share of learning experiences. While I consider myself to be a Jack (or Jill I suppose) of many trades, fitness, nutrition and child development are
definitely my strong suites and my passion. My son and I spend a lot of our days in the kitchen, whipping up new, fun and healthy recipes, but did you know cooking and baking with your children produce more than just healthy and yummy things to eat? Yes, I am aware that including kids in your food prep requires LOTS of time patience and added clean-up, but it really is worth that little extra effort.
Besides getting in some good, old fashioned quality time with your
children, cooking with your kids can help get them interested in trying healthy foods they might normally not want to try. Susan Moores, MS, RD, a spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association, says“I have seen this happen countless times. It's true that kids will be kids --they'll snack on chips at a school party or enjoy ice cream after a soccer game. But what is most important is how
they eat most of the time.”
We are our children’s earliest teachers, and what better lesson to teach them than how to prepare healthy meals. Including your kids in the kitchen not only encourages them to try healthy foods, but instills a sense of pride too in accomplishing something the whole family can enjoy. Let’s face it, when we feel good about something we have done we are more likely to do it again right? Well, the same goes for our children. Extra time spent in the kitchen means you and your children are eating less processed foods, less time being stagnant in front of the television or computer and, as previously mentioned, you are spending time with your children!
Not only will cooking with your children benefit them in the short term, it can also have some long-term effects. These cooking, baking and preparing skills you are teaching you children will be skills that will last them a lifetime! I still have distinct memories of cooking with my parents and will often use the same techniques and terminology they did with me with my own son. According to Web MD, kids who learn to eat well may be more likely to eat healthfully as adults, and positive cooking experiences can help build self-confidence.
Cooking and baking is something I do with my son daily, yes I said daily. As I had mentioned above it does take a little extra patience, a little extra time, and tasks may not be done perfectly, but that is where the beauty lies. I find a sense of peace knowing that my son is helping to prepare the family dinner. Watching him chop up the celery with a butter knife for our
homemade chicken noodle soup, to cutting up chunks of butter to add to a recipe, to measuring dry ingredients, brings such light to my heart and it is in this moment that I am truly grateful for these experiences. One of our favorite recipes that we would like to share with you is our homemade granola. Whipping up a batch is really quite easy and allows you to control the quality of
ingredients (ie. less sugar, whole grains, etc). Store bought granolas are loaded with sugar and can be quite high in preservatives. Making your own granola ensures that you are using whole oats, which are full of fiber, high in protein, and contain vitamins and minerals like foliate, iron, and magnesium. You can buy whole rolled oats (sometimes called old-fashioned oats) in the bulk section at your grocery store or in the baking or cereal aisle. It is important to be sure you are buying 100% pure whole rolled oats (ie they should not say “instant or “quick cooking”on the package. This = hightly-processed/high glycemic index.)
This recipe below yields about three cups of granola – ½ cup is typically a serving. We like to serve it plain, as a cereal with dairy milk, almond or coconut milk, or atop plain or plain Greek yogurt.
SIMPLE HEALTHY HOMEMADE GRANOLA RECIPE:
Time: 10-15 min
Total Time: 25 min
Use raw, organic ingredients whenever possible. These measurements are flexible and can be substituted with other like ingredients.
2 cups raw, whole rolled oats (as mentioned above)
1/2 cup raw nuts, chopped (we used walnuts, but almonds are also nice!)
¼ cup raw seeds (we used sunflower and pumpkin seeds)
½ cup unsweetened dried fruit, chopped (we used raisins and shaved coconut, but cherries, prunes, dates, and apricots all work well )
2-3 tablespoons grade-b maple syrup and/or raw honey (we used both)
2 tbsp coconut oil (melted)
½ tsp vanilla extract (you can also use almond extract)
1 large pinch fine sea salt
Preheat the oven to 300º F. Combine all the above ingredients in a mixing bowl
and use your clean hands or a wooden spoon to mix well; it will be sticky and a
little messy but this is the best part for kids! Spread the mixture in a thin
layer on a baking sheet and bake for 10-15 minutes, until very lightly toasted.
If baked too long the granola will have a burnt taste to it. Cool before serving
and/or storing. This granola can be kept in an airtight container in a cool, dry
place for up to 2 weeks.