Cooking with Easson.

For the past 3 years I have being working on a research project studying Food Skills and Food Literacy in teenagers and young adults. One of our findings was that the young people with the most knowledge and skill in the kitchen had learned to cook at home at an early age.  As a grandmother of a 4 year old, I am putting this knowledge into practice whenever Easson comes to visit.
Cooking in the Kitchen

Cooking lessons for children Easson’s age should be very short and sweet. Remember the attention span of young children is short, so, small tasks are better. Children learn about cooking by watching, feeling, smelling, tasting and hands on experiences.

Some of the Food Skills tasks that Easson and I do together are:

·         Tearing up lettuce and other greens to make a salad

·         Adding croutons or shredded cheese to a salad.

·         Cracking eggs in a bowl and beating them

·         Washing and scrubbing vegetables and fruit with a vegetable brush

·         Arranging cut up vegetables and fruit on a platter

·         Spooning dips in a bowl for a vegetable platter

·         Setting the table for dinner

·         Clearing the plates off the table and bring in the dessert.

Bringing young children into the kitchen can benefit them in a number of ways. Cooking can help:

·         Build basic skills. You can help your child refine basic math skills by doing something as simple as counting eggs or pouring water into a measuring cup. Listening to adults reading recipes helps children to learn new words and cooking terms

·         Encourage an adventurous palate. Some young children are picky eaters.  Bringing them into the kitchen to cook can help get them to open up to new tastes.  They cans see what goes into a recipe and may be more willing to try it.

·         Boost confidence. Young children love to show what they can do and working in the kitchen provides opportunities to gain a sense of accomplishment. If they helped assemble the salad, let them know that their help was important.  Our salads at Sunday dinner are called Easson’s salad if he helps to make it.

·         Pass on family traditions.  We are able to keep some cultural roots alive by teaching our grandchildren about family favourites and those foods served at special holidays.

 The key is to give small children "jobs" that meet their skill level and are something they enjoy. Also don't plan an elaborate project or cooking marathon — 5 to 10 minutes might be all your child wants to spend on an activity. Start small and keep it fun.  For safety reasons, an adult should be in the kitchen with them at all times, supervising and monitoring progress.

Spending time in the kitchen with your children or grandchildren can foster an interest in food and cooking that will last for life.  What a great gift.

Margaret Ann RD

Photo Courtesy of Microsoft  Clip Art