By now you know that my 7-year-old is an accomplished sous chef (even with a broken finger). He loves to cook with me in the kitchen. He’s also drawn to kids’ cookbooks, but the problem I find with most cookbooks for kids is that there is little cooking involved with the recipes. Perhaps concerned that parents aren’t willing to put knives in their kids’ hands or let them stand near a hot stove, the majority of the recipes are a variation on the theme of making after school snacks look like bunnies.
So when I learned about ChopChop, a new magazine that says it’s a “fun cooking magazine for families,” I decided I needed to really check the magazine out before I told you about it. I went to their website, and this immediately caught my attention.
ChopChop’s mission is to educate kids to cook and be nutritionally literate, empower them to actively participate as health partners with their families and help establish and support better eating habits for a lifetime of good nutrition. ChopChop’s vision is to reverse and prevent childhood obesity.
I was sufficiently impressed with that to write and request a review copy, not just for me, but for my sous chef, too. When the copy arrived in the mail I took a look and was pleased with what I saw - several recipes that got children actually cooking and using kitchen utensils. The recipes are written with kids in mind. They start with what equipment will be needed, then go into the ingredients, and finally the instructions that all begin with “wash your hands with soap and water.” If you don’t have children, trust me, adding the “with soap and water” part is necessary.
Another thing that impresses me about the magazine is that when the instructions talk about using the stove or using a knife, they will say something like “with the help of your adult, place the skillet on the stove and turn the heat to medium” or “put the carrots on the cutting board and with the help of your adult, cut them.”
The editors of ChopChop don’t assume that children can’t do these things, but they do recognize that adult supervision is required. My 7-year-old has been using my smaller chefs knives for a year now, always with my supervision, because I trust his coordination and maturity in this area. My older son, he didn’t use a chef’s knife till he was nine because he’s a different kid with different skills. I like that the editors trust the adults in the situation to decide when children are ready for things like knives and open flames.
My initial impression of ChopChop was good, but the true test was if the magazine could impress my son. He tore through the pages of the magazine and immediately picked out three recipes to try: Hot Honey Vanilla Milk, Crispy Carrot Fries, and Lemony Salad Dressing. We tried them all in one night. The recipes were simple enough for kids, but used the stove, knives, and most importantly – real, healthy ingredients. We loved the crispy carrot sticks (they get amazingly sweet when roasted in the oven!) and the salad dressing, but the honey vanilla milk wasn’t really to our taste. That’s okay, though, because part of learning to cook is trial and error, finding what tastes you like together and what tastes you don’t.
There are also several recipes in the magazine that don’t require too much adult supervision like a quesadilla recipe that uses spinach and canned beans cooked in the microwave. My 7-year-old could pull that recipe off without any help from me at all.
ChopChop also has a few other features like the profile of a 12-year-old chicken farmer a word search, and a piece on making a garden in a window box.
I am sufficiently impressed with the magazine to recommend it whole-heartedly to those of you who want to get your children really cooking. Kids can and should be taught to cook with real ingredients. ChopChop can help with that.