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Children cook up fun, food at workshop

NATCHEZ — Getting children in the kitchen isn’t always easy, but once they see how much fun cooking can be, it is hard to get them out.

That is the lesson learned Monday and Tuesday at the Adams County Extension Service Kids-in-the-Kitchen workshop.

The two-day class gave children an overview of skills and tips needed to make sure their next kitchen adventure turns out to be a masterpiece.

Emma Collins, local extension program assistant for the family nutrition program led the class full of local children.

“I grew up in 4-H and programs like this in Scott County so in a way, I’m just passing on all the information I learned growing up,” she said. “These kids are getting to the age where they can do a lot of things for themselves, and we just want to make sure they know how to make the right decisions about food.”

The program focuses on teaching kitchen safety, nutrition information and simple kitchen skills.

“When they leave here they should know how to create simple, healthy snacks,” Collins said.

And at least one participant already has a new food to add to her list of favorites.

Monday the group made healthy pizza pockets using vegetables.

“I didn’t really think I was going to like spinach yesterday,” 11-year-old Alison Hogue said. “But I put it on my pizza, and I really, really liked it.”

Collins said teaching lessons like tasting new foods and eating the right portion sizes to these children will go a long way in creating healthy eating habits when they are adults.

“We show them that the healthy foods are good, too,” she said.

One way to demonstrate what a good food is, Collins said, is to use the simple food pyramid showing children how much of each group they need to eat and what they need to shy away from.

The lessons seem to be sticking.

“Oils, that’s the group you don’t need much of,” Hannah Russell, 8, told the group.

And Russell is ready to put her new knowledge to work at home.

“I told my daddy that I learned to cut up vegetables and tomatoes,” she said. “He said ‘very good.’”

Bailee Eidt said the class was helping her to learn more about something she already liked to do.

“I knew how to cook some stuff already,” she said. “Now, I’m learning more stuff.”

And she has a good taste tester lined up

“My brother tells me to cook him lunch all the time,” she said.

While the food was the star, Collins said making sure the children can prepare it safely was a big focus. The students were taught the proper way to use knives and other kitchen tools, and Capt. Aaron Wesley from the Natchez Fire Department gave a presentation on fire safety in the kitchen.

“We even showed the kids how to take things off of the stove and put things in the oven safely,” she said. “They love it. We just want to make sure they do it safely.”

Before the hands-on food demonstrations, participants had to learn one of the most vital lessons in food safety — hand washing.

There will be a second two-day Kids in the Kitchen workshop from 1 to 4 p.m. July 26 and 27 at the Mississippi State Extension Service office on Carthage Point Road. The lessons are free, but participants are asked to call the office to reserve a spot. The phone number is 601-445-8201.

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