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Barbara Beery: Cooking for 'The Green Princess'

CBN.com TWO GREAT PASSIONS

Growing up in Austin, Texas, Barbara learned early on she had two great passions: cooking and working with children. In 1991 she combined those two talents and developed Batter Up Kids Culinary Center, a premier culinary school for children of all ages. She started the business to earn extra money while she was teaching pre-school so that she did not have to teach full-time in the public school system and put her three children in daycare. Barbara’s goal in developing the cooking center was to teach cooking and nutrition skills to children and families. She believes it’s important to teach kids to have a balanced diet. Barbara’s cooking classes stress the importance of moderation and portion control. She started out offering two to three culinary classes a week. Today she and her staff offer two to three classes a day and teach approximately 400 children a month.

HEALTHY SNACKING

“Children are the key ingredient in changing the way Americans eat. Most of our kids develop unhealthy eating habits because of the way their parents eat,” says Barbara.  Kids are more interested in eating foods like fruits and vegetables when they are presented in a fun, clever way. She says the key to helping kids make better food choices is to have the “healthier” foods readily available. “When kids come home from school and start looking through the pantry or the refrigerator for something to eat, they are more likely to choose the right type of foods (vegetables and fruits) if they are prepped and ready to eat,” says Barbara. On the other hand, if cookies and chocolates are sitting around on the counter then chances are they will choose to eat that food instead.

Barbara says learning how to cook is great for kids. It is “non-competitive and self-gratifying.” Parents can help encourage lifelong good eating habits by:

(1) getting their child in the kitchen;

(2) involving them in the process of selecting healthy snacks and treats as well as preparing fun and clever recipes that feature fresh fruits and vegetables; and

(3) bringing their child along to the grocery store to help pick out ingredients.

Cooking with your children is an important part of a healthy lifestyle. Barbara encourages kids to “try everything…you don’t HAVE to like it.” She says parents can help get veggies into their child’s diet by giving them foods they love and disguising those foods that they do not like to eat. For example, parents can integrate bits of broccoli into their child’s cheese dip and cheese pizza or mix cooked veggies into rice, pasta, or mashed potatoes.

Kids as well as adults love to play with their food and eat with their hands.  By getting children involved in the process of creating or cooking the food, they will be more likely to try things they normally wouldn’t try.  Spend time picking vegetables from the garden or pay a visit to a local farmer’s market.  Try to use organic foods and ingredients when possible. 

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