Growing up, I was fortunate to live in a household where helping out in the kitchen was encouraged. I truly believe that the positivity my parents created around cooking is what really lead my brother and I to develop a love for food, and cooking, especially now as adults.
When I started babysitting in my tween years, I regularly cooked and baked with the kids I would care for as a way to keep us entertained, and fed! It never failed to capture their attention, and even now my cousins’ children always ask if they can help me bake the cakes at family gatherings. If scheduling doesn’t allow for us to bake from scratch together, I try to leave at least icing and decorating until the kids are around to help and they absolutely love it.
Now, as a lifestyle blogger, I don’t often go to kids-focused events (my mommy blogger years haven’t kicked in quite yet), but, when my friends at UNCLE BEN’S reached out about their new BEN’S BEGINNERS program to help teach and encourage children to cook, I (obviously) connected with the idea and wanted to get involved. For this I called upon the mini powerhouse that is Leeloominai Monleon of Leeloodles to join me in the test kitchen at Nella Cucina to learn some new skills and make a tasty dish together.
As you’ll find on the BEN’S BEGINNERS website, there are tons of cooking with kids recipes and tips that you can use to help your children (or young friends!) get into the kitchen. There are even kitchen ‘lessons’ that kids can learn and practice through the website. You can see Leeloo in the photo above having fun with the online chopping lesson!
The recipe we made together (with help from the one and only Rick Campanelli aka Rick The Temp) was the Cheesy Rainbow Rice with Ground Beef that is essentially a stir fry casserole dish that gets kids involved with chopping, measuring, mixing, cooking and baking.
In my personal experience, anytime I have involved kids in the kitchen they have always embraced it, and loved it. Yes, it takes more time and extra caution to include them, but it’s always worth it. I was so happy to see how excited Leeloo was to get cooking right from the get go. She was quick to go over the recipe and eagerly began to chop and peel all of the vegetables herself. Even when it came to cooking the meat and veggies on the stove top, she had no fear and wanted to be hands on for every step of the process.
I mean, how cute is this photo of Leeloo and Rick giving each other a high five after putting the casserole dish in the oven to bake? As the father of three young boys, Rick knows firsthand how intimidating it can be to get kids in the kitchen, but I love that with help from UNCLE BEN’S he is reminding families in Canada that you don’t need to be a professional chef to teach your kids to cook, and that basics are easy to learn.
This year, the UNCLE BEN’S Brand is launching the first International Cook with Your Kids Day on October 15, 2016 to prompt parents in United States, Canada and the United Kingdom to set aside time to learn to cook together. So why not use the day as an excuse to start right now?
Currently there is even more incentive to get cooking in the kitchen with kids because UNCLE BEN’S is hosting a contest that will award 3 Canadian winners with a grand prize of $10,000 CAD which will be used towards a Registered Education Savings Plan. To enter, families should submit a photo to the website featuring their children accompanied by an adult in the kitchen preparing a rice-based dish together (you can find lots of recipes on the website), then share the photo of their creations on social media using the #LookWhatWeMade official hashtag. But hurry, you only have until October 30th 2016 to submit!
Time to get cooking! Good luck!!
Thank you for having us UNCLE BEN’S!