a note from my kids

a note from my kids about games we play | Chef Gretchen Hanson



when shopping or eating or cooking. Most of them involve your adult but some you can do all on your own. Review them with your adult since oftentimes your idea of a fun game doesn’t match theirs. Our mom is the “Fun Mommy” but that doesn’t mean that other adults necessarily think her behavior is very grown up. Your adult may not think playing with your food is an appropriate dinner time activity like we do. Just be respectful of their hard work and get them involved. Follow the rules of your household and communicate. I find that if you are polite and ask for what you want you will pretty generally get it or find a compromise solution that works for everyone.

RAINBOW OF FOOD:  Pick a rainbow array of fruits and vegetables for example: red = beets, green = kale, yellow = bananas, blue=blueberries; one for each color of the rainbow. Whatever you pick must then be incorporated into meals over the next week. Take turns picking the colors. Try to pick a different veggie for each color every week.

NAME THAT VEGGIE: Take turns picking a different and bizarre veggie that you don’t know about and research it on the internet for ways to cook and prepare.  It is best to do this with one veggie or fruit at a time or you will end up with things like starfruit and bittermelon kebabs with horseradish dip. It’s happened and it was a very tragic combination.

PICK ONE: Each person takes turns for picking the vegetable of the night and then preparing (or helping to prepare) that vegetable in the way that they wish.  Best vegetable each week gets to pick one of the dessert special treats to make or something like that.

PLAY WITH YOUR FOOD: When making salads cut your veggies into different shapes like triangles, circles, rings etc. and make the silliest face you can on your plate before eating it. Winner gets to pick tomorrow’s dinner vegetable or something they don’t normally agree on but to collect their prize they have to eat the face. We often do our veggie bowls BEFORE dinner.

READ THAT LABEL:  When going through the grocery read the labels of everything you buy that is packaged. Whoever can find the worst label gets to pick out a good label special treat.  Points awarded for the highest amount of sugar grams and the most words you don’t know. Hadyn crushes this game.

NAME THAT SUGAR: How many different ways can you say sugar??? A lot! See how many you find in one trip. If you look at the marketing campaign for the HFCS industry it claims it is just sugar by another name like that is a good thing. Anything that ends with an “ose” on a label is a pretty safe bet to be sugar.  How many different sugars can you find on one label? Start on the packages in your kitchen first.

PRODUCT PLACEMENT: Holly invented this game to identify every time she was being manipulated by the media. When watching movies or TV every time you see a can of Coke or a M&M you have to be the first to shout “Product Placement!” We keep score through a movie or TV show and have expanded the game to include…

MANIPULATION!: The way you feel when you are being railroaded into thinking or feeling a certain way about what you should eat, where you should eat it, and how you should look while you are doing it. This is a sadly endless game that can rack up hundreds of point every day. Every time you notice that you are being coerced you score a point.  You can play this game on your own quite easily, try to break the score from the previous day. It will make you crazy once you start noticing.

APPLES FOR TICKETS : We have a local game and fun park called Funland. Tickets for rides are .25 so for each apple you get a ticket to Funland. Three tickets is a ride on the helicopter. You may not have a Funland but you get the idea: fifteen tickets =  movie with Mommy or whatever floats your boat. Make the rewards about one on one time or doing crafts together or solo snuggles instead of material possessions everyone wins no matter what. PS Bribery works.

BE THE CRITIC: You are writing for a major newspaper chain and reviewing the food that you prepared. Describe the plating (fancy chef word for how you put it on the plate) the color combinations, the textural contrast (fancy chef word for different levels of crunch) do the flavors blend and flow, are their subtle nuances in the combinations? What would you do differently?

BE THE CHANGE: There as many ways to spread the word as there are kids. Can you write you local congressman about bringing local produce into your school cafeteria? Lobby your principal for a school salad bar? Sprout your own seeds and share them with your class? Get your after school club to join the Healthy Eating Club? Start your own cooking group of kids just like you who want to feel better about what they eat and the impact they make on their environment?

GROW YOUR OWN: Plant and grow and harvest and cook. Let your family join in the process of getting the food from field to fork.


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