We had the pleasure of interviewing Katie Kimball of Kitchen Stewardship and Kids Cook Real Food!
Katie Kimball is a cookbook author, Certified Stress Mastery Educator, two-time TEDx speaker, and regular TV contributor who has shared her journey to real food and natural living since 2009 at Kitchen Stewardship, a blog that helps families stay healthy without going crazy. Along with her 4 children, she created the Kids Cook Real Food eCourse to help other parents teach their kids to cook, build family connection in the kitchen, and supercharge kids’ confidence and creativity.
We talked with Katie about starting her businesses, her Tedx Talks about picky eating and developing critical thinking skills in kids, and how she helps families make small changes that have big impacts on their eating habits.
Links and recipes from this episode:
Cheeseburger Soup Recipe
Katie's Monday Missions
Dr. Kay Toomey's website
Picky Eating Isn't About the Food | Katie Kimball | TEDxHartford
What if Kids Never Build Critical Thinking Skills? | Katie Kimball | TEDxBismarck
Katie's blog post on 5 Keys for Motivating Your Kids to Cook
I'm Riley and I'm Roni. And this is the plan to eat podcast, where we have conversations about meal planning, food, and wellness. To help you answer the question what's for dinner.
Riley: Hello everyone. And welcome to another episode of the Plan to Eat podcast. Today, we are talking to Katie Kimball. She founded a kids eat real food and kitchen stewardship. She's a blogger, two time TEDx speaker, former teacher, and a mom to four kids.
Roni: We loved talking to Katie. She talked to us all about picky, eating, getting your kids involved in cooking and how cooking develops critical thinking skills for your kids. We talk about both of her Ted talks. Just go over so many things about kids and cooking and food. It was so awesome.
Riley: You are going to love this episode. We adore Katie and can't wait to have her back one day in the future. Enjoy the episode.
Roni: Katie, thank you for being on the Plan to Eat podcast today,
Katie: It's my pleasure. [00:01:00]
Roni: we kind of wanted to start our episode today. Just getting an overview from you on all of the things that you're kind of an expert in and what you do for living.
Katie: Well, apparently I get bored doing one thing because I do continue to add items to the list. Um, you know, I, I started life in preschool. I knew I was going to be an elementary teacher and that's what I went to school for. And that's what I did. And that only lasted two years, even though, you know, I'd put in five years of education to get there.
And I want it to be a mom. And as a perfectionist, I couldn't do both well at the same time. So life, you know, life changed a lot. That was almost 17 years ago when Paul was born. And so then, I mean, I threw myself full force into being a mom, and that was definitely my own real food revolution, so to speak, uh, where I just started thinking, Oh, my goodness. like this eight pound human being, every bite counts so much.
For him than it [00:02:00] does for me. And so that's really, when we, you know, I started cooking from scratch and buying, you know, organic, at least for the baby food, making homemade baby food. And it was, um, it was hard. I made a ton of mistakes. I burnt a lot. I, I remember once trying to make this weird homemade baby food recipe and the blender lid flew off and ended up with like pieces of chick, pea chunks on the ceiling.
Like I have done it all. Most of it wrong. And, but my teacher brain was always still moving. So anytime I'm standing in the kitchen and this was back, you know, this was before podcasts. This was before you'd have a little earbud in your ear. I was always thinking, how can I help others smooth this process?
Right. Whether it's meal planning. Well, so we don't waste food, whether it's saving money at the grocery store or saving time in the kitchen. And, and so that's where, you know, I designed this idea of kitchen stewardship. How can we steward all of our resources, our [00:03:00] time, our budget, our environment, and our family's nutrition.
And so I started teaching online in 2009, just helping families stay healthy without going crazy, you know, figure out how to fit it all in. And through that experience, I began to hear a really similar phrase over and over Katie. I really want to get healthy, but this is so hard because my mom never even taught me to cook.
Right. So it's like not just learning to cook healthy, it's learning to cook anything. started thinking, you know, I added children to our family and once, once we got to four kids, uh, two things happened first. I was thinking about those women in my generation being uncomfortable in the kitchen. And realizing that if they're uncomfortable, they're probably not teaching their kids.
Um, and also realizing that I was working so hard in the kitchen feeding my children well, but I was missing some steps that I, you know, my oldest son at that point, it was 10. I was past the halfway point. He was going to be 18 way too fast. Okay. It didn't really [00:04:00] matter all the healthy habits that I was setting up.
If he didn't know how to do it for himself.
Right. Plus I was spending so much time preparing food for a family of six that I wasn't spending time with my family. So all of that sort of crashed together when Paul was in fourth grade and I realized I have to teach my kids to cook. And maybe just, maybe a lot of other moms need this too.
Right. So that like teacher heart kicked in and we spent a whole summer, my kids and I putting together. This curriculum that became kids cook real food. And so, and that's, so that has just shifted really everything I do because, uh, cause I've seen so many families have amazing benefits from teaching their kids to cook.
And so I could not be more passionate at this point in time to get every kid. In the kitchen, cooking real food, confident feeling like they have the capacity and the ability to feed themselves and to nourish others. It's um, it's so amazing. It goes beyond the kitchen. And so I'm sure we'll talk about that.
And, and that has spilled into a lot more [00:05:00] kid topics. Like the fact that we need to teach our kids critical thinking, um, and that picky eating is an epidemic that's worrying parents. A lot. Um, and I really couldn't not address that. So I guess that's, I guess that's the overview traipsing through my continue. It's not really shifting, like always the goal has been to help people be healthier, but it's, it's shifting the, Um, the target just a little bit.
Riley: I'm sure, as your kids have gotten older a year, also seeing how all these things fit together. So looking back to the early childhood, that's why you're adding on all this stuff. Cause you're saying, oh, I wish I'd done this. Teach other people how to do this and then building blocks on top of that.
Katie: Yeah, very true. I have the benefit of perspective.
Roni: Yeah, I was going to say it's kind of like a snowball effect of how all of those things just like pile on top of each other, but also even there's a snowball effect in the fact that. If somebody's mom, didn't teach them how to cook and then they're not teaching their kids how to cook and then they're not teaching their kids how to cook.
Like it just can teach going from generation to generation [00:06:00]
Katie: Exactly. And that's what I started thinking is, you know, literally 20, 30 years from now, people. You know, writing their favorite blogger going, oh, I wish I could get healthy, but my mom never taught me to cook. And I'm like, so I see myself as the roadblock are going to stop that vicious cycle and help create a generation. of kids who are starting out with good habits.
Right. We have so many people, there are so many health experts in the field, helping adults who are on multiple prescriptions, who are dealing with chronic illness. Reverse. and undo the mess that they're in. Right. And so that's where I just say, all right, we, can we talk about root cause a lot in physiology. And when we talk about disease, but really the root cause for any disease of lifestyle, right?
Diabetes, cardiovascular, et cetera, is the habits we have in childhood food. We eat in childhood it's, you know, it's those tendencies where, you know, my kids, for example, always have a salad. With a meal. I always have a side vege with a meal that is so [00:07:00] ingrained in them that when my older kids make pizza, they're like, what's a, what's a side veggie, but that's not like most Americans it's like pizza is the meal.
Like, that's it maybe a little iceberg salad on the side that nobody touches. Right? So like that's, that's where I see it as my position in life is to help parents build these good habits so that we can prevent. Reliance on prescription drugs and falling into these chronic diseases later. Wouldn't that be better?
That'd be so much better than reversing.
Riley: Yeah, I love that your mission is, well, one that you've leaned into this, that you feel like this was your calling and you've leaned into it. And that it's so much more broad than kids it's it is like for their lifetime. So when they're 90 years old, like what they learned in childhood, I it's it's I love how broad it is.
Um, it feels like. I get these, I get these feelings sometimes about even plan to eat and how like we're all on this mission together to like, you know, save money and save time and eat healthier. And it just makes you feel like you're a part of [00:08:00] the world in some way. I don't know if that sounds really hokey or not, but that's how I feel when you talk about this, like we are, we get to do something in this world that is so impactful.
Katie: Yeah. and we have to think big and it's easy to say, oh look, maybe that's whew, we're going a little off the rails here. But you know what? One of my favorite pieces of research looked at teenagers and when teenagers felt like they could cook that they didn't even have to actually know how to cook. But if they felt like they knew how to cook anything, when they were in their thirties, they were more likely to have a healthier diet.
And that's what I always tell parents, look at this, look at us. When you teach your kids to cook. Now, you were having an impact on your grandkids cause who you're feeding when you're in your thirties, your kids, your children. Right? So it absolutely like research has shown that this snowball effect happens.
So you're very smart Riley.
Riley: It's amazing. And it's beautiful. So I'm excited to talk to you, and I know that our listeners are going to get so much out of all of this. Um, so I know, that you have four pillars of kitchen [00:09:00] stewardship. Uh, can you tell us about those and just, just, yeah, just elaborate on those for us.
Katie: The four pillars of kitchen stewardship, our time budget environment. And personal health and nutrition. And that just comes from those early days of parenting being at that cutting board. And I, I always sort of imagined like that this is how a mom feels like if you can imagine a graphic in your head of each of the four appendages being stretched in different directions.
Right. Because it just seemed like when I was talking with mom, my mom friends at the time, they would say, well, yeah, like it's awesome to buy organic, but then my budget is shot. Right, or it's awesome to care for the environment, but that takes way too much time. Or I would love to cook healthier, but I don't have the time or the budget.
Like, it just seemed like every move you made in one direction, like stretch the other. And I thought that it doesn't, there's no way it has to be that way. So that was kind of my goal at the time was what are some essential habits and techniques that we can say [00:10:00] actually help at least two, if not three or four.
Of those pillars. Right? So I started out with things like homemade yogurt, homemade yogurts, super fast. It takes like 10 to 20 minutes a week. I saved 500 to a thousand dollars a year. Making homemade yogurt for my family of six. And it absolutely increases our nutrition. Cause I can do it with, you know, whatever milk I can afford organic or not, or whatever.
I don't have to add sweetener, but I can, you know, to my kids' tastes if necessary, right? Like all my kids eat plain yogurt now, but there was a time where we would add some sweetener, certainly less than what's in the store. Right. So that's what I see as like, okay, you're helping your time. You're helping your budget.
You're helping your kids. You know, nutrition and you're saving the environment. Cause we're not throwing away all the little plastic yogurt cups. So it's like, boom, that's what we want to do. And I feel the same way about cooking from dry beans, making homemade chicken stock. Like they help multiple areas in really big ways.
And that feels good. It feels like you can fit that in.
Roni: I think that's awesome. It's really [00:11:00] cool to think about one small action of having such a broad impact in multiple areas. Like, I mean, obviously it's easy to think about like, like saving money. Or potentially, you know, having something that's healthier for your family, but then to think about like, oh, actually it does help in these other ways too.
Like, it's just, it's really eyeopening actually to think about how it helps in multiple ways.
Katie: Yeah. I used to like run numbers a lot back in the early days of, of writing the blog. And I still would be like, okay, the way I used to make chili. It would be like, I don't know, eight or 10 cans of things. Right. You've got your different beans and you got your tomatoes, you got your sauce and you got whatever, whatever, and your broth.
And it's like, okay, if I make homemade broth and cooked with dry beans, I'm saving more than 50% on that meal. Plus there's like two cans on the counter. And then you think about all the shipping, you know, the fuel that's saved getting, dry beans to my house instead of canned beans. And so it, it is, it's like it's little, little tiny actions can have a big waterfall in both [00:12:00] directions.
Right? Sometimes we talk a lot about how our little tiny action can have that big waterfall hurting the earth. Well, flip that script. Let's take those small actions that can help the environment for our kids' future that can help their nutrition. Now that can save our budget and that don't take very much time.
Riley: The thing I love the most about that. It particularly in the way you're talking about it is how accessible that feels. Um, I think that for a lot of moms, or depths whoever's doing the cooking, they will look at those things. Okay. It's too much work or it's too much time or it's too much, whatever. And so, but when you break it down in that way, it only takes me this much time.
I'm saving this much money. It breaks down all those much is, air quotes for everybody listening. Um, and it becomes so accessible for people. And the. Just again, to use that phrase of the snowball effect, but it just like the snowball effect of that. If you do that in multiple areas of your life and your, the way you're feeding your family, um, it adds up to huge impact, but it actually is so [00:13:00] accessible.
But when you look at the end product, you think, oh, I can't do that. Um, but when you just take those little baby steps and you break it down so accessible,
Katie: Yeah, we're all about baby steps at kitchen stewardship, just cause that's all I could handle. So I figured there were probably other, you know, tired brains out there like mine. And so for the first, probably five years, I had a Monday mission. One small change a week. And I would tell people like, just to one thing a week and at the end of the year, think about that.
That's over 50 changes. You can look back and go, wow. Like our way of eating is radically different. With one small change a week. And if you choose the changes that make the most impact first, right? You kind of push that snowball a little harder and a little faster. So That's yeah, it'll be great. I'll make sure you get a link to our, our Monday missions that are our top 10, Monday missions are now sort of a free email course.
So people can start at the beginning cause don't, you know, they always say, don't compare your end to someone else's beginning. So like, I don't ever want anyone to look at it, my life as a model of a high schooler and a first [00:14:00] grader and a couple in between and think that they need to shift tomorrow.
Like, you know, to make all the changes that has taken me 16 years to make.
Riley: Yeah. One of the ways that I've done that or that I've seen that become so easy in my own life is, um, just bone broth. I know that was something that you made homemade stock. Yeah. Um, like now that I'm in the habit of doing. It's so easy. It's almost mindless. It cooks overnight. I don't have to think about it.
I have the jars ready. They go, it goes in the jars. It goes to my fridge and then I never have to buy that anymore. Um, and it's so inexpensive to make it, uh, and it makes so much and we drink it when we're sick. I add it to all the recipes that it needed. And. But once, like when I started doing it, it was like, okay, I gotta think about it.
I got to measure everything out. And now I don't even measure. I just dump it all in the crock pot. And it is so easy. And it it's one of those ways that I have seen that, that little, like I did at one time. And it was a little, you know, it wasn't hard, but it was like a thought process. And then over, like over time, it's just almost [00:15:00] mindless.
It's so easy and it makes so much.
Katie: Yeah. We only have so much. brain power and that's why we we've got, we've got to give ourselves those opportunities to create the habits that now no longer take your brain power. You would think it was weird. I think to throw a carton of stock into your cart.
Riley: I would think it was weird now.
Katie: In the grocery store. yeah, I would, I would be, I would, I would forget it was in the cupboard
Riley: Oh yeah.
Katie: not where I look for chicken
Riley: Yeah. Yep. And it's, so it tastes so much better homemade. Like I want to drink it. I like think of it's like something I like crave. That sounds weird maybe, but like, I think it tastes so good. It's just tastes so much better than the canned or the carton stuff.
Roni: So we both watched your Ted talks and you have two amazing Ted talks. We'll definitely make sure that we link them in the show notes because they're amazing, not only for people who are parents, but I just kind of think that anybody who is interacting with children, I think they're really important. I personally really liked, you have one that's specifically about, kids being picky [00:16:00] eaters. And so you kind of have a unique approach to picky eating. So why don't you tell us a little about.
Katie: Well, I've learned so much in the past few years about.
picky eating. And what I really want parents to understand is that there's, there's so much guilt. There's so much guilt and anxiety in, in parenting. When you feel that your child's a picky eater, right. So many parents feel like, what did I do? Right.
And then it's really hard to get out of that. And, and also I, when you have a picky eater, um, a professor that I worked with Dr. Kay Toomey, me, she founded the SOS approach and she's she a psychologist? I think she's a psychologist. Anyway, she used to work on a pediatric oncology oncology floor. So she worked with families of children with cancer.
And now she works with families of children who are picky eaters, who are very, very extreme, picky eaters. And she says in her experience, The stress levels of those two types of families are nearly identical.
Katie: Having a picky [00:17:00] eater is as freaking stressful as having a kid with cancer, because you're literally afraid for extreme picky eaters that your child will stop eating. Right. So, so for all the parents who like, you know, even if you have a, not so extreme picky eater, especially us women, we snowball affect our thoughts. And we sometimes go there, like, what if, oh, no, this is only going to get worse. And so what I want to tell parents is that, you know, research shows it's really not the parent child relationship.
That is the Genesis of picky eating for, for many, many kids. For most kids. The origin is physical. And there are kids who don't know how to chew and swallow correctly, mass processed baby food, and especially the pouches play roles in this. Um, but it's still, again, it's not your fault if you bought them, that's what's being put in front of us.
Right? Um, there are a lot of kids stats say five to 15% of our kids have sensory processing difficulties. I think that's way higher. I think that's just the diagnose [00:18:00] number, but you know, we know a lot of kids are really bothered by loud noises. A lot of kids are really bothered by like scratchy tags, right.
Are uncomfortable. So I can feel my, my sock. I can feel it bunching up, you know? And so no matter which sense is processing oddly, whether it's over-processing or under processing, that can impact your relationship with food. And, and it's, it's mind blowing to parents. To realize that maybe what looks like picky eating is actually sensory processing disorder or is actually an oral issue with chewing and swallowing and a tongue.
That's just not strong enough. Um, one of our, one of our members and kids cook real food, her little six year old is in feeding therapy. And she's actually a pretty good eater, but, um, her, she has a weak tongue. Like what is that? I didn't know. I didn't know. That was a thing. When I first had kids, she has a weak tongue and so she tends to.
Like her tongue can't move the food to the back of her mouth to swallow. Well, so she tends to hold it in her mouth forever. [00:19:00] She wants to eat, but her tongue just doesn't really let her. Right. And so how frustrating is that as a mom or a dad going honey, quit holding food in your mouth, right. Just swallow it or just spit it out.
You know what I mean? Like, because we don't understand what's going on. And the kids don't know. They don't know how to say, well, mom, dad, like my tongue just won't do what it's supposed to do. Like they don't know. And so this causes so much stress for families. And I think the root cause of a lot of picky eating starts out physical and then fuel is added to the fire then because of the responses we make as parents out of that place of fear and anxiety.
Right because we know that fear and anxiety shuts down our executive function and our good decision-making and we make decisions from emotion. Like, oh my gosh, my kid will not, will not eat unless I give them the chicken nuggets and fries that they want. So I have to do that. That's how, I'm how I have to be a good parent today.
Right. And we have all the food marketing saying, this is easy, quick, easy, and cheap. Get the chicken nuggets, right. And, [00:20:00] or the Mac and cheese or the whatever. And so then what starts out as a small seed of a problem that may be physical in the child. Snowballs. This'll just be our theme. We'll call this the snowball episode, right.
It snowballs because then we don't know what to do as parents. So that's my job is to empower parents to set up the environment well, to set up their language and growth expectations for their kids, that they will not always be picky eaters, that their palette will change and can change. And that all kids. Can really be good eaters. And of course, as the kids cooking teacher, I pull in all the research that says that involvement with food helps kids be more open to eating it.
Roni: That was actually a part that I wanted to make a comment to you about, because I don't have kids myself, but I have two nephews and one of them is three and a half. And he is, I mean, I would say he's probably like stereotypical what people would think. You know, air quotes, picky eater, um, likes just the, you know, bland kid food.
And so I sent my mom, your [00:21:00] Ted talk. After I watched it, that's all about picky eating. And so then the very next day she was babysitting him and she had him help her make egg salad sandwiches. Like sh they, she boiled the eggs, but he helped crack them and mush them up in the bowl and everything. And she said he ate twice as much as he normally would have eaten because he was involved in the cooking process and he is normally a kid.
He's picky eating, but he he's a picky eater, but he also eats like small amounts. And, um, so she was just so impressed that, you know, just getting involved in little ways in the kitchen it's like dramatically increased the amount that he was eating. And then he was so excited to eat the meal. So it was really cool.
Katie: That is my favorite story. I love it. I love that's. The best part of my job is to stay here, successes like that.
Riley: At Roni and I both were really excited about that Ted talk and we both got so much out of it. I mean, obviously we both were talking about it for a long time, but, um, we talked about it personally a lot and we shared it with a lot of people. So we'll definitely link to the show notes so everybody can watch it.[00:22:00]
I think one of the things that I got out of your Ted talk from my own daughter is just awareness that there are other things that are at play. It's not that she doesn't like the food that I made her. It's maybe there's too many things going on at our house or our dog is distracting her or, um, you know, whatever it might be.
Or sometimes she complained like her sock on her high chair, her sock will get caught. It's like hanging half off her foot. And so she'll be like sock sock. And so, and I have noticed myself being like, just eat, like we'll deal with the sock. And so shifting my mindset and being like, let me fix your sock because you're not gonna focus on this because you're too focused on that.
Um, and then another thing that I have implemented with her is giving her less food at a time, not, uh, not like less of a portion, but like instead of giving her the four things we're eating, you know, The protein and the three sides or whatever, I'll give her the thing. I want her to eat the most like the, the, the vegetable or the chicken or the, and starting with that and not starting with the thing that I [00:23:00] want her to eat, the least like the, whatever it might be.
I don't know the Mac and cheese. Let's just use that as an
Katie: It's it's for kids. It's usually the carbs
Katie: drawn to the crunchies.
Riley: yeah, a hundred percent the potato, the carb, the muffin, if it's whatever it is. Um, and I don't give that to her until the end and she doesn't eat as much of it because by that time she's full on the thing that I really wanted her to eat.
Um, but I find that she is eating a meal. Well-rounded diet because she's, I think it's because too many things on her plate was distracting her and then she didn't even know where to start. So I just, I love that. And those are things that I've implemented with my own daughter. And, um, just so helpful, even though I don't, I think just the awareness that there are other things at play and it's not the food on the plate.
Katie: And I love hearing you say, like, that sounds easy. What you just did, like that did not sound like a hard, big brain heavy shift in the way you run your family. And yeah, we call that leading with the ACE.
Katie: it could cook real food to put the vegetable or the thing out first, so that they're coming with an appetite and most excited.
[00:24:00] Yeah. Do you want me to tell you two things that get in the way of kids eating that did not fit in the Ted talk?
Riley: yeah, please.
Katie: Yeah. you made me think of it with the sock. So it's kind of fascinating. Actually, the way kids are seated can completely distract their brain so much that they can't focus. Like your daughter's stuck.
Like her brain was like, it was like socks, socks, socks. She can't focus on eating. That's too hard for an 18 month old brain or 20 month old brain. And, um, so perfect sitting position for eating is 90 degrees at the waist, 90 at the knees and 90 at the ankles. Well, how many kids are sitting in chairs or highchairs that do that for them like hardly ever.
So the first, the primary goal of your brain is to stay upright, to not fall. It's not to eat because it doesn't, if you fall on your head, doesn't matter if you're nourished. Okay. So if a kid thinks and isn't, again, it's not conscious, but if a kid's brain is feeling like they might fall because they're not properly supported, they may not be able to focus on eating.
So I learned this from again, Dr. Kay Toomey, me and, [00:25:00] um, I noticed that very night, my current eight year old at the time he sat on the chair and he had one foot on the ground and one foot buckled under him. And I thought, oh my gosh, that's that thing. Like, cause he feels like he has to stabilize his body with a foot on the ground.
It's fascinating. Right? Who would have thought of that? We do not learn this when we have babies and highchairs generally don't have a little foot rest, but a little foot rest on a high chair can be a game-changer it's mindblowing. And then the other thing I thought of, and especially for our toddlers and preschoolers is parents will say, I don't get it.
Katie. They eat breakfast great. They eat lunch fine. And then dinner, when you know dinner is generally. Together as a family, you have more vegetables out just naturally, but dinner is horrible. They're such a picky eater. I say they might just be sleepy, right? Cause sometimes kids get to the end of the day and an adult dinner time could be when they are starting to get to that point of sleep, [00:26:00] the need for sleep, overtaking the need for eating in their brain.
And we don't always notice it. Right? Cause sometimes they pass the sleepy point and they get their second wind and they're a little zany. Right. So either they could be in there kind of sleepy point where they could literally call on a bed at that moment or they're already past it. And either way, sometimes we as parents, it's that awareness.
We don't think like maybe they're not eating because they're just tired. So that's another thing that blows parents' minds.
Riley: That is so interesting. I noticed that with my daughter, she eats amazing at breakfast she eats a fine lunch, and then dinner is usually the one where sometimes she won't even eat at all. Um, and she's fine. I mean, like I, I've tried to also let her know. I don't know, I feel like there's, you can speak to this, but I feel like with her, I'm trying to have a balance of like, not forcing it upon her.
She doesn't want it. Um, but also trying to feed her healthy food. It's, uh, it feels like a hard balance to strike sometimes. Cause I also wanted to sleep through the night and so dinner, you know, like I wanted eat dinner so that we sleep all night [00:27:00] or full, our tummy is not waking us up. But there are nights where she doesn't even touch dinner and We'll just we'll move on.
If you don't want it, you were offered it. If you don't want it, we can move on it. How do you, I mean, do you think that's just a sleep? Do I move dinner earlier? What would you recommend?
Katie: If you consistently see it, you may want to experiment with moving dinner earlier, and now that's a bigger change. The bigger family schedule change. Um, but I'd say you're doing exactly the right. If it's every so often, um, the division of responsibility coined by Ellyn. Satter another expert who's smarter than I am.
She says, parents are in charge of what is served when you eat and where you eat. And then that's where our responsibility ends, which is a huge weight off the shoulders for many parents. Because sometimes we feel like we have to make our kids eat. We have to do the bribes three bites of broccoli, and you can have the ice cream, you know, but any time.
That, that we are leaving our responsibility. I call it crossing the lanes. It always causes problems. Cause the child's responsibility is to decide whether they eat and how much. [00:28:00] And part of that is, if you think about it, it's really practical. Like no parent wants to enter into a power struggle where they, they can't win and you can't make your kid eat, sleep and poop.
That's why all the books and classes are on eating, sleeping and pooping. We cannot force it. Therefore we should not try because we're entering into a situation where we are going to lose. And if we lose the kids lose too. So the wind, the win-win is to do exactly what you sat as I've, I've served some options.
We've sat here for awhile, you know, you've made your choice. Now we're going to clean up and go to bed.
Riley: Well, I'm encouraged and hopefully I know there's going to be moms out there who are feeling that too. So thank you very much for letting me run my situation past you.
Roni: What your second Ted talk that you have done, or maybe it was the first Ted talk. I don't know the order in which you did them actually, but the order in which we watched them was that we, we watched the one on, kids developing critical thinking skills. Um, And so can you just tell us a little bit about how, um, you know, [00:29:00] getting your kids involved in the kitchen and cooking helps develop these critical thinking skills and why?
I guess even why critical thinking is important for our kids.
Katie: Yeah, we'll start with the why for sure. I mean, I, I think it's pretty easy for those of us adults to sort of look around the world and go, we need more people, many more people thinking critically, right in general. And to me, critical thinking is I'm asking a lot of questions thinking outside the box, trying to problem solve it definitely incorporates empathy and seeing from others perspectives, and these are soft skills, you know, these aren't things that are necessarily.
In a school curriculum and critical thinking is, is a higher level thinking skill, right? So when you think of brain development, your entire brain isn't developed until 25. I was 25. So anyone younger than 25, like they're making bad decisions. It's cause their whole brain isn't even there yet. It's not even playing the game.
And so it's really easy for parents to think. Oh yeah. critical thinking is [00:30:00] important Clearly that's something that, you know, my teenager will need to be taught. And it's sort of true. The executive functioning doesn't really develop until about age 11, but I firmly believe that we need to lay the foundations for critical thinking as early and as young as possible.
And so that's, that's what I want to show parents is that we need to teach kids to be curious. We need to teach kids to be adaptable and flexible. And a lot of that is seeing from other's perspectives and being willing to change your own if you're wrong. Right. And then the ability to be resilient . To understand that you may not always agree with everyone, right?
And if you are thinking critically chances are in our world and our culture, you're going to be going against the flow quite often. And so I really think that, you know, for our kids, we need to teach them that muscle of resilience and, and give them a chance to, to flex that muscle and be different, be different than the people around them sometimes.
So in the kitchen, we have all these things. [00:31:00] Right. We're able to be really curious about what things smell like and what will happen if you know, I do this or that. And what will this tastes like? Um, the kids. have the ability to see you having to adapt, right? When something everything's always go wrong in the kitchen.
Or you're out of an ingredient or something burns, you know? And so what better place to learn from failure and learn how to adapt and be flexible, um, and, and to be resilient and to be Okay. when things go wrong. And I think one of my favorite stories from our members, it's a working mom, you know, two parents, two parents working household, and her mom's name is Tanya.
And she got to the end of her. One weekend was just done. She was so exhausted. And she said to her two girls, we are going out to eat. Like I can't, I can't make dinner right now. Um, and her ten-year-old said, well, just a minute, mom, let me go check the fridge. Right. Ten-year-old girl. She had been taught kitchen skills already with kids cook real food.
And she went to the [00:32:00] fridge and she came back and she said, I see ingredients for quesadillas. Why don't I make dinner. Tonight and like what an empowering feeling for the kid to be able to save the parent that doesn't happen very often. And so that's, that's another reason why I call the kitchen is a lab of curiosity in a lab of critical thinking.
Riley: Okay. So I was going to bring that story up because it was my FA I mean, I loved the Ted talk. Um, can't say that enough, but. Loved that story for so many reasons. Um, I keep praising you for this accessibility aspect of everything you're talking about. And I think that the thing I got out of that was it wasn't about.
I mean, it was quesadillas it's like, I mean, I wouldn't rank that among like the highest of health of food. Right. But it didn't matter in that moment they were saving money by not going out to eat. The kid was the one who thought of it. Save the mom that mom probably felt. Like just like, she could just like, just ran a marathon.
Like she needed a metal, like her kid made dinner. Um, but it was still healthier than the food. They were going to [00:33:00] get at a, at a drive-through or at takeout and they got to eat food. They'd already purchased at home. Like there were so many things about that store. Just were so impactful to me. But the fact that it was just, it wasn't the healthiest again, I'm using air quotes, sorry.
It wasn't the healthiest meal, but it had, there were so many wins that it out that, that outweighed everything else about it. I loved that. And I think that that's something I keep hearing about what you're saying. I just, it, everything you're saying is so accessible, but the kitchen being the lab.
Like looking at my daughter and thinking like, I want her to be a critical thinker. I want her to ask questions and not just do things because other people tell her to do them. And that feels like an overwhelming task. But when you reign it in and just think, okay, my daughter's not, not even two yet, I'm going to start getting her in the kitchen.
This is where I can teach her these skills. And over time she will learn them. Like, just that feels so freeing. Just that I can start there.
Katie: That's awesome. And you know, I mean, you have learned so much, I'm sure in your journey as an adult, When you were a [00:34:00] teenager, you didn't know the values of homemade chicken stock, but, but seeing that going, okay, this is what we buy at the store. It's probably not even made from bones, right. It's probably like not slow cooked and it has very few of the health benefits.
And yet here's what I can make at home, which is still quick, still easy and super cheap. That that kind of realization is how we build curiosity. And how right. And that's how we enter a situation as an adult and go, okay, I see the situation. Is this really the best answer, right? Is this really the best way to do this?
Because it, because we have that experience. So the earlier we can build that experience for kids and build their normal, you know, as like the best that we've learned and even show them that, that we're still learning. Right. I, I say that a lot with my kids, you know, And we're going to take this magnesium supplement because it's supposed to help us sleep better.
I don't really know for sure. If it will work, let's [00:35:00] try to pay attention. You know what I mean? But we're like going on this journey of experimenting together and I think that's really good for them to see that even, even as the adult, mom still doesn't know everything, that's important. We gotta be humble.
Roni: and often we don't learn that our parents don't know anything until we turn 25 or 30, you know, like it takes a really long time to actually look at your parent as a human. Did you spend so much time thinking they know it? Well, you spend a lot of time thinking they know everything. You spent a lot of time thinking they know nothing.
And then you finally have the realization that they're just a person.
Riley: That's so accurate. Roni.
Katie: Yup. It's totally the journey and my poor kids. I don't know. Maybe there'll be on therapist couches when they're 25. I hope not, but they definitely know that I'm human fallible and humble.
Riley: Uh, I think that every time I'm apologizing to my daughter, I think I hope she's learning that I'm not perfect and that this is how we navigate life. We apologize. And we worked through things and.
Roni: All right. So if people are listening right now and they're like, okay, I feel [00:36:00] like I really got to get my kids in the kitchen. I want these critical thinking skills. I want to help with the picky eating problem. How have you gone about inspiring kids to be interested in cooking?
Katie: Well, we take from a practical standpoint for parents, we take a skills over recipes approach. And so I'm like, one of my neighbors was, was listening to me practice, um, an early version of the Ted talk. It's like totally different now, but an early version. And she said afterwards, she said, goodness, you know what?
I've always thought. I think her kids were like eight and 10 maybe. And at the time, and she said, I've always thought like, I'd love. Teach them to cook, but it was this big idea. It was like this huge thing. Or even like letting them help with a recipe sounded big and scary. And you know, a lot of brainwork, she said, but you just told me I could teach them to measure a teaspoon of salt.
She's like, I can do that. So, and that's again, it's all about baby steps. Like if your kid doesn't know how to measure a flat teaspoon, Start there. And then the next time you make homemade soup with your chicken [00:37:00] stock, it's one teaspoon of salt per quart. The kid measures it. I don't care how old they are.
And when you're eating that soup, you say, did you guys know that salt is the secret sauce that makes soup tastes good? And without it, it tastes horrible. Guess who measured the salt for this meal? Right? So you've done something very easy for your tired mom, brain or dad brain, right? Or grandma, brain, whoever very easy for the adults.
Very easy for the kid to be successful at. And they've gotten a big compliment and compliments, increased confidence when they're authentic, right? Like good job on your artwork. I'm not a fan of that, but I'm a huge fan of authentic skills and authentic praise. And so, so that's how I get kids motivated is getting them to do one thing.
When ideally when you're serving others, right. When the grandparents are coming over to visit, when you're going to a potluck or something that's even better. Because then it's adult to art, to their immediate family members, giving them the [00:38:00] compliment. So that's even more motivating for kids and it just builds up their confidence and they, and it feels good.
So they want to come back and do more in the kitchen,
Riley: How early would you start that?
Katie: 18 months to two.
Riley: Okay. Well, I will say that again, since I listened to your TedTalk, I've been really trying to just lean into the, having her help me. I think sometimes the mess part of it is the thing that's we got a lot of messes all day long. That's an area where I could do it a little bit less messy. Um, but I've been really trying to lean in to just it's okay.
It gets cleaned up. It's not that big of a deal. Um, and I've been doing a lot of letting her help me stir things. Now she asks to do that all the time where we live with. Quite a bit of snow now. So the other day we were even stirring the snow in a bowl because she just loves to stir. So I haven't really tried to do it, but I am encouraged that like that this age is a good age to start that.
Katie: Very much so, and you're super normal because most moms out there tell me they're the kids are too slow and they're too messy and those are our psychological roadblocks. Right. [00:39:00] Um, so, okay. So a couple of quick mess tips. First of all, we use something, we call a hand over hand technique for stirring, and so her hand can go over yours.
Um, because again, they can see what you're doing, but they can't see the. That you use, and that's why kids are so messy when they stir, because they put too much pressure. And suddenly the oats from homemade granola bars are popping all over the counter. Right? So her hand over yours, and then you move to your hand over hers.
And that. just allows kids. That's great for stirring, for flipping, for cutting with knives. Um, anything at cracking eggs, for sure. Right? Anything where you, you can't really see you can't, you can't see the pressure. So that really is really helpful. And then you can put like a big cookie sheet down when you're teaching to measure so that most of the mess ends up on the cookie sheet, far easier to clean up
Roni: Got any more questions? Riley?
Riley: You know, I don't want this to be like therapy session for Riley. I don't know. I think the way he certainly could talk for hours and hours about this topic, um, I even like think it would be pretty interesting to do a show where we had people send in their questions and you [00:40:00] helped answer them or help people like, like you've helped me on this show. Like I've said, okay, here's my situation.
Am I doing this right? What should I do differently? I bet we could get a. Group of questions that a, you could really help people, with their specifics and situations. Cause I think that's sometimes where people get hung up is that they don't have that one-on-one attention to ask like, okay, this is my problem. I tried all these things, but this is the problem I'm still having. Um, so that could be an interesting, uh, part two, if you'd be interested in doing that.
Katie: Yeah. I love that.
Anytime I do a webinar, I always tell people like, I'll stay as long as you need for Q and a. And sometimes it runs an hour. Um, and I do a picky eating challenge twice a year. And that
is, yes, people have, it's funny. Most parents think that their situation is so very unique that no one else has ever experienced a child like this. But generally there are trends, you know? And so it's, it's super helpful for others. Yeah. To hear me answer specific questions, they're like, Oh, that's basically my problem too.
Riley: [00:41:00] Yeah. Yeah. That's awesome. So tell us about where people can find you and then about your picky eating course. And when you run those.
Katie: Yeah. just go to kids, cook real food.com. We always have something free there on the homepage too, to see more of real life Instagram at kids cook real food and the stories that's where you might get to see a glimpse of like what my kids are currently doing the kitchen. And, uh, we do run a no more picky eating challenge a couple of times a year.
Um, we're, we're shooting for like a February, September ish rotation. So people can always sign up and I'll make sure you have the link for the interest list for that. But That's really fun. Um, I don't know if fun's the right word that is very empowering for parents because we make five small changes, five small action steps for five days.
And there's this huge momentum of like thousands of people trying things like lead with your ACE, right. That's not so hard. And you found it made a massive difference. And what your daughter is eating. So that's what I love to do. And then I continue working with people, um, in our picky eating [00:42:00] membership called kids, eat real food, and then our cooking classes, our kids cook real food.
Roni: That's perfect. Well, we'll make sure we link to all of those things in the show notes so that people can find you everywhere and sign up for all of your things. Um, we like to end all of our podcast episodes. Uh, what is a favorite recipe that you've made recipe that, or what's the best recipe that you've made recently that you and your family are just loving?
Katie: My kids made to be very appropriate . Um, my kids made one of their favorites, which was cheeseburger soup, hamburger soup for my dairy free daughter over the weekend. And I mean, they like this soup so much. That they will heat it up in the morning and taken and thermoses to school. And, you know, that's like way more work than packing a cold lunch.
And so the secret is pickle juice.
Katie: kind of dill pickles and pour a little pickle juice in and I'm telling you what? It's like cheeseburger and a bowl. So good.
Roni: Wow, that sounds, yeah.
Riley: would you be willing to share that recipe with our [00:43:00] listeners?
Katie: I watched It it's on kitchen stewardship. It might even be in plan to eat. We will look at like, look that up.
Roni: Perfect. That's awesome. Well, thank you for all of the knowledge you've given us today. We have had a really great time talking to you. So it's been really fun.
Katie: well, thank you. It makes me feel good to be able to help other moms. Your stories were just so fun for me. So I am, I'm built up as well.
Riley: Oh, awesome. Yeah. Thank you so much.
Roni: Alright, thank you guys for listening. We learned so much from Katie and we hope you did too. Please share this episode with somebody else so they can also learn all of these cool things. And we'll see you guys on the next episode.