(Family Features) It's not always easy to make healthy food choices, particularly if it involves changing your eating habits. Start by bringing your loved ones together in the kitchen - studies have proven that cooking together as a family not only strengthens the bond between parents and children, but encourages healthy eating habits.
Allowing kids to help in the kitchen and get their hands dirty by washing, measuring and mixing teaches them where their food comes from and builds a sense of accomplishment. Cooking healthy meals together is the perfect family activity to encourage healthy habits and reinforce family time. The trick is finding recipes that encourage participation from children of all ages and make parents happy with good healthful nutrients and flavor.
"Cooking recipes that include whole grain ingredients like rice can lead to better meal options for your family as it attracts healthier, more colorful foods such as vegetables and fruits," says Chef Chris Skolmutch, Culinary Innovation Manager for Mars Food USA and participant in the Chefs Move to Schools campaign. "Rice serves as the perfect kitchen ingredient because kids enjoy making and eating meals that are simple yet tasty, while parents want to make sure they're eating something full of proteins, fiber and vitamins."
For families looking for ways to get together in the kitchen and start cooking, here are a few tips provided by Rachael Ray's Yum-O, a non-profit which empowers kids and their families to develop healthy relationships with food and cooking:
- Measuring: Allow your kids to measure ingredients using traditional tools (i.e. cups and teaspoons), and nonconventional methods (i.e. pinch and dash), to build their own sense of taste.
- Knives and cutting: Instruct your children on how to use kitchen shears instead of knives to cut things like herbs and soft fruits and vegetables until they (and you) are comfortable with them using knives.
- Clean up time: Teach your children the importance of cleaning cutting utensils and cutting boards after finishing up, especially when handling raw meat or poultry.
For more recipe ideas and information, visit www.UncleBens.com or www.Facebook.com/UncleBens.