This is the first blog in my personal series on cooking with children; specifically my own. Now I am around other children for my professional work teaching them how to make nutritious food choices, lose weight, gain weight, deal with a specific condition or disease and how to cook. Not all in one day; every day is different. Today is special to me on a personal level: my 4-year, 10 month old daughter took the initiative in making dinner. You know what? I let her and it wasn’t even in my plan for dinner. The situation: its 4:45p.m. I am “over the day” since the 23 month old is really demanding most of my energy. I made chicken Marsala last night with sautéed mushrooms, Meyer lemon juice, Marsala wine; large Isaeli couscous on the side. So tonight was more of the same. So I go to warm it up and my daughter takes the chair over to the sink and stove area and grabs a bulb of fresh garlic and starts peeling it. “Mommy, will you please get a knife for me so I can slice this onion?..oh, and get a pan out.” Now, she has sliced many veggies: mushrooms, peppers, tomatoes, etc, but this is the first time she initiated it and the first time she wanted to ‘saute’. So (I am tired and over it, right?) I wipe a counter spacer for her, get the cutting board and sauté pan out and let her go with it. She says looking at the seasonings, “I think I will add the salt” after I added a sliced onion to a hot pan. She gets her oven mitt on and stirs the onion around. We talk about heat; she still nicked her arm reaching for an onion slice behind the pan. She didn’t cry (and she is a crier!). She was motivated, inspired and hungry! She says, “what else could I add?” I suggested spinach. “No”, she said opening the freezer and grabbed a bag of shelled edamame, “this is better”…..and into the pan the edamame goes…..along with a few dashes pink sea salt, a few sliced mushrooms I was ordered to slice and a handful of fresh cilantro. She gets bowls out. I divide the veggies amongst the bowls and add the re-heated chicken Marsala and couscous. You know it was a tad bit salty—she mentioned it too. But you know overall it was fantastic. Daddy said it was great! 23-month-old ate it too. She was proud and we were fed. I meet many, many families where the main cook in the family has her/his territory in the kitchen and does not want little helpers. Who know what? Kids will eat more nutritious foods if they pick it out at the store/produce stand, wash it, slice it, cook it and season it. Who cares what it tastes like to you? She made it and wants to cook again. ‘nuf said’.