Food brings families together, and preparing meals and snacks together can be some of the most meaningful and impactful time you’ll have with your children. It’s fun, it’s messy, and it teaches your kids skills that will last a lifetime. After twenty years of Cooking with Kids, we know: when children help prepare healthy foods, they are excited to try them!
A classroom teacher told us a story after her students tasted four varieties of fresh peas during a Cooking with Kids tasting lesson: “I have students who have very limited diets. One student recently went shopping with his mom and he asked for peas. She turned to him and said, “You do not like peas.” He picked up a snow pea and ate it. He now comes to school with pears and peas in his lunch, where before it was filled with cookies and chips!”
Kids who help plan, prepare, and cook meals are much more likely to enjoy a broad array of foods, many more than adults often imagine. Since 1995, thousands of public school children in Santa Fe, New Mexico have participated in Cooking with Kids’ unique and transformative food and nutrition education programming. We have seen first hand the impact it has had on what kids will eat, both at school and at home. We have watched CWK pint-sized participants taste a half-dozen varieties of late summer vine-ripened tomatoes, from nearby farms, eyes wide and smiling mouths dribbling juice, as they discover the remarkable range of flavors. We have seen the world become a little smaller, and a little more unified, when our kids immediately make the connection between the tortillas common to Santa Fe cooking and the chapatis of India or injera breads of Ethiopia.
Right now in Santa Fe, kids are making black bean tostadas with salsa fresca in their Cooking With Kids classes. We do the whole thing from scratch, but a busy family might enjoy making just the beans or just the salsa, and then fill in with ready-made tostada shells. Kids love mixing up beans, tearing lettuce, or grating cheese. It doesn’t have to be complicated! For more great ideas, “how-to” videos, and other family-friendly resources, visit our kid-tested recipe section on the Cooking with Kids website: http://cookingwithkids.org/recipe/.
Anna Farrier is the Community Liaison for Cooking with Kids. Cooking with Kids educates and empowers children and families to make healthy food choices through hands-on learning with fresh, affordable foods from diverse cultural traditions. We’re grateful to Anna and the entire team at Cooking with Kids for sharing their wonderful insight and recipe for success. Congratulations on 20 wonderful years!