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Teaching healthy food choices

Guest post by Brenna Burke

While Lynn’s off on a trip, we’ve lined up guests posts from some of our green blogger friends. Brenna’s blog, Almost All the Truth, is filled with great ideas for parents wanting to promote healthier lives for their family—and the planet.

Too many kids these days grow up thinking that meals come from a box or a can or a drive-thru. That makes it all the more important to get our kids in the kitchen (and the garden).

Jamie Oliver’s manifesto says:

More must be done to invest in an all-round food education for our kids; one that includes learning about where food comes from and how it’s grown as well as the hands-on experience of cooking in the classroom. I strongly believe that teaching our kids these life skills gives them the best start in life, for their own health, the health of their kids and their kids’ kids. And if our kids are also getting a tasty, nutritious meal at lunchtime, their prospects are even better. It’s been proven time and time again during the last five years that a healthy school meal improves a child’s ability to learn and do well at school. We can’t ignore that; we must continue to feed our children better, even better. We must invest in our kids; they are the future and they deserve it.

Jamie Oliver

I say, “Hear, hear!” But also, they deserve it from the very beginning and the more they get involved in the growing and making of food at a young age, the better off they will be as they grow and start having a lot more responsibility about making healthy food choices for themselves.

I have mentioned it before, but my most favorite book that has helped me get my kids into the kitchen making food that is easy for them to help with, delicious enough for them to be excited about making it, and healthy enough for my standards is Salad People and More Real Recipes by Mollie Katzen.

My oldest and I started getting this book from the library when he was just a little peanut. We had to renew it so often that when his birthday came around a nice friend got it for him for his birthday – and it was definitely one of the best presents he got that year, and probably the only one we still use!

In the beginning, our favorite recipe was the namesake Salad People, but as our family grew, so did our repertoire. Now if I even mention the book I get excited cheers and chairs being pulled into the kitchen with anticipation.

What do my kids love most about getting in the kitchen? The results…

Little ones always love food that they have a hand in making more than if it just appears on their placemat out of nowhere.

Salad People are still one my kids’ favorite lunches, especially because there is so much variety and options to choose from when making them. (Certainly makes it easier to use what we have instead of taking extra trips to the store!)

Chewy Energy Circles from 'Salad People' by Mollie Katzen.

Being able to look in a cookbook designed especially for children, choose something that is healthy, and something they are able to make themselves or make with supervision gives them the freedom and responsibility to have power over some of their food choices. I can only hope that will carry them into the future.

How do you get your children involved in the kitchen?

Lynn Colwell and Corey Colwell-Lipson are mother and daughter and authors of  Celebrate Green! Creating Eco-Savvy Holidays, Celebrations and Traditions for the Whole Family, and founders of Green Halloween®.

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