Cooking With Kids

October 15th is International Cook with Kids Day!

Most parents agree that teaching your children how to cook is an important life-skill, but one study, conducted by Uncle Ben’s, showed that only 36% of parents cooked with their children on a weekly basis.

So why aren’t families cooking with their kids more often? Well, some feel it takes too much time and is too messy, others believe that their children are too young, while other parents aren’t confident in their own abilities in the kitchen and are, therefore, reluctant to teach their own children.

The benefits of cooking with kids are clear. It can help foster a bond between parent and child where time spent in the kitchen together helps open the doors to communication and promote attachment.

Cooking also boosts a child’s self-esteem as they accomplish tasks and see the results of their efforts. It also creates an opportunity for creativity which promotes cognitive and emotional development.

Children who cook have wider food acceptance skills. Kids in the kitchen are much more likely to taste food that they created than if it was simply put in front of them. Tasting is the route to food acceptance and can help develop a child’s palate.

Studies also show that families that cook and eat meals together have a better diet overall and are less likely to gain excess weight.

If that hasn’t convinced you, don’t forget cooking is a fantastic learning opportunity. Practice in reading the recipe, using math skills to measure or doubling recipes, observing hands-on science experiments and following step-by-step directions are all added benefits to this special time together.

JOBS FOR YOUNGER CHEFSalicepeppers

  • Young kids can use of child-friendly scissors to snip, slice and chop veggies and keep their fingers safe.
  • Fingers are kitchen utensils too. Kids can tear herbs, top & tail green beans, find and sort ingredients and put into bowls.
  • Measuring ingredients, mashing with a fork, stirring items, slicing soft foods with a plastic or child-friendly knife are all jobs younger kids can do.

TIPS FOR PARENTS

  • Choose a good time. Rushing home from work to get food on the table before soccer practice may not be the idea time to cook with your kids. Choose an unscheduled afternoon where you have time to cook together without other pressing demands.
  • Relax. Cooking with kids can be a messy endeavour. Get your apron on, put bowls on top of cookie trays to catch over-flow but be prepared to let your kitchen get a little mucky. That’s what sponges are for. The lifelong benefits are worth a little mess.
  • Stay positive. Compliment your little chefs on a job well done. Offer them first taste of your finished dish and ask what you should make together next time.

If you need more inspiration, check out Ben’s Beginners for cooking lessons and recipes. You can also try my easy, child-friendly Southwestern Chicken Brown Rice & Veggie Salad below.

Contest Alert:lookwhatwemade2

If you make this or any other rice-based recipe, take a selfie of what you made with your child and upload it onto your social media sites with the hashtag: #LookWhatWeMade for a chance to win one of three $10,000 prizes to be used towards a RESP for your child sponsored by Uncle Ben’s. Contest runs until October 30th. More details can be found here: Let’s Get Kids Cooking Contest

SOUTHWESTERN CHICKEN, BROWN RICE & VEGGIE SALAD

Serves 4

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup Uncle Ben’s Whole Grain Brown Rice
  • 250g (or 2 cups) of rotisserie chicken, shredded
  • 1 can (425g) black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
  • 4 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup of frozen corn, boil for 1 minute, drain and rinse under cold water.
  • 1 cup of cucumber, diced
  • 1 avocado, cut into chunks
  • Extra cilantro to top, if desired

DRESSING:

  • 1 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro

PREPARATION

  1. Cook rice according to package instructions. Spread on a baking sheet and refrigerate until cool.
  2. Prepare the dressing by adding all ingredients to a small bowl and stir to combine.
  3. Place cooled rice in a large bowl; add chicken, beans, tomatoes, green onions, cucumber and corn. Add dressing and toss to combine. Place chopped avocado on top and add more chopped cilantro if desired.

Serve immediately, or refrigerate, covered, up to 1 day.

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