Inspiring Change in Eating Habits
I’ve been a fan of Jaime Oliver since his early days on the Food Network. When he took on the Huntington, WV school lunch system and help changed the way they ate, I was impressed. I’m a mom of two boys and a lover of REAL food. I strive to give my boys a home cooked meal daily and inspire healthy eating habits. I decided to take it up a notch and apply to be a Food Revolution Ambassador to use my skills to help promote better food and food education in my community. As of June 2015, I am officially the Food Revolution Ambassador for Powder Springs, GA!
Help Keep Cooking Skills Alive
How many college kids or teens do you know that know how to cook? Sadly this is the norm nowadays. I grew up knowing my way around the kitchen. Not because my parents were training me to be a professional chef, but because they worked and were not home to cook me or my siblings dinner on time.
We did not cook elaborate meals; it was mostly simple dishes like heating up pasta and sauce. The point is, we were comfortable in the kitchen. I didn’t realize how unusual this was until I got to college; most of my peers didn’t know how to cook. I remember my junior year (the first time I lived off campus) teaching my roommates and friends how to grill chicken (and that was during my vegetarian phase).
Food education is not a high priority in school systems. Sure, they will talk about how many servings you need from the food pyramid and that cookies and candy are a “sometimes” food. Unless you take a home economics course in high school, the school system is not going to teach your child how to cook. Is this important? I think so. If we are going to give our kids the tools to be academically successful, teach them to be generous and thoughtful, we should teach them how to feed themselves.
Let Them Help
Bear with me. I’m not here to rant on about how horrible the public school lunches are or that you need to cook your kids a garden fresh meal everyday. After a long day at work, sitting in traffic, it’s hard to come home and cook a meal. I work from home and have my boys with me all day, and there are some days I really want to order a pizza and call dinner done.
I have found that if I let them help me make dinner, things go a little faster (not necessarily neater) and the boys LOVE it. Trust me, just because we grow awesome veggies, doesn’t mean that my kids accept all of them with an open mind. One thing I have learned is that when I let them play in the kitchen with me and they help with the meal, they are more likely to try something new.
Cook With Them, Not Just for Them
Even if you only cook once a week, try to include you kids in the process. When I was a kid, my parents didn’t formalized my “cooking” education. It was along the lines of here’s the potato peeler, then a quick demo on how to use it without cutting off your finger, then a mountain of potatoes to peel. Trust me, kids like to have a “job” to do (well, maybe not peeling a mound of potatoes, did I mention my dad was in the Army?). Even if you think they are not really learning anything, it will surprise you what they pick up.
When out shopping earlier in the week for extra starter herbs for our donation garden, my seven year-old picked up a pot of basil,smelled it and explained to his 2 year old brother that this was the herb we put in our pizza the night before and that it makes our spaghetti sauce tastes sooo yummy. I was more proud in that moment than when he finally learned to conjugate his Latin verbs.
How do you get started? Slowly. Don’t rush in with an elaborate meal and overwhelm yourself. If you are not a cook but want to start,this is the place to be. I will be sharing my experiences with cooking with my kids and testing out recipes from my Food Revolution group. If you have a picky eater, even better. Trust me, my boys are picky and it’s a habit you CAN change, so do not despair. We can work together as a community of parents to help instill healthy eating habits and teaching our kids how to cook at the same time. Are you ready to join me?