You probably won’t hear the word “gross” from kids who attend the Southlake YMCA’s no-bake cooking class.
“We try to tell the kids not to say anything is gross unless you try it. We want them to have an open mind,” the Southlake Y’s child care director Lauren Mandernack said. They realize that something they think they don’t like can be good in a dish if they make it themselves.
Mandernack designed the program to give kids an opportunity to participate in a program unrelated to sports. The first session ended in December and was a hit with its 20 participants who learned food safety, nutrition and healthy cooking skills from a local chef.
Registration is now taking place for the next session that starts Jan. 7. Classes are twice a week for five weeks and suitable for ages 6 to 10.
At the beginning of the session, the chef asked her new students about their favorite foods and snacks, Mandernack said.
In each class, she would try to re-create one of their favorite snacks in a healthier way. Students received a copy of each recipe to make their own cookbook.
With basic kitchen appliances, the kids are now armed with recipes and know-how and can make their own dishes like pizza with homemade sauce and dough.
Although the kids first thought black beans looked gross, many of them loved them after trying them, Mandernack said, even going so far as to ask their parents for black beans in their lunch.
“They are obsessed with them now.”
Mandernack is looking forward to the next session.
“Now we know what works so we can try new things,” she said.
For information or to register for the class, call (219) 663-5810.
Other area cooking schools also cater to future chefs. Mrs. Dornberg’s Culinary Experience in Highland offers sessions titled Teens in the Kitchen where ages 12 to 16 can learn how to lighten up traditional favorites, basic knife and measurement skills and basic kitchen sanitation. For information, visit mrsdornbergs.com or call (219) 922-4534.
Healthy cooking skills can also be taught at home.
Choosemyplate.gov, a Website hosted by the United States Department of Agriculture, offers tips for grown-ups to teach their kids how to eat healthier. The site says that providing healthy ingredients and letting kids help with preparation makes them more likely to try new foods.
Other simple tips, like letting your kids name their own fruit and veggie creations, make it easy to keep them in the kitchen.