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Getting Kids–and Families–in the Kitchen

As a registered dietitian nutritionist, I’ve worked for two decades helping families find ways to spend more time in the kitchen to prepare and enjoy nutrient-rich meals. Easier said than done, I know. To help with this effort, Uncle Ben’s hosted the fourth annual Ben’s Beginners™ Cooking Contest. The goal of the contest is to wet kids’ appetites for cooking. The contest also provides a great way for parents to connect with their kids one meal at a time, and makes cooking an enjoyable activity for every member of the family.


Actress Tamera Mowry-Housley seen at the Ben’s Beginner’s Dream Kitchen event at Gansevoort Plaza on Friday Sept. 25, 2015 in New York. [Mark Von Holden/Invision for Uncle Ben's]


Unfortunately, I was under the weather and had to miss the NYC kickoff event. Nevertheless, I had the opportunity to chat about the importance of getting kids in the kitchen with the lovely Tamera Mowry-Housley.

When I asked the actress and mother of two and co-host of the daytime talk show, The Real what made her want to work with Uncle Ben’s on this particular program, she said, “I’m not only a fan of Uncle Ben’s, but as a mother of two I support any initiative that’s going to encourage family time and childhood development in a healthy and positive way. It’s what I strive to do for my family and I try to encourage other moms to do so as well.”

Knowing that families are strapped for time, Mowry-Housley said the key to getting started is to want to get your kids in the kitchen and to make time when you have time, like on the weekends. “What I’ve discovered with my son is that when he feels like he’s part of the cooking process, he’s more likely to want to spend time as a family in the kitchen. He’s also more likely to try new and different foods,” she says. Mowry-Housley suggests one way to get kids in the kitchen is to offer color-themed meals. She says, “Since it’s fall, one day you can focus on foods that are orange. For example, you can add cheddar cheese to salads or steamed vegetables or offer small chunks of cheddar cheese alongside grapes or other fresh fruit. You can also add orange bell peppers or orange rice to a chicken burrito. “When you make it a fun game, kids are much more likely to participate—I know that works for my son who’s almost three,” she says.




She also says that letting kids stir and mix things in a bowl and doing other age-appropriate taks helps kids learn what ingredients are used to make foods and also how to measure ingredients. “Helping in the kitchen can also help kids learn to count and read and can potentially help kids eat healthier when they’re able to know their way around a kitchen,” she says.

To enter the Ben’s Beginners™ Cooking Contest, parents with children in Kindergarten through eighth grade can submit home videos of their families’ preparing a rice-based dish and discussing their experience cooking together. Submissions close October 12. Five Grand Prize Winners will each receive $15,000 cash, a hometown celebration and a $30,000 cafeteria makeover. Click on the Uncle Ben’s website here for more information.


Disclosure: I received no goods or services in exchange for this post.

For other tips to get kids in the kitchen, check out the posts below: 

Cooking Corner: My Interview with Culinary Dietitian Michelle Dudash

How to Excite Kids to Cook

Hey Kids! Here’s to 2015 Healthy Families



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About The Author

Elisa Zied is a nationally recognized and award-winning health and nutrition expert, author, speaker, and spokesperson. A trusted source of food, nutrition, and health information, Elisa has garnered millions of media impressions, lending her expertise and real-world perspective to dozens of TV shows, web sites, news organizations and magazines. She’s the author of four nutrition books. An avid walker, she loves motivating others to #moveitorloseit. A book lover, she recently earned a certificate in children’s literature from Stony Brook Southampton and is currently working on several young adult novels. You can find her previous Food, Fitness & Fiction posts here and connect with her on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

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