Cooking with Kids: A Plate Half-Full Philosophy

Cooking with Kids: A Plate Half-Full Philosophy

When I first became a mom, I worried. A lot. How could I not? I was responsible for helping a tiny human grow up to be a bigger human! There was one concern after another: Was he eating right? Sleeping enough? And--oh geez--what did he just put in his mouth?

I viewed every meal as an opportunity to either succeed (vegetable-loving, adventurous, foodie, super-baby) or fail (malnourished picky-eater). Talking to my mom helped me see the plate as half-full rather than half-empty. I learned to loosen up (a little bit), trust my kid's instincts as well as my own, and make mealtimes more fulfilling in every way possible.

Below are a few tips I always keep in mind at mealtime:

1. WHEN FOOD TASTES GOOD, IT WILL BE EATEN. When it comes to kids and food, taste is king! Don’t underestimate your baby or child when it comes to their palate. Things that we find delicious —  like rich broths and in-season fruits and vegetables —  are yummy for them, too!

cooking with kids

2. KIDS WILL EAT WHEN THEY'RE HUNGRY. It can be easy to panic when your little one refuses to take a bite at mealtime.  But children will eat differently from one meal to another and from one day to another. Expect the variance in appetite, stay calm and let the kiddos listen to their bodies! As my mother always says…If they skip a meal, they’ll eat more at the next one.

3. TINY TUMMIES = TINY PORTIONS. Nutritionist, Nicole Meadow (MPN,RD, CSP, CLC) did the math on this one, and it’s really kind of amazing. At each meal, a 1-year-old only needs 1 tablespoon each of 3 different food groups. For example, a vegetable, a grain, and a protein. Only 3 tablespoons of table food. That’s it! For each additional year older, add on another tablespoon of each food group. (Ex. a 2 year old should have 2 tablespoons each of 3 different food groups and so on.) And if they ask for more, by all means, serve it up!

cooking with kids

4. MAKE A CONNECTION. I’ve found that the kids are a lot more excited to try a new food if they have a connection to its preparation, whether it’s collecting eggs, picking herbs, stirring up a batter, or simply watching the cooking process. So get the kids involved when you can! And yes, cooking with kids can be messy and a little chaotic, but when you see them light up, it is soooo worth it.

- Patricia Wong, Farm to Table Baby Mama

Patricia Wong's series Farm to Table Family focuses on bringing the family together through healthy, tasty, and beautiful foods. The recipes are modern takes on traditional favorites inspired by the finest and freshest seasonal ingredients.


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