August is Kids Eat Right Month—what a great time to help kids learn about nutrition and better food choices! As a dietitian mom, you would think my kids are poster children. They definitely are not, especially my middle child. Goodness, do my children love their sweets, snack foods and treats; it can be a challenge to get them to eat right. I have discovered the best way to get them eating healthy is getting them in the kitchen to help and learn.
Having a 16-month, 3 year old and 6 year old it is limiting on what they can and can’t do in the kitchen. Often times it ends up being a much BIGGER disaster when they help, but it makes for good teaching and fun memories. Our two older children have their own apron with their name on it along with their own cooking utensils that I feel are safe and age appropriate to use. This helps to entice them into the kitchen. I try to get their input on what we should cook/make for the snack or meal we are working on.
To help things go smoother, I try to stock better-for-you choices in my pantry/snack drawer (yes we have a snack drawer), and then the kids have the choice to take it upon themselves to experiment.
That is what cooking – and creating – is all about: the discovery and the delicious result.
CLICK HERE to print off the Kid-Friendly Kitchen Tasks for Every Age PDF!
Here are a few of the things we like to make together in the kitchen.
1. Trail Mix
Whatever we have in the cabinet, pantry and snack drawer (within reason) the kids can grab and mix. Some ingredients they like are pretzels, raisins, dried cranberries, chocolate chips, cereal, whole-grain goldfish crackers, almonds and mini marshmallows.
We start with a base of water and ice, and add from there— fresh or frozen fruit of any kind, Greek yogurt, Sugar Free/Fat Free pudding powder. I also have a shake product we use from a former weight management program I worked with and we like to add that as well.
We lay out whole wheat tortilla and then the kids use their age appropriate knife to spread peanut butter on the wrap. They sprinkle a few chocolate chips and lay a banana in the center. The kids with assistance from me roll up the tortilla. Either they eat like this or I will cut in to pinwheel size for them to eat.
4. Watermelon and Blueberry Salad
I slice the watermelon into thick slices and the kids use cookie cutters to cut shapes out of the watermelon. We then throw in any berries we have—blueberry, raspberry, blackberry and even grapes.
5. Chocolate Chips Banana Bread
This may not be the healthiest of recipes, but it is a huge hit in our house, and we only make it a few times a year.
What You Need:
- ½ cup butter, melted
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 ½ cups flour
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ cup low fat sour cream
- ¾ cup mini chocolate chips
- 2 medium bananas
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees, grease loaf pan.
- Mix together melted butter and sugar, and add in eggs and vanilla.
- Combine flour, baking soda and salt, then add to butter mixture
- Add in sour cream, bananas, and chocolate chips. Spread in loaf pan.
- Bake for 50-60 minutes, until baked through.
- Cool on wire rack in pan, and remove from pan to finish cooling.