For years, my mom left small post-it notes with this message: “don’t forget to eat your vegetables.” When I felt ill, she often responded with “you have not had enough vegetables.” All of this makes sense now that I am an adult and eat a plant-based diet. I will admit my mom was right, but it was not until I spent more time in the kitchen that I began to enjoy healthier choices. It became relaxing; an activity I could be creative with, have no deadlines (my stomach would argue otherwise), and, most of all, take pride in my masterpiece. I think many kids would feel the same way.
Yet, in the fast-paced world we live in, kids are often not welcome in the kitchen. Kids are messy, leave finger prints, and require constant supervision. There is just no time for kids to be in the kitchen. On occasion, we might let kids bake food like cupcakes, cookies, cakes, and other treats. But don’t we want our kids to eat better? Choose healthy options? Like, if not love, veggies? Yet many kids would prefer cupcakes, cookies, chips, or other nutrient deprived foods. I wonder why?
My theory- kids need to be in the kitchen. They need to smell, touch, and taste, allowing them become familiar with their food. What does it look like in its natural state? Kids are curious, they want to know things, and we (the adults) just need to present it in a way that is welcoming, understandable, and, above all, fun!
Kids want to know things about food such as: where it came from, how it impacts their health, and how to cook with it. When kids are in the kitchen they will begin to ask more questions about food, think about what they eat, and, more importantly, spend quality time with their families!
My theory about kids in the kitchen and food preferences is what sparked my interest to plan a camp for kids based on cooking. The goal of the camp is to let them take risks, like trying something green, get their hands messy, and get to know food which will hopefully inspire them to make healthy choices.
Kids in the Kitchen will run August 11-14 at Heart Niagara. For more information visit http://summercamp.heartniagara.org
By Terra Pasco, Health Event Coordinator
Terra is entering her 4th year of Community Development, Family Studies and Leadership at Western University and has over 10 years of experience in children’s programming. Terra has a passion for educating and empowering our future citizens.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in blog entries are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Heart Niagara.