Guest blogger JJ Virgin: Here's why you should get your kids into the kitchen, pronto!
1) Kids who learn to cook are more knowledgeable and interested in healthful ingredients than those who don't. This makes sense, right? Kids generally shy away from foods that seem unusual or foreign. If they don't know what broccoli is (and it's true that some don't), they're not going to take a risk to find out what it tastes like.
2) Cooking is much better for both of you than eating out. Have you seen the atrocious excuses for "kids' meals" recently? Just because they're designated "for kids" doesn't mean that children (or you, for that matter) should assume they're healthy choices. You'd better believe that some restaurants won't hesitate to serve up belt-busting options that contain 600 calories and nearly 40 grams of fat!
3) Kids who are knowledgeable on the culinary front are more likely to make more healthful and diverse choices in the long run. Here's the deal: Kids want junk. They want cookies, processed chicken nuggets, chips, hot dogs and mac and cheese. Oftentimes, parents get stuck in processed-food wonderland because they don't want to deal with the complaining or the blatant refusal to eat. Cooking solves this problem. Kids are much more likely to eat something that they helped prepare.
4) It strengthens family bonds. Every family has signature recipes. (One of my great-grandmothers was known for her spaghetti sauce; another for her rolls.) Teach your kids the staple recipes of your family. They will learn culinary skills, and you'll get the opportunity to fill them in on their ancestry.
2010 JJ Virgin & Associates, Inc. Celebrity nutrition and fitness expert JJ Virgin is the author of "Six Weeks to Sleeveless and Sexy" and the costar of TLC's "Freaky Eaters" reality series. Visit her at www.jjvirgin.com to grab her free audio, "7 Steps to Break Your 'Freaky' Food Habits Fast & Forever!"