Good reasons to get kids cooking

STG logo (purple&pink)Finding new and exciting activities to occupy the kids in their spare time can be tedious, but Annette Sym thinks this can be the perfect time to get your kids into the kitchen and teach them how to cook nutritious meals that they will love to eat.

Low fat cookbook Queen and award-winning international author, Annette Sym said it’s a great chance for you to spend some one-on-one time with your children, teach them the importance of eating healthy and have some great fun doing it.

“With the popularity of Junior Masterchef, children have never been more motivated to get in the kitchen but it doesn’t have to be as competitive and ruthless as reality TV makes it,” Annette said.

Annette who struggled with her weight for years, started as a chubby child, which lead to becoming an obese adult. She knows first hand how difficult it is being an overweight child and now more than ever with more than one quarter of Australian children considered to be overweight and obese we need to show them how they can break bad habits that are learnt from an early age. Annette won the battle of the bulge at the age of 36 managing to lose 35kgs in 20 months and maintain a healthy lifestyle for over 18 years. She is on a mission to help children to live healthy lives and says “It all starts in the kitchen”.

Childhood obesity is on the rise and the results are of great concern to both parents and the community. The consequences of being an overweight child can include social difficulties such as feeling isolated and being bullied by peers, which can lead to poor self-esteem and depression and adverse physical health affects such as the increased risk of diabetes, heart disease and gastrointestinal problems. There are two main causes of childhood obesity, a lack of exercise and unhealthy eating patterns, both of which can be fixed.

“Unhealthy eating seems to be a result of a general lack of understanding of what constitutes a healthy snack. Parents need to educate their children that although a snack may claim to be healthy, it is probably full of hidden sugars and salts,” Annette said.

“I’m sure some children think milk comes from a carton, so getting into the kitchen and cooking with them can be a great time to share your knowledge about food, nutrition and how things are made. This way they can create life-long good eating habits,” Annette said.

“It is all too easy to opt for quick, ready-meal options rather than spending the time to plan and cook a healthy, nutritious meal but cooking can be faster than going for takeaways.

“And setting this example for your children, and by getting them involved in the cooking process can set them up with the healthy habits for a lifetime that they can continue once they leave home.”

Motivating children to turn off the video games and move away from the television can be difficult but here are some of Annette’s tips to get your kids in the kitchen and who knows you may discover you have a Junior Masterchef of your own:

  1. Have a stool handy so the little ones can reach the bench easily.
  2. Provide an apron to avoid extra mess.
  3. Let them pick recipes that they like and help them to write a shopping list.
  4. Work out the level of difficulty for recipes that suit the age group so they can be in charge as much as possible. Making cooking too hard can spoil the experience.
  5. Provide oven gloves to protect their hands when removing food from the oven or microwave.
  6. Explain hygiene – washing hands and chopping on different boards. For example, chicken on one and vegetables on another.
  7. Make a reason for children to cook, such as a visit from Grandma or an upcoming birthday.
  8. The cook never washes up; this may be a great motivation to get teens in the kitchen.
  9. Don’t forget, praise is a mighty strong way for cooking to become a fun and pleasant experience.

“I also recommend getting your kids involved in the supermarket. Let them be the shopper and work out the money they need for their purchases. This will not only keep them occupied and out of trouble, but it’s also a great opportunity to encourage learning maths and also weights and measures.

“I have three daughters of my own, so I know sometimes it can be frustrating when kids get in the kitchen and make a mess, but try not to criticise or scold them, just forget the mess and have fun,” Annette said.

“Just remember, spending time cooking together with your children can build happy memories that last a lifetime.”

Annette’s latest book, Book 6, includes a selection of Annette’s newest and most delicious recipes, a step-by-step weightloss MASTERCLASS complete with DVD, a 28-day meal plan and a number of motivational testimonials from people who have lost weight “the Annette way”.

Selling more than 3 million copies due to their undeniable ability to help people lose weight, Annette Sym’s series, Symply Too Good To Be True are available at all leading news agencies and Borders Bookstores nation-wide. Books 1,2,3,4 and 5 are $13.95 and the bumper-sized Book 6 is $28.

Visit the Symply Too Good website,, for more great low-fat cooking tips and to see Annette cooking a new recipe each month.

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