Take kids into the kitchen with you

Published 5:52 pm Saturday, June 21, 2014

Editor’s note: This column is written by Sarah Studley, an Austin native, who is  a dietetic intern from the University of Wisconsin – Stout.  Sarah has been working with Austin Hy-Vee dietitian Jen Haugen to learn more about the role of a retail dietitian.

Some of my favorite memories as a child involve myself, my brother and my sister helping my mom in the kitchen making pizza or mixing up some kind of hot dish or dessert. I loved getting in the kitchen and climbing up onto my step stool so I could dig into the ingredients on the counter. I was also excited about the possibility of being able to use the hand mixer (which usually didn’t go so well — but the kitchen counter and walls were washable!). The many scents and flavors that I could create and the different utensils used to prepare the food were so interesting to me. Cooking was one of my favorite things to do and I didn’t even realize I was learning an important skill that has helped me as I grew older. Being in college now, I have found that many of my peers struggle with grocery shopping because they don’t know how to cook meals for themselves. Frozen pizzas, ramen noodles and chips become their go-to foods.

Parents can teach their children cooking skills this summer while school is out, and here are a few lessons children can learn:

•How to follow a recipe and measure ingredients

•How to make healthy food choices.

•Where food comes from and how to prepare it.

•Being safe in the kitchen.

Growing up, I wasn’t a fan of broccoli, but after learning how to cook it myself and adding it to pasta with a cheesy sauce I started to love it.  Teaching your child how to cook a certain food, like broccoli, for example, will get them interested and they will be more willing to try it.

Having your child contribute to cooking new foods, especially trying a food your child usually doesn’t like, is a great way to get them to eat something different.

Food always brings people together, so the kitchen is a great place to do some family bonding. Set aside two to three hours each week to plan and create a meal together as a way to bond with your children and teach them the lifelong skill of cooking.

Cooking together as a family encourages healthier choices that your child will carry on into adulthood.

Chicken Broccoli Alfredo

Serves: 5

All you need

•1 (12 oz) package fettuccine noodles

•2 1/2 cups Hy-Vee frozen broccoli florets

•1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast, cubed

•1 tablespoon butter

•1 tablespoon flour

•1 1/4 cups half-and-half

•6 tablespoons shredded Parmesan cheese

•1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

•Salt and pepper, to taste

•1 medium Roma tomato, chopped

All you do

1. Cook pasta according to package directions. During the last 3 minutes of cooking put in frozen broccoli florets with the noodles. Drain.

2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, sauté chicken in butter over medium heat until no longer pink and temperature from a meat thermometer reads 165 degrees. Remove chicken from pan, keep drippings.

3. To the drippings in the same pan, add flour. Gently stir to combine, cooking 1-2 minutes. Whisk in half-and-half while cooking over medium heat until thickened slightly, stirring frequently (do not boil). Stir in parmesan cheese, parsley, salt and pepper.

4. To serve, place hot pasta, broccoli, chicken and tomatoes on large dish, drizzle with sauce.