Fresh Fridays 
June 28, 2013
  Vol. V, No. 10  
Boy holding two spears of asparagus up to his upper lip like a moustache. Green text on left says

The Mediterranean Diet is for everyone, not just adults! Eating Med style makes it easy to find healthy and delicious foods that the entire family enjoys. But cooking with fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and other Mediterranean Diet staples also offers great opportunities to get kids into the kitchen. Here is some inspiration to get your whole family cooking together:

 

Skill Development. Involving children in the cooking process helps them develop a myriad of skills.

  • Kids can practice counting as they add ingredients to the mixing bowl and fractions as they measure out ingredients.   
  • Cooking teaches project management skills as budding chefs follow directions, gather ingredients and tools, and manage their workspace.  
  • Learning to make meals at home means young adults will be prepared to shop and cook for themselves when they leave home.

Healthy Habits. Working alongside parents in the kitchen helps children develop healthy eating habits, in part because kids are more likely to try new foods if they have helped prepare them.

  • Only about 10% of children in the U.S. meet the Dietary Guidelines' recommendation for eating seafood twice a week. Set the stage for seafood lovers by engaging them in the kitchen and building excitement about the meal, as opposed to asking "Do you like that?" once the meal has been served.  
  • Research shows kids are more likely to eat fruits and vegetables when paired with a flavorful dip. And being playful is always a great motivator for trying new things. Peanut and tree-nut butters are often more nutritious than other dips and offer a great way for kids to play with their food. Let them make funny faces, patterns, and designs on their plates with fruit, vegetables, and nut butter; create "ants on a log" with celery, raisins, and peanut butter; or serve a banana topped with peanut butter and jelly on a whole-grain hot dog roll to make a "monkey dog." 

Quality Time. Sharing meals with the entire family is a key principle of the Mediterranean Diet, a time-honored tradition in families all around the world, and a fabulous way to spend quality time with your family. Maximize the quality time by bringing kids into the kitchen to cook before sitting down at the dinner table to eat. Family meals are associated with:

  • A healthier diet, including more fruits and vegetables, less saturated and trans fat, lower glycemic load, more calcium-rich foods, and more fiber and micronutrients.  
  • Reduced odds of being overweight.  
  • Less tobacco and alcohol use, depression, violence, stealing, and running away in adolescents.  
  • Higher grades in school.

Use these recipes to get your kids started in the kitchen. (Click on the titles or photos below to link to the recipes.)

Oldways Bookstore

 

The Family Dinner: Great Ways to Connect with Your Kids, One Meal at a Time.
Laurie David offers tips, recipes, and tools for creating successful family dinners in her cookbook

 

We Can Cook: Introduce Your Child to the Joy of Cooking with 75 Simple Recipes and Activities.  
Use Jessica Fishman Levinson's We Can Cook: Introduce Your Child to the Joy of Cooking with 75 Simple Recipes and Activities to find ideas and recipes for engaging your toddlers and young children in the kitchen.  
Learn more.
Thumbnail of the Mediterranean Diet Pyramid. 
Learn more about the Mediterranean Diet and download a copy of the Mediterranean Diet Pyramid for your own reference when planning meals. 

12 Great Ways to Use... 12 great ways to use eggplant

Oldways' "12 Great Ways to Use..." series offers a dozen creative solutions for using a variety of healthy Mediterranean Diet ingredients.

Help us decide which ingredients to feature in our next set of "12 Great Ways to Use..." by answering one simple survey question at: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/Oldways-12Ways.


This quick and easy snack recipe is perfect for little ones who are just starting to explore working in the kitchen. You do the chopping and make holes in the fruits and cheese, then let the young chefs thread them onto pretzel sticks to make their own snack.

 
Photo and recipe courtesy of the California Avocado Commission    

This no-cook recipe incorporates many Mediterranean staples: leafy greens, seafood, olive oil, and nuts. Your elementary-school student can measure ingredients, use the can opener, chop celery and nuts with adult supervision, and build the salad.

Photo and recipe courtesy of the National Fisheries Institute

These sweet treats satisfy the occasional cookie craving with the nutritional benefits packed in peanut butter and oatmeal. Because the recipe does not require the oven, upper-elementary and middle-school aged children can make this recipe on their own.

 
Recipe and photo courtesy of the Peanut Institute   
Fresh Fridays is a bi-weekly celebration of Mediterranean eating and living. We hope our Friday recipes will remind you just how easy and delicious eating the Mediterranean way can be.   

To find even more delicious Mediterranean recipes please visit:     

 Mediterranean Foods Alliance (MFA)        

   

         

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