Maggie Jover: Kids benefit from time in the kitchen

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Kids of all ages are usually enthusiastic about food. They like to eat, grocery shop and read books about food — and they like to cook!

Before making a mental list of reasons not to cook with your children or grandchildren, think about your favorite memories as a child. Do some include cooking or baking with your mother, grandmother, aunt or older sibling?

Cooking with kids has many benefits, including forming the basis for a life skill and making great memories. Cooking involves using math, science, reading, communications and decision-making — all of these take place while preparing food. Hands-on learning — using all five senses — is the best way to get kids involved.

But for cooking with kids to be a success, it takes planning and should not be a spur-of-the-moment activity. Arm yourself with patience and a sense of adventure. Keep in mind: It’s the whole process of cooking and not just the end product.

Involve kids of all ages. If a child can sit in a high chair, he or she can be included in a family food experience. Add a plastic spoon and bowl, and include the child in the activities.

Don’t forget food safety. Everyone should wash their hands before cooking. Use unbreakable cooking supplies and make sure no one is sampling uncooked food.

Cooking provides the opportunity for kids to practice math skills and reading skills and increases their knowledge of nutrition.

What do you remember about cooking with someone from your family? I remember Granny’s sugar cookies and Aunt Inga’s deviled eggs. And I remember making fudge with my father and divinity with my mother. Kids may not remember each dish cooked or baked, but they will always remember who was standing beside them in the kitchen.

Coming soon: “Teens Can Cook!”, a cooking class for teens ages 13 to 16. Teens will learn how to plan and prepare healthy meals and snacks. For registration information, go to http://denton.agrilife.org and find this program listed under “Events.”

MAGGIE JOVER is the family and consumer sciences county extension agent with Texas AgriLife Extension. She can be reached at 940-349-2882.


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