Kids Kitchen: Building Communities One Table at a Time pt. 1

Researchers say that a family who eats together is said to be healthier. Why?

The Benefits

In cultural and religious circles meal times have always been one of building community through sharing food and stories; both new and old. In my family for example, I have heard some pretty funny stories. Like the time a moose fell in the pool (No joke, it was a moose).  Or the story of great grand pa’s nickname, Pepere Peppermint.

Studies have shown that eating together may create strong familiar bonds and improve well-being in body, mind, and spirit. Some of these benefits are:

1.) Increasing self-esteem.

2.) Better performance in school because of the support system that can be created around the table.

3.) Decreasing the risk of obesity, depression, and other eating disorders through modeling healthy eating habits.

4.) Building communication skills.

5.) Stronger family bonds.

6.) Providing nutritious meals to keep those new year resolutions to eat healthier.

For those who are visual learners  I created an info-graphic below to help grasp these benefits.

Family Dinner Trianglebenefits:

So…How do we do it?

I will talk about this on my podcast in part 2 Building Communities One Table at a Time. Stay tuned!


Kid’s Kitchen: Tips to get you from Store to Fridge

Photo by digitalart courtesy of Free digital photos

Photo by digitalart courtesy of Free digital photos

Do you remember those shopping trips with your mom or dad when you were younger? How you loved to ride in the shopping cart to get covered with food. Or the moment when you tried to sneak that favorite chocolate cereal when they had their backs turned?

If you have then you might begin to understand how a simple shopping trip can turn into a harrowing adventure; one that some parents wish to be without. However, if shopping is approached as a game instead of as a chore it can be fun, and educational, for both child and parent.

Here are some quick tips to get you in and out without all the fuss:

1.) Prepare a list ahead of time

Writing it down helps keep you organized and prevents you from buying things that are unhealthful. Start with fruits/vegetables and go from there. Your children can help with this process. Ask them what is one meal they want to have for that week.

2.) Turn shopping into a Game

Playing scavenger hunt with the foods on the shopping list gives children the opportunity to learn about what they eat. This can help generate excitement and make them more likely to eat what is on their plate! Especially, if they help you prepare dinner afterwards with that red vegetable they found.

3.) Explain health benefits of foods chosen

Explaining health benefits of the foods you buy to your child will help connect good nutrition to their performance in school and at play. Putting those benefits into words they can understand is even better. For example, you could say that blueberries will help support their memory for that big exam. Or whole grains will give them energy for playing.

4.) Choose healthful snacks that Kids love

Choosing snacks for your child that they love, but that is also good for them, will engage their interest in health as well as in shopping.

5.) Laminate a copy of the list

Having children check off the foods you buy will hold their attention as you navigate the aisles and give them something fun to do.

Dare I say it? Happy shopping!

Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics:

Refer to #8

Kids Kitchen: Tasks for Every Age

So we’ve talked about the importance of involving children early in the food process and teaching them about nutrition. Now what?

It’s time to get them cooking. Maybe you already done so. Maybe not. Either way it is not always easy finding tasks for your children in the kitchen if you don’t know what tasks are age appropriate. Identifying what children can do at what age is important so cooking with them can be fun but safe.

Kitchen Tasks by Age

Ages 2-5

  • Anything that involves stirring, dumping, pouring, and mashing
  • Begin teaching basics of food safety (washing hands)
  • Rinsing vegetables/fruits with a brush or with hands
  • Cut soft fruits/veggies with a plastic knife
  • Spreading jams, peanut butter, or frosting
  • Rolling out dough
  • Using cookie cutters
  • Decorate cakes, cookies, or pancakes with fruit faces

Ages 6-9

  • Use electric blender
  • Microwave eggs, butter, or chocolate
  • Use a food processor
  • Measure ingredients (1 cup vs. 1/2 cup)
  • Begin to read simple recipes
  • Knead dough

Age 10-12

  • Double a recipe
  • Use the stove/oven
  • Prepare quick meals like sandwiches, soup, or pizza
  • Use most knives to cut vegetables
  • Operate kitchen appliances (steamer)

Ages 13-16

  • Use all kitchen appliances
  • Understand food safety
  • Operate a grill
  • Prepare meals for the family
  • Follow/modify recipes
  • Use a vegetable knife safely

Although, this is just a small list to get you started it will help get you thinking about what is and isn’t appropriate for kids.

Below is a recipe adapted from Betty Crocker’s Quick and Easy Cookbook as an example of applying the above list in your kitchen.

Quick and Easy Potato Pancakes

Serves 6 Kids ages 10-12; 13-16 can cut or double the recipe

Ingredients: Kids ages 6-9 can measure some of these ingredients themselves

2 cups of applesauce      1/2 c. flour          1/2 c. milk                3 eggs

1 tsp. baking soda          1 tsp. baking powder      3 cups shredded raw potatoes


1.) Prepare non-stick skillet over medium heat. Kids ages 10-12; 13-16 can do this

2.) In a medium sized bowl mix the flour, milk, baking soda & powder, and the eggs together. Stir until smooth. Kids ages 2-5 can dump, stir, and mix these ingredients

3.) Mix in the potatoes 1 cup at a time. Kids ages 2-5 can mix the potatoes

4.) Pour 1/4 of pancake mixture into skillet. Wait until the pancake starts to bubble on the sides. Flip. Kids ages 6-9 and up can do this. Younger children need supervision.

5.) Repeat with rest of mixture.

6.) Serve with applesauce or maple syrup. Kids ages 2-5 can do this.

7.) Enjoy! Kids and adults of all ages can do this.

Happy Cooking!

Link to recipe:

More information about age appropriate tasks can be found at Thirty Homemade Days: Kids Cooking Camp

& Toddler and Preschooler Tasks in the Kitchen