The Mayo Clinic Kids’ Cookbook

April 26, 2012 at 8:32 am

Welcome to the kitchen and to cooking! The Mayo Clinic Kids’ Cookbook invites children into the kitchen to learn how to make meals they like. They can revel in creating dishes that follow the Mayo Clinic Healthy Weight Pyramid.

First they discover that “diet” refers to the food we eat every day, but also means “way of living.” With this concept as a guide, children can figure out how to piece together a healthy diet by using the pyramid. They add foods from the base for the largest part of their diet and toss in lesser amounts from the smaller parts of the pyramid.  Variety is a key to providing all the nutrients we need.

How do you fill an empty dinner plate? The Mayo Clinic Kids’ Cookbook illustrates the same information using a colorful plate divided into quarters: one half is for fruits and vegetable and the more bright colors included, the better!  On the other half of the plate, one quarter is for protein and the last section for grains.

Recipes help kids fill their plates with ideas from chapters on “Fruit-tastic,” “Veggies Rule,” “Plenty of Protein,” and “Great Grains.”

After children read through the recipes, they are encouraged to write a grocery list using the items listed. They can ask their parents if they may go along to the grocery store to select ingredients for their meals. But don’t go to the grocery store hungry. Eat a little snack beforehand, such as a piece of fruit and maybe even keep a bowl of fruit handy on the kitchen counter or in the fridge.

A section is included for Adult Helpers with suggestions to renew your own sense of wonder at cooking. Act as a coach instead of as a demanding chef, using patience and not efficiency as a guideline. Never leave a child alone to cook, but allow them to occupy the kitchen as fully as necessary. Safety is important. Children love to touch and taste, but stay away from uncooked foods, such as dishes with uncooked eggs. Flexibility adds spice to the learning experience. Let kids experiment with new ingredients and methods.

Additionally, children learn about playing the game of servings. One circle means one serving. The total number of circles they should aim for in a day is derived from the USDA food group recommendations for kids ages 7 to 12. The plate is illustrated with the suggested number of circles in colors from that food group. For example, one section is filled with four purple fruit circles – or more if they desire.

When they make a recipe from the fruit chapter, they color in those circles on their plate illustration to know how many servings they already have for the day. Meals and snacks from fruits, vegetables, grains, protein and dairy sections in the cookbook will aid them in choosing what to eat on most days.

Children also learn the size of a serving with these examples: one serving of fruits is the size of a tennis ball, one serving of vegetables is as large as one to two baseballs, protein serving is the size of a deck of cards, and a serving of grain is the size of a hockey puck.

The Mayo Clinic Kids’ Cookbook includes an equipment list to prepare the meals: ladle, glass measure cup, rubber spatula, shallow bowl, colander, mixing bowls, kitchen shears, measuring spoons, potholders, and other items. Safety tips are also listed, such as an adult helping when a recipe needs a knife, don’t wear clothing with baggy sleeves, and tie back long hair.

Recipes range from Jack-O’-Lantern Soup, Berry Breakfast Parfait, Silly Dilly Salad, Spaghetti Pie, Eggs a Go-Go, Tuna Flippers, and even Tiny Treats for now and then with recipes for Raspberry Chocolate Scones or Wacky Chocolate Cake.

With all these ideas in mind, now it’s time to cook. And don’t forget to let family and friends know the children prepared the food they are eating!

Debbie Fuehrer, LPCC
Mind Body Medicine

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