Guest post by Angie Mielke, PhD, Co-Founder, Sticky Fingers Cooking School for Kids and Licensed Clinical Psychologist
The day is winding down, dinner is almost done, and you are counting the minutes until the relief unit arrives. After all the hustle bustle of the days events, getting the kids bellies nutritionally full before bedtime, hopefully helping to seal a good night’s sleep, is on most parent’s minds.
To follow, everyone is at the table, dinner is ready to be served, and words like “I don’t like this” or “This tastes yucky” start to emerge from little mouths. Sighs of frustration or phrases of defense strike back-“You won’t leave the table until you have had 4 bites of broccoli”! Sound familiar?
Nutrition experts indicate that kids routinely prefer food that is salty and/or sweet in taste, hence why it is a piece of cake to get our children to devour a hotdog or sticky bun. In addition, it can take upwards of ten tries of a new food before we know if we like a particular food. Learning to love foods with a tart, sour, or bitter taste is an acquired skill that requires patience, practice, and, in our opinion, lots of fun! Here are some tips to help your kids have an open-mind and open-mouth to some traditionally not so kid-popular (and even parent-popular) foods:
- Try adopting a “no-pressure environment to try new foods”. Think about trying new foods as an adventure. Make it fun and engaging, with the resolve that they may try the eggplant or they may not, but that is ok! The less stressful mealtime feels to kids, the less resistance and power struggle you’ll experience with them around the dinner table.
- Call the kids into the kitchen! During that hectic 5 o’clock hour of cooking dinner, get your kids chopping, whisking, and measuring. When kids hands are busy with food, they are more likely to taste along the way, helping to chip away at the number of times they are exposed to a new or unfamiliar food.
- Give permission! Kids naturally feel drawn to the kitchen. The excitement of getting to participate in what is normally “off limits” is enticing and motivating to kids, so take advantage of this natural interest. The more they help, the more ownership they feel over the meal.
- Rethink “don’t talk with your mouth full”! When dinner is on the table, take this opportunity to talk about what you made with your children. Encourage discussion on where food comes from, what was their favorite part of the meal, and what would they do the same or differently next time they are cooking. Engaging dinnertime conversation is an excellent way to support building the foundation of food awareness, appreciation, and a healthy lifestyle.
With all of this in mind, that is why here at Sticky Fingers Cooking we feel so strongly about getting kids into the kitchen cooking and why cooking as a group is so beneficial. The no pressure environment that is fostered by cooking in groups, like our summer cooking camps, and why we design our recipes to be cooked with both adults and kids fosters fun and creativity in the kitchen!
Here’s a great recipe to try as a side with dinner one night or have the kids help create for a snack during an afternoon play date…enjoy!
Black-Eyed Pea Salsa
1. To begin, preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
2. Take 12 white or yellow corn tortillas and lightly brush both sides with vegetable oil.
3. Using a pizza cutter, slice the tortillas into strip or wedges and spread them in a single layer on 2 cookie sheets. Sprinkle with salt.
4. Next, place the cookie sheets into the oven and bake 12-15 minutes, until crisp, rotating the pan once while cooking. Remove the chips from the oven and allow them to cool while you prepare the salsa.
5. To make the salsa, cut into bite size pieces and place in a mixing bowl:
- 3 tablespoons green bell pepper
- 3 tablespoons red bell pepper
- 3 tablespoons yellow bell pepper
- ¼ C red onion
- ½ C cherry tomatoes
- ¼ C parsley
6. Mix in:
- 3 (15-ounce) cans black-eyed peas, rinsed and drained
- ¼ C balsamic vinegar
- ¼ C olive oil
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
7. Mix the ingredients and add salt & pepper to taste.