One way to make your son or daughter feel special about what he/she can eat is to create a cooking play date.
By Gabrielle Kaplan-Mayer of Kitchen Classroom 4 Kids
When your child eats gluten-free, he/she is regularly bringing his/her own treats to school parties, holiday events and other social gatherings where kids who don’t have food allergies or sensitivities get to partake in whatever is being served. As tiresome as it can be to plan for your child’s snacks and treats, it can also be isolating and discouraging for kids on a gluten-free diet to always have to bring special foods.
One way to make your son or daughter feel special about what he/she can eat is to create a cooking play date in which his/her friends come over and everyone gets to cook—and eat—some tasty, kid-friendly recipes that just happen to be gluten-free. Your child gets to be the host of the cooking play date and show his/her friends all of the great foods that can made without gluten.
If you’d like to make a cooking play date for your kiddo, here are a few steps to get your started:
1. Start cooking together.
If you haven’t involved your children in helping with food prep before, start with a simple recipe to help your son/daughter get to know his/her way around the kitchen. When children learn how to cook, they build confidence and are often more willing than ever to taste new foods. Cooking is also a wonderful way to work on motor and academic skills (think reading, math, science, etc.).
2. Invite a friend, sibling or cousin to the play date.
For your cooking play date, select another child whom your son/daughter likes to connect with. It might be a friend from school, a neighbor or a favorite cousin. You can also schedule a “trial” play date with a sibling and work on turn-taking as the children work on a recipe together.
3. Choose a kid-friendly recipe.
You’ll want to pick a recipe to start with that your kids can eat as a snack or treat…nothing too ambitious. Consider gluten-free versions of favorites like crispy rice treats, chocolate chip banana bread, fruit salad or trail mix. Once kids get motivated to cook longer and more advanced recipes, consider recipes for main dishes or more complicated desserts. That can be play date number two!
4. Set up your cooking area.
When children cook together, safety is key. Make sure that you set the ground rules for the kitchen (I included a list in my cookbook). General guidelines include: hot surfaces are for adults only, all spills need to wiped up immediately, and appliances not being used (blenders, can openers, etc.) should be unplugged.
5. Think cooking sleepover, club or another play date!
Pay attention to how the cooking experience is for your son/daughter and how he/she feels about getting to cook and eat gluten-free food with his/her friends. If the play date is successful and your child is feeling confident, think about making it a regular event. You may want to gather some other gluten-free kids and start a cooking club.
Wishing you fun, healthy cooking—and happy, connected kids!
Gabrielle Kaplan-Mayer is the author of The Kitchen Classroom and the new ebook ABC Fruits & Veggies 4 Me! (featuring 45 alphabetical fruit & veggie recipes). She is passionate about parents and kids cooking together and coaches parents all over the world. Visit her at Kitchen Classroom 4 Kids.