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Adventures in family cooking

.."Adventures In..." takes a look at the daily challenges facing city parents and the creative ways we go about meeting them.

In our house, getting healthy, kid-approved meals to the table in an efficient manner is no easy task.  While I marveled at the ease at which we were able to select meals that my children would eat when they were younger, that simplicity certainly did not last as they got older and discovered they had actual taste preferences and weren’t afraid to vocalize them.

All of a sudden, our “we'll-eat-just-about-anything” offspring became quite the picky bunch and, as a result, rejection often was the overriding theme come meal time.  I knew something needed to be done and because my middle name is delegate (my mother says I started developing that skill as a toddler), I decided to put the matter into their own hands.  Literally.

I enrolled them in cooking classes and put them to work, hoping they would enjoy becoming part of the process so they could feel like meal time was not something that happened to them but rather something they had a hand in creating.  Fortunately, being a city parent, I did not have to look far to find high-quality parent/child cooking classes that motivated youngsters to be excited about what they were making and ultimately about what they were eating.

Our first class was in Little Italy at the Pandola Adult Learning Center, less than two miles from our house.  I was a little nervous to let my then three and four-year-olds loose in a real, commercial kitchen but the pride in their eyes quickly overshadowed my fears.

It took them all of two minutes to learn how to handle their (plastic) knives and cutting boards.  In no time they were chopping up veggies, that's right, VEGGIES, to put in their baked egg dish.  Over the course of the classes, they moved on from breakfast foods to lunch to snacks to desserts.  What was perhaps most exciting for me was coming up with a few no-fail dishes that the kids are happy to make and EAT!

When the classes concluded, I saw an immediate improvement in my children’s eating habits and not only that, but they talked about the cooking classes for months!  I knew we had something good going here which is why I was excited to learn about another parent/child cooking series on the west side of town that debuted this summer.

At the Community Supported Wellness classes in southwest Baltimore, my children went even deeper into the science of nutrition and tried foods I may not have ever thought to introduce to them.  Who knew they would end up happily eating jicama strips like they were french fries?  It was truly a joy to watch.

With summer officially over, the Boldon clan has been eagerly awaiting their next series of classes which will start back in Little Italy soon.  My budding “Iron Chefs” are looking forward to taking their culinary training to the next level, while I am looking forward to having some new go-to dishes to help restore some calm to the dinner time shuffle.

Now if I can just get them to do the grocery shopping...

Sharicca Boldon is DBFA’s Vice President and Board Development Chairperson.   The next Kitchen Kidz cooking course starts at the Pandola Adult Learning Center on September 29, 2012.  Information about the Community Supported Wellness cooking classes at 1635 W. Pratt St can be found here.

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