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Should We Play With Our Food??

Who among us hasn't experienced this at some point in our childhood: being scolded for playing with our food!  As luck would have it, new thinking vindicates us all!  It's now believed that "playing" with our food is actually a good thing -- who knew!!!

We came across this article "Why You Should Let Your Kids Play With Their Food" on mindbodygreen and just had to share.  It was originally adapted from Home for Dinner: Mixing Food, Fun and Conversation for a Happier Family and Healthier Kids by Anne K. Fishel, Ph.D. (AMACOM © 2015).

1. Making food awakens the senses.

Young boy and girl in child care program learning to make healthy snacks and mealsIn a world that is increasingly virtual, making food is one of the few opportunities to use touch, smell, sight and taste all at once. Sure, if we still built tables, stitched quilts and hauled water, perhaps cooking wouldn't be so special. But cooking remains that rare activity that still involves all our senses — and it's an activity that families can do all together.

Creative ideas for making healthy snacks that kids will eat2. Kids who have fun with cooking will be more likely to eat their creations.

A healthy salad with greens and vegetables may languish on the table. But, if you lay out all the salad ingredients and ask each person to create a collage — a face, a car, a flower — kids will dive right in. The only rule is that each person must eat his or her own creation.

3. Food's colors and textures create opportunities for artistic expression.

Colorful and healthy snack options for children

Food, in its rainbow of colors and its range of textures from slippery to squishy, is a medium like paint or clay. Concoct a meal with every color in the rainbow, or one that is monochromatic. Make a simple pretzel dough, and have everyone get their hands goopy and sticky making shapes and letters. As Marcella Hazan stated, "Cooking is an art but you can eat it too."

4. Playing with food engages the scientist as well as the artist.

Preschool children in child care program with teacher learning to cook

The chemical properties of cooking permit experimentation and dramatic transformations. Add air to eggs, and you're on your way to making meringues. Add spices, sugar, salt and vinegar to anything — avocados, cucumbers, onions — and you're pickling, where microbes eat sugar to produce lactic acid.

The budding scientist may want to experiment with length of time, proportions, and other vegetables — after all, trial and error, observation and testing are the heart of the scientific process.

NAEYC Week of the Child Taco Cookbook

5. Playing can extend the time at the table.

6. Dinner is like improvisatory theater.

Your family shows up night after night, and you can try out new ways of interacting with one another. When parents or kids complain that there are too many critical comments made at the table, the family can practice saying positive things. The first person to slip up has to wash the dishes.

Food can be a medium of play for children as well as adults. The dinner table can also be a chance to experiment with our roles and to play games.

Be sure to check out our class on General Nutrition!

So this Mother's Day, give your mom a big hug, bring her into the kitchen to show off your culinary skills and then...anything goes! :)

Young child learning to make pizza dough


"Be the reason someone smiles today."