It can be fun to gather the family together and sit down to a home-cooked meal. Instead of just mom or dad cooking, try getting everyone involved.
Children of all ages can participate in preparing or cooking meals. Kids ages 2 to 3 years old can help by snapping off the ends of green beans, scrubbing potatoes or breaking apart lettuce leaves for a salad. Not only will they be a little helper, but they’re also getting a valuable lesson in the kitchen.
Older kids around 4 to 5 years old have more developed muscles, which allow them to help with more difficult tasks such as cracking eggs, stirring mixes and forming meatballs.
Seven- to 9-year-olds, with the supervision of mom or dad, can start using the stove or microwave. Start with simple activities like making soup, browning onions or steaming veggies so kids can feel confident with their cooking skills.
With increased exposure to healthy foods, kids are less likely to be picky eaters and are more inclined to enjoy healthy foods in the future.
Check out these nutrition resources to kids:
• American School Food Service Association, www.asfsa.org
• Farm to School programs, www.foodsecurity.org/farm_to_school.html
• Healthy Kids Challenge, www.healthykidschallenge.com
• Planet Health, www.hsph.harvard.edu/prc/planet.html
Sneaky Zucchini Chicken Nuggets
• 1.5 cups zucchini, grated
• 1 pound ground chicken
• 1 egg
• 1 teaspoon onion salt
• 2 cups whole wheat bread crumbs
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Lightly grease baking tray.
In a bowl, mix together the zucchini, chicken, egg and onion salt until well combined.
Form 1 to 2 tablespoons of the chicken mixture into small balls, then press flat (until about a 1/2 inch thick) and coat in bread crumbs.
Place nuggets on tray and spray a light layer of nonstick cooking spray over them.
Cook for 13-15 minutes.
Nutritional information per serving (6-8 nuggets): 201 calories, 3 grams fat, 21 grams carbohydrates, 23 grams protein, 484 milligrams sodium, 3.5 grams fiber
Emily DelConte, Kali Garges, Amy King, Kelly Markiewicz and Meghan Martorana write this column and are registered dietitians at EVOLUTION — Nutrition Counseling by Dietitians in Bristol, East Greenwich, Newport and Providence. They adapt the recipes from public domain or copyright-free recipes.