Kid Friendly Cooking: A healthy Meal to Cook with Kids

As we observe National Nutrition Month, it's the perfect opportunity to focus on instilling healthy eating habits in our children. One of the most effective ways to do this is by involving them in the kitchen and teaching them the joys of cooking nutritious meals. As a Registered Dietitian at Jefferson County Health Center (JCHC), I am passionate about empowering families to cook together and make healthier food choices. Here are some tips for incorporating kids into the kitchen and making mealtime a fun and educational experience:

1. Make Cooking a Family Affair:

Involve your children in meal planning and grocery shopping to get them excited about cooking. Allow them to choose fruits, vegetables, and other healthy ingredients at the store and encourage them to explore new foods. When it's time to cook, assign age-appropriate tasks such as washing produce, mixing ingredients, or setting the table. Cooking together as a family creates opportunities for bonding and fosters a positive relationship with food.

2. Keep it Simple and Safe:

Choose simple recipes with few ingredients and straightforward instructions that are suitable for your child's age and skill level. Start with basic dishes like salads, sandwiches, smoothies, or homemade pizzas that allow for creativity and customization. Teach your children about kitchen safety practices, such as using oven mitts, handling knives with care, and washing hands thoroughly before and after cooking. Supervise younger children closely to prevent accidents and promote confidence in the kitchen.

3. Get Creative with Healthy Ingredients:

Experiment with nutritious ingredients and incorporate a variety of colors, textures, and flavors into your recipes. Encourage children to explore different fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins while learning about their health benefits. Transform familiar favorites into healthier versions by swapping out ingredients like whole wheat flour for refined flour, Greek yogurt for sour cream, or unsweetened applesauce for oil in baking recipes. Let your children's imaginations run wild as they come up with new combinations and creations.

4. Teach Nutrition Concepts Through Cooking:

Use cooking as an opportunity to teach children about the importance of balanced nutrition and making healthy food choices. Discuss the different food groups and their role in providing essential nutrients for growth and development. Explore concepts like portion sizes, reading nutrition labels, and distinguishing between healthy and less healthy options. Engage children in conversations about the benefits of eating a rainbow of fruits and vegetables and the importance of moderation when enjoying treats.

5. Make Mealtime Fun and Interactive:

Create a positive and supportive environment during meal preparation and encourage open communication and teamwork. Play games like "Guess the Ingredient" to make cooking more engaging and interactive. Allow children to express their creativity by decorating plates or arranging food in fun shapes and patterns. Turn mealtime into a sensory experience by exploring different tastes, smells, and textures together.

6. Celebrate Success and Encourage Independence:

Celebrate your children's culinary accomplishments and praise their efforts in the kitchen, regardless of the outcome. Focus on the process rather than the end result and encourage a growth mindset towards cooking and trying new foods. As children gain confidence and competence in the kitchen, gradually give them more independence and responsibility. Allow them to take ownership of meal preparation and decision-making, empowering them to make healthy choices for themselves and their families.

In conclusion, healthy cooking with kids is a wonderful way to promote nutrition education, family bonding, and lifelong healthy eating habits. By involving children in the kitchen, keeping cooking simple and safe, getting creative with healthy ingredients, teaching nutrition concepts, making mealtime fun and interactive, and celebrating success while encouraging independence, we can empower the next generation to be confident and capable cooks. Let's make National Nutrition Month a time to celebrate the joy of cooking and the power of healthy eating for families everywhere.

Looking for more help in following a nutritious diet? Talk to your Primary Care Provider about dietitian services. Be sure to check with your insurance company to see if dietitian services are covered. Then talk to your Primary Care Provider about a referral. For questions about dietician services, call 641-469-4245.


Click the link below to view the recipe.

Homemade Chicken Tenders with Everything Bagel Seasoning


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United States Department of Agriculture. (2021). "MyPlate Kids' Place: Fun Ways to Eat More Fruits and Veggies."