Kids in the Kitchen: Becoming a Food Explorer
Lifestyle, Nutrition / / 1 COMMENTS

New research suggests that learning how to cook as a young person leads to better eating practices—and better health—later in life.

Kids in the Kitchen: Becoming Food Explorers by Chef Julie Harrington, RD @chefjulie_rd

In March, the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior published the results of a 10-year longitudinal study conducted by researchers at the University of Minnesota’s School of Public Health. The aim of the study, which tracked more than 1,100 participants, was to answer a simple question: Can knowing how to cook as a young person lead to healthier eating practices in adulthood? The researchers arrived at a compelling—if unsurprising—conclusion: It can. (source)

August is dedicated to Kids Eat Right Month!

This summer I ran a kid’s culinary camp at the Willow School with Living Plate. It was an absolutely amazing experience for me as the instructor and for the kid’s gaining confidence in the kitchen.

I love working with kids, as I like to think I am a big kid myself. My biggest priority for our culinary camp was to create a positive and inviting environment.

Kids in the Kitchen: Becoming Food Explorers by Chef Julie Harrington, RD @chefjulie_rd

Each morning the first activity we did was called “Food Explorers” where we learned about our 5 senses and how they respond when we try new foods. Our group was very adventurous, so we took it up a notch and took away sight for when they were experiencing the feel and taste sections of the activity. Why? Because we eat with our eyes first and for kids, a sight of a new food can be very intimidating with the fear of the unknown and many kids tend to avoid the situation.

Kids in the Kitchen: Becoming Food Explorers by Chef Julie Harrington, RD @chefjulie_rd

Creating an inviting environment around food:

Creating a positive environment was key for this activity. Trying new foods can be intimidating and a very new experience for picky eaters. Every day with this activity there were ground rules, that everyone was allowed to experience this activity at their own pace, we weren’t allowed to “yuck” anyone else’s “yum” (because everyone will experience it a little differently!), and they were each given a spit cup to politely use if they didn’t enjoy the taste.

Kids in the Kitchen: Becoming Food Explorers by Chef Julie Harrington, RD @chefjulie_rd

It was a very eye-opening experience for all the participants. A few responses included:

My mom tried to get me to try this, but I thought I would like it. It’s delicious!

This fruit taste like candy. I would eat this for dessert.


As we continued to explore our 5 senses with the new foods it was a learning experience for all understanding that everyone enjoys certain foods more than others and that’s okay! Everyone’s taste buds are a little different.

As adults, we often let our own food preferences or our preconceived notions of what children will or will not prefer. I enjoyed letting everyone adding to the discussion about the foods and letting them fully explore these foods forming their own opinions. I strongly feel that letting them explore and make their own thoughts and ideas by continually exposing them to new foods without any pressure surrounding it.

Kids in the Kitchen: Becoming Food Explorers by Chef Julie Harrington, RD @chefjulie_rd

Want to join in the food explorer fun! Download this free worksheet to get started.

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[Download HERE]

Download this FREE Food Explorers worksheet by Chef Julie Harrington, RD @chefjulie_rd[Download HERE]


I will be adding more children culinary events to my calendar soon! Check back to my upcoming events page, so you don’t miss out!

Chef Julie Harrington, RD - Where food and love meet in the kitchen @ChefJulie_RD

Want to find kid-friendly recipes to make with kids? Recipe ReDux members are whipping up fun recipes kids of all ages (and adults) will enjoy making.


One thought on “Kids in the Kitchen: Becoming a Food Explorer

  1. This is so awesome Julie! What a great way to get kids to try new foods and have them explore the fun that can be found in the kitchen!

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