Guest Post: Fall Cooking with Kids

October 02, 2014


We are excited to have Rebecca Washa, the resident nutritionist at HelloFresh, guest post for us today. HelloFresh is a weekly recipe-kit delivery service. You choose three delicious recipes each week, and the ingredients are delivered straight to your door! Thanks, Rebecca!

As the golden days of summer nestle away for a slow slumber, and the cool of autumn begins to settle in – nothing reflects the changing season better than the produce we find in our local supermarkets or farmers markets.  I get excited thinking about all the new flavors and recipes I will cook – healthy comfort foods that invite me to turn on my oven and turn up my taste-buds.

This time of the year I love to roast the season’s bounty with aromatic herbs, whip up hearty soups, and spend time in the kitchen making slow-cooked stove-top braises. In the abundance of the fall’s harvest, my go-to vegetables include:

-Beautifully colored and shaped squashes; acorn, butternut, kabocha,turbans, spaghetti
-Sweet and delicious pumpkins
-Wholesome root vegetables; carrots, parsnips, potatoes, beets, and turnips
-Nurishing dark leafy greens; spinach, swiss chard, arugula, kale, collard greens

And to marry the savory and sweet, I include seasonal fruits like pears, apples, persimmons, pomegranates, oranges, and figs.

Butternut SquashPears

With a plentiful variety to choose from, I often get asked by parents how to help their children enjoy all these delicious fruits and vegetables.  Well, here’s a bit of advice; while it’s the parent’s job to provide nutritious and healthy meals for their children, it’s the child’s job to choose what they will eat.  You can’t control everything your child consumes, and you shouldn’t want to!  It is important for children to develop their own sense of control and confidence surrounding food and eating.  Moreover, it will often take 12-14 exposures before kids might try something new – so parents don’t give up!

The most important thing a parent can do for their kids is to provide variety.  There is no better time than the autumn season to show children the wide spectrum of colors, shapes, and textures that fruits and vegetables come in.  We all experience the foods we eat differently – take your children on a sensory journey as they experience new ingredients.  Use mindfulness to consider how the sights, sounds, touch, smell, and taste help us enjoy every bite even more.

Fall Produce - Beets

-Sight:  Fall reminds me of the color orange…think about all the fruits and veggies in this gorgeous shade (pumpkins, carrots, persimmons) or think about another color you like.  Just remember that the more colorful a fruit or veggie is – typically the more nutritious it is.

-Sound:  Experience how crunchy an apple sounds when you bite into it.  Or how roasting vegetables sizzle when they are cooking in the oven.  Food can be a symphony of sounds!

-Touch:  Feel how bumpy the surface of a squash is or how rough the skin of a beet can be.  A fun game to play with kids is to load up a brown bag with different kinds of fruits and veggies and have kids guess what they are feeling!

-Smell:  My favorite part of cooking is filling up the kitchen with the delicious smells of rich herbs and spices.  When it comes to fall, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves come to mind as sweeter spices & thyme, rosemary, and sage are my go-to herbs.  For an exotic flair, try za’tar – it’s a middle eastern spice blend made of dried herbs, sesame seeds, and sumac.

-Taste:  There are 4 main flavors; sweet, salty, sour, and bitter.  The best meals seem to have a mix of these flavors.  When preparing for a meal, have kids try different ingredients and sort them into the different flavor profiles and ask them to make a combination they like best.

As the rhythms of the season changes, so should we also slow down, reconnect with what’s important, and surround ourselves with the people that make our lives healthier and happier.  Perhaps put on a cozy sweater and take a walk to marvel at the streets covered in fallen leaves – and then come home to a table set with a fragrant and dazzling dinner to share with one another.

Roasted Beet Salad

Here’s a simple, fast, and nutritious Roasted Beet Salad recipe that both you and your kids will love and we hope will inspire you to cook at home (HelloFresh provides recipe cards with ingredients & directions for all its meals). Enjoy!

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