August is Kids Eat Right Month and one of the best ways to get help your kids make healthy food choices is to get them into the kitchen. Cooking is a valuable life skill that not only teaches children about nutrition and food safety, but can help build math, science, literacy and fine motor skills though measuring, reading recipes, and tasks like chopping and dicing.
Begin with kitchen rules- To start, review the “kitchen rules” to help prevent injury and keep food safe to eat. Washing hands in warm, soapy water before and after handling food helps kids understand the importance of clean hands. To keep hair out of food, have children pull long hair back. Make sure counter tops and working surfaces are clean and sanitized. Teach kids about the double dipping rule (no spoons back in food after using them for a taste). And finger licking is out of the question, especially after handling raw foods like eggs, poultry or meats and even unwashed fruits and vegetables. No food tasting until it is done!
Kitchen tasks for the ages-While you know your little chef and what he or she is capable of doing in the kitchen, here are some guidelines to get you started. https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/educational/wecan/downloads/cookwithchildren.pdf
University of Florida IFAS Extension in Pinellas County is offering 6 week hands-on Cooking Matters programs for adults and families in the community. If you are interested in participating or volunteering, contact Nan Jensen at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For recipes, kitchen activities and more check out https://www.nutrition.gov/subject/life-stages/children/kids-in-the-kitchen