By Christina Jedra
July 02, 2014

Dawes cooks with her boys.

Finding quality time to spend with your kids can be tough while juggling many other priorities, but there is a way to schedule bonding time and get dinner to the table faster: Get your children involved in the kitchen.

By making them a part of an important family task, they'll learn responsibility, practice math and reading skills, and learn about where their food comes from. Cooking also directly improves kids' health: One study published in the journal Public Health Nutrition found that kids who cook eat more fruits and veggies. Plus, kids in the kitchen have an opportunity to learn about food groups and nutrition at a time when they are developing their food preferences. Even First Lady Michelle Obama stressed the importance of kids' cooking skills when she announced earlier this month her desire to reinstate cooking classes in schools.

Nicole Bernard Dawes, Co-Founder and CEO of Late July organic chips (and mother of two), knows a thing or two about cooking with kids. Not surprisingly, she suggests piquing kids' interest in cooking with a simple but fun summer classic: chips and salsa.

"Salsa is the perfect recipe to give kids a little independence in the kitchen, and it also happens to be my sons' favorite to make. My seven-year-old uses a Kuhn Rikon kid's knife so his tomato pieces are more chopped than diced, but he can almost make this whole recipe himself," says Dawes, who usually dices the onions and jalapeños herself.

Dawes' salsa recipe is delicious as is, but she encourages parents and children to make it their own.

"I included a list of optional ingredients as inspiration because sometimes we enjoy mixing it up to let their creativity really take over," she says.

Whatever you make with your kids, know that in exchange for a little mess you'll be teaching your kids an important life skill and hopefully making something delicious in the process.

The finished product!

Late July's Homemade Salsa

3 medium-large heirloom tomatoes, chopped/diced

1/2 medium onion, diced

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 small bunch of cilantro, chopped

1 jalapeño, seeded and chopped (optional)

1-2 limes, juiced

Salt to tasteOptional ingredients: Mango, avocado, tomatillos, sweet corn, black beans, imagination

Combine ingredients, serve, and enjoy!


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