Photo Credit: Primarily Paleo
One of the main challenges of getting kids involved in the kitchen is that parents aren’t sure where to start. Our society has moved away from a culture that supports time to be spent in the kitchen preparing home cooked food. Whether both parents have full-time jobs, or the kids are involved in all sorts of activities, challenges are present, which make shopping, preparing, and cooking food a low priority for most. It may seem more convenient to put the tv so you can focus on getting dinner on the table, but our children end up missing an opportunity to learn valuable skills and healthy habits that can be passed on to future generations.
It doesn’t have to be that hard. In fact, when you engage children in the meal preparation process you’ll find it’s simple, fun, and rewarding. Here are a few tips to get started.
- Give them developmental and skill appropriate tasks. For example, an 18 month old can stir and pour with assistance, a 3 year old can tear leafy greens and operate a salad spinner, a 5 year old can chop with a knife, and 8 year old can make a whole salad.
- Invest in kitchen tools for children. There are a variety of kid safe knives and vegetable choppers that can set your children up for early success in the kitchen, and encourage them to participate in meal preparation. Purchase Primarily Paleo approved kitchen tools here.
- Get a jumpstart on cooking. Restaurants don’t start preparing for dinner service at 5pm and neither should you. Vegetables can be washed in less than 3 minutes, which can be done after they brush their teeth for school, chopping can occur after their after school snack. Meal preparation can occur at any point and provides an active opportunity to connect with one another.
I love having fresh, homemade soup on hand to round out a meal or to grab as a hearty snack. Primarily Paleo’s Kids Can Cook Easy Vegetable Soup is an easy way to get kid’s involved in the kitchen prep, as well as encourage them to eat their vegetables.
The great thing about soup is that as long as everything is cut into somewhat the same size (for uniform cooking) it doesn’t really matter what it looks like. All of the vegetables required for the recipe can be prepped in advance, and either stored in the fridge for a few days or popped into the freezer for future use. We experiment with all different vegetables in our soups, such as parsnips (that look like white carrots), yellow golden beets (which look like potatoes when diced up), and even purple potatoes and purple carrots, which turned our soup a bright purple. It was fun for my daughter and actually did taste delicious.
Use the recipe below as a basic template to work from when creating soup with your kids this Fall. It’s a great after school snack to power them through their activities and introduction for learning to cook. It is worth the investment of the time you put into cooking with your kids. Not only does it impart a skill that will pass on to future generations, but it also creates memories to last a lifetime.
Primarily Paleo Easy Vegetable Soup
1 whole small yellow onion
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
2 cloves of garlic
1 tsp. minced fresh ginger root (optional)
2-3 small potatoes
1/2 head of lacinato kale, spinach, or swiss chard, sliced into thin ribbons
8 cups of good quality, store bought broth or homemade stock
2 Tbsp. coconut or olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
Add “Zoodles” (aka zucchini noodles) to make Vegetable Zoodle Soup.
1. Warm oil in a large soup pan over medium heat.
2. Add onion and sauté until soft and translucent, stirring regularly for about 10 minutes.
3. Add carrots, celery, carrot, ginger, and potatoes and stir to combine with the onion.
4. Add the broth, cover, and bring to a boil.
5. Reduce heat and simmer until the vegetables, especially the potatoes are soft.
6. Add your green leafy vegetable of choice or zoodles and heat until softened.
7. Season with salt (use sparingly if your broth is salted) and pepper to taste.