Getting childen in the kitchen has a lifetime payoff for health

Getting childen in the kitchen has a lifetime payoff for health

Try a hobby: Cooking with Kids

It's not just adults being inspired to get into the kitchen during social isolation. Kids are also pulling out the oven mitts and wielding the whisks.

Cooking with kids is an invaluable way to not only give them an enjoyable distraction but to teach important lessons around health and nutrition.

Besides having some fun, there are other benefits to cooking at home with children, Western NSW Local Health District health promotion officer Emma Fitzgerald said.

"These include learning to read, follow and interpret a set of instructions (the recipe), measuring ingredients and performing simple maths, learning about hygiene and safety rules in the kitchen, and how to work in a team," she said.

Cooking can also encourage children to be more aware of how food is made and to take an active role in decisions about their health and nutrition. It helps to set up life-long healthy eating habits. It's never too early to have age-appropriate discussions with children about 'everyday' and 'occasional' foods, Emma said.

"Cooking at home can also help reinforce learning about food safety and hygiene which are important lessons for children while COVID-19 affects our communities."

Emma has shared some tips for how to get cooking with kids.

Make it fun: Try making cooking into a game by creating teams to have an in-house healthy cooking challenge or virtual cook off against another family. Families can also try some non-food based activities such as Alphabet Food, a game where you take turns to think of yummy healthy foods that begin with each letter of the alphabet.

COOK TOGETHER: Help kids learn healthy habits. Pictures: SHUTTERSTOCK.

COOK TOGETHER: Help kids learn healthy habits. Pictures: SHUTTERSTOCK.

Change it up: For fussy eaters, having adults and older children eating the same, healthy meals can encourage children to increase their willingness to try new food.

Not all sweets: Around Easter and other holiday periods, it's important to remember it is not all about chocolate. Easter themed healthy cooking options include curried or sweet chilli eggs, bite-size vegetable quiches, and apple, carrot and celery fresh fruit juice.

Create positive meal times: This may include setting schedules and routines for meals, having the family eat together, and turning off screens and other distractions. It can help support children to eat a range of healthy foods.

Grow your own: Families can also try growing herbs or autumn and winter based vegetables, or doing art or creating story books that involve fruit, vegetables, or messages about staying active.

Tie in activity: If you are looking for ways to get the kids inspired to eat healthy and keep moving, find out about the Crunch & Sip and Munch & Move programs at www.healthykids.nsw.gov.au. Information is available online about how you can make every morning tea a crunch and sip break. The key messages for Munch & Move are choosing water to drink, eating more fruit and vegetables and choosing healthier snacks.

  • If your child would like to be inspired from people their own age, check out past seasons of Junior MasterChef or Top Chef Junior from the US. A lot of these shows are freely available on Youtube.