Cooking through the senses, a way to ensure healthy eating habits.

images-45On reading The Week, I came across an article by Hattie Ellis (The Independent on Sunday) on one of the best ways to ensure that children develop healthy eating habits, it was food for thought!

I was known by my family as “Miss I don’t like it” so I totally empathise with children who do not want to eat certain foods. As I was “Miss I don’t like it” with my own kids I have always encouraged them to try foods. I do not push them to eat something they have decided they don’t like..but I encourage them not to strike it off, but to revisit it another time. After all, tastes change, I know mine have!

Hattie Ellis visited The Kids’ Cookery School, a charity that has worked with 32,000 children and families since 2000.

Hattie was told the first thing to remember is that “sticky is good” and to be successful in teaching children to cook is to teach through the senses.

Teaching through the senses triumphs and in this case helps children develop healthy eating habits. (not forgetting the Montessori feast of practical life, math, language, grace and courtesy skills involved)

Having children actually participate in the preparation and cooking of what they are going to eat is tantamount to them investing in healthy eating habits.

Whisking eggs, experiencing snap and crunch of fresh vegetables, smoothness of dips, sweetness of fruits. Smelling a cake to see if it’s ready, piercing it with a skewer to test if it you are right. Making heart or square shaped pizzas. The possibilities are endless and so rewarding.

If the simple act of instilling a love of cooking in children is one of the best ways to ensure that children develop healthy eating habits it’s well worth it don’t you think?

Here I want to share a recipe from The Kid’s Cookery School for naan bread.

21198_mediumAbout 100ml lukewarm water

Per flatbread: 4 heaped dessert spoons strong white flour (or 2 brown 2 white)

1 rounded tsp. fast action dried yeast

1/2 level tsp caster sugar

optional: a good sprinkling of cumin or onion seeds for “spotty ” bread.

1) have the children to measure out the flour, yeast and sugar into a bowl and mix well (add seeds if using)

2) make a well in the centre and slowly pour in the water, mix really well with a spoon until it becomes a soft dough and leaves the sides of the bowl add more water or flour as needed. It should be elastic enough to lift a “lollipop” of dough on the end of a spoon. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 5 mins (rather like play dough). Until smooth.

3) Shape it into teardrop, pushing down the dough with “dancing fingers” Place on a lightly floured baking tray and brush with a little oil, leave in a warm place for 15 mins to raise slightly. Adults meanwhile preheat oven to 220* C/gas mark 7.

4) Bake the bread in the oven for about 8 mins until brown and slightly risen. Eat warm. 

And some recommended cookery books for children: selected by Will Coldwell in The Independent

images-411) Revolting Recipes by Roald Dahl’s wife Felicity. Full of recipes that bring to life the “Joy and Horror” of his children’s books, like Humongous chocolate cake (from Matilda) and Willy Wonka’s Nutty Crunch Surprise.




food_is_fun_book_012)Food is Fun created by Anorak magazine, it contains recipes, games and facts.





6a010536fe5b48970c0134871b0b3a970c-500wi3) River Cottage Family Cookbook by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and Fizz Carr, for cooking with the entire family focus on cooking simple home meals from scratch.





97818836720654) Pretend Soup and Other Real Recipes by Mollie Katzen 20 recipes by award-winning author and illustrator, create fun and healthy meals.





Empower the child.







  • Helena says:

    My baby is still 4 months but I’ve been reading about baby food already. I found this book called “Wholefood for Children” by Jude Blereau and it’s really interesting and informative and has great recipes for children from 6 months to 7 years old. One thing she stresses is the importance of using seasonal, fresh and, if possible, organic ingredients because besides being nutritious are more flavourful. In fact, who would like to eat food that tastes like cardboard? !
    Also, my mother in law is always telling me that when offering food to a baby always offer just a very tiny bit for the first time and do this sometimes until the baby starts getting used to the different flavours and textures. I think the same will work with older children.
    Another strategy I have heard works for fussy eaters is to involve them in planning the meals ahead. This way they will know what to expect and it makes them feel respected, valued and an useful member of the family. You may want to start by offering healthy choices to choose from or else you you may end with a scenario like “Monday: pizza!, Tuesday: pizza!, Wednesday: pizza!”.

    • sharon says:

      Yes Helena, and I found that when introducing foods to a baby for the first time start with vegetables, fruits are sweet and if you start with them you may find it difficult for your baby to enjoy vegetables. So many delicious options and even better if, as you say, organic and seasonal. Steer clear of processed baby foods. Involvement empowers a child so planning meals ahead is a great idea! Thanks!

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