By Katherine Dwight, Co-Owner/ Executive Pastry Chef at Persepshen
What we feed our families matters.
Childhood obesity is a serious health problem in the United States with 14.7 million children affected. In the past three years, there has been a significant spike in the number of children with type two diabetes.
These statistics prove that everyone needs a nutrient-dense meal plan, especially growing kids. Their body and brain are constantly developing, and prepackaged, ultra-processed food cannot deliver the nutrition they need to support the constant changes.
By cooking at home and utilizing whole foods, parents can make a profound impact on the way their children develop.
Cooking at home isn’t just about nutrition, although it’s an important factor. When we invite our children to join us in the kitchen, we are providing opportunities for them to learn necessary skills, try and like new foods, and create lifelong family memories.
On average, Americans eat out 4 times a week. While it is faster, it’s also lost quality time learning new skills together. Children of every age can participate in the kitchen. Ideas to get them started include:
- Pour ingredients into bowls
- Stir dry ingredients or thin liquids
- Wash produce
- Cut soft fruits and veggies
- Spread peanut butter, cream cheese, etc
- Wash plastic dishes
- Measure ingredients
- Crack eggs
- Peel vegetables
It may get messy, but letting your kids practice these skills early will help them develop confidence and independence!
Not only will your children learn new skills in the kitchen, but they are also more likely to try new foods when they participate. Studies show that children need to be exposed to a new food between 6 and 15 times before they are willing to try it.
When they are given the opportunity to help prepare dinner, they can get familiar with the new food before they even try it.
Another way to help your kids get excited about cooking at home is to let them participate in the menu planning. When they have a say, they look forward to the meal and it’s a great opportunity to teach them how to design a healthy plate.
While getting more adventurous with food is great, the best benefit of cooking together is quality time. On average, the American family only spends six hours a week together. It makes sense – with work, school, extracurriculars and all the other activities on your plate, it seems like there aren’t enough hours in the day. But everyone has to eat, and the kitchen can become a mecca for family togetherness where core memories are made.
We often have our kids with us in the kitchen and one meal we enjoy making is ‘Little Ears’ Chickpea Pasta. This gluten-free recipe creates a nutritious dough that our young kids love to roll – and eat! I’ve shared the recipe below; I hope you have a great time making it with your own family!
‘LITTLE EARS’ CHICKPEA PASTA (gluten free):
Yield: pasta for about 3 people
1 Cup organic chickpea flour
1 Pasture raised whole egg
1 tsp Olive oil
½ tsp Fine Sea salt
- Put all ingredients in a bowl. Mix with your hands until it forms a smooth mass and then form into a square that’s about ¾ of an inch high.
- Use immediately or wrap and chill until ready to use.
- When ready to use, cut square of dough into ½ inch strips, then cut those strips into ½ inch pieces. Each piece should be around the size of a hazelnut
- Dust with chickpea flour if the dough is sticky
- Using your thumb, press down into the middle of the dough so it smashes out, resembling a little ear.
- Once all the “ears” are finished, cook in boiling salted water for about ten minutes
- Enjoy with your sauce of choice
About Katherine Dwight
As a very young girl, Katherine garnered the nickname “The General” which stemmed from her strong-will and sense of knowing exactly what she wanted. Fortunately, she also has a good sense of humor and loves to laugh. When she’s not creating breads and desserts at Persepshen, she’s likely to be spending time with Jason and their three children, Joseph and Juniper and Daisy.