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By Kara Turey

My mom was a phenomenal cook, always cooking Tex-Mex dishes, desserts, casseroles, and making salads. The aroma in the air filled our house. I always loved the smell of food in my house and hoped that one day I could cook as well as my mom.

Until I was in middle school, my mom stayed at home, so we didn’t go out to eat much. She had a lot of cookbooks that she would look through and was always trading recipes with her friends and family. She had a lot of recipes from her mother and grandmother that she would make like Shrimp Dip, Guacamole, and Frito Pie. She was always asked to make food when we went to friends and family houses because she had a knack for what tasted well. My mom taught me how to read the ingredients and make a list of what we needed from the grocery store. I also learned how to read measurements and become familiar with ingredients I had never heard of and their use in recipes.

I started teaching my 10-year-old daughter how to cook last summer. She has always enjoyed being in the kitchen with me and loves watching “Kids Baking Championships”, “Best Bakers in America”, and “Chopped.” The school year is so hectic with sports and other events that summer is a great time for me to teach her new things. I am home in the summer, since I work in the field of education, and grateful to have the time with her.

Thanks to websites like “Pinterest”, it is easier than ever to find recipes. I search for “easy, healthy, recipes” and I get a lot of ideas. We look at the recipes together and I teach her that the fewer amounts of ingredients are better. We talk about healthy and fresh ingredients, finding recipes that don’t use a lot of added sugar (if any), and which ingredients are healthy and which are not and why. She then is able to pick out the recipe we will make for that week. We do this every week in the summer that we are not away on vacation.

One of our favorite recipes we’ve found so far is for homemade Pop Tarts. The recipe called for pie crust, and we made our own (one of my mom’s recipes). We used Polaner All fruit spread to make it healthier and added our Mickey ear cookie cutter to make them in a different shape. She loved making these and they were really good! This recipe is from Faith Filled Food for Moms on Pinterest.

I am lucky that my daughter will eat most vegetables. I ate a lot of vegetables growing up, when I was pregnant with her, and I serve vegetables with dinner each night. Recently, we found a recipe for salt and vinegar kale chips and she was intrigued. She has seen me put it in my smoothies and never wanted anything to do with it until recently. We talked about how it was really good for the body and has a lot of nutrients. It was important for me to teach her about nutrition for athletes as well because she plays basketball and soccer for her school and participates in Run Club before school several days per week. The kale chips were easy to make and kale is cheap! Just $1 for an organic bunch at a local grocery store.

The most recent dish she learned to cook was Pizza Rolls. The recipe called for using canned dough, so instead, we picked up fresh pizza dough from Publix. We also used an organic marinara sauce and fresh Italian cheese. Teaching her about using fresh products and ingredients is important because I want her to make good choices as they are presented to her but also when she is cooking on her own.

My daughter learned this time that she needs to follow directions. Sometimes she decides she can look at a picture and figure it out on her own. This didn’t go so well. I had to come to her rescue when she was putting way too much cheese in the roll-ups and they stood up too high and would not close. We opened them back up and took a lot of the cheese out of the rolls and I showed her how a little can go far. When she re-rolled them, she could see how a smaller amount was better.

When I am making dinner, she wants to help, she helps me at the grocery store and we often give her choices for dinner and let her help decide what we will have for the evening. Kids grow up fast and it is a great bonding time for my daughter and I in the summer to do these cooking sessions. A fly on the wall would hear a lot of great conversations when we are looking for recipes, shopping together for ingredients and cooking together. I cherish these times and hope she looks back on these days when she gets older and is glad we had this time together, like I do with my own mom.

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Category: Recipes

Tags: cooking