There’s nothing difficult about getting kids to eat healthy food – especially when they are cooking it themselves! This is the motive behind Kidchen – a culinary project for children started by Sanaa A’esha. This is where kids come together to cook healthy, so that they can eat healthy after that!
Read on to discover some memorable stories and all about Sanaa’s journey in this venture on our first exclusive interview on Ausum Tea’s Tete-a-Tea!
Hey Sanaa! How did you come up with the idea of Kidchen?
Sanaa: To encourage children to have a better relationship with food. Most of us focus on academics and sports and other mainstream skill-driven arts for their children, but overlook the most fundamental life skill – Cooking. And with it, a healthy diet.
What was the initial motivation behind it?
Sanaa (S): Cooking is not just about sourcing ingredients and turning them into a plate of food. Besides eating healthy, it imparts a lot of good qualities like respect and patience, and teaches team building, and waste management, and budgeting, and cleaning.
Gut health is largely overlooked and many of the issues we face as adults with food intolerance or obesity comes from habits set at a very young age. Instead of saying, it is never too late to get healthy, shouldn’t we be saying, it is never too early?
That’s so true! But didn’t you think of it as a massive challenge right from the start?
S: Honestly, no I didn’t. I thought it was a very obvious idea and that every parent would want their kids to be a part of Kidchen. I realised the challenges and concerns much later, and still continue to face new ones every day.
Give us a rough idea of what the menu is like in a typical Kidchen Class.
S: You can always expect a fruit or a vegetable in every class. Whether we are making energy bars, or crackers/cookies, or breads, we try to incorporate a fruit or a vegetable in every recipe in some form or the other. We also make a lot of nut butters, and then come up with recipes with it. Last week, we made a delicious dessert with almond butter and cooked apples.
Sounds delicious! But tell us… Parents are usually very apprehensive when it comes to letting kids into their kitchens. But you prioritize safety in your classes. Could you give us a few more details about this?
S: It is a fair concern. There are a number of cooking-related injuries that can happen in a kitchen. So we try to do everything we can to avoid that. We use nylon knives that don’t cut skin. We use the oven or the induction stove, and avoid fire altogether. And the children are never left unsupervised and are taught the right way to operate with mixer blenders.
Being a copywriter yourself, you seem to be teaching the kids a few things about the language too! Tell us about teaching the little onesthe right food vocabulary.
S: Kidchen, as a syllabus, is designed to include various subjects in every class. Science, Math, AND vocabulary. When it comes to language, we try to do away with words like yucky and yummy, and learn words that will help children what they love or don’t about each ingredients. It isn’t so much about the vocabulary than it is about communication. The right words help them understand what it is they dislike about a certain ingredient, and how else they could prepare it.
Do you have any one class that you’d recollect as being among of your most memorable Kidchen experiences? Tell us about it!
S: We recently conducted a Green Kidchen workshop, focussing on green leaves as the hero ingredient. As soon as the kids are told that leaves get super powers during this time of the year (Malayalam month – Karkkidakam), they fight to get a larger share of the leaves so they get the most power. It was quite the sight. They ate most of the leaves as is, before we could actually cook with it.
Haha! The parents would’ve been thrilled! What’s the feedback you get from them once the kids start cooking? Do they fuss less about food?
S: Recently, we had a new kid in class. She attended just one session, where we baked eggs with veggies. The next day the parent called to let me know how she requested eggs at home and how she previously hated eggs, and hadn’t eaten one in over two years.
Let’s get to know a little more about you. Are you a foodie?
S: I do love food, yes. 🙂
And do you like tea? Do tell us more about your favourite blends.
What’s next with Kidchen?
Sanaa: To get into the school curriculum, and be part of school hours, instead of the after school programme it is currently.