Week 1: Why Home Cooking Matters

Home cooking - preparing dinner in a kitchen concept cooking, culinary, healthy lifestyle.

Week 1: Why Home Cooking Matters 

“A childhood obesity epidemic… Why are so many foods processed… what can we do to protect our families… [home cooking]… explore the six basic ingredients every cook should have…”


  • Introduction to Child Nutrition
  • Why Home Cooking Matters
  • Elements of a Healthy Kitchen
  • Cooking Demonstrations

Introduction to Child Nutrition

  • Average American diet consists of about 70% processed food.
  • If we practice moderation, no food is forbidden.
  • Start by thinking, what am I going to serve for my vegetables for this meal.
  • Don’t start with the protein.
  • Let the little ones mix things in a bowl or add fruit to make their own smoothie, mash things like potatoes or avocadoes etc.
  • It gives them a sense of control that can help them to be more adventurous eaters.
  • Home cooking – diet of mostly home cooked food will almost always be healthier for the whole family.
Chop Chop MOOCs’ summary of https://www.coursera.org/learn/childnutrition/lecture/HhUiz/introduction-to-child-nutrition

Food is More Than Just Nutrition

  • Food provides nutrition besides serving as a way of communication.
  • Human beings are made up of 50% water by weight.
  • We get energy from food in the form of macronutrients.
  • It’s called macronutrients because we need relatively large amount of them compared to micronutrients.
  • Macronutrients are things like carbohydrates, proteins, and fats.
  • Carbohydrates are combination of little sugars that are linked together in a way by chemical bonds that store energy.
  • Protein provides us with energy besides serving as important building blocks or repair and maintenance in growth in our bodies.
  • Fat provides us with a large amount of energy.
  • Micronutrients are things like vitamins, minerals and fibers.
  • Children who eat family meals do better in terms of their emotional well-being.
Chop Chop MOOCs’ summary of https://www.coursera.org/learn/childnutrition/lecture/w63jl/food-is-more-than-just-nutrition

Why Home Cooking Matters

  • Most of excess salt and sugar in child’s diet comes from processed food.
  • Check number of ingredients listed to see if it is highly processed (likely to be longer) or less processed (likely to be shorter); we can choose less processed foods.
  • Home cooking means we can decide what goes into the child’s body.
  • We cannot all or always afford to buy fresh ingredients, but we do our best to do so when we can, we start to have more control.
  • Long run: eating mostly home cooked foods will likely be healthier for the entire family.
Chop Chop MOOCs’ summary of https://www.coursera.org/learn/childnutrition/lecture/Cc2QX/why-home-cooking-matters

Why Are There So Many Processed Foods?

  • Companies make processed food to sell them to consumer and make a profit.
  • When cheap raw ingredient like corn is stripped off most of its nutrients, it tends to last longer because mold is less attracted to food that is low in nutrients.
  • Food manufacturers also add in lots of things that enhance the food’s flavor, preservation, appearance, and texture.
  • In the end, synthetic nutrients will be added back to the food so that manufacturers can claim that the food is healthy for us.
  • Billions of dollars are spent every year marketing processed food to us and our children.
  • In the US, there’s no rule about which food can be marketed to which age group.
  • Try to limit children’s exposure to screen-based ads for processed food.
Chop Chop MOOCs’ summary of https://www.coursera.org/learn/childnutrition/lecture/0lGfF/why-are-there-so-many-processed-foods

USDA Nutrition Guidelines

  • Rates of obesity has increased along with the shift towards diet that contain more refined or processed food.
  • In 1992, USDA released the original food pyramid to show people approximately how much of each major food group they should be eating, relative to other food groups.
  • The base of the food pyramid consists of carbohydrates and the very top of the pyramid is made of fats and sweets.
  • Physical activity is an important part of living a healthy life, besides having a balanced and moderate consumption of food.
  • In 2005, USDA’s MyPyramid was released.
  • It has nice bright colors and pictures that often correspond with the food in the groups below the pictures which are grains, vegetables, fruit, milk, meat etc.
  • There’s also this tiny strip with a picture of a bottle of cooking oil that suggests we should limit these sort of food in our diet.
  • As obesity keeps rising, USDA added a flight of stairs and an active person going up those stairs to encourage physical activities.
  • In 2011, USDA’s MyPlate was released.
  • It contains a simple visual representation of a single meal.
  • MyPlate was divided into one half fruits and vegetables, the other side contains grains and the bottom of it is protein while the top corner has a circle to represent dairy products in the diet.
  • MyPlate is an effective way to communicate a lot of information to a large number of people across a spectrum of ages and educational background.
Chop Chop MOOCs’ summary of https://www.coursera.org/learn/childnutrition/lecture/dFbK2/usda-nutrition-guidelines

The Six Ingredients Every Kitchen Needs

  • There are many receptors on your tongue.
  • Sweet, salty, sour, bitter and umami receptors.
  • Umami receptors pick up tastes of protein foods like meat.
  • 6 ingredients recommended: olive oil, sugar, salt, lemon, onion, garlic.
Chop Chop MOOCs’ summary of https://www.coursera.org/learn/childnutrition/lecture/hebdz/the-six-ingredients-every-kitchen-needs

Stocking a Kitchen Pantry

  • Home cooking: one of the keys to making simple home cooking easy is having a set of staple foods in your kitchen that are available any time you need them.
  • For dry goods, suggestions would be various pasta, rice, oats, dry beans, lentils, quinoa, flour, baking powder, sugar, various nuts, dried fruits.
  • Keep a spice drawer for things like chili powder, coriander, black pepper, dried thyme, vanilla essence but this highly depends on your personal preference.
  • A box of onions, garlic, and potatoes in a dark cupboard would be nice to have.
  • Keeping them in the dark prevents them from sprouting.
  • Fridge food would be eggs, milk, butter, cheese, yogurt, carrot, and tomato.
  • In some places, you can place an order for a farm box to be delivered to your door every week from a local farm.
  • You can buy non-perishable food items in bulk during special sales at stores.
Chop Chop MOOCs’ summary of https://www.coursera.org/learn/childnutrition/lecture/rtRxG/stocking-a-kitchen-pantry

Egg-in-a-Hole (recipe for home cooking)

  • Ingredients: bread, egg, salt, pepper, butter.
  • Cut out a hole in the middle of a bread and save the cut piece.
  • Turn on the heat on the stove and melt the butter.
  • Place the “holey” bread along with the melting butter to sort of toast the bread a little bit.
  • When the pan gets hot, crack the egg into the hole.
  • Some of it is going to spill over the top but that’s fine.
  • Add some salt and pepper on the egg.
  • Flip the toast when you see that it is getting a bit white underneath.
  • It may get a little messy.
  • Real butter is much better for the children than artificial fat like margarine.
Chop Chop MOOCs’ summary of https://www.coursera.org/learn/childnutrition/lecture/cUCEh/egg-in-a-hole

Smoothie (recipe for home cooking)

  • Smoothies are a great way to get a little bit of extra fruit and vegetable into your children’s morning routine.
  • Make sure you wash fruits even if they are organic.
  • Ingredients: blueberry, blackberry, yogurt, milk.
  • In a blender, mix the fruits that you like with yogurt and milk.
  • If you like it thick, lessen the milk.
  • Yogurt should not contain much sugar.
  • Don’t brush your children’s teeth before you try to feed them fruit in the morning because toothpaste is so sweet that any fruit they’ll eat after cannot really compete.
Chop Chop MOOCs’ summary of https://www.coursera.org/learn/childnutrition/lecture/PfCaR/smoothie

Vegetable Stir Fry (recipe for home cooking)

  • Ingredients: onion, garlic, various vegetables, olive oil, soy sauce, plum sauce.
  • Cut up the onion, garlic and vegetables.
  • Don’t chop onion and garlic on a wooden board as it is hard to get rid of the smell.
  • Don’t feed a child with a round shape food about an inch big because it’s exactly the size of their windpipe, if they inhale it, it might block their air passage.
  • Stir fry requires medium-high heat.
  • Ginger adds an Asian flavor to your stir-fry.
  • Start with vegetables that takes longer to cook such as carrot.
  • After that, you can add in all other vegetables.
  • Try the taste and add soy sauce and plum sauce accordingly.
  • Don’t overcook the stir-fry, leave it a little bit crunchy.
Chop Chop MOOCs’ summary of https://www.coursera.org/learn/childnutrition/lecture/XQx2F/vegetable-stir-fry

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photo: depositphotos/undrey

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