Last updated on February 19th, 2019
Sugar and spice and everything nice …
Fresh ingredients and pleasant aromas waft through the kitchen doors, as the youngsters scurry in, excited to create that tasty new dish. Adorned in their white chef hats and cooking aprons, they peer over the countertop in excitement. Roll up your sleeves and share your culinary creations! Toll Brothers Chef, Dustin Berger, from Dominion Valley Country Club in Virginia, fills us in on the best tips and tricks for getting kids involved in the cooking process, and how to get them eating well.
Invent some scrumptious culinary masterpieces together
Chef Dustin Berger is always cooking with his children, who are both under the age of three! One of the best ways to promote healthy eating and responsibility in the kitchen is to bring the kids into the process. He says that children love to pretend, even if they aren’t really helping.
“They are more likely to try something new if they had a hand in making it,” he said. “Kids are small, so they love anything mini – mini pies, mini pot pies, mini muffins – you name it if it’s their size they will enjoy it.”
Another great tip is to keep the food separate. Instead of making casseroles and mixing all of the ingredients together, think about serving the fare in small courses, isolated by the food group. For instance present a dish that emphasizes vegetables, such as broccoli or carrots, with some dressing or dipping sauces. Then, serve a starchy food like a small pasta dish or plate of sweet potato fries. By using this serving method, you can guarantee that the kids are getting all of their nutrients at the beginning of the meal.
Chef Dustin likes to serve his children their vegetables followed by starch, protein, and then fruit. This way, he says, if they are hungry, they will eat what is put in front of them first, instead of picking around the dish and just eating their favorites.
Interaction is fun for little ones too!
Keeping kids involved in all aspects of the dinner process is also key – measuring, mixing, setting the table, and even decorating dessert. If they had a hand in the process and saw it being made, then they have something to look forward to. Teaching kids how to cook helps them acquire a sense of responsibility and provides them tools for how to properly organize and clean their spaces efficiently.
When you first begin to prepare your food, use a muffin tin to separate your ingredients. This is a fun way for kids to engage with the different materials because they have to look into different compartments for different food items. Kids love this, because they can treat it more like a game and are more likely to eat all the food that they prepared.
Another alternative to creating miniature dishes and serving smaller courses, is to make shakes or smoothies! This is a great way to provide a healthy and interactive experience. Your options for flavor are only limited to the number of ingredients that you choose to put into the mixture! Here is a small list of ingredients that can make great shakes: kale, spinach, pineapple, bananas, berries, yogurt, ground flaxseed, fruit juices, mango, almond milk, coconut milk, cranberries, beet juice, and chia seeds.
Check out our Toll Brothers’ Favorite Recipes Pinterest Board, for more great recipes that the whole family can enjoy!
Toll Brothers Chef Dustin Berger, from Dominion Valley Country Club, located in Haymarket, Virginia, contributed to this story.