I never planned on having picky kids. Before my first child was born I decided I would introduce her to French cheeses, garlic, and strong spices right away. When I lived in France I watched little French toddlers devouring Camembert and Brie as if it was peanut butter, in fact they thought peanut butter was a disgusting concept! Therefore children learn to eat what they are given. Therefore, my child would eat EVERYTHING! Right? Wrong. I had not anticipated food allergies: milk allergy, egg allergy, nut allergy. I was forced to abandon my French cheese toddler diet and my children became PICKY.
However, today I am going to share a secret. This may not be a secret to some of you, and as usual, I may just be way behind the times. But…I have just figured out how to get my picky kids to try and to actually LIKE new foods! My secret? Let them cook it themselves.
It all started several months ago. I was making crepes for dinner one night and the children wanted to “help.” I grumbled to myself because, as all seasoned moms know, it is always easier and faster to do things yourself than to accept “help” from the kids. But, I was in the mood to try and be a Good Mom that night and I put them to work. Much to my surprise, we actually had fun!
Cooking for me has become such a necessary evil. I no longer take pleasure in cracking an egg or stirring batter. It is simply a daily task to be accomplished as quickly as possible so that I can move on to something more fun. It sounds awfully sappy to say this, but that evening I was able to rediscover the magic of cooking through their eyes. Children are so excited about every new experience, even those that are quite boring and mundane to us grown-ups. My kids loved every task, every smell, every texture of our crepe-making adventure!
Since then, we have been trying to do a “Kids Cook Night” as we call it, once a week. At first we just did crepes. But lately we tried a Rachel Ray recipe of pasta with ricotta cheese, parmesan cheese, garlic, and broccoli. Saturday we made a creamy Tarragon Chicken recipe in the Crock Pot. The children announced that they wished we could eat Tarragon Chicken every night. That is when I had the epiphany: My kids would not have eaten the ricotta cheese pasta or the Tarragon Chicken if I had made it.
Of course I won’t tell them, but I think we shall gradually try more and more exotic dishes and see what happens. If I find a good recipe that I fear they will not eat, we will have it for the first time on a “Kids Cook Night!”
The “Kids Cook Night” is actually quite fun for all of us, plus I figure that if we do this once a week, by the time they are teens, they should be really good cooks. Maybe I could get them to cook ALL the meals! And clean the house…and do the laundry…
Thanks to morguefile.com and photographer Scott Liddell (www.scott.liddell.com) for this yummy photo!