Kelly Homesley is a registered dietician at Novant Health Bariatric Solutions - Elizabeth in Charlotte.

School is out for summer! Now is the perfect time to have your kids help in the kitchen and instill healthy habits in them that can last a lifetime. Here are five great ways to get your children involved in the kitchen.

A pediatrician can help you make smart food and nutrition choices for your kids.

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1. Include your kids in menu planning and grocery shopping.

I always try to ask my 5-year-old what he wants for breakfast, lunch and snacks each week. I also encourage him to pick one new fruit and one new vegetable while we are walking around the fresh produce section of the grocery store, then incorporate them into a meal that week

2. Introduce the different types of food to your kids and tell them why they are important.

For example, “Chicken and beans are both good sources of protein and can help your muscles grow so that you can hang from the monkey bars longer and climb taller trees.” Or, “Yogurt and milk are good for your bones because they have a lot of calcium in them and this can help protect you if you fall off of those monkey bars or out of that tree.”

Other fun things to say include: Carrots help you see better. Broccoli helps you to stop bleeding if you get a cut. Spinach helps you grow taller. Peas make your hair and nails healthy. Blueberries help you remember things. Avocados help keep your heart beating strong. Apples help you go to the potty.

3. Pick a kid-friendly recipe each week to try together.

This is a good opportunity to assign age-appropriate tasks such as washing produce, measuring out and then mixing ingredients in a bowl, cutting and chopping with kid-friendly knives and even eventually actually doing the cooking on the stovetop (with adult supervision of course).

4. Make a big deal out of whatever dish your child helped make.

Building confidence and a sense of pride makes your child want to help again. Seeing their face light up and how proud they are of what they have contributed is so rewarding. Kids love to be helpful and feel like they are doing things just like grownups are!

5. Sit down at the table and eat as a family.

When your kids see you eating a wide variety of foods, they are much more likely to try something new. This is also a great way to bond, disconnect from electronics and learn more about each other’s day.


Kid-friendly hidden veggies pizza

This recipe very hands-on for kids and it’s also a great way to help them incorporate more vegetables into their diet.



Whole wheat pizza dough. You can make your own or buy a store bought one from your local grocery store or Trader Joe’s. If you want to make your own, try Sally’s Baking Addiction Whole Wheat Crust Recipe.

Pizza sauce:

  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 2 sweet mini peppers, seeded and chopped
  • 1 cup broccoli florets, chopped small
  • 1/2 white onion
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons mushroom bullion
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 can tomato sauce (8 oz)
  • 1/2 cup red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 3/4 cup favorite pizza sauce
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley


  • 2 cups mozzarella cheese
  • Toppings of choice: ham, pineapple, mushrooms, peppers, pepperoni, etc.


  1. Make pizza dough or use premade crust of your choice.
  2. Wash and chop all your veggies.
  3. Put water, bullion and all veggies in a pot and bring to a boil. Once boiling, turn down the heat to medium and cook until veggies are very soft, about 15 minutes.
  4. Put everything, including the broth, into a blender and blend until smooth.
  5. Add in beans, tomato sauce, seasonings and pizza sauce and blend until smooth.
  6. Top pizza crust with 1 cup sauce then 1 cup of the cheese.
  7. Let everyone add their own toppings to their section of the pizza based on their preferences. Top toppings with remaining 1 cup of cheese to help the toppings stay in place.
  8. Bake in preheated oven at 475 degrees for 15 to 17 minutes. Serve hot.

Tips for including kids

  • Kids of all ages can help wash and dry the produce.
  • Try kid-friendly knives for ages 4 and up.
  • Let kids measure out ingredients and place into the blender.
  • Show them what buttons to push on the blender and let them control it. Kids love using adult appliances and this gives them a lot of confidence!
  • Let them help spread the sauce, cheese and toppings on the pizza before putting it into the oven.
  • While the pizza is baking, have them help set the table and get drinks ready for the family.