Whenever a cook book is written to help parents create child-friendly meals, it often involves packing as many fruits and vegetables into recipes as possible, while disguising them behind fun names or quirky shapes.
But kids are clever little creatures and if they don’t want to eat carrots or peas, then hiding them behind an innocent-looking pile of mashed potatoes will not always work.
Nutritionist, Faye Baxter, from Earls Barton, has now discovered a great way of encouraging toddlers to eat healthy foods... get them to cook it themselves.
At the Healthy Chefs cookery school, Faye guides children as young as three through the process of making a complete recipe.
And, on December 8, she will be holding her next kids’ cookery session at Stanwick Village Hall, for children aged between three and 12, to teach them some Christmas recipes.
Faye described how her classes work.
She said: “I run the classes myself from either Caroline Chisholm School in the holidays or Stanwick Village Hall.
“It is getting more popular and children are really keen. I have had some children come back every time. It is like creating a mess, which they love. Every time the eggs come out, they look happy and I think ‘oh my God.’”
But there is a practical purpose behind all of this culinary “mess,” as it seems that early cooking lessons could be an important tool in preventing children from becoming picky eaters.
Faye said: “They will mix the flour, sugar and raisins, they will learn to mix the margarine and flour with their hands, they learn what makes a cake or muffin. They will put in their carrots or blueberries, they will learn about fruit and vegetables as well and they will discover they have created something.
“One positive is they are not the only children there, there are about eight to 12 other children all busily cooking and it becomes a social thing. They can see that some can do it a bit better and they will see someone else eating something and think ‘I will try that myself’.
“It relaxes the whole issue of food as some children can get hung up on eating certain things and not other things.”
This coming Christmas, children going along to Faye’s classes will be learning to make mince pies, while those aged over eight will be tackling an extra recipe.
Faye tries to make cooking for children entertaining by incorporating fun activities.
She said: “They might make an animal out of fruit or vegetables and eat it, they might make themselves out of cucumbers or different pieces of fruit; it combines their creative abilities with eating something healthy.
“It is just about being more relaxed about it.
“If they are making something then they are not worrying about eating it.”
To book a place on the Christmas cooking class, ring Faye on 01604 812800 or 07929556908. The cost is £8.50 for three to eight-year-olds or £11 for those aged between nine and 12.
To see one of Faye’s recipes for children, log on to www.northamptonchron.co.uk or www.northantstelegraph.co.uk on Monday and scroll down to the lifestyle section.