I love cooking with my little Sweet P. It is the only way I can get anything done in the kitchen. She must be involved in each and every stage! She is my tiny tyrant and I love her. Seriously though, it is a great way to get kids to eat more/healthier foods.
My dad used to give me judging looks when he would catch me chopping onions with my 6 mo sitting on the counter. She loved it up there then and still does today! (sidenote: please be careful when cooking with kids 😉 !) She takes pieces of everything coming off of the cutting board. By the time we have sat down for dinner, she has already had handfuls of cucumbers, peppers, onions, tomatoes, etc.
I like to think that I am showing sweet P the magic of food: that it comes from the ground, and the sun, and the rain….that it tastes GOOD and it does great things for our bodies, that it is something to love, and not to fear. This might be far reaching but I swear, she finds the same beauty in food that I do. I have heard her refer to swiss chard as ‘beautiful’ and tomatoes as ‘so shiny and soft’ and potatoes as ‘nicer.’
I take her to public gardens and to her grandma’s gorgeous garden. She has free reign in ‘grammy’s’ garden and picks anything and everything and puts it straight in her mouth. I once caught her red-faced at a neighbor’s garden having eaten every single cherry tomato off the plant. She loves to smell the herbs at Wave Hill in Riverdale.
This is the cool part about being 2. EVERYTHING is awesome! The new smells are spectacular, the textures alluring. It is like a carnival…every day! So my thought is that if I keep this wonder going about food, she will find joy in cooking, growing things, and eating #beautiful food for life.
To keep her interested, I have to give her a role in the process. She doesn’t get ‘fed,’ she feeds herself. If we want lunch, we make it…piece by piece together (even if we are talking about a sandwich!) If she tries something new and interesting when we are out, I try to make it with her at home.
(here she is eating a classic yeast dough-raw-while we make doughnuts…recipe to follow!)
I give her tastes of everything I am eating…even if i ‘know’ she won’t like it. She surprises me often. My sister, Sarah, and I once watched her eat a full bowl of insanely spicy curry when she was 16 months old. When the spice caught up to her she was a bit spooked but kept eating. We were shocked. She loves sushi and raw clams. We even took her clamming to show her where they came from and she just tried to pry them open right there in the water. It worried me a bit the time we bought live lobsters and she wanted to eat them “cold.”
It is important to me that she knows where her food comes from: That food doesn’t come in a pouch or a plastic bag. Food comes from the ground, or from animals. I think in order to teach her all of this, I have to practice what I preach. I have to try my best to eat locally, to follow the supply chain back to the farmers and the fishers. I think society could benefit from getting back in touch with our food and the best place to start is with our littlest members. We have to make them part of the process.
disclaimer: don’t get me wrong…p has not always been a perfect eater and she prefers boxed vanilla cake over pannacotta but the point is that she should know where her food is coming from…and what better way to teach her than by showing her every single day.
Kid friendly recipes to follow…and more on Baby-Led Weaning