Mint chocolate chip ice cream, for me, is summer. As a kid, going to our favourite ice cream shop on a hot day with my family, and getting to choose my favourite flavour was one of my most treasured memories. My love for this ice cream is not rooted in its deliciousness, but the memories that came along with it—especially the anticipation that my brothers and I had in the hours leading up to it. It brings back memories of long hot lake days in the mountains and going back for a fire and card games.
Food can elicit strong emotions. Positive memories like your grandmother’s Yorkshire pudding, or negative memories like the time you ate questionable shawarma and got food poisoning. The link between memory and food is real! Research shows a strong connection between the areas of the brain that are responsible for taste memory and experience. Neat, hey?
During these COVID-crazy times it’s important to create some positive memories for our kids. We’ve been enjoying family bike rides, but we’ve also taken up Sundae Sundays! Part of helping our kids create a positive relationship with food is not restricting their intake of certain foods, not encouraging (pressuring) one food over another, and not using food as a reward or punishment. The best example of this would be “three-more bites of broccoli and then you can have a cookie”. If you say this (or any of these other common phrases), consider shifting to more positive food dialogue that nurtures your child’s long term food relationship. Create happy and delicious memories using food – with no strings attached. I’ve listed a few fun ideas to get you started.
We all know “taco Tuesday” or “meatless Monday”. So why not sundaes on Sunday! Nothing extravagant required. Ice cream with sprinkles will suffice.
Roasting marshmallows and assembling a s’more is a camping rite of passage. You can even do this activity at home with a backyard firepit. Let your kids get sticky!
Planting a vegetable garden is a great way to not only provide yummy fresh veggies and fruit, but also an activity that requires kids to lend a hand in the process. Assign kids their own planter and let them be in charge of watering and taking care of it.
Rice crispy squares were a recipe I always remember my mom making, but it’s not one I frequently reach for. This recipe makes me happy, so I thought I would pass it along to my kids. They’ll probably remember me for these amazing oatmeal chocolate chip cookies.
Throw a blanket on the ground (or on the trampoline!) and eat lunch outside! Finger foods work well, especially for picky eaters!
As an adult I have tried so many different ice cream flavours. But kids – their experience is limited. So, why not have a blind ice cream tasting! Gather 5-6 different flavours and on a hot sunny day, get your kids to blind taste-test them to decide what their favourite flavour is. Get them to explain or write down why they like (or dislike) a flavour and what it reminds them of. This fun activity teaches kids to really savour and taste a yummy food and also teaches them how to be choosy with their treats.
Leftover smoothies make the best popsicles! Ask your kids for help in deciding what flavours to make. This tropical green smoothie is a hit in my household.
What?! You might think I’m crazy, but why not!? If it’s dessert night and the kids are going to get dessert regardless of how much of their supper they consumed, then why not throw the rules out the window and offer dessert first! If that sounds too crazy you could always try dessert WITH a meal.