A terrible speech impediment kept me from talking until I was seventeen. I stuttered horribly.  My Portuguese grandmother’s kitchen became my refuge. My grandmother, who spoke little English, taught me to cook with the most important ingredient of all – love. Not only did I find my love of cooking under my grandmother’s tutelage, but I found my voice there as well.

If cooking and eating together can help a child find his/her voice, imagine what it can do for your family!

For the last 15 years I have taught children and their families, not only how to cook, but more importantly why they should cook together. Last year in a television interview I was asked why I think cooking and eating together is so important. I often use the anacronym S-U-C-C-E-S-S to explain. You can read more about that in this post.  In addition to helping kids be more adventurous eaters, here are two additional benefits of cooking and eating together:

  1. Eat Better.   Children who eat with their family 4 to 5 days per week do better in school; get better grades.  These children test higher than children who eat only 1 to 2 times a week.  They eat better.  They eat more fresh fruits, vegetables, grains, protein, iron and fiber; less intake of soft drinks and sugar.  These children are less likely to suffer from eating disorders and have better weight control.
  2. Self Esteem.  Mealtime conversation brings the family together, promotes positive self-esteem in children and starts a lasting and positive relationship with food and family.  Families learn how to share the responsibilities of preparing and cleaning up meals before, during and after the meal.

These are some of the #sensationalside recipes that have more than pleased my children when they were younger and also the children in my cooking classes.


Roasted Gourmet Carrots




Mediterranean Orzo Salad




Asian Broccoli Salad




Steakhouse Baked Potatoes




Sour Cream Dill Mashed Potatoes




Zesty Tortellini Salad




This post is part of the FN Dish Sensational Sides series. For more kid-friendly sensational sides be sure to visit my friends. You can join the conversation on Twitter, Facebook and by pinning your favorites using the hashtag #SensationalSides.

Feed Me Phoebe: Mushy Pea Toasts with Mint
Jeanette’s Healthy Living: Roasted Asparagus with Parmesan Crust
Big Girls, Small Kitchen: Chocolate Milk with Homemade Chocolate Syrup
Bacon and Souffle: Kid-Friendly No-Boil Quick and Easy Mac and Cheese
Weelicious: Italian Asparagus Sticks
Devour: 5 Kid-Friendly Cupcakes
Dishin & Dishes: Mini Carrot Cake Cookie Cups
Napa Farmhouse 1885: Cream of Mushroom Soup (for Zola)
Red or Green: Busy Mom’s Chicken Tacos
Domesticate Me: Cheesy Baked Penne with Chicken and Broccoli
The Sensitive Epicure: PB&J and Apples Rice Paper Roll-Up (Gluten-Free)
FN Dish: Side Dishes Your Kids Will Love