Large portions of stress, guilt and lack of time are keeping our families unhealthy, and teens play a role in unhealthy eating habits.
What to do? Get them in the kitchen!
“Unless we change the core belief in the upcoming generations, I don’t believe we have a hope of reversing what’s simply gone from bad to worse,” says cookbook author Sandi Richard, of cookingfortherushed.com.
Exhausted and overwhelmed from day jobs, many bagged-out parents are “trading the family’s health for time - using take-out, restaurants or quick meals from a box.”
Enlist help and lose the guilt. It’ll save your sanity and boost health and happiness by making meal time a family affair, espouses Richard, author of six best-selling cookbooks, including her newest, Anyone Can Cook Dinner: Easy, affordable and insanely delicious meals, even your teens will love to cook and eat.
Her new cookbook offers the perfect ingredients for easing teens and non-cooks into helping out within their personal comfort zone.
“The average 12-year-old knows how to make cookies - if you can follow a recipe to make cookies you can follow a recipe to cook dinner.”
Trash the worry. “Parents think their teens are going to cut themselves or burn the house down — they also worry about coming back to a disaster zone!”
Start off by giving them tasks they can take ownership of and be proud that they took part in the meal preparation, says Emily Richards, a professional home economist and author of Get in the Kitchen and Cook.â¨“Cooking is a life skill that will carry them through adulthood and put them on a healthy path to making healthy choices and enjoying a variety of foods,” says Richards, of emilyrichardscooks.ca. And cooking a delicious meal for themselves and others is a terrific confidence builder. Teens have more common sense than we give them credit for, adds Richard, of Cookingfortherushed.com and mother of seven children.
Kids today are more connected than any other generation before, says Richard, and their WIIFM attitude – What’s In It For Me?- can be the very solution to our unhealthy lifestyles. “They get it! I help cook equals mom or dad or both are happier, the house is more peaceful, I feel better, I get the car tonight.”
Richard’s book makes cooking easy-peasy: Method and ingredients are side by side. Photos are real, not food styled so “what you see is what you eat.” Every full meal with sides is all are around 500 calories or less.
How teens can help in the kitchen:
Pull together as a team, with help from Sandi Richard:
Take 5: If you’re nervous about your teen cutting up veggies, take five minutes to cut up the veggies and then leave the meal recipe out. Assembly can be a great beginning.
Everyone picks: “Figuring out what to make for dinner is the number one complaint of parents. Get everyone in the family to pick one meal each week.”
I cook, you clean: When one cooks, they are relieved of dish duty. And teach everyone to wash up as they go to avoid complicated clean up.
Announce next day’s meal: This gives the cook a heads up of tomorrow’s meal and the entire family instinctively knows how to eat that day. Would you eat cheesy lasagna for lunch if you knew pasta was for dinner?
Teen friendly tacos
A fun and easy meal from Anyone Can Cook Dinner.
6 soft flour, multigrain or corn tortillas
Hard shell tacos (optional)
1 lb. (450 g) ground beef, extra lean
2 tsp. (10 ml) chili powder
2 tsp. (10 ml) onion flakes
1 tsp. (5 ml) cumin powder
1/4 tsp. (1 ml) turmeric
1/2 cup (125 ml) ketchup
1/2 cup (125 ml) water
1/4 head leaf lettuce
4 green onions
1/2 cup (125 ml) cilantro (optional)
4 Roma tomatoes
3/4 cup (175 ml) cheddar cheese, light, shredded
1/2 cup (125 ml) sour cream, fat-free or light
1/2 cup (125 ml) chunky salsa
Brown ground beef in large nonstick electric or stove-top fry pan at med-high until no longer pink. Add spice, ketchup and water to browned meat. Simmer meat mixture at medium-low for about 10 minutes.
Rinse lettuce in a salad spinner and spin dry. Chop green onion and cilantro and slice tomatoes. Set out toppings in small serving bowls.
Spoon thickened meat mixture into tortilla and sprinkle with cheese. Add your favourite toppings.