Kids in the Kitchen – Teaching Healthy Food Choices

Welcome to the November Carnival of Natural Parenting: Kids in the Kitchen

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have shared how kids get involved in cooking and feeding. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.


Too many kids these days grow up thinking that meals come from a box or a can or a drive-thru. That makes it all the more important to get our kids in the kitchen (and the garden).

Jamie Oliver’s manifesto says:

More must be done to invest in an all-round food education for our kids; one that includes learning about where food comes from and how it’s grown as well as the hands-on experience of cooking in the classroom. I strongly believe that teaching our kids these life skills gives them the best start in life, for their own health, the health of their kids and their kids’ kids. And if our kids are also getting a tasty, nutritious meal at lunchtime, their prospects are even better. It’s been proven time and time again during the last five years that a healthy school meal improves a child’s ability to learn and do well at school. We can’t ignore that; we must continue to feed our children better, even better. We must invest in our kids; they are the future and they deserve it.

Jamie Oliver

I say, “Hear, hear!” But also, they deserve it from the very beginning and the more they get involved in the growing and making of food at a young age, the better off they will be as they grow and start having a lot more responsibility about making healthy food choices for themselves.

I have mentioned it before, but my most favorite book that has helped me get my kids into the kitchen making food that is easy for them to help with, delicious enough for them to be excited about making it, and healthy enough for my standards is Salad People and More Real Recipes by Mollie Katzen.

Salad PeopleMy oldest and I started getting this book from the library when he was just a little peanut. We had to renew it so often that when his birthday came around a nice friend got it for him for his birthday – and it was definitely one of the best presents he got that year, and probably the only one we still use!

In the beginning, our favorite recipe was the namesake Salad People, but as our family grew, so did our repertoire. Now if I even mention the book I get excited cheers and chairs being pulled into the kitchen with anticipation.

What do my kids love most about getting in the kitchen? The results…

Baby Girl loving the fruits of her labor.

Baby Girl loving the fruits of her labor.


Little ones always love food that they have a hand in making more than if it just appears on their placemat out of nowhere.

Kids In The Kitchen

Kids In The Kitchen


Salad People are still one my kids’ favorite lunches, especially because there is so much variety and options to choose from when making them. (Certainly makes it easier to use what we have instead of taking extra trips to the store!)

Chewy Energy Circles

Chewy Energy Circles from 'Salad People' by Mollie Katzen.


Being able to look in a cookbook designed especially for children, choose something that is healthy, and something they are able to make themselves or make with supervision gives them the freedom and responsibility to have power over some of their food choices. I can only hope that will carry them into the future.

How do you get your children involved in the kitchen?


Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

(This list will be live and updated by afternoon November 8 with all the carnival links.)

  • Baking & letting go — Cooking with kids can be a mess. Nadia at Red White & GREEN Mom is learning to relax, be patient, and have fun with the process.
  • Family feeding in Child of Mine — Lauren at Hobo Mama reviews Ellyn Satter’s suggestions for appropriate feeding and points out where her family has problems following through.
  • Children with Knives! (And other Kitchen Tools) — Jennifer at True Confessions of a Real Mommy teaches her children how to safely use knives.
  • “Mommy, Can I Help?” — Kat at Loving {Almost} Every Moment writes about how she lets her kiddos help out with cooking, despite her {sometimes} lack of patience!
  • Solids the Second Time Around — Sheryl at Little Snowflakes recounts her experiences introducing solids to her second child.
  • The Adventure of Toddler TastebudsThe Accidental Natural Mama shares a few things that helped her daughter develop an adventurous palate.
  • A Tradition of Love — Kelly at Becoming Crunchy looks forward to sharing the kitchen traditions passed on from her mom and has already found several ways to involve baby in the kitchen.
  • The Very Best Classroom — Alicia C. at McCrenshaw’s Newest Thoughts reveals how her kitchen is more than a place to make food – it’s a classroom!
  • Raising Little Chefs — Chef Mike guest posts on Natural Parents Network about how he went from a guy who couldn’t cook to a chef who wanted to teach his boys to know how the food we love is made.
  • In the Kitchen with my kids — Isil at Smiling like Sunshine shares a delicious soup recipe that her kids love.
  • Papa, the Pancake Artist — Papa’s making an incredible breakfast over at Our Mindful Life.
  • Kids won’t eat salad? Try this one! — Tat at Mum in Search is sharing her children’s favourite salad recipe.
  • Recipe For a Great Relationship — Cooking with kids is about feeding hearts as well as bellies, writes Hannah at Wild Parenting.
  • The Ritual of Mealtimes — Syenna at Gently Parenting Twins writes about the significance of mealtimes in her family’s daily rhythm.
  • Kid, Meet Food. Food, Kid. — Alburnet at What’s Next? panicks about passing on her food “issues” to her offspring.
  • Growing Up in the Kitchen — Cassie at There’s a Pickle in My Life shares how her son is growing up in the kitchen.
  • Harvesting Corn and History — From Kenna at School Garden Year: The kids in the school garden harvest their corn and learn how much history grows in their food.
  • My Guiding Principles for Teaching my Child about Food — Tree at Mom Grooves uses these guiding principles to give her daughter a love of good food and an understanding of nutrition as well as to empower her to make the best choices for her body.
  • Kitchen Control — Amanda at Let’s Take the Metro writes about her struggles to relinquish control in the kitchen to her children.
  • Food — Emma at Your Fonder Heart lets her seven month old teach her how to feed a baby.
  • Kitchen Fun? — Adrienne at Mommying My Way questions how much fun she can have in a non-functional kitchen, while trying to remain positive about the blessings of cooking for her family.
  • Kitchen Adventures — Erica at ChildOrganics shares fun ways to connect with your kids in the kitchen.
  • Kids in the Kitchen: Finding the Right Tools — Melissa at Vibrant Wanderings shares some of her favorite child-sized kitchen gadgets and where to find them.
  • The Kitchen Classroom — Laura at Authentic Parenting knows that everything your kids want to learn is at the end of the ladle.
  • Kids in the Kitchen — Luschka from Diary of a First Child talks about the role of the kitchen in family communication and shares fun kitchen activities for the under two.
  • Our Kitchen is an Unschooling Classroom. — Terri at Child of the Nature Isle explores the many ways her kitchen has become a rich environment for learning.
  • Montessori-Inspired Food Preparation for Preschoolers — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares lots of resources for using Montessori food preparation activities for young children in the kitchen.
  • My Little Healthy Eater — Christine at African Babies Don’t Cry shares her research on what is the best first food for babies, and includes a healthy and yummy breakfast recipe.
  • Two Boys and Papa in the Kitchen: Recipe for Disaster?MudpieMama shares all about her fears, joys and discoveries when the boys and handsome hubby took over the kitchen.
  • Food choices, Food treats — Henrietta at Angel Wings and Herb Tea shares her family’s relationship with food.
  • learning to eat — Catherine at learner mummy reflects on little M’s first adventures with food.
  • The Night My 7-Year-Old Made Dinner — Melodie at Breastfeeding Moms Unite! shares how her 7-year-old daughter surprised everyone by turning what started as an idea to play restaurant into pulling off making supper for her family.
  • Cooking With a High-Needs Toddler — Sylvia at MaMammalia describes how Montessori-inspired activities and a bit of acceptance have helped her overcome hurdles in cooking while caring for a “high-needs” child.
  • Kids in the Kitchen – teaching healthy food choices — Brenna at Almost All The Truth shares her belief in the importance of getting kids into the kitchen using her favorite cookbook for kids to develop healthy food choices now and hopefully into the future.
  • Make Milk, Not War — Tamara at Tea for Three remembers the daily food fights as she struggled to feed a picky eater.
  • teaching baby birds about good food. — Sarah at Small Bird on Fire writes about the ways in which her family chooses to gently teach their son how to make wise food decisions.
  • 5 Ways to Enhance Your Baby or Young Toddler’s Relationship with Food — Charise at I Thought I Knew Mama shares simple ways to give your child a healthy beginning to her lifelong relationship with food.
  • Toddler at the Table: 10 Creative Solutions — Moorea at Mamalady shares tips for preventing meal-time power struggles.
  • How My Child Takes Responsibility During His Mealtime… — Jenny @ I’m a full-time mummy shares how she teaches and encourages her 32 months old son on adopting good manners and responsibilities during his mealtimes…
  • Kids in the Kitchen: 6 Tips Plus a Recipe — Kristin at Intrepid Murmurings shares six tips for overcoming some of the the difficulties of cooking with multiple young sous chefs, and a recipe they all can agree on!
  • How BLW has made me a better parent — Zoe at Mummykins shares how baby-led weaning has changed her approach to parenting.
  • My Budding Chef — Jenny at Chronicles of a Nursing Mom is no cook but is happy that her daughter has shown an inclination and manages to whip up yummy goodies for their family.
  • Kids in the Kitchen: An Activity for Every Age — Gaby from Tmuffin describes how she keeps her kids busy in the kitchen, whether they are one week old or two years old.
  • The Phantastically Mutlipurposed Phyllo — Ana at Pandamoly shares how Phyllo is used to create enticing dishes at home! Anything can be made into a Struedel!
  • Kitchen Kids — Laura from A Pug in the Kitchen shares her children’s most favorite recipe to make, experience and eat.
  • Independence vs. Connection in the Kitchen: won’t you please get yourself your own snack already? — Lisa at Organic Baby Atlanta wishes her daughter would just go make a mess in the kitchen. But her daughter only wants to do it together.
  • Grandma Rose’s Kitchen — Abbie at Farmer’s Daughter reminisces about her childhood and dreams of filling her kitchen with people, love, noise, and messes.
  • Healthy Food Choices for Kids — Jorje offers one way to encourage children to make their own healthy food choices at
  • Cooking food to thrive rather than survive — Phoebe at Little Tinker Tales is trying to foster a lifetime of good food habits by teaching her children about the importance of avoiding junk, cooking healthy meals, and learning about the whole food process.
  • Evolution of a self-led eater — Sheila at A Gift Universe shares the story of how her son grew from nursing around the clock to eating everything in sight, without her having to push.
  • 10 Ways Tiny Helps In The Kitchen — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama explores the ways in which her toddler actively participates in kitchen-related activities.
  • The Complexity of Feeding a Child — Feeding children a healthy diet is no straight-forward task, but Lisa at My World Edenwild shares some general guidelines to help your child thrive.
  • Lactation CookiesThat Mama Gretchen shares a fun recipe that will benefit both mamas and babies!
  • 50 of the Best Books, Websites, & Resources to Inspire Kids in the Kitchen — Need inspiration to get your kids in the kitchen? Dionna at Code Name: Mama rounds up some of the best books and websites that can serve as a source for ideas, recipes, and cooking with littles fun.
  • A 4-year-old’s smoothie recipe — Jen at Grow With Graces and her son set out to make a smoothie without the usual ingredients. She let him improvise. See how it turned out.
  • Independent Food Preparation (My Toddler Can Do That?) — Megan at Montessori Moments shares simple ways for children to prepare their own healthy snacks.
  • Follow Your Gut — Amy at Anktangle shares her philosophy about intuitive eating, and how she’s trying to foster her son’s trust in his own inner wisdom when he feels hungry.
  • A TODDLER-STYLE LUNCH + RECIPEManic Mrs. Stone photographs how to have messy fun during lunchtime with a helpful toddler.
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Kids in the Kitchen – Teaching Healthy Food Choices — 46 Comments

  1. Oh, that book sounds awesome and I will head right over to Amazon to add it to my wishlist! My son is still a bit young to really help out, but he wants to help in a bad way. I got him a stool that he can pull right up to the counter, and I let him dabble in whatever I’m working on. If I’m cutting produce, I’ll give him a small piece and a spoon, and he’ll get right to mashing! When measuring ingredients, I’ll put a little into the bottom of the measuring cup (not the whole cup full- that could be a waste- and a mess!) and let him add it to my bowl while I mix. As he gets more proficient, I try to teach him new skills little by little. One day, he will make a right fine sous chef!
    Sarah recently posted..teaching baby birds about good food.

  2. Pingback: Kids in the Kitchen – teaching healthy food choices. | CookingPlanet

  3. I love Mollie Katzen, but I have never heard of salad people. I must check it out. My kids love it when I make faces out of their food but I have never done anything as cool as your photos. Time to expand my repertoire! Thanks so much for sharing this!
    Melodie recently posted..The Night My 7 Year Old Made Dinner

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  16. Sounds like a great book! I’m looking forward to my little one being old enough to do creative things in the kitchen. She loves her wooden spoon already, and sometimes makes ‘stirring’ motions on her high chair tray. Food everywhere! Lots of fun, though.

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  21. That is so great. I’m adding this book to my son’s birthday wish list! Lots of fun, though. She loves her wooden spoon already, and sometimes makes ‘stirring’ motions on her high chair tray.
    Cathy Mclean recently posted..Cancer Tattoos Tumblr

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