I remember being interested in cooking at such a young age. It was not because my mom was an excellent baker or because my dad used to make amazing dinners, it was because of television. I would sit at home every day and watch the Galloping Gourmet and Yan Can Cook, simply enthralled with what they were doing with food in the kitchen. I remember sitting there screaming along with everyone in the audience, “If Yan can cook, so can you!” And I figured yes, he can cook, and so can I. growing up, I had a love for cooking that took me into working in some great kitchens before settling down and having a family.
Let’s Make Bad Food Good for You
Now that I do have a family, I want my children to have the same love of food that I do. You read in newspapers all the time about the rise in obesity in younger children, and I really believe it is because parents do not take the time to sit down with their kids and teach them to cook. I think teaching children to cook, rather than just telling them what they can and cannot eat, is so much better. If my kid wants a burger from McDonalds, I simply say, “How can we recreate it at home?” And we do, and now we have “fast food nights” where mommy cooks fast food-type foods that are healthier.
Food Network is our New Best Friend
We also sit around the television together and watch lots of cooking television shows. I feel it is important because just like the cooking shows of my day got me inspired to cook, so can the cooking shows of today. My kids love Rachael Ray’s “30 Minute Meals” and Sandra Lee’s “Semi-Homemade Cooking” because they are simple meals that the kids can also get involved in making. They also love “Iron Chef America.” One of my kids has aspirations to become a chef based on that show. In fact, for Halloween last year, he went as Iron Chef Morimoto! My kids also love the show “Chopped!” We play our own game like that where we have to come up with something with the ingredients given. Granted, my game of “Chopped” is a lot easier than the television show, but it still works. Sometimes my husband even gets in on the action!
Sitting Around the Television Watching Cooking Shows
I have to say that not only do these cooking shows make cooking fun again, but it actually brings our family together. We all love to cook and the children are interested in learning all about different foods. Now, rather than taking them to the grocery store and having to avoid the sugary foods in the aisle, my kids are excited to learn about fruits and vegetables and different types of food. Just the other day we went through the Asian aisle of the supermarket and the kids asked if we could make Asian inspired food to match the Chinese takeout we sometimes get when mommy and daddy have a long day and do not want to cook! So now I am investing in an Asian cookbook and a wok! Just like when my kids wanted Subway-like sandwiches and I got an electric slicer that still sees a lot of action because my husband loves his sandwiches!
A Plea to Parents
Parents, I am here to tell you that cooking does not have to be a one person thing. Get your children involved! Not only will it help them understand what healthy foods are, but it will get them wanting to cook in the future. I cannot wait for the day when my kids are old enough to make mommy and daddy whole meals! But for now, I will savor sitting on the couch, watching cooking shows with my kids, and making plans to make those meals at home.
Written by Melissa Cameron, wife and mother who enjoys learning new things about what she can do in the kitchen to make meals more exciting, especially if it calls for using her home meat grinder, which she and her kids have developed a fascination over!