Cooking School

The benefits of cooking as a family go beyond healthy eating

The benefits of cooking as a family

It was an evening of many firsts for the kids who joined our #CLCookTogether event: first time grating a carrot, first time using an oven, first time baking a cobbler. And they all said they’d like to cook more often! Image by: Genia Shapira Author: Sandra E. Martin

Cooking School

The benefits of cooking as a family go beyond healthy eating

When it comes to kids learning life skills, there's a sweet spot that lies somewhere between microwaving a frozen entrée and creating a restaurant-quality feast on MasterChef Junior. And twin sisters Hannah and Alison Ketchum are just about there. 

After spending a recent Friday night with the Canadian Living Test Kitchen and Canada Beef, the 10-year-olds can now confidently cook Lazy Cheeseburger Sliders, Carrot Slaw and even a Blueberry Cornmeal Cobbler

 

null

Photography by Genia Shapira

"Learning how to cook at this event makes me want to cook more, and more complex things," says Alison, who already had a pretty mean grilled cheese in her repertoire before joining the family cooking movement we've hashtagged #CLCookTogether. Its mission: giving parents the tools and the support to teach kids food literacy. This partnership with Canada Beef is inspired by Six by Sixteen, a program launched by the Ontario Federation of Agriculture, which aims to get all kids confidently cooking six basic meals by the time they're 16 years old.

It's about more than being able to follow a recipe; it's about mastering simple techniques that kids can spin out into dozens of meals. To cook the Lazy Cheeseburger Sliders, for instance, the kids browned ground beef. That same technique is the jumping-off point for Bolognese sauce, shepherd's pie, taco filling…you get the idea.

"I believe that, to enjoy life to the fullest, food literacy is a must," says registered dietitian Carol Harrison.

"Our job as parents and educators is to prepare our kids for life, and the one thing we all do is eat three times a day. Kids need to know where and how their food is produced and how to shop, store and cook food."

 

null

Photography by Genia Shapira

Not only does food literacy help kids grow into adults who will eat more healthily, but it also enables them to enjoy the foods they like, almost any time and anywhere. No Asian restaurant nearby? Not a problem when you know how to whip up a stir-fry at home. 

The earlier kids get involved with meal prep, the better, says Harrison. "Don't wait until you think they can handle ‘real' cooking to get going," she advises parents. "Build interest when your child is young by setting the expectation that we all help out at mealtimes." We parents sometimes worry that kids will set the kitchen on fire or slice their hands instead of the veggies they're prepping. But as long as an adult is actively supervising, there isn't a lot that can go wrong. And so much can go right.

 

null

Photography by Genia Shapira

Thinking back on the Friday-night cooking event his family was a part of, the twins' dad, Edward, says, "I hope my daughters will take away the lesson that it's not that difficult to cook. We produced some incredible food in very short order. It's achievable."

After talking to Hannah, we think it's safe to declare that mission accomplished. "One of the fun things for me was mixing all of the ingredients together and seeing the end of the meal," she says.

 

null

Photography by Genia Shapira

The makings of a meal
Being able to follow a recipe is great, but kids also need to learn how to put together a complete nutritious meal. As registered dietitian Carol Harrison explains, it's as simple as thinking about dividing your plate into three sections.

1. Fill half of your plate with vegetables and/or fruit. Try to eat local most often; it's fresh, it tastes great and it supports our local farmers and economy. 

2. Fill one-quarter of your plate with lean protein, such as fish, beans, beef, tofu, eggs or nuts. Protein is vital to help curb hunger to fuel your body, so don't skimp here.

3. Fill one-quarter of your plate with grains, choosing whole grains most often. Whole grain pasta, brown rice, barley, bulgur and quinoa are good choices.

Comments
Share X
Cooking School

The benefits of cooking as a family go beyond healthy eating

Login