Quarantine Tips: Cooking For Your Kids
Cooking for children can often be a challenge, and never moreso than during quarantine. And yet during stressful times, it’s even more important than ever to make time to prepare and eat healthy, balanced meals. Cooking also provides a valuable chance to teach kids new skills and get them excited about food, not to mention spend some one-on-one time together.
Check out below for EAT SMARTER’s top tips and tricks for cooking with your kids during lockdown.
Make It Look Good
Children are more apt to eat a healthy meal the more beautiful it looks. If the food looks nice and colorful, you’ve already cleared the first hurdle.
When it comes to flavor, you obviously know your child’s palette the best. However as a rule of thumb, younger children generally prefer more mild flavors. As a rule of thumb, if you’re cooking for children we recommend going light on the spices and not salting excessively, instead utilizing more mild spices and herbs instead, such as chives and garlic.
When serving your healthy meal to a finicky younger eater, we also suggest a psychological trick or two to make the process more smoothly. First is to never call the meal healthy; instead, advertise that the food taste good. Another trick is to begin introducing your children to healthful foods early, as to acclimate them. Psychologists have found that the earlier children are introduced to foods, the more likely they are to eat them. In Scandinavia, for example, fish is very popular with children, because it is so often being consumed by parents.
Most children have certain favorite foods, as adults do. Thus it’s important to communicate with your child to find out exactly what kinds of foods they like. Even if your child tends to prefer the same unhealthy foods, chances are they also like a healthy dish or two you had no idea about.
We also suggest not forcing them to eat any foods they actively dislike, looking for substitutes instead.
If your child likes carrots and peas, for example, but cannot stand beans, don’t sweat it. Simply ensure they’re getting protein from other healthy sources. Does your child hate fish? Ask them why-- chances are because it has an overly “fishy” taste or smell, which many of the more mild varieties of fish, such as salmon or tuna, are lacking.
Many healthy foods that children generally tend to dislike can be prepared in such a way that they become "invisible", so to speak. Vegetables can be finely pureed and hidden in soups, spaghetti sauces, mashed potatoes or even on top of pizza, for example.
Mild fish like tuna can be integrated into fish salads, and calcium-rich milk can be incorporated into homemade puddings or yogurt.