Cooking classes positively impact kids’ food choices
In 2012, more than one third of children and adolescents were overweight or obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
With childhood obesity on the rise in the United States, experts say a fun, unique way may help kids lead a healthier lifestyle.
Between 2003 through 2014, researchers reviewed three databases for articles regarding cooking education programs for children ages five to 12-years-old. As a result, the research uncovered that kids who took part in these classes were more likely to make smarter choices with their food and influenced their outlook and daily eating behaviors.
Kids were also more likely to grab for fruits and veggies after class participation. Although the results were short-term and reported after kids attended just a few classes, parents saw noticeable differences in eating habits.
Michelle Remkus, a registered dietitian at Advocate Good Samaritan Health and Wellness Center in Downers Grove, Ill., believes this study is useful for parents and should encourage them to do more hands-on cooking with their kids.
Remkus shares a few healthy recipes for parents and kids to try at home:
- Breakfast – Fruit Smoothie: Have your child pick out what fruits they want, add in some low fat yogurt or milk, a few handful of spinach and you have a delicious, nutritious smoothie that you child will love to slurp up.
- Lunch – English Muffin Pizzas: Add some tomato sauce to a whole wheat English muffin, sprinkle on cheese, and have your child pick out some chopped toppings (mushrooms, tomatoes, bell peppers, pineapple) to sprinkle on the top. Add to the oven at 400 degree F for a few minutes (or until cheese melts) and you have a yummy and healthy pizza your child will devour.
- Dinner – Hidden Veggie Mac and Cheese: Using your standard mac and cheese recipe and making a few modifications you can transform this comfort dish into a healthy kid-friendly meal. Instead of white noodles, use whole wheat noodles. Cut out ½ the cheese in your recipe and instead use butternut squash that is cooked and pureed in a food processor and combined with your cheese. Since the butternut squash has the same hue as cheese, you won’t even know the veggie is in there. You can also add in broccoli with the noodles for even more veggies.
If your child is a picky eater, Remkus’ biggest advice for parents is to try, try again, and keep trying.
“It may take introducing you child to food 7-10 times before they even try a bite,” she says. “The more foods you do introduce the more chances your child will have to experience a variety of foods.”
Remkus also suggests parents to remind their children about the colors of the rainbow when it comes to meals are helpful because each color of fruits and vegetables give us different vitamins and minerals.
“Having your child help with the grocery shopping, prepping, and cooking of meals is the best way to get your child more excited about eating healthy foods,” she adds.
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