Having to spend time in the kitchen everyday can be a pretty challenging experience. In other words, to me it's a big job while to others it's just plain love and fun. My son and daughter, after watching zillions of episodes of cooking shows on the Food Network when they were younger, swear that they want to be chefs. So for their sakes, I have spent a great deal of extra time in the kitchen preparing healthy, tasty, cute and architectural culinary masterpieces. Keeping it healthy is quite a task as there are so many additives and preservatives that may cause allergies or have negative reactions. All in all, it has proven to be very exciting and entertaining. If you are wondering how to avoid any kitchen conflicts, here are my tips for healthy cooking and eating with kids.
1. Start while they are small. Eating habits are learned from very young. Start by cooking and offering healthy options from the very beginning or as early as possible- preferably before they start calling ketchup a vegetable.
2. Set a good example. It's no use trying to get your kids to eat their vegetables if you're having coffee and donuts for breakfast lunch and dinner. If you eat your veggies, it's likely that the kids will do the same.
3. Take them food shopping. As you choose the items you want from grocery store shelves, make it a habit to point out the labels and discuss which items are good choices. Look at sodium, fiber and sugar content so your kids start making the connection between healthy choices and not so good ones.
4. Provide more fresh fruit, vegetables and multi-grains. Try to eliminate some of your regular canned food choices so that your kids get better quality foods.
5. Let them help. Allow them to help with meal planning and execution. Get them involved in the preparation so they feel more connected to their meals. When all the fun is done and the mess is made, they will enjoy eating their meals much more since they played a part in the creation.
Now that you've implemented these handy tips, how about a fun contest with great prizes? Uncle Ben's has a new contest that is designed to get parents and kids cooking together and healthier. Check out their Facebook page more details on how to enter. All you have to do is to create a short video of you and your 5-12 year old, cooking a rice based dish. Upload the video on the contest page and wait for the winning email or phone call. You have a chance to win $20,000, plus a spot on the Rachael Ray Show and a school cafeteria makeover for your child's school valued at $50,000. Hurry, contest submission ends 2/26/2012.
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