When the Eat Well, Spend Less ladies tackled getting kids in the kitchen, I told my son that we were going to make two kitchen goals to reach by the end of the summer.
We decided he would learn to make tacos himself, but I couldn’t pin down the second. Did I want him to help in meal planning? Learn to read ingredients and evaluate them? Cut something-or-other, or make muffins by himself?
Last night, he was inspired.
What to do With CSA Greens
With our first CSA box coming this week, I knew I would need new “greens” recipes, so I spent too much time yesterday perusing blogs and learning how other people cook with kale, swiss chard, and collard greens. I wanted them in the main course, not a side dish, and so I ended up creating my own “greens plus what’s in the fridge that doesn’t need thawing or soaking” sort of dinner.
Paul, who recently turned seven years old, was apparently inspired. Not only did he eat the whole thing (with TONS of kale and even the dreaded mushrooms in it!), but he announced during dinner: “I want to make my own recipe, too, all by myself. It’s going to be awesome.”
The teacher in me recognized the fire of passion in his eyes, and I’m thankful that I was wise enough to let him run with it and not tamp down the flames by putting it off until another day, or insisting that the mess might be too big, or that he was too young to create something and needed to learn to follow recipes first.
Instead, I asked questions.
What do you want to create? A main meal, a salad, or what?
“I don’t know…It will be something totally new.”
Well, let me tell you about how I made this recipe…
I described that I was looking for something to use up the greens, and how I researched ideas online, then thought about what we had in the refrigerator. I explained how I thought about pizza seasonings because I thought the family would like it more, and how I chose to add canned salmon as a protein because I wanted it to be a main meal, and and then wrapped it all up in grain-free crepes.
Do you want to look at some recipes to get ideas, or should I tell you what’s in the fridge and we can talk something out?
He wanted to know what we had, and when I quipped “greens,” he started thinking about peas and cucumbers.
His almost-4-year-old sister, non-plussed with the kale wraps, was munching some cottage cheese, so he decided to start with that and then add his “greens.”
I put out about a dozen different herbs and spices and let him open and smell them, and he easily sorted into “this wouldn’t go with what I’m making at all” and a “maybe” pile.
I tried my darnedest to keep my hands (and ideas) out of his way, remembering Jessica’s good experiences with getting out of the way of her kids in the kitchen.
Once he had a plan, Paul even graciously allowed his sister to climb up on a chair and help him. He was better than I am at giving her jobs and keeping his patience!
Your kids can learn to cook, even if you don’t know where to start.
My 4 kids and I created the Kids Cook Real Food eCourse to help bring real food and independence to families all over. Over 10,000 kids have joined us and we’d love to invite you along for the adventure!
PLUS we’re so pleased to offer a little gift from our family to yours: “10 Snacks Your Kids Can Make” packed with our favorites for the road! GRAB THAT HERE!
They mixed, tasted, approved heartily with big smiles, and Paul even did his own food photography:
I told him it just needed a name, which he worked on for a few minutes and then wrote down so he could share it or make it again:
And my recipe for kale? It was a success and is super versatile; hubs says it’s decent enough to publish, so watch for that sometime soon:
I was just happy to give Paul the floor today.
Recipe: Paul’s Cottage Cheese and Veggie Supreme
5 spoonfuls cottage cheese
1 carrot, cut up
3 cucumber slices, diced
1 cherry tomato, cut up
parsley (just a dash)
Grab your child, start smelling things and talking about food, mix, and enjoy (the food and the child)!
The best part of the experience happened when I was storing the leftovers. I asked him if he wanted to take it to school for snack the following day, and he replied enthusiastically, “Oh, yeah!!! I can’t wait to eat it! I will love having that for snack tomorrow!” This from the boy who told me a month ago, sorrowfully, “Mom, please don’t pack cottage cheese in my lunch anymore. It’s just…weird.”
It reminded me of our weekend meal of Three Bean Soup, garnished heavily with chives, I firmly believe, only because they helped pick them out of the garden.
The lesson here? It really is true that if kids grow it, pick it, help with it, or especially, create it, they will eat it.
If you try this recipe with your kiddos, have them leave a comment for Paul, and I’ll make sure he sees them!