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Cooking with a Toddler

February 5, 2014

More and more, we’ve been trying to make dinner an “everybody” event—that is, we cook together (or at least hang out in the kitchen while one of us is cooking), and we eat together.  For a long time, Lila was eating earlier than us by herself—we’d sit at the table with her to eat, but she’d eat her dinner, have a bath, and then go to bed, at which point Ryan and I would sit down for dinner eat dinner in front of the tv.  I know, I know—it’s bad, but by the end of the day, it was SO nice to just veg out and eat dinner with a Breaking Bad episode.

But, around the new year, we decided to make more of an effort to eat dinner all together—the three of us, sitting at the table.  It takes a little more effort, because that means dinner needs to be ready at 6 or 6:30, rather than the usual 7:15 or so.  But, it’s worth it.  Lila has gotten really great about sitting at the table, contributing to the discussion (though most of her points revolve around “Wa Wa”—Christopher Robin), and trying most of the foods on her plate.

I mean, she’s a toddler—she doesn’t eat everything (as demonstrated by the quinoa pictures below).  But there’s an incredible “monkey see, monkey do” quality that we try to take advantage of at dinner time—if she sees Mama and Dada eating quinoa, she’s usually pretty likely to at least try it—even if she ends up spitting it back out.

Lately, I’ve been using our learning tower to involve Lila in the cooking process even more.  She stands in her tower while I cook, and she watches me chop, pour, stir, etc.  While I’m cooking, we talk about the colors of the foods, what they taste like, etc.:

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I really do think involving her in the meal has made more more likely to try the foods once we’re at the table.  She wasn’t crazy about the quinoa for last night’s meal, but she was happily munching on tempeh and roasted veggies:

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For this dinner, we roasted a BIG pan of veggies and skillet-grilled some tempeh.  We used those to build some tasty grain bowls: quinoa, veggies, tempeh, parmesan cheese, hemp seeds, and a drizzle of lemon vinaigrette. 

Like I said, the roasted veggies were a hit.  The quinoa didn’t go down so easily:

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The cookie we picked up at Earth Fare for dessert, however, was a popular item:

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Any child who gets THAT excited about a chocolate chip cookie has to be mine. 

Hope you have a great Wednesday!

7 Comments leave one →
  1. itzyskitchen permalink
    February 5, 2014 1:37 pm

    hahaha- toddlers spitting out food is hilarious. Thats awesome that you’re trying to do more cooking together. I’ve been trying to get Kaylin involved in the kitchen too. She likes checking out whats in the pot as it changes from ingredients to dinner!

  2. February 5, 2014 2:24 pm

    I see a fellow lefty in Lila!

    • February 5, 2014 6:22 pm

      Yes!! I think she will be– she uses it to color too!

  3. February 6, 2014 5:32 pm

    Love it! She is precious! I totally agree about the monkey see monkey do philosophy too. My parents never made us a separate dinner. We always had what they had and because of that neither my brother nor I are picky eaters and I feel like we had a very well rounded diet.

  4. Jen@PregnantDiabetic permalink
    February 6, 2014 6:35 pm

    She is so stinking cute!! Family dinners are SO important!!!

  5. February 7, 2014 3:06 am

    Yes, family dinners are so important. It’s one of the few times the whole family can sit down and talk about their day (or Christopher Robin). She gets cuter and cuter every time I see her!

  6. February 7, 2014 3:46 am

    Love it! We end up eating dinner in the living room while Lucy crawls around the floor. Haha. It is a lot harder than you think! I loved reading this post. It was great to see how you guys are making it work!

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