Cooking is a learning process, and for those who haven’t been exposed to it, quite scary - it’s the reason so many people my age (mid-20’s) are terrified to scramble eggs. To start off a good relationship with food at a young age can only set young people up for a good relationship with food in the future.
For healthy ingredients to use in the kitchen with your kids, visit Pomegranate Market. Also, check out our recipe section on the website for some simple, healthy recipes to try at home!