It’s not surprising to learn that with the draw of television, Game Cubes, text messaging and the Internet, the average time parents spend in meaningful conversation with their kids is just 38.5 minutes a week.* Cookbook author Kathy Gunst believes you can increase that quality time by bringing kids into what she considers the new family room – the kitchen.
“We’ve always made our kitchen an inviting place for our two girls to experiment with ingredients and create their own culinary masterpieces,“ says Gunst, who was asked by Ile de France gourmet cheese to develop simple, but healthy, “kid-friendly” recipes that are as fun to make as they are to eat. “Now that they’re both teenagers, the kitchen is the one place in the house that there is no talk about curfews, clothes, or homework. It’s all about the food, sharing stories and enjoying each other’s company.”
Gunst’s ‘kid-friendly” recipes -- Deviled Eggs with Goat Cheese, Scallions and Dill;Ham, Brie and Pear Panini; and perennial favorite, Baked Macaroni and Goat Cheese -- can be found on Ile de France’s newly redesigned and easily navigated Website, iledefrancecheese.com.
“Ile de France picked these particular recipes because each are easy to prepare, appealing to both kids and adults, and, more importantly, kids can put their own imprint on them -- whether it’s substituting turkey or roast beef in the panini, or adding olives, mushrooms or red peppers to top individual servings of mac and cheese,” notes Gunst.
* TV Turnoff Organization
Gunst also notes that when kids learn to be comfortable in the kitchen and cook for themselves, they will be more apt to avoid grabbing for unhealthy, processed snacks and the lure of fast-food. She says that cooking together doesn’t need to be a big production and suggests parents make it spontaneous and fun. “Fresh, flavorful gourmet cheese is one of my family’s favorite ingredient to experiment with. As far as we’re concerned, the more unusual and surprising the end result, the better. Some of my kids’ accidental recipes have even made it into my cookbooks,” Gunst adds.
But cooking with your kids doesn’t have to be limited to your teenagers, says Gunst. Suzanne Fox, a mother of three young children, agrees that’s it’s never too early for kids to pick up a spatula and to learn about good food and nutrition. “From the time my kids could walk, we’ve pulled up stools for them and encouraged them to cook with us. When my kids help out in the kitchen, there’s no yelling or fighting; it’s a positive experience for everyone, and the kids are very proud of their accomplishments in the kitchen,” says Fox.
All of these “kid-friendly” recipes, as well as many of Kathy’s other recipes and tips featuring Brie and goat cheese, can be found on www.iledefrancecheese.com.