Kids in the Kitchen

The PowerUp program teaches parents and their children to cook healthfully.
Brayson, left, and Otto Petrich mix up a healthy salad.

PowerUp and Mahtomedi Community Education have paired up to create an education and bonding opportunity for kids and their parents—PowerUp cooking classes have children and their parents working together to make healthy, kid-friendly recipes. These classes are a great way for kids to get excited about a variety of foods, and also get involved in meal preparation. BearPower—the PowerUp initiative located in White Bear Lake—works with its community partner throughout the St. Croix Valley to make these cooking classes and other healthy education opportunities available to families all over the area.

PowerUp was born through Lakeview Hospital in Stillwater when the team there expanded a simple cooking camp into an educational program. Kathy Mead, a dietitian at Lakeview, teaches BearPower classes at the Mahtomedi District Education Center to 10 students and their parents every week. Mead’s students are 3 to 8 years old, and every class they get a half-hour of nutrition information and a half-hour of cooking. “It’s important to get kids exposed to different foods early,” Mead says. Every week, they have different food themes and recipes, and the kids even get to vote on whether they like a recipe or not. Popular food themes include heart-healthy recipes, foods to dip, different varieties of baked potatoes, seasonal snacks and much more.

In the past, for PowerUp Halloween, the students made pumpkin hummus and participated in a Squash Walk (making different types of squash); for Thanksgiving they tried three different sweet potato recipes.

For PowerUp participants, mealtime is also family time—cooking and eating healthy is great, but it’s better when done together. “All classes are themed around getting kids in the kitchen and getting them excited about exploring and trying new fruits and vegetables,” PowerUp program coordinator Stephanie Kovarik explains. The classes teach them skills like chopping, whisking, measuring and knife safety, while coaching them on cooking fruits and veggies in new ways.

Aly Petrich, a mom of three, participates in Mead’s classes with two of her boys and the classes have influenced their creativity at home. Her family is an excellent example of bonding through cooking—they love to make dishes together and add their own unique touch. Petrich’s 3- and 5-year-old sons, Brayson and Otto, love to make pizza, because they get to add toppings and sauce. The Petrich family also enjoys making sushi together, and using lots of different sauces and veggies. “It is fun to be creative with what we add, how we roll it,” Petrich says. “And it’s fun to try new foods.”

For more information on class offerings and prices, head to the website here.