I got a little busy this fall, what with all the other canning projects I added to my usual list (tomatoes, pasta sauce, and pickles) as well as all the fun work projects I’ve had on my plate. This week I decided it was now or never on making applesauce, and I decided I just could not skip a year of this tradition with the age of my kids and their love for my applesauce. Once you’ve made homemade applesauce, it’s really hard to “go back” to the store-bought stuff. The flavor doesn’t compare! Luckily for me, my local apple orchard still had a good supply of apples on hand so I was able to get several varieties for my applesauce, which I think makes for a more interesting overall flavor. Check out the full recipe for my “Not Your Mama’s Applesauce” here. And now for a slightly random tangent…

I got my son involved this year – he’s 4 and loves to help me in the kitchen. He helped crank the food mill and it was really fun for him to see the apples turn into sauce. It also gave my arm a break, which was nice!  Getting kids involved in the cooking is a great way to introduce new foods and to get them thinking about how the food on their plate comes together. Studies have shown that when a child helps prepare a food, they are more likely to want to try it AND more likely to say they like eating it. What a bonus! I know it can take longer to have them help, and of course, what they help with needs to be age-appropriate (no chef’s knife for my kids yet!), but it’s totally worth it when they get excited about trying the healthful food they help make. Now, it’s not always health food in my house. They help me with plenty of cookie making too!  My son’s preschool teacher told me that when they help cook, it also can help with the development of fine motor skills and coordination. For example, having to hold the bowl while cranking the food mill, or using little fingers to turn a can opener, which can take some muscle for a little body. And then, of course, there’s the bonding time that happens when you work on a project together in the kitchen – I believe this benefits both child and parent!

With the holidays coming up, and (hopefully) some extra time to spend in the kitchen whipping up your favorite treats, I hope you’ll also take time to let your kids, nieces/nephews, or grandkids help.  I’m not saying it doesn’t take patience (okay, a lot of patience in my case!), but it’s totally worth it in the end.