We heard a story recently about a local teacher who for a cooking lesson, decided that her kindergarteners should learn how to make cupcakes. This would be a treat … if it weren’t the norm. From what we hear, the kids in this classroom are used to sweet snacks.
Hey, we love dessert. We aren’t against treats! Kid’s deserve celebration from time to time! Besides, constantly forbidding sugar and treats can make a child resentful. But school is for learning … so what is the lesson?
When you have kids to feed, offer variety and begin to introduce kids to all the wonderful, healthful foods native to your area (and then, the rest of the world). Consider fun ways and places to eat, like an afternoon picnic, or put out carrot sticks and hummus at a tea party. Experiment! Kid’s will often eat way more than we think. There is a multitude of foods that are tasty, fun, and interesting and can be introduced in creative ways that invite kids and adults to try new foods. And for goodness sake, a cooking lesson is the perfect opportunity to introduce new foods. In our experience, kids are willing to try more variety when they are a part of the preparation. A classic example: have each child bring one ingredient from home (a la stone soup), and make a great soup or stew together. For a quicker snack, have everyone bring a piece of fruit from home, and make a great fruit salad.
If you want to teach kids about baking (without the cupcakes) make whole wheat breads from scratch. And while it’s not as simple to put together from a trip to the supermarket, you could find whole grains and really start from scratch. Simply grind them in a blender, or get yourself a grinding rock and go olde school. Don’t have time for this? … swap your cupcake mix for a healthy muffin mix.
Bonus: here’s a list from a local pre-school of kid-tested foods that aren’t full of chemistry or all about the cavities. Feel free to add your ideas in the comments …
Apples, avocado, bananas, berries, rice, beans, carrots, cranberries (dried), grapes, melons & cantaloupe, nectarines, olives, pears, pickles, pineapple, raisins, cheese, snap peas, jicama, sunflower butter (seeds–like sunflower–don’t threaten kids with nut allergies!) for sandwiches.
rice cakes, rice crackers, seaweed snacks, cheerios, (multigrain), fruit cups, (no sugar added), guacamole (mild), graham crackers, turkey meatballs, fig bars, pita chips, potato puffs, veggie crisps, pretzels, raisin bread, ramen, snack animals, tater tots (check for no trans-fats), tofu (seasoned ok), tortillas & mild salsa.
Meats (ham, turkey, chicken, etc), fish sticks, shred-your-own hash browns with catsup, hummus dip, mini whole-wheat waffles & real maple syrup.
Fruit popsicles, vegan/dairy-free muffins, gummy fruit snacks, sugar free jello & whip, fruit sorbet, yogurt (try it with honey).