I really believe in getting kids in the kitchen. As I’ve seen with my three kiddos, the more exposure they have to a variety of foods, the more likely they’ll be to eat them.
Once my son, then three, attended a cooking class here in Denver. On the menu was pizza, and the kids had the opportunity to roll out the dough, mix up and slather on an herb-laden red sauce, and add toppings of their choosing. My son chose some of everything, which meant the pizza weighed about seven pounds and was loaded with mushrooms, red peppers, green peppers, pepperoni, mozzarella, parmesan and Fontina. To this day, he talks about “that yummy cheese from cooking school,” meaning Fontina.
Apparently, my son isn’t alone in his willingness to eat whatever is on his pizza, i.e., the one he made. The director and I laughed later about how common it is for children who normally protest anything but cheese to happily eat their own homemade masterpiece.
I thought of this yesterday while making carrot soup with ginger and lemon. (Between the organic carrots we picked at my CSA’s Harvest Festival last weekend and the carrots already in my crisper from the weekly deliveries, we’ve been having quite a few carrots lately.)
Anyway, my two-year-old is pickier than my other two, so I was excited when she wanted to sit on the counter and help. I hoped that as a result, she’d be more likely to eat the soup for dinner. She helped me scrub carrots and watched as I chopped them. She asked why some parts went into the trash whereas others went into the pot, getting a little science lesson in the process. She peeled garlic and smelled ginger and touched a fluffy pile of lemon zest. Later, she helped press the on/off button on the Cuisinart as we pureed the soup.
And at dinner, she ate every bite. Although this could’ve been because we had fresh apple cake for dessert, and in our house, if you’re not hungry enough to eat your healthy food, you’re not hungry enough for dessert. But who knows? Maybe it really was because she’d helped make it.