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In COOKING TIME IS FAMILY TIME, Lynn Fredericks shows people how they can improve the time they spend with kids by inviting them into the kitchen to help prepare meals.

Included are 125 recipes emphasizing a variety of fresh, healthful ingredients and strategies to get kids to gobble them down. Each recipe offers directions that specify which steps are right for younger kids and which are more challenging for their older siblings.

My Thoughts on Cooking for and Feeding my Two Sons, Alex (14 years) and Stephan (7 years) from Lynn Fredericks.

Seven years ago, when my marriage exploded and I found myself a single mom with an infant and a seven-year-old, I was challenged to get a decent meal on the table let alone a meal that I really put heart, soul and creativity into. Over time, the dinnertime became the time of day I dreaded most because my sons wanted my attention and I was 'busy cooking' -- no one was happy.

I grew up having family meals, yet there I was feeding the boys and leaving them in the kitchen to eat alone so I could have '5 minutes peace.' This was not my idea of a family but I was too tired to consider anything else. Then one day my then-toddler, Stephan, was so restless I let him tear up basil and he was so quiet and helpful, I began to see a new approach.

I was so tired of preparing the same meals, week in and week out -- now with the boys at my side, shopping with me and cooking together, we were branching out! Risotto with Seafood became an instant favorite, as did Tuscan Bean Soup, all manner of raviolis (using wonton skins), homemade Tortillas with Black Beans and Salsa Fresca another favorite and they adore my Mediterranean Salad for a summer lunch/snack/travel food. We like foods that mix up many ingredients with a favorite starch -- e.g. pasta, rice, etc. If anyone is in a fussy stage, they pick out what they don't like but I know through the broth and/or juices, they are getting ALL the nutrients.

Today, I can still be dead tired some evenings with the mere thought of cooking making me want to run in the other direction. But, I call in the boys, tell them I'm extra tired. Get a consensus on a meal plan, and then we discuss how they will help me. The minute they participate, my batteries seem instantly recharged and their company transforms my whole attitude, as now I'm doing something with them as well as for them, sharing the mealtime responsibility rather than shouldering the entire burden -- alone. We eat very healthfully and I don't have to push it -- wholesome food has become a shared value by all of us, based on how good the food tastes and how great it makes us feel.



1) Children are never too young to brought into the kitchen. Even babies are happiest being where the action is. They will be thrilled just to watch you and listen to your voice as you keep them entranced with a running dialogue about the meal. By the time they are in a walker or just about to walk, you can give them bits of food while you cook, so they can begin tasting ingredients in their raw stage.

2 ) By toddlerhood, you can begin to have a little helper. For children under three years, the goal should not be what they can accomplish; rather the focus should be on developing their sense of pride in helping.

3) By eight or so, children are reading and writing in school and have developed motor skills so that they can be instructed how to use kitchen tools too sophisticated for younger children and can be given independent recipe steps or simple recipes to follow.

4) Giving children more control over what they eat empowers them in a profound way. Send your children the message that you have confidence in their ideas and judgement and that you trust them to arrive at suitable decisions.

5) You will have more success with family cooking if you ease into it on a daily basis rather than designating a special night, which implies that it requires too much effort for every day. And don't lilmit family cooking to dinner. I have used breakfast preparation as a time together to create a collaborative spirit each morning and send the children off to school feeling good about themselves.


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Kids' Meals | Lynn's Thoughts on Feeding Her Children | Recipes | Book