Mixing things up
Bonding with your kids in the kitchen makes holidays more fun.
Juice Staff Published: 8/15/2018
For many, the holidays are a wonderful opportunity to take the pace of our hectic lives down a notch, and enjoy the company of friends and family. These times serve not only as a way to recharge, but to reconnect with the ones we love as well. As parents, one of the greatest things about this time of year is the time getting to spend with your children creating memories, and instilling traditions they will carry on when they have families of their own.
Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or something else, there’s usually food involved, which means you’re going to be in the kitchen. While you’re there, why not include your little ones in the fun? Kids love to measure out ingredients, mix them up and, of course, taste-test, so it’s the perfect time to enlist their help while imparting basic lessons about cooking. And believe it or not, many of these activities also provide learning and developmental opportunities that go well beyond food preparation.
“You can use this time in the kitchen to work with your child on counting skills, color sorting, and understanding basic measurements, which all help develop fine motor skills,” said Jodi Ervin, RD, a registered dietitian with Wolfson Children’s Hospital. “It’s also a great chance to talk about nutrition and healthy eating.”
Making something like a healthy holiday trail mix together utilizes all of the above. From measuring out the ingredients, allowing him or her to count out small items like M&Ms®, separating out the green and red ones into a separate pile, and pouring them into small containers helps hone manual dexterity, which is the coordination between the small muscles in the hands and fingers with those in the eyes. These activities also make a child feel more at home in the kitchen environment, which is important later when they are off cooking on their own someday.
“With microwaveable items and take-out food so readily available, children today aren’t learning basic skills in the kitchen anymore that one day lead to better eating habits as adults,” said Ervin. “Habits form at an early age and with childhood obesity on the rise, it’s really important to get them involved in the kitchen when they’re little, and to make it fun.”
The best time to plan these kitchen sessions, she added, is after a good nap when your child is well rested. It’s also a wonderful distraction from the television and video games. Every now and then, veering off the healthy path and making a treat like cookies is OK, too. After all, holidays and cookies do go hand-in-hand.
“Teaching them how to make a recipe that’s been in the family for years is a great way to build tradition,” said Ervin.
Healthy Holiday Trail Mix
- 2 cups Cheerios™ (plain or multigrain), Rice/Wheat Chex™, or Kashi® GOLEAN cereal
- ½ cup whole grain pretzel sticks or squares
- ¼ cup raisins, dried blueberries or dried cranberries
- ¼ cup sunflower or pumpkin seeds
- ¼ cup almonds, cashews or walnuts
- Sprinkle in mini-M&Ms® or chocolate chips
Mix everything and portion into ½-cup servings.