I’ll be honest, cooking with kids can be a challenge to some of us. Sometimes our patience is just not in a place where we can sit down and take the time to be the teacher our kids need when it comes to measurements, judgement and eye balling things in the kitchen. Gone are the days of mom spending countless hours in the kitchen cooking big meals while dad is out being the breadwinner. There are lots of great stay at home dads, single dads and cooking dads but time is at a premium in this fast paced world.
Admittedly, I’m a product of good old Home Economics classes in high school. It’s amazing what you remember about those classes when you have to cook for yourself for your family. The class was usually mostly girls unless it was required for the boys or there were boys who wanted to check out the girls taking the class. Unfortunately, most of today’s kids don’t get the luxury of those lessons in high school and are forced to wait until college where they teach Consumer Sciences (aka Home Economics to the rest of us). If kids don’t go to college or go to one where this isn’t offered, thy have to learn the basics on their own.
Barbara Brandt recently came up with a cool idea that I stumbled upon in a book she calls Your Kids: Cooking! This book comes with a 2 hour DVD and everything from how to do measurements to actual recipes you can follow along with. This is a parent’s dream if you want to teach your kids to be self-sufficient when it comes to cooking or you just want to spend some extra time doing cool stuff with them.
I wanted to know more because I thought our dads who follow the Good Men Project and wanted to do more with the kids could really befit from it. Here are a few questions I asked Barbara about this project:
So Barbara, what makes this different from everything else out there?
“Pretty much everything about Your Kids: Cooking! is different than any other kid’s cookbook that’s out there. The main difference, however, is that this is a complete cooking program with a primary focus on teaching kids to cook, rather than just presenting them with recipes with no particular goal or purpose. Also, this is a multimedia program that provides step-by-step video demonstrations for completing each step of each recipe, so kids can complete the recipes all on their own, with minimal parental supervision. The recipes are designed to be done in order because each recipe teaches specific skills and continuously reviews previously learned skills, so they build on one another.”
How do you think this can help dads bond with their kids?
“Spending time with your child teaching a valuable, life-long skill that will benefit them for the rest of their lives is what parenting is all about, in my opinion. Kids thrive on attention from their parents, especially when it’s in a situation where they get to shine and make their parents proud. When dads take the time and effort to spend time with them in the kitchen, helping their kids learn the importance of eating fresh, wholesome, homemade food, they are sending a message about the importance of not only spending time together, but of the importance of making healthy choices that contribute to a healthy lifestyle.
What’s the next step now that this program is published and out there for the world to see?”
“My focus now has shifted to taking my message about the importance of learning how to cook directly to kids. I do this through a new endeavor called “Hooked On Cooking” which provides cooking and nutrition workshops for schools and other organizations that work with kids. The goals of the workshops are to teach kids about what it means to eat healthy and why it’s important to eat healthy, as well as to provide them with fun and engaging hands-on experiences cooking simple, delicious, healthy food in the hopes of getting them “hooked on cooking.” I’ve realized that with the majority of parents today not knowing how to cook, it’s nearly impossible for them to teach their kids how to cook. So, I decided to go right to the source figuring if I could kids excited about cooking, they would be able to get their parents on board with the idea too.”
Clearly, Barbara is on to something. She believes her program is set up to “turn ordinary kids into extraordinary kids.” And she went on further to say “My primary message to families is simple: Teaching our kids to cook matters because the health of our kids matters. Although my initial inspiration for creating the program was out of my failure trying to teach my own daughter to cook, my inspiration now comes from what I’ve learned over the past 5 years about the long-term health consequences of eating a diet of primarily processed convenience foods, which is the only choice kids have for nutrition if they don’t learn how to cook. “
Lastly, Barbara’s call to action is “For parents, teachers, community leaders—all adults who impact the lives of children—to make teaching kids about the importance of eating fresh, wholesome food a priority and to find whatever help and resources they need to provide our kids with the opportunity to experience the joy of learning to cook. It is my hope that Your Kids: Cooking! will be one of those resources to get our kids cooking and eating healthy food . . . today, tomorrow, and for the rest of their lives.
Barbara Brandt is the 4 time award winning author behind Your Kids: Cooking. She has recently partnered with CuriousChef.com as they share the passion and desire to help families and the community realize the importance of kids learning to cook.