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Let’s Cook at Home More often

By Dinah Torres Castro

If you are concerned about the fat, sodium, or sugar in your food, then preparing food at home instead of eating out just may be the answer to good health for your family. Home-cooked food is usually lower in saturated fat, sodium, and sugar, and higher in good nutrients like fiber, calcium, and iron. When you prepare food at home, you get to choose the ingredients. If the food you are preparing calls for tomato sauce, you can choose a low-sodium version or simply omit the salt from the ingredient list. And if you are worried about portion sizes, as most Americans these days are, eating at home can help you control your portion sizes. Eating at home helps you make other healthy choices. You can include more fruits and vegetables in your main dishes, side dishes, and desserts.

In addition, if you have children, home food preparation is a good opportunity to involve them in choosing the meal, preparing it, and cleaning up. The skills children learn, and the quality time spent with parents or caregivers preparing meals at home, are invaluable. Cooking together can be a delicious learning experience for children and their parents. Kids can explore new foods, learn about nutrition, and develop math and reading skills as they measure and read directions. Teaching little ones to cook at home gives them a basic life skill that has so many benefits. Cooking at home with your kids will open a whole new world of flavors as you explore foods from your own and different cultures. This can be especially useful for those picky eaters who can learn to overcome their fear of new foods. It can also help your children feel more capable as they master simple cooking techniques. Cooking at home gives you the opportunity to have those conversations about eating healthfully and choosing healthy ingredients. Experts say the single most important thing you can do for your health is to cook at home. You can create and foster life-long habits for your children that will have endless benefits.

Finally, by cooking at home with your kids, you will also have the opportunity to share your culture, teach your children where they came from, and share these traditions and customs through the foods and meals loved by generations of your family. You’ll have a chance to share stories of how recipes were handed down from great-grandmothers to grandmothers to mothers and now to your very own children.

And don’t forget that cooking at home can also help you save money! If all this sounds great but you are not confident about your own cooking skills, check with local libraries and community colleges for cooking classes that involve parents and young children.

For more information:

http://articles.extension.org/pages/32347/cooking-with-kids

For easy recipes to try with your little ones:

https://food.unl.edu/recipes-cooking-kids

 

Dinah Castro is a Bilingual Family Well-Being Educator with Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County’s Family Health and Wellness Program. She can be reached at 631-727-7850 ext. 351 or at dc258@cornell.edu.

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