One of the best parts of cooking new things with young kids is watching their hesitations about new food disappear through discussion, tasting, and cooking. Little chefs will often look at a legume or vegetable they have never tried and immediately say “eww!” But after working as a group to make a dish, this opinion reverses and an appreciation for a new food forms. Such was the case in cooking class recently when we cooked quick bread, vinaigrette, and hummus. The students were enthralled by how easy it was to make the quick bread in a toaster oven and loved watching their bread rise and turn golden brown.
The hummus had a different effect. After learning that hummus is made with chickpeas many students remarked prematurely that they were absolutely not eating it! But with gradual steps the students overcame their initial hesitations and ended up loving it.
To begin we discussed where chickpeas are from and how they grow. Discovering that the chickpeas grow in pods on a plant caught their interest. Then we all got hands-on and tried a plain chickpea. Some students enjoyed them; others were still skeptical. We continued and combined all the ingredients for hummus in a food processor. When we pulsed all the ingredients together there were shouts of excitement! Watching the chick peas go from a solid to a paste increased their desire to taste what was happening right before their eyes. Pairing the hummus with the quick bread allowed them to taste the initially “unappealing” dish with the dish they were more excited about. The process of making and trying the hummus was a snowball effect. Each step got the students more involved and dedicated to something they themselves made. Tasting each stage of the hummus, gave the students a tangible understanding of the flavor development.
Witnessing the transformation,from “eww!” to clean plates and “more please?” is a definite highlight of cooking with kids.