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Health & Medical

Start early with kitchen instruction

Over the past 6 months, I have spent more time in the kitchen with my kids, giving them some cooking time and instruction. This experience has been a learning one for both myself and my children.

I have come to the conclusion that “kitchen instruction” should be a mandatory class for teenagers. Maybe you remember when you first learned how to measure ingredients, start the stove, and understand simple cooking terms like boil and mix. I truly believe these are important and necessary skills to be learned by all.

The family cooking instruction initially began because one of my 15-year-olds is taking consumer education (formerly known as home economics) in high school, and I am also hoping that one day my children will be able to feed themselves healthy, home-cooked food items…in their own house. To do this, however, one must know how to operate the oven, cut up a carrot, and boil some water. Let the adventure begin…

I quickly learned that, while my kids are wonderful and a complete joy to have around, their kitchen skills are definitely lacking. I am telling you this story because my kids have never been interested in cooking, so I didn’t make them learn. I am regretting this, and wish I would have started with even basic cooking instruction when they were younger.

It’s not too late, though, and I’m working on making up lost cooking time. I’m sure my kids will be thrilled. 

The following are just a few of the many “kitchen instruction” ideas to pass along to your children and grandchildren:

• Learn where kitchen items are found in your kitchen, such as pans, large spoons, rubber scrapers and spices.

• How to use measuring cups and spoons.

• How to read a recipe and organize ingredients.

• How to use kitchen equipment, such as a mixer and food processor.

• How to safely chop vegetables.

• How to clean up after food preparation.

• Making a grocery list and keeping inventory of food items.

• Cooking substitutions that can be made. 

Attached is an easy, healthy and tasty recipe for kids ages 12 and older to prepare. It involves the use of the stove and oven; so parental guidance is recommended.

Smart Spaghetti & Meatballs

1 pound extra-lean ground beef

1/2 to 1 package (10 oz.) frozen chopped spinach, thawed, well drained

1/3 cup seasoned dry bread crumbs

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 egg

1 cup 2% low shredded Italian or mozzarella cheese

3 Tbsp. grated parmesan cheese, divided

1/2 pound whole wheat spaghetti, uncooked, broken in half

1 jar (24 oz.) spaghetti sauce

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Mix first 5 ingredients, 3/4 cup shredded cheese and 2 tbsp. parmesan just until blended; shape into 18 meatballs, using about 2 tbsp. for each. Place on a rimmed baking sheet sprayed with cooking spray. Bake 15 minutes, or until done. Meanwhile, cook spaghetti as directed on package omitting salt, and heat spaghetti sauce in separate large saucepan. Drain spaghetti; place on platter. Stir meatballs into sauce; spoon over spaghetti. Sprinkle with remaining cheeses. Makes 6 servings. Per serving: 410 calories, 12 g fat, 7 g sugar, 45 g carbohydrate, 32 g protein.

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