With The Right Encouragement, Kids Can Like Their Vegetables

Nutrition is an essential component to a healthy lifestyle, but changing the eating habits of kids can be challenging.

Two children working together during a cooking class.
Published in Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital - 2017

“My child won’t eat anything!”
It’s a plea for help that is all too familiar to the Fit4Allkids team at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital. Nutrition is an essential component to a healthy lifestyle, but changing the eating habits of kids can be challenging. The Kohl’s Cooks for Kids family cooking series aims to change that.
“Research has shown that when kids play an active role in choosing and preparing meals they are more likely to try new foods,” explains Anita Jimenez, Fit4Allkids culinary expert.
The class takes the concept of cooking together as a family and brings it out to community locations across the Tampa Bay area. Developed by a group of nutrition and culinary experts at Johns Hopkins All Children’s, the hands-on curriculum and corresponding recipes are designed to show families that meal time can be a tasty and healthy family activity.
Each class of the five-week series focuses on one of the five food groups and its nutritional importance through one or two selected recipes. Each recipe uses ingredients found at most grocery stores and can be finished in under an hour. To complete the recipe, participants learn culinary skills ranging from dicing to sautéing and more. The kids are encouraged to do the measuring, cutting and cooking while adults offer assistance when needed. Together, children and their family learn the basics of food prep and safety.
At the end of each session kids feel a sense of accomplishment and pride with their new skills and frequently parents are more comfortable letting them help in the kitchen. Sometimes, Kohl’s Cooks for Kids participants even learn to love their vegetables – or at least like them a little bit more.
“Both of my girls can be picky eaters, but now they are trying more foods and finding they like more than they thought,” says mom Kadi, who participated in Kohl’s Cooks for Kids classes with her daughters. “We’re cooking more as a family now, too.”
Cooking together can be a great family activity. Kids are more likely to make more nutritious choices when the adults in their lives do too and families that work to achieve health goals together often have better outcomes in achieving them. That’s why Fit4Alkids advises that meals should be about spending time together as a family.
“I was able to go with each daughter individually,” Kadi adds. “It was their ‘mommy and me’ time.”
There is no cost for families to attend Kohl’s Cooks for Kids. Class sessions are held quarterly and pre-registration is required. Participating children should be at least 8 years old and one adult must attend. Please email [email protected] for information on registration.
Since 2005, Kohl's department stores have provided more than $1 million in grant funding to Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital through the Kohl’s Cares merchandise program. These funds support the Kohl's Cooks for Kids nutrition and culinary programs, projects and special events.