(Family Features) - It can be a challenge to get kids to eat nutritious foods. Some parents fight the nightly battle over eating vegetables; others try to sneak healthy ingredients into favorite foods. Another approach is to get the kids involved in their food from the start by engaging them in the cooking process.
Cooking with children requires a little extra time and some patience, but can be worth it. While in the kitchen, parents can teach their children about a food's nutritional content and origin as well as its proper portion size. These family cooking sessions can better equip children to make healthier foods choices.
Following are tips on how to make the experience engaging and educational.
- Make the most of math and measurement. Introduce children to measuring utensils by inviting them to scoop out a cup of enriched wheat flour or a teaspoon of salt. Incorporate math by asking them to remove two eggs from the carton or count the amount of strawberries in one serving.
- Look to a food's origin for interesting educational facts. Tell them that milk comes from cows, tuna is a fish that swims in the sea and wheat grows in amber fields.
- Utilize the five food groups. Set all ingredients out in advance and work with your child to place each ingredient in its appropriate group: grains, vegetables, fruits, milk, and meat and beans.
- Identify healthier foods by highlighting the nutrients that can help them to grow big and strong. Let them know when you are adding a vitamin-rich ingredient such as almonds, broccoli, oranges or whole grain flour.
To help parents and kids cook together, the Wheat Foods Council has teamed up with celebrity chef Gale Gand to create "Food For Thought From Parents To Children," an educational cookbook. The 35 nutritious and delicious wheat-based recipes are fun to make and will help teach children about nutritious food choices.
"Talking to my children about food and nutrition and stocking the kitchen with nutritious options enables my kids to make healthy food choices even when I'm not around to supervise," said Chef Gand. "This cookbook gave me the opportunity to collaborate on an educational tool that can make an important difference in our children's lives."
By purchasing the book, you support Spoons Across America, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to educating children, teachers and families about the benefits of healthy eating.
For more recipes, or to purchase a copy of the cookbook, visit wheatfoods.org.