Founder Of Kidchen, Sanaa A’esha, Tells Us How Cooking With Kids Turns Into Ketchup Fights
- IWB Post
- May 3, 2018
Making your child eat and finish food is one herculean task for all parents in the world. Agree?
I bet! From trying to hide the vegetables in the pasta to force feeding them to your children, the parents have done it all, and yet, failed!
But, there’s one mom who is changing children’s dislike of home cooked food through a brilliant idea. Bengaluru-based Sanaa A’esha explains, “If the children will cook something on their own then they will eat it regardless of the taste or presentation.”
Confused? Well, Sanaa, a mother herself, tried this idea on her son, Eesa and saw the difference. “I have always enjoyed cooking, but, didn’t know baking. As Eesa turned six months, I decided to try out baking. And, I used to involve him in it, too. Of course, I gave him easy tasks like shelling the nuts, or mixing the batter, etc., but, I saw a huge difference in his eating habits,” says Sanaa.
“By the time he was two, he was helping me with the lunch almost every day and it made him appreciate and enjoy the food more,” she adds.
It was when her friends saw Eesa eating without throwing any tantrums, they urged Sanaa to organize weekend playdates.
“My friends told me that when their kids visited me and cooked with me, they’d eat more as compared to when they were at home,” she says.
Sanaa reveals that these weekend playdates and children’s enthusiasm towards cooking led to Kidchen.
Sanaa initially started by conducting workshops in schools, restaurants, etc. And, recently, she has set up her own Kidchen center in Bangalore to accommodate more children.
When I ask about Eesa’s contribution, Sanaa laughs, “He’s a part of the R&D Department, and helps in creating recipes.” So what happens at Kidchen?
“Oh, there’s so much that happens at Kidchen! They understand every little detail of the food on their plate. From watching plants grow to chopping, kneading, folding, baking, etc., everything is being taught!” she exclaims.
“And, not to forget the fun and the madness that goes on while doing all of the above,” adds Sanaa.
“Ahhh… that I can imagine!” I giggle.
Like a totally chill mom, Sanaa even confides in me that between Eesa and her, she feels she is an unhealthy eater.
“It’s embarrassing that when we both go out, I’ll order fried chicken and all, while he’ll say, ‘I’ll have a salad.’”
However, Sanaa later reveals it is nothing but natural eating habits that parents can easily instill in their kids. “I have always been overweight and the major reason is my inclination towards the unhealthy junk food. And, when I see Eesa, I know that his inclination from the very start has been towards more nutritious and healthy food,” she explains.
“I say this from experience that it is easy to set your child’s food choices than to change the eating pattern and choice of food of the adults. And, it can be possible only when they understand the flavors, the nutritional value, the process of cooking, etc.,” continues Sanaa.
“In my case, I can safely say that it’s my son who’s changing my food habits and not vice-versa,” she chuckles.
We also discuss how for most parents, academics is the first priority followed by engaging their children in some form of sports or physical activity.
“So, how do you convince the parents that involving kids in cooking is also important?” I enquire.
“I explain to them that if you involve children in cooking, then they’ll not be fussy eaters,” she replies.
“What safety measures do you undertake at Kidchen to avoid any mishap or injuries?” I probe further.
“We completely avoid fire! Instead, we use oven or induction, which is also placed on a higher platform. Also, we only use Curious Chef products like knives, etc., which are kid-friendly and will never lead to any cuts or injuries while chopping, peeling, etc.,” she explains.
“Only kids from the higher age-group are given peelers and graters, and that too after training them properly,” tells Sanaa.
Nowadays, most parents prefer eating out or ordering food. How do you encourage the kids and their parents to revive the culture of cooking at home which will ensure good health in the long run?
We have deliberately incorporated such recipes which a child can cook at home by themselves. And, when the parents see their children cooking, they also get involved.
And, what do you feel about the equal share of kitchen responsibilities amongst the parents? How do you preach to the kids that cooking is not gender-specific?
I do preach it but in a subtle manner. I always tell them that cooking is not an only important thing but washing the utensils, cleaning the slab, etc., are also very important. When I instruct them to try the dishes at home, I make it a point to say that try this dish with your mumma and papa both. So, I mean with these little things, I convey the kids that cooking is a life skill which everyone should know.
I not only feed them food but, also other things. *laughs* From the academic point of view, we do a lot of calculations in the form of measurements and conduct science experiments. Also, vocabulary-wise, we discourage kids from using yummy or yucky to describe food. We explain and encourage them to use adjectives like pungent, bitter, creamy, etc. A lot of storytelling and sharing is also involved while cooking through which we understand our food better. Of course, it also helps ingraining other qualities like teamwork, sharing, etc., in the children.
When one is dealing with kids aged 3 to 10, one cannot have a very serious class. We have a lot, A LOT of fun in the class. We have so many kitchen toys to play with, and we also ask the kids to get their favorite toys to class. They share stories of their grandma’s recipes and other things. After every dish that we make and eat, we jump or play, or do some gymnastics, etc.
Share with us the craziest day at Kidchen.
Ohhhhh!!! I remember that we were once making this Peta Sauce and everyone had that squishy tomato ketchup bottles. The minute I went to place pizza into the oven, I come back to see that all of them are squeezing and splashing tomato sauce on each other. You can imagine the scenario! *sighs*
“Very precisely! So, how do you tackle these squishing of tomato sauce and the crazy flour fights?” I ask.
“Well, what to say? We can’t avoid it!” she replies, and we both laugh like little kids.
I also ask her about the ratio of boys and girls in the class to which she tells, “It’s almost equal, in fact, I see more boys. Of course, younger children are more regular as after the age of 8 or 9, children get busy with the studies and only attend workshops during summer holidays.”
Sanaa surprises me by saying, “There are these energy balls which are like laddoos made up of peanut or cashew butter, dates, dry fruits, and jaggery or honey. These are very popular, and most kids end up eating 4-5 balls each and also take back home for their parents!” she exclaims, “Another surprising hit are the vegetable chips made from Spinach,” she adds and my mouth has starts watering just picturing the laddoos and the chips. #ScrewYouDiet
Thinking of what I would do if I was a kid in Sanaa’s Kidchen, I made up this little jingle:
I wish I was a kid,
I would bake a cake,
And eat it all,
Wouldn’t share it with even mom,
La lala la la la laaa
It doesn’t rhyme
and I don’t care,
Coz I am a kid,
And I’m cool!
P.S. Know more about this awesome kitchen for kids here.
Photo Source: Sanaa A’esha Instagram
(This article was first published on April 1, 2017)