Developing my kids' inner chef through healthy eating

I like good food. Some people may call me a foodie. I read magazines like Food and Wine, Food Network and even Savuer. I can tell you the difference between couscous and quinoa.

But, if my kids only wanted to eat macaroni and chicken nuggets, who cares if I can make a frittata. Since I want my kids to enjoy food, I came to the conclusion that they will have to be in the kitchen with me to develop a love of healthy, good eating.

At first, our time in the kitchen was chaos. Of course we started easy with some cookies and pancakes. Still there was flour on the floor and egg shells in the batter. Over time and with practice, the kids got better and I was more appreciative of their help.

To show the kids how their simple tasks are the basis for more complex meals, I turned to the Food Network. During some downtime, the kids and I would watch a variety of shows from Guy's Big Bite to Iron Chef, these cooking related shows made food and cooking exciting.

In our house, my youngest son is obsessed with Iron Chef and I'm extremely happy about it. This show creates a detailed discussion in our house and has sparked some yummy dinners too.  For those not familiar, the "battle" is based on a secret ingredient. The ingredient could be something familiar like mint or something exotic like?  We talk about how the secret ingredient can be used in various dishes. We even have tried making some dinners with the ingredients (more common choices like scallops or beets, nothing too crazy).

The biggest thing about watching all these shows and having food discussions is that my children are knowledge about food. Knowing the difference between healthy, fresh ingredients and over-processed items is key to developing healthy eating habits.

I'm happy to say that my son will ask for a spinach salad with his lunch at school. He doesn't say yuck or eww. He enjoys it and knows that the spinach will help him stay strong for all his sports activities (just like Popeye, right).

Since our family is a proponent of healthy eating and trying new recipes, we are very excited about the Uncle Ben's Beginners Cooking Contest. This contest will offer a prize of $20,000 to the winner and a cafeteria makeover for their school.  There's even a prize of an appearance on the Rachel Ray Show (my kids would be over the moon to meet Rachel Ray).

So how do you enter the Uncle Ben's Beginners Cooking Contest?  Visit the Uncle's Ben's Facebook page to upload a 2-3 minute video showing you and your children making a rice based dish that inspires healthy eating. Think about the possibilities. From side-dishes with lots of veggies and brown rice to a main dish with proteins and spices, my cooking juices are following. For complete details and how to enter, please visit the Uncle Ben's Facebook page.

We are excited to continue our healthy eating journey. Don't get me wrong, my kids aren't eating everything. Butternut Squash isn't a favorite and they prefer white rice to brown. It's a work in progress. If I have taught them anything, I hope that they have discovered an appreciation for all types of food. After three separate tries, you can say you don't prefer a certain food, but at least they have experienced it. Now if I could only get my husband to like broccoli.

Disclosure: I wrote this blog post while participating in the SocialMoms and Uncle Ben’s blogging program, for 6,000 My SocialMoms Rewards Points. For more information on how you can participate, click here.

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