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Home Cooking 33

easy, relatively healthy "cooking lesson" recipes for a teenager

Lady_Tenar | Nov 12, 201111:15 PM

Hi all. I work at a non-profit organization for teenage girls and I still maintain relationships with some of the kids that have passed through the program. I spent an afternoon with one of these girls today, during conversation discovered (not surprisingly) that she eats incredibly unhealthily (we're talking a diet that consists almost entirely of refined carbs and fats, and meat) AND has a history of diet-related illnesses in her family. She knows this is bad (and has had healthcare professionals tell her this) and that she needs to change her habits but just hasn't worked up the motivation.

She is going to college next year, which is a time when a lot of kids learn basic cooking and other "fend for yourself type skills." I would really like to have a hand in this process if I can! I don't like to preach to her but I still feel kind of a "mentor" attitude towards her, even though I don't work with her anymore. I thought cooking together would be a fun thing for us to do and I could teach her some basic skills and dishes that utilize healthy ingredients. That way, she might be more motivated to change her habits a little.

There are a few key criteria here. One is that these dishes should be EASY! She is a beginner and I don't want to discourage her by getting too complicated too early, especially since she's going to be a college student with limited time and facilities. The other is that I don't want to get too crazy with the "healthy" yet--that's why I say "relatively" healthy. My main objective here is to get some vegetables and other nutrient-dense foods into her repetoire--if they need to be cooked with meat, fat, or other things to make them more appealing to a teenage palate, so be it. I figure that if she develops a taste for a wider variety of healthier foods, she can move on to healthier applications from there.

The idea that I've had so far is to do a chunky vegetable pasta sauce--not attempting homemade tomato sauce yet, just a jarred sauce livened up with some fresh vegetables and herbs, and maybe some sliced Italian sausage. It's an opportunity to teach her to prep a few different types of vegetables get familiar with their cooking times, and who doesn't like pasta! That's about the speed I'm thinking right now. Any of you have any ideas? Tips on how to make raw veggies and salads more attractive are also welcome.

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