By: Issy Lovett
One in every 160 children has an autism spectrum disorder (ASD), A third of Americans grow their own fruit and vegetables at home. It is a great activity to do with your children, as they will love sewing seeds and then harvesting the rewards in a few months time. Furthermore, it teaches them all about nature and the cycle of life. It is exciting when you can first pick your homegrown produce, but before you eat it, you should first teach your children how to wash and prepare their meal. Children as young as four or five will enjoy spending time with you in the kitchen, which provides a wonderful way to teach them about the benefits of healthy eating in a fun and engaging way.
Washing Fruit and Veggies
After harvesting whatever fruit and vegetables you want to eat with your kids, washing them is incredibly important to remove any dirt and bugs that are on your produce. With soft fruit like strawberries, show your children how to remove the green tops or any bits of the plant that you wouldn’t eat. When they are washing the fruit in a colander, it is important to be gentle so they do not crush or bruise the fruit. With root vegetables like carrots, teach your children to give them a scrub and inspect for signs of mold. Mold can make you unwell and can even be toxic, so it’s important that you make sure the produce is washed thoroughly. For hard vegetables, the mold can be cut out and the rest of the vegetable can still be eaten. However, if soft fruits and vegetables have mold, you should throw them away.
Peeling Your Produce
Handling a peeler is a great skill to show your children. You can purchase a special safety peeler for kids that is easy to use and they won’t scrape their fingers. Start with long, straight vegetables like carrots and parsnips — these are easiest to get the hang of. Then move onto round fruits and veg like potatoes and apples. You should also show them how to use the paring end of a peeler to remove any imperfections. When you have got your peelings, show your child how to put them in the food waste bin, or you can even start a project to make your own garden compost with them.
Cutting and Slicing
Cutting and slicing fruit and veg is an essential life skill. It is important that you show your child what each of the knives do in the kitchen, so that they can select the correct one for the job. You can even get your budding chef their own special set of vegetable knives to look after. Show your child the best way to cut fruit and veg, keeping their fingers out of the way. Making a salad or coleslaw with them is a great reward after their hard work. Older children will have great fun in the kitchen using a spiralizer to prepare fruits and veg. You could try courgetti instead of spaghetti, or make fun shapes for a fruit salad.
Getting your child into the kitchen when they are young will teach them the benefits of healthy eating. Preparing homegrown produce is incredibly rewarding after a season of growing in the backyard.
Issy Lovett is a full time mom to two girls and a busy writer. She is trying to instill a love of gardening and growing your own produce into her children, and often has them in the kitchen with her to help prep meals and learn about the joys of cooking.