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Healthy Home Cooked Meals and Uncle Ben's Contest

Both of my parents are chefs so as a young child my parents would encourage my brother and I to help out in the kitchen so we may learn and enjoy cooking together as a family.  Helping out as a child certainly has helped my cooking skills as an adult - I hardly follow a recipe perse and often find myself trying to figure out the ingredients in a restaurant dish so I can recreate it at home.  Now that I have my own children I encourage my children to help me when I'm in the kitchen and I also ensure at least one meal is eaten together at the family table just like it was during my childhood.  With both my husband and I working, it is important to us to spend as much time together and mealtimes are an integral part of our family time.

Here are some tips for cooking healthy meals with kids

1. There are a lot of kid friendly cooking utensils that not only are cute but safe for kids and also help them participate fully in the cooking process.  My children love to dress up and so this kid chefs outfit works wonders during our family cook time.

2.  My children are pretty good at eating most vegetables but a little veggie dip makes them ferocious raw veggie monsters.  Once they've devoured their veggie dip snack we use the remaining raw vegetables in the meal.  This helps my children to get comfortable with the vegetables and also is a good talking point to distingush the difference between raw and cooked vegetables in terms of texture and taste.

3. Recipe books help my children to think carefully about what they eat.  When the books are tailored to children it is even better.  One of our favorites is the HandStand Kids cookbook series.  Not only do they contain international recipes but also gives you some background to the country and culture from where the food came from.

4.  We started an organic garden over 2 years ago and this has been a fun experience for my children.  They love picking fresh tomatoes and eating them after they've been washed.  They are involved from the seed planting all the way through to harvesting and mulching and encourages them to eat organically and healthy.

5.  As a child my parents would not let us leave the table unless we finished our plates.  While this was not always a success at mealtimes due to stubborness on both sides I've learnt from this and now encourage my children to at least try a bite of something.  If after tasting they can decide whether to continue to eat.  Although my children do not get a different meal in place my children often eat what I put in front of them.  Most food aversion is simply a child trying to control the situation.  Once, they have control they feel more comfortable to eat. Win win for everyone.

What works for you and your family?

With such busy schedules, families are constantly challenged to find enough quality time to spend together.  This year, Uncle Ben’s is encouraging families to get in the kitchen to cook and eat together to connect, one meal at a time.  As a strong supporter of healthy eating and family togetherness, Uncle Ben’s is also helping parents establish healthy beginnings in their children’s lives.

Uncle Ben’s has launched an exciting national contest called Ben’s Beginners! By entering the contest, you could win:
Uncle Ben’s is calling for parents with children ages 5-12 to submit a 2-3 minute video of you cooking a rice-based dish with your children. For more info on the contest, please check out Ben’s Beginners on Facebook!
$20,000, along with a $50,000 grant towards a cafeteria makeover for your child’s school.
You will also have a chance to appear on The Rachael Ray show!

Good luck and come back and tell us if you win : )

Disclosure: I wrote this blog post while participating in the SocialMoms and Uncle Ben’s blogging program, for 6,000 My SocialMoms Rewards Points. For more information on how you can participate, click here.”

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