Ok, I realize that summer resolutions may not be as traditional as those made at New Year’s. However, the end of the school year feels like just the right time to begin my new undertaking.
My resolution for the summer is to get the kids more involved in cooking with me. I’ve given up trying to convince the boys that the healthy meal I’ve made for them is also delicious. If they have a hand in making the meal, perhaps they’ll be more interested in gulping it down at dinnertime. And, for my food allergic son, this will be a great way to get him thinking about what goes into different kinds of dishes so he can help protect himself when we’re not together.
To take a tip from the First Lady, I’ve allowed my son’s to each pick a vegetable plant to tend to throughout the summer. My younger son chose a pepper plant; the older one, a tomato plant. Plus, we have pumpkin vines growing in the yard where our old jack-o-lanterns were ransacked by squirrels a few years ago, as well as mint and basil that keeps sprouting up whether or not I plant it. It’s not a produce section, but it’s a start.
My husband and I also had a heart-to-heart with the boys one night after everyone was either very difficult about or refused altogether to try a very family-friendly dinner I had prepared. We’re putting the kids’ suggestion for trying new dishes into practice: each week, the kids will pick a recipe of their choice for the family to taste at dinner.
Finally, the boys are getting in on the preparation. They are old enough to help with the meals. Not only does this give them an appreciation for making the meals AND give them an incentive to eat their creations, but it also teaches them how to cook. I only learned when my oldest son was diagnosed with food allergies and commercially prepared dishes just weren’t an option. I want our kids to see cooking as a family affair. To enjoy the process of learning a new dish. To appreciate the culture from which it comes. And, most of all, to feel confident in a kitchen and appreciate healthy, well-prepared food.
This is especially important for my oldest son, who may not outgrow many of his food allergies. I want him to feel confident about food, not nervous around it. I want him to eventually possess the skills he needs to prepare nearly any dish he cares to try. And, as stated above, I’d like him to be familiar with the kinds of ingredients that are common to various dishes so that he can ask the appropriate questions and protect himself from reaction when I’m not around to do it for him.
I’m excited to begin next week. And, who knows what we’ll be having. I have some kid-friendly cookbooks handy and can’t wait to taste those peppers and tomatoes when they ripen. Wish me luck! I may need it….