My eldest kid loves to cook and bake. Basic stuff mainly but I think he could do more. I was chatting with a mom of one of his high school friends who told me that her son has had a passion for cooking since an early age and that she even enrolled him in a 6 month certificate program which ended with him being an assistant to a sous chef. Very cool.
I told my son who promptly asked me to enroll him in a summer culinary program! Imagine that!
With the advent of television shows like Thee Food Network‘s Chopped Kids and Masterchef Junior, Americans are being exposed to masterful kid chefs out there.
The benefits of children learning to cook are endless.
First, with awareness of food comes acknowledgment of nutrition and value of whole prepared at home meals versus processed foods. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the percentage of children in the country considered obese has more than tripled since the 1970s to one in every five today. When you consider the amount of processed and fast food kids are eating, combined with their lack of exercise, it’s easy to see the root of the problem.
Many parents are turning to summer cooking camps to help give their kids a boost in learning about nutrition and how to cook healthy foods. Virginia-based pediatrician Dr. Nimali Fernando, a Fredericksburg, Virginia-based pediatrician founded The Doctor Yum Project with a mission to help transform kids and their diets, one summer cooking camp at a time.
“Our summer cooking camps are designed to help give kids a great foundation in meal preparation and in eating healthy,” says Dr.Fernando, who also goes by Dr. Yum. “The kids have a great time, learn about nutrition, and they gain some valuable skills along the way.”
According to a release the camp put out recently: The project offers healthy cooking classes, child nutrition classes, cooking camps for kids, hands-on cooking instruction for families, first foods classes, a teaching garden, and online tools to help families make healthier meals. They also offer a preschool nutrition program, with 40 classrooms and almost 600 participating preschoolers.”
Indeed summer cooking camps are a great way for kids to spend some time off of school. Here are 5 reasons Dr. Yum’s camp offer as to why you should send your child to a summer cooking camp that stresses healthy eating:
- Lifelong skills. Learning how to cook is a lifelong skill and one that all kids can begin to practice early in life. Being able to learn how to cook and develop age-appropriate kitchen skills will go a long way toward expanding their interest in cooking and in helping them to be self sufficient.
- Healthy eating. Spending time in a cooking camp that focuses on healthy eating will help kids learn more about nutritious foods. They will learn more about what healthy foods are, what they do for their body, and how to prepare them.
- Kitchen safety. Being able to learn how to properly use a knife, stove, and other kitchen gadgets with adult supervision helps kids to stay safe when cooking or when spending time in the kitchen while their parents are cooking.
- Trying new foods. Many kids today eat the same few foods over and over. A healthy cooking camp will help to expand their palate and get them to try a variety of foods. Most kids want to eat the foods that they help prepare, which introduces them to new flavors and textures.
- Reinforce lessons. When you add it together, the National Institutes of Health estimates that kids may be spending as much as 5-7 hours per day looking at screens (i.e., television, phones, video games, etc.), with the average child spending at least three hours per day getting screen time. In a cooking camp kids can get off the screens and reinforce lessons they learned in school. They may practice science concepts, math concepts and vocabulary when learning to cook.
Dr. Yum is also the creator of the Meal Maker Machine, an online site, found at http://doctoryum.org, that anyone can use at any time. The free site helps families create healthy recipes based off the foods they already have on hand. Dr. Fernando also co-author of the book “Raising a Healthy, Happy Eater: A Parent’s Handbook” (The Experiment, October 2015).