Posts Tagged ‘cook’
Cooking is one of the few skills that can cross many boundaries and really influence a child’s development. Studies show a child who can cook is more likely to make better food choices – better food choices. So a child who can cook is on the road to being food savvy.
It is not only a soufflé that rises when a child cooks for their family… When a child masters a skill there are lots of outcomes.
- gains self-esteem
- gains a sense of importance
- feels they are able to make a meaningful contribution to their family
- is proud of their achievement
- is better equipped to look after themselves
- is able to look after others
- gains confidence and competence
- feels empowered to try more complex tasks
- is able to use preparing food as an act of service
- is able to use food as a means of expressing love
- develops self-management skills
- develops self-discipline
- develops self -espect
- develops budgeting skills.
I struggle to think of another set of everyday skills that directly impacts a child’s development and health.
Consider the three different perspectives below… mine, a teen’s and that of a younger child.
5 Reasons to cook – from my perspective
- Success builds a child’s self-esteem and confidence – cooking is no exception.
- A sense of contribution, belonging, importance and pride develops as children master skills – cooking is an excellent way to foster this.
- Learning about food fosters personal responsibility – you can feel confident that your children will be better equipped to look after themselves.
- Cooking is a life skill. It’s like riding a bike – once they have ‘got it’ they are away.
- You can get the odd night off!
5 Reasons to cook – from a teenage perspective
- You don’t have to put up with food you don’t like – you call the shots!
- It feels great if you can cook for friends and family – lots of compliments are good!
- Being able to cook gives you leverage… ‘If I cook dinner, can I borrow the car? Money for the movies? New shoes?’
- Knowing you can cook is quite empowering. You can make good food choices so you can get better skin, have more energy, be at a good weight – it’s all your choice.
- It’s quite good fun cooking!
5 Reasons to cook – from a tween’s perspective
- You can eat the ingredients while you are cooking and then get to choose the best piece.
- Your mum gets in a good mood if you help (cringe – this was a sage observation from my youngest son!).
- You can make sure what is being cooked is something you like.
- If you do the cooking you don’t have to help with the clean up.
- It’s fun cooking.
The thought of learning a new life skill will simply not engage the average kid – especially when described as a life skill. However you start talking about something they want or need and you have their total attention.
I have found deal-making works well. Along the lines of ‘If I do this for you, could you do this for me’. You may be surprised to find how kids respond to this; many are masters of negotiation in other things so they will quickly work it out. I think it is quite funny when my children say one of the main reasons they wanted to be able to cook was because it gave them leverage. That’s fine if that’s what motivates them. It also has helped our family operate more like a team with everyone contributing.
Ironically, often as parents we have to buy things for our kids anyway. Take a special pair of shoes for example. Both parties win if you suggest that if they cook dinner each Tuesday they will be able to get those shoes. This is not bribery. Bribery implies that one person wins and the other loses. This is far better than that – there are winners all round. Your child learns a skill for a lifetime, they get the shoes, the family bond grows stronger and you get a night off – it’s the epitome of a win:win situation.
No matter what perspective you are coming from
the outcome is the same –
your child gets a skill for a lifetime
which is undoubtedly to
his or her advantage.
Last month Claire and I went to Christchurch to see (and taste) the food that the NZ Culinary Team was cooking in the 2010 International Culinary Competition in Singapore… well as it turned out the NZ team did extremely well, Gold for the live kitchen menu (this was the AMAZING meal that Claire got to watch being made and then we got to eat – so no surprise to us that it won – we were SO impressed!!!!) and Silver for the Cold Table Display. They were really pleased because they’ve never scored higher than a bronze for the Cold Table display before and their biggest competition (Germany & Switzerland) only got Silver in the live kitchen - GO NZ!!! (more…)
I am often asked when is the right time to start your teenagers cooking and my response is simple. Now. It’s like the old saying “ When is the best time to plant a tree ? thirty years ago, When is the second best time? Now!” Similarly it’s ideal to start an interest in food and being in the kitchen when they’re really young – but if you haven’t done that, and indeed many of us haven’t, now is certainly the second best time.
I am not suggesting you swing into a major campaign to make them totally competent, but I am saying if there is any glimmer of interest then encourage it. And if there is no glimmer look for ways to start one. It might be something as simple as asking them if there is anything at the supermarket they would like you to get so you can fix their favourite meal… you might suggest they ‘have a go’ to cook a meal. Do a deal – if I do this for you could you possibly do dinner – you may be surprised how much they like it when you give them some space, freedom to choose what to cook and let go for it! My children especially like it when I get out of the kitchen so they can get on with it – and I think this is good part of the independence thing - although they usually like it if I am within ’yelling distance’ so I can answer any questions. Or if you think a meal is too much – get them to stir fry the vegetables or mash the potatoes. Step one has got to be engagement followed by participation. (more…)
Last weekend Claire and I had the privilege of flying to Christchurch to see the New Zealand Culinary Team in action as they had their last practice before they headed off to the 2010 International Culinary Championship. They got silver last year – and this year their aim is higher! It was an awesome experience for Claire who was able to spend the entire morning snooping around the kitchen watching the team work under extreme pressure of precision timing and total perfection of taste and presentation. We then had the ultimate treat of eating their stunning creation, I can’t reveal what it was – except to say it was remarkable. What did become overwhelmingly obvious to Claire was the huge difference between the exceptional ability of the culinary team and the sort of meals we eat daily as a family. The difference she aptly described was like comparing an elite professional artist with an amateur whose main goal was caring and nurturing their family and friends. I guess this is the same contract that is being highlighted in the reality cooking programmes that are on TV at the moment. However there is always something to learn and tips to gain from the experts and Claire has headed home with a few little tricks up her sleeve! We will share them soon!
I have found a great article written by Otago University nutrition student Jessica Meads, who shares her tips on getting teenagers into healthy eating habits. Jessica identifies four barriers – time, lack of interest, food phases and outside influencers, and gives solutions from her perspective on each of the barriers.
Her solution for lack of interest is certainly involvement in family cooking and echoes the philosophy of It’s my Turn to Cook. Jessica states “This will not only allow them to learn how to fend for themselves, it will also increase their awareness of what actually makes up their favourite meals” She goes on to say, “Encourage them to choose what they would like to cook each week, getting them to write down what ingredients they need. Through this you could encourage healthier meals to be tried or simply how a favourite meal could be made healthier. For example, asking them to make a salad to accompany the meal too or add extra veggies to a pasta dish. Hopefully their interest might be sparked and you never know – the next Jamie Oliver could be discovered!”
To read the whole article go to http://www.healthyfood.co.nz/articles/2010/february/top-tips-to-transform-your-teen
There has been a lot of talk in foodie circles that we need to ‘get back to basics’ with children and teach them basic food skills but actually I don’t think we need to get right back to basics – we can start a bit further along the track without cooking from scratch yet still get awesome results. There are fantastic products that have simplified everything – things like sauces, pastes and dressings. It’s a long time since I have made a curry from scratch or a lasagne without the addition of a wonderful pasta sauce – so I certainly wouldn’t expect my teenagers to do so!
We can have the best of both worlds – great tasting food with a minimum of effort – let someone else do all the hard work (don’t have to spend much time convincing a teenager of this!!)
However the skill comes in knowing how to add the ‘extras’ to create a stunning meal… how to add fresh vegetables to the sauce, serve with a salad, a stir-fry, knowing how to boil rice or potatoes, or roast some vegetables.
Experience and practice gives our children the confidence to tie all this together, to get the timing right and to discover that cooking actually is not a burden but can be a bit of fun. It’s my Turn to Cook teaches those skills.
While doing focus groups with teenagers about nutrition messages to use in this strategy I can honestly say I laughed a lot! Perhaps I’ve been tarred with the ‘politically correct’ brush for a bit long – but the message from the teenagers was clear – “just say what you mean”. Unanimously they agreed purist nutrition messages “are boring and you just ignore them”.
So whilst from a technical aspect some of the messages may be simplified too much or are too generalised – the core message is based on robust science. They might use language that makes you cringe – but the net effect was that we were able to come up with 10 foodie rules they could relate to.
Over the next few weeks I will be covering each of the foodie rules in my blog - but to give you a sample of what we came up with here are three of the ten. (You can get the full set in the free eBook – download on www.itsmyturntocook.com or follow the link on the right hand column)
- All food is ok, but don’t do binge or excess – it’s how much and how often you eat a food … 2 or 3 chocolate biscuits are ok – a packet isn’t… a can or glass of coke is fine – 2 litres is over the top…
- If it’s greasy or fatty you need to hold back - this stuff blocks your arteries, makes you fat and gives you yuk skin!
- Don’t watch too much TV (another strange nutrition goal) but people who sit around for hours are far more likely to eat junk food. Fact: too much junk food gives you a big bum.
Teens, especially older teens will be on their own before you know it. I firmly believe the best way to get teenagers to eat more healthfully is to teach them to cook. By knowing how to cook, teens can learn to make meals they like, make better food choices, and they will be able to better make their money go further in this recession. The added bonus is as they learn a repertoire of recipes you see them gain confidence – and you get to eat the results. I certainly can vouch how delightful it is when one of the children prepares dinner! You are doing your teena huge favour if you ensure they are armed with basic cooking skills before they venture out into the big world. So set yourself a New Year’s resolution and aim to inspire your teenager to cook in 2010. It will make a wonderful difference to them!
After months in the planning It’s My Turn to Cook went live this morning! The eBook is a result of heaps of research into what motivates teenagers to cook. I am really excited at the potential this medium has to turn thoughts into action – or indeed even start the thought that teenagers can and want to cook!
I welcome all comments and feedback and encourage you to follow the links on the side panel so you can download a free sample. I would love you to see first hand how we have incorporated great food shots, embedded YouTube links with really simple step by step instructions to create great tasting food!
Claire and I both look forward to inspiring other teenagers to cook!
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The last School Holiday Program was a crammed with fun and learning as kids got more food savvy!