Using the mezzaluna to teach kids how to chop

Using the mezzaluna to teach kids how to chop - Papa Oki

While we might think that equipping a child with a knife to help out in the kitchen sounds like a recipe for lost fingers, if it’s done carefully and under supervision I think it’s a really good skill to learn and has all sorts of benefits. From a health and nutrition standpoint, studies have shown that getting kids cooking makes them more open to eating healthy foods, such as fruits and vegetables. With my twin sons’ picky eating habits I hoped that letting them interact with their food in a meaningful way may reduce struggles at the dinner table – and so it proved!

So much of cooking requires cutting or chopping, and it can feel daunting and sometimes scary to involve kids. I’ll admit, I found it easier to prep some ingredients before the kids got into the picture, but using the mezzaluna has been an easy and safe way to introduce them to food prep. 

It’s been easy for them to use because both hands need to be on the handles, and thus away from the blade. Our boards come with a recessed bowl preventing food from sliding away and focuses the child on where the mezzaluna should be used. 

It allows them to do something that usually only adults do, so they have gained a sense of control as well as feeling proud of an achievement. Instead of watching you chop, they’ve actually been able to participate and help. You’ll see how great it will be to have your own sous chef! 

It's also been lots of fun. The mezzaluna is rocked from side to side until the desired result is achieved. The mezzaluna can be used by kids for chopping all sorts of things such as onions, cucumbers, salad, peppers, celery, or anything that isn’t too big or hard (such as carrots, potatoes or chocolate). 

They’ve also been more open to actually eat what they’ve prepared - especially with salads. 

If you do try this, it’s worth remembering that:

  • children should supervised especially for the first few times until they are feeling more confident.
  • The board should be on a non-slip surface (if you’re unsure, pop a damp tea towel underneath to keep it from moving)
  • Make sure the work surface is at the right height for your child - you may need to use a step or chair, but make sure it’s not wobbly and won’t slip. The kitchen table can also be a good place to work.

We’ve been getting the boys to help out for about a year now, and it’s been a great success. And they still have all their fingers!

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