Saturday, December 6, 2014

Cooking With Kids This Holiday Season by Mardi Michels...


Last week Sobeys invited my fellow Toronto Food Rev Ambassador Mardi Michels to host a Twitter chat about cooking with kids. For those of you who are not in Canada, Sobeys is the supermarket chain who has partnered with Jamie to bring‪#‎BetterFoodForAll‬ to the country and it's a partnership Jamie is really invested in. Sobeys is behind a number of great initiatives to get people eating (and cooking) better food and happen to be the sponsor for many of the Food Rev Day events here in Toronto. Here is her recap of the Twitter chat on Sobeys' blog - and she was truly encouraged to hear how many people are cooking with their kids out there. http://betterfoodforall.sobeys.com/mardi-blog-twitter-chat/

Mardi Michels is a full-time French teacher to elementary school-aged boys and the author of eat. live. travel. write – a blog focusing on culinary adventures near and far. As part of her job, she runs a cooking class twice a week for 7-13 year-old boys, Les Petits Chefs and Cooking Basics.  She is a Food Revolution Day Ambassador for Toronto and a contributor to JamieOliver.Com and also teaches cooking and baking classes around Toronto.



I’ve been teaching kids to cook in after school classes (Les Petits Chefs and Cooking Basics) and through my work as a Jamie Oliver Food Revolution Ambassador for over 4 years. As an educator, teaching kids about food is some of the most important work I do, so I was thrilled when Sobeys invited me to host last week’s #BetterFoodForAll Twitter chat about cooking with kids. It’s a topic I am passionate about so I was curious to hear how chat participants get their kids in the kitchen.

Cooking with kids is something that many people find intimidating – not having the skills or time are the most common reasons I hear for parents not cooking with their kids. But I reckoned that after my years of experience, I might be able to offer some great tips and advice to those who want to get their kids involved in the kitchen.

But the chat ended up being about so much more than just cooking with kids. I loved hearing about everyone’s holiday food traditions and how they are passing them down through the generations. Many parents said they use the holidays as a time to try out new foods with their kids – since many holiday parties are “buffet style,” kids can graze their way through a meal. This independence of being able to choose the foods they want to eat from a wide selection is a great way to get them to try a bite of something new – indeed, the “try one bite” rule was a popular one amongst chat participants. This is why the holidays are a great time to work on expanding kids’ palates and by taking a little time to involve your kids in meal preparation, I know from experience that they are more likely to eat foods if they help make them.

In addition to baking sweet treats for lucky Santa, many people said they find the holidays a great time to start involving kids at all stages of meal preparation simply because they have more time. From planning the menu to actually cooking, it sounds like there are a lot of busy kitchens out there! If you’re looking for how to get started, don’t forget, even something like setting and decorating the table and figuring out what sort of cutlery to use according to the menu is a great way to get kids thinking about meal preparation. Something everyone agreed on was making sure kids realize cleanup is a part of cooking – not the easiest or most glamorous task, but if you model a “clean-as-you-go” routine, it will be less daunting (for you and them!) once you’re finished cooking.

Something that was really touching about the chat was how so many people stressed the importance of family holiday traditions. We asked “What is the one family tradition that you hope your kids will carry on or remember later in life?” and here are just a handful of the responses:

  • Getting new pajamas on Christmas eve
  • Baking and cooking family recipes together
  • Making gingerbread houses
  • Reading stories as a family on Christmas Eve
  • Decorating the Christmas tree and house together
  • Adopting a family, donating to those less fortunate, and volunteering
  • Remembering what we are grateful for
  • Remembering that time together is more important than food and presents

My biggest takeaway from the chat was the sheer number of people out there working hard to preserve family traditions and pass on cooking skills to their kids. In this time of giving, I can’t think of a better gift to the next generation than that.

Join us for the next #BetterFoodForAll Twitter chat on Thursday December 11th 8pm EST when we’ll be chatting about holiday entertaining! No RSVP required just tweet along with us using the hashtag #BetterFoodForAll. There are $1,000 in prizes up for grabs!

See you there!
Mardi



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