Rice Crispy Treats In Culinary Class
Teaching kids to cook not only creates a solid foundation for health and wellbeing if done correctly, but it creates a curiosity and appreciation for real food. Kids are more apt to try new foods if they prepare food themselves and get to experiment with flavor and technique without judgement. However, you have to meet them where they are, which could be seeing if they can follow a recipe like Slime or Rice Crispy Treats.
Since 2015, the average age of the children in our classes and Camp Cook and Glow’s summer and winter camps has been 9-years old. Regardless of age, kids want to learn about food – where is comes from, how it is prepared and what it can do for their bodies and health. Learning kitchen and food safety skills are important byproducts of our classes, but those important skills pale in comparison to increased self-esteem. When kids conquer a vegetable or another dish they would not have touched before, or they have created a meal that is delicious and nutritious, they absolutely beam. That is what I love the most about teaching the little ones.
It is so exciting that there are culinary arts programs popping up in high schools in our area. It makes me happy to know that these young adults are getting experience in the kitchen, too. Perhaps we could take it to the next level for them and incorporate nutrition into these classes. I spoke to a former student of a local high school culinary arts program recently. He was my teller as I did some banking. He saw the name of our business, ‘Palmetto Kids Cooking’, and the conversation began. He took a culinary arts class in high school and fondly remembered making rice crispy treats in that class. I asked him if he cooked at home now that he is an adult. He told me that he eats out more than he should, and he added, “but at least I can cook if I had to.”
I thought of this young man when I was listening to a podcast on Spotify. Todd Schulkin, executive director of Heritage Radio Network was interviewing Tanya Wenman Steel on the Inside Julia’s Kitchen podcast, Episode 1. Steel said, “The more you cook for yourself the more you control what you eat. So, eat as healthfully as possible if you so choose.” Schulkin followed with, “It’s very difficult to lead a healthy life if you don’t know how to cook and you have never cooked for yourself.” I absolutely agree.
The teller admitted that he knows how to cook, so it is his choice to not cook more often. Which, is okay, at least he has a choice. He was taught how to navigate in a kitchen in his culinary class in high school. Yet, it was almost like a confession when he told me he eats out more than he should. I want the kids in our classes to practice at home, experiment with the flavor profiles and realize the immense health benefits of plant-based nutrition, and use their skills and talents in the kitchen every day. Make cooking a fun habit. I don’t want it to be like we have all heard someone say, “Why do I have to learn this? I’m never gonna use it in my adult life.” (I think I may have even said that in an algebra class once in my lifetime.) I would have been a better student if I had believed that I would ultimately use algebra. When it comes connecting nutrition to cooking it is the same concept. Teach the kids that they will need the knowledge, not just for themselves, but for their children, and possibly their parents (You).
What was your favorite thing to cook when you were a kid/teenager? Is that your go-to meal now?