When it comes to raising an adventurous eater, it is not just about coaxing them to eat their fruits and veggies. Bringing up a child who can enjoy a mango or piece of melon as much as a slice of cake or pizza takes patience and persistence, but it does not have to feel like a chore.

Kids may need to have frequent joyful experiences involving food to overcome the anxiety they may have around tasting the unfamiliar.

Over time, cooking with your children can help build that confidence—and provide rich sensory experiences. At Little Cooks we encourage children to explore new foods, try new ingredients and fun with food in a safe, friendly, stress free environment amongst their peers.

Five ways to enjoy cooking with your child while raising an adventurous eater along the way.

Engage all the senses. While trying new ingredients, some children may feel too overwhelmed to taste. Try incorporating the other senses to take away from the fear of what the food will taste like. How does the lettuce sound when you break it? How goes the dough feel when you knead it? How does the pineapple smell when you cut it? For a hesitant eater, tasting an unfamiliar food can sometimes be intimidating this may help build positive associations with food.

Use cooking to raise smart kids. Use your cooking time to teach your child more than just the skill of cooking. Maths comes into play with measuring ingredients and counting the number of ingredients used. Explaining how food changes with temperature or how certain foods can help our body be healthy provide great lessons in science. Practice new vocabulary as you describe how food looks, feels, and tastes. Following a recipe from start to finish helps build the skills for planning and completing projects. These are all fabulous lessons they don’t even know they are having while cooking with you.

Make cooking part of the family culture. The family meal can start in the kitchen as you cook together. Family meal preparation is an opportunity to celebrate your cultural heritage by passing down recipes. Help your kids find new, seasonal recipes to add to your repertoire and family cookbook. Family meal times is the perfect opportunity to reconnect and catch up after a busy day or week. Put down the tablet, turn your phone off, switch off the television and enjoy your meal while celebrating time with your family.

Safety first. Teach children the importance of staying safe while cooking by showing them how to hold kitchen tools safely, how to use oven gloves to protect hands from heat, and how to turn appliances on and off safely. Always supervise children when cooking to ensure they are sticking with safe and age-appropriate tasks.

Ask for input. Children feel more included in mealtime when they are asked to be a part of meal preparation. Collaborate with your kids when selecting what you will be cooking. Let them help you make the shopping list and find groceries in the shops. Together you can decide what ingredients you should add to enhance the dish. Talk about how people enjoy different tastes, and share your preferences with each other. Letting children be “in charge” of details like how to set the table will help them feel invested in mealtime.

Creating amazing memories and experiences in the kitchen with your children will assist in raising adventurous eaters that are empowered to make the right choices when it comes to the food they eat and in turn prepare when they are older.

Categories: Articles, Healthy Lifestyle