It's officially holiday time, which means it's the busiest time of the year — including in the kitchen!
Trying to get all the baking and cooking done so you can actually relax may make you want to banish your kids from the kitchen, but letting them help can turn out to be a fun way for you to spend time together. Chef Marcus Samuelsson, owner of Red Rooster Harlem, Ginny's Supper Club and Uptown Brasserie has been cooking with kids quite a bit lately. The chef teamed up with Uncle Ben's to support Ben's Beginners Cooking Contest, giving families the opportunities to win cash prizes and for one school cafeteria to win a $30,000 makeover. Here, he shares his tips with Metro how you can cook with your kids — stress free!
Start early. There's always something kids can help with in the kitchen, whether it's measuring out the ingredients or actually getting involved with the cooking. An early start means they'll be more familiar with different methods for preparing food and the endless ways ingredients can be used. It's the first step to helping children understand nutrition and to get them thinking about what they're eating.
Get those hands dirty. Cooking isn't about standing on the sidelines. Try cooking dishes your kids are familiar with together that also have room for a little creativity, such as tacos. Between preparing the different vegetables, rice and other ingredients, it's one meal that offers the opportunity to get involved and explore different flavors and textures.
Let your kids take ownership. For younger kids, let them be in charge of going and getting the ingredients out of the refrigerator. If they're older, maybe they can be in charge of preparing a whole dish. Either way, your child will take pride in what they accomplish in the kitchen.
Look for rewarding opportunities. There are so many programs out there that reward families for their creativity in the kitchen. Right now, I'm proud to support a contest from Uncle Ben's, called Ben's Beginners Cooking Contest. It's a movement designed to inspire healthy lifelong eating habits by encouraging parents and kids to cook together for a chance to win incredible prizes. Families can learn more about it at unclebens.com.
Make it a family affair. My earliest memories of cooking include spending time with my grandmother in the kitchen. I'll never forget those memories and encourage all families to get in the kitchen together and get cooking. What gets served up is so much more than a great meal.
Follow Emily on Twitter: @EmLaurence