cooking lessons father-daughter [General]

2009 Nov 27
I am looking for some cooking lessons that we can take together. My daughter is 11 and we both are very interest in cooking. My wife is returning to work after raising our kids and I have been in charge of cooking for last 3-4 months. Yet, I am already tired of the spaghetti, fish tacos, salmon, mash potatoes, salads and limited number of dishes that I can make (or not burn).

Don't want to try the kids stuff (cup cakes, cookies, brownies,etc) More like a formal tutoring or once a week lessons for everyday cooking.

Besides of making healthy snacks and lunches. We want to learn to cook meals for the family.

I appreciate any suggestions or tips.


2009 Nov 28
asanchez - There are indeed probably some "basic" cooking classes here in Ottawa... but most classes on offer I find cater to a particular style of cooking, and many are high-end (ie not something to keep your 11 year old entertained). Two thoughts come to mind (1) Go out and buy a really great all-purpose cookbook, I think that "Joy of Cooking" is a cooks bible that everyone should have a copy of in their kitchen... then it's just a matter or reading and experimenting, the recipes are easily laid out, and I have found that I rarely have a failure because everything is so well explained... and (2) Check into some of the Quick Prepared Meals to Go places in Ottawa, where they'd done all the purchasing, chopping, recipe planning etc, and all you have to do is put the meals together. Thinking your daughter could participate with you in this exercise (although you might want to call ahead to check). Overall this last option should still work out to be a lot cheaper than most cooking classes.

Or lastly, just start participating here in the OF Forum, and perhaps we can all share some easy to make ideas that you can gradually build into a sort of meals on rotation.

2009 Nov 28
loblaws has some great family friendly cooking classes. they often do ethnic food classes, which would be fun. one thing i would suggest, is look for a class that is offering what you are interested in, phone and ask if you can bring your daughter along, don't just look for kid friendly courses.

there are some personal chefs in ottawa, maybe you could contact one of them to see if they could help. it might be costly, but worth it.

2009 Nov 28
Another option worth looking at is all the great online video cooking tutorials. You can watch together, and then try it out yourself. Youtube is kind of hit or miss but there are some good websites out there. comes to mind as a great free source of tutorials for Indian food.

If you prefer to hit the high end (and don't mind paying for it) Rouxbe looks to be a fantastic online cooking school:

2009 Nov 28
I know the city of ottawa offers many cooking classes that seem really interesting, a few focus on healthy cooking ideas... I am sure you could participate with your daughter. To be honest I have never done one so I cannot comment on the quality or difficulty (perhaps others on the site have done one?). Here is the link:

It is too late to do the fall ones,but several start up in December and January.
Good luck!

2009 Nov 29
Thank for the ideas and links, I will check them.

One thing that I forgot to mention is that my kids are into sports (futsal, soccer, ballet, tap, etc) so I would like to tailor the diet to their activities.

- Daughter (15) plays competitive soccer 3 times a week plus ballet which is also 3 times a week.
- Daughter (11) is into ballet and tap twice a week plus futsal (once)
- Boy (7) is playing futsal and swimming. (once a week).

So I was thinking to discuss this with a nutritionist/dietitian to see what is required in regards to food groups and then derived a set of dishes that we rotate every two weeks. In the process, we learn how to cook and eat better.

So how do you guys do it? Is that the correct approach? Anybody is doing this?

2009 Nov 29
asanchez - If you have the time and money to consult with a Nutritionist / Dietitian then that is great... when I was a young Mom (kids now grown and gone) I didn't have that option personally, I figured out things on my own using Canada's Food Guide which gives you all the key components as far as Food Groups and Servings per Day = (You will find a ton of valuable food & nutrition info on the Health Canada website).

You have to take into account that to "go over" on the recommended amounts of Dairy, Protein or Grains isn't a healthy choice (equals fat)... and to "go under" on the recommended amounts means that one is not getting all their required vitamins for a day... although we did supplement a daily vitamin on a regular basis.

Other than that, you want to "shop smart" so the more "whole" the product the better (remember that saying, for best nutrition "shop the perimeter" of your grocery store)... and take into account that you want organics in the categories of leafy veggies, fruits that you eat without peeling (or cooking), etc. Also be conscious about the types of protein you consume, and where they are sourced from.

Beyond that work with your kids to find dishes they enjoy eating.

Much of the info you are looking for can be found for FREE on-line, in books and thru discussions right here on Ottawa Foodies. Infact we all regularly discuss food quality and compare notes... I suggest you just stick around and join in on a regular basis. PLUS... it's fun!

2009 Nov 29
i was recommended a dietician at the nepean sports medicine center to help craft some menu ideas for my toddler. i haven't had a chance to make an appointment yet, but the dietician comes highly recommended (by my family doctor who has very active kids). often visits are covered by health insurance, so you could start there. she will have lots of meal and snack ideas for your kids and may have some leads on good cooking workshops. this would be my first avenue if i were you. once you have some solid advice you can then look around for cooking programs that will meet your needs.

2009 Nov 30
Thanks! While I am not swimming with money, I do have a limited amount of time so for now I will try to arrange something with a professional for one or two sessions.

As mentioned, I will try to get a meal plan for the family and then share my findings here and ask for recipes or dishes that would allow me to follow the plan.

Again, thanks!

2009 Nov 30
asanchez The City of Ottawa has alot of information on their website about healthy eating:

If you scroll down the page abit you will find a link on "Nutrition and food services in Ottawa" including locating a dietician. It might be a good place to start.

Also some of the community health centres offer a variety of classes on nutrition and some of them have community kitchens. I just checked out the website for the Somerset West Community Health Centre (because it is closest to where I live) and I noticed they have a monthly get togethers on Community Cooking. According to the blurb on the website they cover "group meal planning & cooking, take-home prepared meals for your freezer" and that registration is required.

Good luck with the cooking classes.

2009 Nov 30
asanchez, It sounds like you need a course in the basics of different techniques. Cooking isn't as much about learning recipes, as it is about interpreting the recipe through the lens of your technical skills. I would recommend you find short courses that teach the basic techniques while demonstrating them in actual meals. I would think Algonquin would offer these sorts of courses, and if not, you could try something like The Urban Element The Urban Element, where you might be able to ask these sorts of questions.

I'm not sure that I pay that much attention to nutrition guides, and unlike F&T I do not get overly worried about going over a recommended amount. I try to focus on limiting pre-prepared food ( frozen, or McDonalds type) and having vegetables (fresh if possible) with lunch and dinner. Just like some books suggest, shop the 'fringes' (outside aisles, produce, meats, dairy) of the supermarket, and it's hard to go wrong.

Unless your kids have special dietary needs, I don't think I'd waste money on a dietitian, and spend it on learning to cook. Your daughters taking ballet, if they are serious types, may want to do some form of caloric restriction (which should be generally discouraged), which is a good opportunity to show that increases in complex carbs ( quinoa, wild rice, kasha, as opposed to getting calories from sugar/fat ) can fill you up, and still provide nutrition (and a full belly).

2009 Dec 1
Pete-In-Ottawa - When my kids were living at home, I worried a lot more about nutrition than I do today... My kids were very active in sports, and we followed the basics, but we never really obsessed about what they were eating other than to keep the amount of junk food down in the house (ie Halloween Candy tended to "disappear" shortly after the event). As they say, if there are healthy choices (and they are the ONLY choices, kids will eat them). After School Snacks for example were usually Fruit, Veggies or a teen favourite... a bowl of cereal. Although I am more aware of things now probably than I was then, after the kids left things changed in regards to household food management... and I certainly neglect my own eating habits more than I should. Middle age has brought on the pounds, for both "The Man" and I, and our lifestyle has contributed greatly to that, with the freedom of age also comes the tendancy to do things like eat out more, be less active, and indulge in the good life (in our case that would be wine in particular).

asanches - My buddy P-i-O makes a good point about Dance... my daughter took Ballet for over 12 years, and the better schools talk to the teens about nutrition and monitor their students for signs of food / body abuse when it comes to eating disorders (as oftentimes it will be an outsider who will notice such things before a parent will). They also don't encourage girls to go "on point" early so as to allow their bodies to develop properly (after puberty). The better schools in the Ottawa area (those that are producing candidates that make it to the National Ballet School) are the ones that are more progressive in their viewpoints, and they are open to discussing these things with parents.

Infact, most sports programs that are actually "involved" with their kids (hockey, martial arts, etc) vs just collecting a fee, will have coaches that are quite open to discussing these types of issues.... even neighbourhood soccer should be telling kids the value in rehydrating and the benefits of all those cut up oranges that find their way to the sidelines.

2009 Dec 1
Well, thanks for the comments and ideas... I have been discussing this my older daughters (11 and 15) and both are on board with my plan. I am also trying to setup a foundation so that when they leave to university, they are more or less prepare for having choices of what to eat, buy, etc.

As per eating disorders, I am aware that they exists but it has not been a concern at home. Other than having them point out that I am the heavy one in the family.

2009 Dec 9
Another option is . She emails a shopping list (organized by section of the grocery store) and recipes for the week. There seem to be lunch and breakfast menu-mailers now too. The options have certainly expanded since I used the service. The recipes are varied and easy to follow. Might be a good option too.

2010 Jul 5
Just to give you guys an update... still looking for some cooking lessons. My daughter is about to start some this summer. The wife does not have a job yet so she does most of the cooking.

As per the nutriologist, I did manage to contact one back in January who has been very helpful. We are basically following the Canada's food guide. Proper combination of proteins, starch, etc. has made a big impact. The big change for me was the starch at dinner which I avoid all times. Snacks between meals and portions. Kids help me a lot and I think their goal is to get me thinner. They are very supporting and vigilant. I have since lost 19 pounds.

While I have enrolled into a gym and go 3-4 times a week, I think the most impact was on the eating habits that I had. I have recently bought The Family Gi Diet mainly due the recipes. The book mentions a lot of the same stuff that the nutriologist is teaching us.

Is anyone familiar with the book? or can you share some other recipes?