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311: How To Teach Your Family & Your Kids To Cook REAL FOOD! - with Katie Kimball!

December 2, 2020

Welcome back to the podcast! In this episode, Chantel got to speak with Katie Kimball, CSME, founder and CEO of Kitchen Stewardship. She is passionate about researching natural remedies and making healthy cooking easier for busy families. As a trusted educator and author of 8 real food cookbooks, she’s been featured on media outlets like ABC, NBC and First for Women magazine and contributes regularly on the FOX Network.

Over the last 11 years, Katie has spoken prolifically at conferences, online summits and podcasts and become a trusted authority and advocate for children’s health. Busy moms look to this certified educator for honest, in-depth natural product reviews and thorough research, and she often partners with health experts and medical practitioners to stay on the cutting edge.

In 2016 she created the #1 bestselling online kids cooking course, Kids Cook Real Food, helping thousands of families around the world learn to cook.

A mom of 4 kids from Michigan, she is also a Certified Stress Mastery Educator, member of the American Institute of Stress and trained speaker through Bo Eason’s Personal Story Power.

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Hey, guys, welcome to today's episode, and we have a real treat for you today, we are talking about how we can teach kids to cook so your family can thrive with healthy food. And so many kids are just eating takeout and doing things that are just crazy, crazy, crazy. So today we are really excited because we're talking about how kids can do real food. And we have Katie Kimball with us today. And her website is Kids Cook Real Food.Com. So, Katie, welcome and tell listeners a little bit about yourself.
Well, thanks so much, Chantel! You know, I'm a mom of four, and so life is busy, life is crazy. And I was raised pretty normally and standard American diet. And it wasn't until I was pregnant with my first that I really started caring about every little bite that was going to go into his mouth.
I think that's a lot of mom's stories and I ended up learning a lot in the kitchen.
I'm a teacher by trade. That's what I did before I had kids. And so my brain was always teaching in my head, like, how would I help other moms, like, avoid the mistakes I'm making the kitchen and spend less time. And so I launched a website in 2009 to help families stay healthy without going crazy, balancing time, budget, nutrition and environment. And I loved like building the community online and talking to people all around the world. And I started realizing I kept hearing the same story. People would say, you know, Katie, I really want to get healthy, but this is so hard because I was never even taught to cook it. All right. Like, our generation was kind of missed. And so I started thinking about that. I thought, gosh, you know, what that means is that we're not comfortable in the kitchen and general our generation and we're not teaching our kids 20 years from now, those kids are going to be going like, oh, I wish I could get healthy, but I was never taught to cook. Right. So I just thought somebody needs to step into that gap and make it easier for moms to get their kids in the kitchen to get them involved in their own diet and nutrition from the start. And as a mom of four with a teaching background, figuring out how to cook, I thought, this is this is my mission. This is what I'm going to do.
So let's start with kind of the five year olds. So like let's say someone has a five year old and then we'll talk about ten year olds and 15 year olds. But let's say you have five year olds like what are you teaching them at age five to do? Like, let's get real practical, like what would be like a five year old's your number one recipe that you would teach them to cook.
I love that you're jumping right into the practical because that's totally what I'm known for. Like, we got to give moms things they can use right away. So the first thing I'm going to do is I'm going to expand your five year old down to age two and we're going to talk about all our pre preschool kids who can't read yet.
And then I'm going to challenge the fact that you just asked me for the best recipe, because I don't think cooking is all about recipes. I think it's really about building the skills that we need to make any recipe right then. And then you can fit any food preference, any dietary sensitivity or the choices you're making. So for me, it's all about building skills. And so for those little ones, they they want to help. They're so intrinsically motivated.
And you are super lucky moms out there if you've got a child five and under because, you know, they're asking, right. Can I can I just stay like they don't even realize these are chores at that point. So so capture that motivation and say, yes.
I mean, that's the first step is we have to get over our fear of the mess, our fear of them slowing us down and say yes. The first that two first things that I love to teach those little kids are butter knives and bananas just because they're so simple and they feel like hot stuff because they're using a knife. And you can make it I mean, I take it really seriously. Treat that butter knife like it's a sharp knife. Teach the child to keep their hand. We call it. Hey, hey, out of the way.
Kids cook real food and just make things really fun. But then they're empowered to now cut up a banana for their own snack. Right. That's amazing for a three year old. And the other thing I like to teach those little kids, because they can't read yet, they don't know numbers and fractions. So, like, measuring spoons are tricky. Right. And we don't know how to involve them very well. We usually measure and we let them jump, but we can totally empower them to measure with a really simple trick. Renaming your measuring spoons, dad, mom, kid, baby. And I know that's not everyone's family structure, but kids get it from storybooks and stuff. So the tablespoons, the dad, the teaspoons, the mom takes like 30 seconds to teach. And now you can have your preschooler if they say, oh, mama, can I help? And it's five thirty seven. And you're like, no, I need to get dinner on the table by six. Like this is not happening right now. Now you can say yes because you can send them to the table with the four spoons. You tell them to set them up in order, which is a great preschool skill.
And dad, mom, kid, baby, now and then you give them a, you know, your jar of salt or your basil or whatever you need for what you're making and say, I need a mommy spoon of salt. You put it in that little spill bottle that I gave you. Right. I needed baby.
Teaspoon of cayenne pepper, whatever it is, they can measure that out, they can take five minutes to do it. It's excruciating if you're with them, but it's fine if you're still working and you're on your dinner, right, because they're not slowing you down.
And then at the table, you get to say, guess who made this meal taste so good? Right, and now self-esteem is boosted. They love being in the kitchen and you've got a helper who will who will really last through the years because you've given them a positive experience before age five.
And I know that on your website, you've got some really cool things where you've got kid friendly kitchen tools where you can say, hey, you can buy these different things, and then it just makes it a little bit more kid friendly for them to be able to use the knife and so forth. Talk about that.
Oh, our little kids love the crinkle cutter. In fact, we were just having a conversation a few weeks ago in our members Facebook group. Do you know what a crinkle cutter is? Yeah, I do. OK, so it makes the food look so cool, like cucumbers or cheese cubes or whatever. Very easy for little hands or medium sized hands, you know, all age kids to use. But the moms are saying, yeah, I'll like cut cheese with this thing for a potluck.
And people are like, oh, you shouldn't have like taken so much time to make this looks such or like I didn't like it's just a crinkle cutter. So that kind of thing is really, really fun. We do a big review of names because for me it's real food. Real food is fruits and vegetables. And if you can't cut those, you can't unlock the produce section that we teach kids to use real knives starting at about age six or seven.
We even have four and five year olds using paring knives in our class, the brave mommies who are who are open to that. So I don't I don't do a lot of kid versions. I don't love the kid knives because they force a different way of cutting those like plastic ones with the jagged edges because of the serrated edge. You have to do more of a blade motion, which is not the motion that you'll make when you graduate to a real knife. So I have a K for real knives as much as possible. So we just talk about shorter ones.
So like a five inch chef's knife instead of an eight inch chesnot, does that make sense?
Yeah, it does make sense. So as far as like what's kind of let's say we've now got someone who's ten years old, so they're a little bit older. They can do more. What are some tips for them that you can share that gets them excited about cooking?
Yeah, raise the bar. Right, I mean, I think we forget that our kids are so much more capable than we think, so by age, by age 10, honestly, by age nine and 12, my two older kids were doing a whole meal a week by themselves. I would leave the home and go volunteer at church. And so nine and 12, that's right around that 10. So for sure, even well before 10, I encourage parents to get those kids to the stove, teach. We're teaching basic skills. Right. Flipping is a good example. Flipping sounds like a ridiculously easy skill.
But when you think about yourself flipping a fried egg or flipping pancakes, things can go wrong sometimes, right?
So if you can teach stovetop safety and that skill of flipping, for example, now there's a vast amount of recipes that those kids can be involved in flipping hamburgers, salmon burgers, pancakes, crepes, all of these things that we make in a fry pan or on a griddle. So that's where I go as I like to talk about those basic foundational skills. I think for kids to be confident in the kitchen, they need to know how to use the stovetop safely. They need to know how to measure and stir really well. They need to know how to read and follow a recipe. Right. That's a skill. It's different than a chapter book when you're reading a recipe. So that's something that the first few times your kids are in the kitchen you really work on. What does this mean? What are these ingredients? Where are they? What do these fractions mean? All of that sort of recipe literacy.
And then they need to have those knife skills. That's incredibly empowering. So for those 10 year old kids, we're just we're going to teach those basic foundational skills and then let them let them have some you know, let the apron strings out, let them have some independence there. Because when kids build confidence in the kitchen, it is amazing to see how that confidence spills out into the rest of their life. They become more confident human beings because they're doing this real, authentic task. They're nourishing people. They're doing tasks that adults do and they know it. And that is so much more worth than a participation medal, then a good job, then stick in their artwork to the fridge. You know, like that is real deal, authentic self esteem.
That's awesome, and it's really making me think, because a lot of times my son will be like, mom, my son loves pasta. He plays a lot of basketball. And so we buy like organic pasta and but he likes it fresh. So, like, if you made it, he won't eat it. Like, if you made it earlier in the day, like he wants it literally, like right off the, you know, out of the stove.
And I was thinking because like, OK, he's nine years old, he's going to be 10. There's no reason why. And I'm always the one making that pasta for him, like there's no reason why he shouldn't be doing that. So that's a really good I'm really glad this is really challenging me. Good. So you have like a ten year old. What would be the whole scope of things like let's talk about how advanced? Because it's like I think moms just get like me like a mom. Can you do this? Your mom can you do this? What would you expect once someone has gone through your training like they've gone through the advanced course of your training, what should a ten year old be able to cook?
You know, almost anything that they can search on Pinterest, really, I mean, we're not doing like flamethrowers and creme brulee, right? But like average recipes that use average ingredients that most families have.
So my kids right now are six, nine, 12 and 15. I love that they allow me to count by three. Like, just stay there, guys. So I. Don't forget your ages and the nine, 12 and 15 year old, all of them can use a chef's knife. All of them can cut peppers and onions. And like if I said, we are going to make a stir fry tonight, like they could cut all those things. They know how to use the stove. So there's I think about those foundational building blocks, right. So stove safety, we know how to boil things like pasta or potatoes. We know how to flip things. We know how to satay. We know how to steam and what it looks like when steamed vegetables are done right. So those are sort of a body of skills. And then we talk about the oven. Once kids are eight or nine or so, it's when when kids are strong enough and brave enough to use the oven, they should totally be trained in doing it. I it just it just irks me when I see, like, kids, cookbooks and stuff, they always have so much that the adult has to do.
Kennedyesque, ask your adult to put it in the oven and ask your adult to cut this. And I'm like, no, no adults ask your kids to do that.
Like, we have got to flip these scripts and really challenge the thinking of what our kids are capable of. So can a 10 year old make homemade pizza from scratch, yeast, bread, top it, put it in the oven and get it out.
Cut it up? Yup. Can they cut onions and peppers to put on top? Absolutely. So that there's not a whole lot really that that my 12 and 15 year old can't make.
You know, it's funny because I had a girl that was their family came over to the house and the girl was twenty years old and they were like, what can we help with? And we were making scrambled eggs. And the 20 year old was like, she's like, I've never cracked an egg before. And I was like, oh, my goodness.
And so I literally she was twenty years old and I'm teaching her how to crack an egg and she was getting like shells all in it. And then my nine year old was like, here, I'll show you. And he was doing it because I have him do that all the time. I love that show. But I one of the things I love on your site is that you say that if you want kids to really help in the kitchen, they really need to know how to use knives.
And you actually have a free ten minute video that teaches kids how to use knives, which is amazing. Talk about that.
Yeah, so one of my philosophies, again, is to raise the bar to and to start young, so we actually teach the same three ways to hold the knife and for ways to hold the food with that butter knife and banana at age two, as we do with the chef's knives. And parents love this sort of a seamless transition. You know, if you're a two year old or three year old, your four year old has been using a butter knife on soft foods. Right? I mean, think about cooked carrots, cooked potatoes. There's actually a lot of things you can cut with a butter knife. And they know these seven phrases like, hey, hey, out of the way and up and over, soldier. Just, you know, and they respect that butter knife like it's sharp. You can you can look at your five year old and go, huh?
Maybe you can use a sharp paring knife. Am I crazy? What will my friends think? Is this too dangerous? And then you go, no, it's it's not because they've been trained for years treating a knife the same way.
So that's that's totally my philosophy. Is this nice, beautiful, seamless transition. We we teach emphatically, too, that the right size of knife for the child's skill level and size of their hand as well as the right food is the equation for success. OK, so we don't use paring knives on onions. That's a disaster waiting to happen. We don't need to use chef's knives on a little bitty apple. So it's all about pairing the right knife with the right food. And actually in our house, I mean, we've had a good five years of kids using knives. And for quite a few years we had I would I would always say, you know, accidents. Well, now we've had a couple and they've both been because my child chose the wrong knife for the wrong food, you know, a cheap little dollar store paring knife for a big fat one pound apple.
My son Paul came into the office. He said, Mom, I cut myself with a knife like he's shocked if they didn't hurt the little poke. And I'm like, well, you know, you're fine. Let's watch you. I've got some say. I said, what happened? And he showed me the knife and the apple. I said, Well, Paul, this knife is not going to it's not even as long as the apple.
So there's a you know, there's there's sort of an academia about it. There's an intelligence to using knives, right. Knife the right food and the right technique. And when you have that down, it's completely safe. It's a safe. It's getting in your car and put your seatbelt on.
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So as far as the videos that you have signed, you have a lot of videos. So kind of what would, what would a parent do. Like, maybe like when they come home from school, like we'd be like OK, we're going to spend thirty minutes a day on learning a new skill and then after they watch that video then they would get excited and, you know, help make dinner, maybe something like that.
Yeah, exactly. And I love that you said right after school because that is actually my advice for parents. You know, kids always ask to help right before dinner, but that's when we're stressed out and emotions are high and we're rushing. And it's going to be a bad experience for everyone. You know, if you're trying to teach a child something new right before dinner. So right after school is a great time to work with the kids. The videos are super motivating because they have kids in the videos that are similar ages and different genders and stuff. And so the kids start to feel ownership of these tasks. One of the things that our members love to do is say, oh, like, I need I need some help with dinner tonight.
I have a job for someone with peeling skills who who has healing skills, you know, and then the child who's taken that class is like, oh, maybe that's my skill.
Right. Totally motivating. So as far as how how it looks like a. Absolutely, you'd watch watch the video, so I do the hard part, you don't have to know how to cook, you don't have to know how to explain it or how to demonstrate that's in the video. And then you just kind of get out the food and do the practice.
And what you know, you end up with lunch or snack or dinner or breakfast, a little piece of it already made instead of, you know, a craft that you don't know what to do with and glitter all over the house if you do like crafts for quality time.
So I think it's great. I think it's great to teach kids away from the meal and just prepare food for later.
And absolutely. You mentioned then they're able to help with dinner. I mean, that's the way you put in a little half hour here, half hour there. And you can save 10 minutes, 20 minutes on every meal when your kids are helping chop those vegetables.
So you have your own cookbook. I saw online kids cook real food that you wrote. Tell us like what's like the top three recipes that are in there that you would say, like, you know, maybe your nine year old or your 12 year olds, like, out of any recipe in here. This is their favorite.
Yeah, that book goes right with our classes. It's all the recipes that we show in the videos. But I want to emphasize again that we're not about the recipe. I mean, we have to make something right. We have to make food. Right. But we're it's super flexible where we're focused on the skill. So kids with food allergies or different preferences or people abroad sometimes can't find an ingredient. You can just swap it out for any other recipe that teaches that skill. But we do have a few favorites of members in our first class for our intermediate level, our kids who are like early elementary, we teach how to make a couple of different homemade salad dressings. I mean, they're just simple, the Dimanche in Italian. But what more basic kid friendly stuff can you get? And you're making yourself so you're removing those industrial oils, you're removing the MSG that's in commercial ranch. And we have so many families say, I can't believe how good this is. Like this is one hundred percent going to be a new staple in our family.
And when the kids can make it, that makes the making something a staple a little bit more possible, you know what I mean? Because we don't always have time to do everything homemade. But when you can assign it to a child after school, that's super doable.
And another big favorite is our pumpkin muffins. They're gluten free, dairy free, egg free, corn free like there, everything free. So and there I where it's the most flexible recipe in the world, I've never been able to mess it up. And so, kids, that's so nice for kids that it always turns out they're always moist and they're so good. And kids who don't like pumpkin, you know, or who don't like sweet potatoes, who don't like those vegetables, the parents are always overjoyed that they're getting some vegetables in the muffins.
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I love it. I love it.
Well, as far as some of the things that you have on your site, I love that you kind of tell people, look, here's kind of the best knives that you can use that are kid friendly. What's your favorite product that you have on your site? You say out of anything, if you need one thing, this is what you'd want for kids cooking.
It's a good knife. And I'm a big fan of the Victorinox brand.
They're actually rated number two in America's Test Kitchen, which is pretty awesome. Westhoff is number one, but this very, very pricey. And Victorinox is incredibly affordable. They have a four inch utility knife that is powerful enough to kind of act as a chef's knife, but perfect for tiny hands. And they have a five inch chef's knife, which is really rare. It's nice and short. And again, I mean, you can do onions and peppers, everything with this five inch knife and it's only twenty bucks.
So kids love having you know, you can never have too many too many knives in a kitchen full of cooks who are cooking. So that's, that's part of what we say. We start the kids meal revolution again, flipping that script. It's not about making separate meals for kids. It's not about the disaster of a kid's menu, you know, and the terrible, bland food that's always the same in every restaurant, even the Mexican and Asian restaurants, only the chicken strips and pizza, you know, so I just constantly challenge parents like kids can eat real food, and you're going to be a lot more likely to get them to eat genuine real food when they're involved.
I also saw on there that you had a lettuce knife, that you said that when you cut with this lettuce knife, it allows the the lettuce to last almost a week.
Tell us about that.
I think yeah, I think this is sort of biology of cells when you're cutting with a really sharp knife, you actually open the cells in the lettuce and that's what makes the edges of your let us go brown really quickly. So when you use a plastic serrated knife, it more tears the lettuce. So you could do the same thing by just having a child tear up the lettuce, which is a great job for little ones who like to be tactile, you know, and they just want to be involved, give them some lettuce or some kale and have them tear that up.
But the knife is just quicker for kids who can handle it. And and because it's tearing, not cutting the lettuce last longer.
Awesome. Well, this has been amazing. Tell listeners where they can find you and where they can follow you.
Yeah, we're a kids cook, real food, dotcom and Facebook and Instagram also that kids could grow food. And just definitely we invite you to to jump in. And I can I can send you a link for the show notes, too, for that ten minute knife skills and safety class, because I love giving that one away for free because I think it's so empowering for kids and families to have those skills.
That's awesome. Well, you guys stay tuned. You've definitely motivated me tonight. When I get home, my son is going to be in the kitchen helping me cook for sure, because I totally agree. It's a skill that everyone needs to learn how to do more and more and more. And if you know how to do it, then you want to do it more. If you're not that good at it, then you'll be like, forget it, I don't want to do it. So, yeah.
Thank you so much for being with us. Yeah.
I mean, if you have a question that you want answered, go to questions at Chantel Ray dot com. We'll see you next time. Bye for now.

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