If there's anyone who knows how to get kids (and fussy adults) to eat their vegetables, it's cookbook author and chef Didi Emmons.
She teaches inner city at-risk kids how to cook healthy meals as part of the non-profit Haley House Youth Cooking Program in Massachusetts. The kids-ages 10- to 17-years-old-attend weekly cooking classes where they learn nutrition and how to cook meals using a variety of fruits and vegetables, such as healthy Mac 'N' Cheese with Broccoli (keep reading for the recipe!).
Many of Didi's kids have not been exposed to a variety of whole foods-particularly fresh foods and vegetables-and, therefore, are often "prejudiced" against these types of foods. The same could be said about many of the kids in our own families, who turn up their noses to, say, a fresh avocado or a baked sweet potato, in favor of over-processed, industrialized foods. A lot of us adults are like that, too.
Because empowering kids to make good decisions about what they eat is important for people of ALL backgrounds, I asked Didi to share her top five techniques for teaching the difference between good food and junk food with us.
Here's what Didi had to say:
- Cook with kids.
- Empower kids with the knowledge of what happens when they eat junk food and convenience food instead of whole, healthy foods.
- The more you can teach about a particular food, the more invested kids will be in it.
- Encourage kids to have a good attitude about food.
- Cook recipes that marry healthy food with food that kids' love (even if some of that food isn't always so great for them).
Written by Cafe Kim