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Fall provides great opportunity to cook with kids.

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Fall provides a great opportunity to teach children valuable life skills about cooking and nutrition and create lasting memories.

This time of the year often involves family gatherings, preparing favorite recipes and special treats. For those cooks with children, plan to include these in food preparation.

According to research, cooking with your children provides the following benefits:

* Children are encouraged to try healthy foods which they might not try otherwise;

* Children feel a sense of accomplishment;

* Kids are more likely to sit down to a family meal that they helped prepare; and

* Cooking is a great opportunity for kids to spend quality time with their parents.

When cooking with children, here is a list of basics parents should teach their children when they cook together.

1. Teach them to always wash their hands before and after handling food and eating by using warm, soapy water and rubbing their hands for 20 seconds.

2. Stress that it isn’t safe to eat dough and batters with raw eggs and communicate the importance of measuring ingredients carefully.

3. Remind children to use pot holders when handling hot pans and dishes.

Cooking with your child is a way to promote their future health by teaching them how to prepare healthy meals. Let them be involved with the whole process including meal planning, shopping and cooking.

Parents can also teach their children how to read nutrition labels. This will help them learn about fiber, vitamins and minerals. They will also learn how to cut back on sugar or salt in processed foods.

When planning meals, I encourage parents to consider incorporating in-season fruits and vegetables. Examples of fall produce include celery, eggplant, apples, garlic, cabbage, broccoli, beets, brussel sprouts, onions, pumpkins, spinach, zucchini, and summer squash. Look for them in produce departments and farmers markets in season for the greatest value and flavor.

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