Cookbooks for kids and other resources to help them have fun in the kitchen

On ATK Kids, you can find a podcast for children and their guardians to get excited about cooking together, a cooking club to plan out kitchen learning, as well as recipes and activities.

Sally Sampson, founder of ChopChop Family, a nonprofit organization dedicated to kid-friendly cooking that produces the kids cooking magazine ChopChop, says getting children involved makes them more inclined to eat varied foods. “We found in our classes and in our photo shoots and in general that kids really like to show off what they’ve made.” she says. “So if you can get a kid to make a salad or a soup, they’re going to want to eat it, and they’re going to want to share it.”

Through the pandemic, ChopChop has issued newsletters that feature pantry staples with not only recipes, but also activities related to the featured item to make the lesson as interactive as possible. ChopChop’s 2013 cookbook, “CHOPCHOP: The Kids’ Guide to Cooking Real Food with Your Family,” by Sampson, remains a great foundation for young cooks.

You can also find lessons through organizations such as Brooklyn’s the Dynamite Shop, a kids’ cooking school that pivoted to virtual lessons and workshops for kids to learn with or without supervision.

And of course, there are plenty of books! These fall/winter releases can help children, no matter what age, learn to cook and eat with confidence. Don’t worry — most of these include a note on cleaning up.

“Eatable Alphabet”: Developed by the ChopChop Family team in conjunction with the American Academy of Pediatrics Institute for Healthy Childhood Weight and funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, this is for the youngest set, age 2 to 6. You don’t even need to be in the kitchen to use it! This portable deck has cards for every letter of the alphabet, with pictures, a recipe and sensory activity prompts to help you get your littlest one learning about food. It is available for preorder on their website.

“The Tiny Chef: and da mishing weshipee blook”: For those unfamiliar, Tiny Chef is a small, soft, mossy-green Instagram celebrity whose stop-motion animated videos show him cooking up tiny vegetarian meals in his tiny kitchen to the delight of many. Now, our tiny friend is on the hunt for his missing recipe book in this adventure written by his team: animator Rachel Larsen, writer and director Adam Reid and cinematographer Ozi Akturk. Tiny Chef says, ““i twuwy hope dis blook helps pleeple shee how, bleven dough fingsh don’t glo ash pwanned, to blake the mosht of evwy situation and infuuuuuuse evwything u do wif lub and blattention. (Translation: “I truly hope this book helps people see how, even though things don’t go as planned, to make the most of every situation and infuse everything you do with love and attention.”)

“Every Night is Pizza Night”: What do you do when your 3- to 5-year-old is wary of new foods? You pull out this picture book, written by Serious

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A muffin tin deep dish pizza recipe for kids

One mom who sees it that way is Ashley Hansen, who was among parents who shared with me tales of cooking with kids.

Hansen, who owns Hansen’s Sno-Bliz snowball stand in New Orleans, admits she is a bit of a Pollyanna when it comes to cooking with her daughter Avery, 8, and son Gordon, 10.

“I always seem to go for this Mary Poppins aspect,” she said. “Let’s make this fun.”

And, snap, the job’s a game – literally.

“We have cooking contests with smoothies, small salads, grilled cheese, cookies. Everyone is encouraged to add a ‘secret ingredient,’” Hansen said, explaining that the idea for the game grew out of family members having their own ideas of how a cookie or smoothie should taste.

“So, I was like, let’s all put in our own special ingredient. They loved the idea of a secret ingredient that would not be revealed until the end.”

Hansen doesn’t leave everything to chance. Some contest ideas are born out of what she finds in her refrigerator or if she over-buys a fruit or vegetable.

“It’s important to lead them. I try to plant seeds and see who picks up what. Look, I have this Tupperware of roasted nuts. Look, I have bananas.”

The family loves crepes. Avery filled one with shredded cheddar and fresh dill. “She won that round,” Hansen said.

Gordon took home the trophy one day with his yogurt smoothie blended with rosemary and blood orange. “Avery and I looked at each other and said, ‘Gordy, this is so good.’”

A salad contest one night ended in another victory for Gordon – and for his mother. The boy made the winning combination of kale and watermelon.

“Ever since then he’s been eating all of his salads,” Hansen said. “He loves salads now.”

“It is a curiosity that kids have about how foods taste together, experimenting with things,” she said. “It’s also about making magic happen, like Harry Potter coming up with potions.”

Parents are remarkably clever sometimes. One dad told me he signed up for one of those meal-in-a-box delivery services, and now his son waits for the package like it’s a present and can’t wait to get into the kitchen to make whatever is inside.

After listening to lots of parents, I saw a few recurring themes:

Let kids do it their way. As one father told me: “For the cupcakes, she likes to split them and frost between the halves. ‘It’s less messy, Dad. The frosting doesn’t get on your fingers.’ I mean the frosting and crumbs do get everywhere to accomplish this, but the eating part? Okay, it is less messy.”

Pull out the gadgets. “My 4-year-old loves using the tools — stand mixer [cake and frosting], plastic knife [cutting boiled eggs and raw mushrooms], rolling pin [pizza dough], tongs [heating tortillas on gas stove], blender [making smoothies] and immersion blender [mayonnaise],” said one mom.

Go hands-on. Think shaping meatballs, cutting out cookies, “smashing” potatoes or rolling up wraps. “My

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From kitchen gadgets to kids toys, Jill Martin’s picks for staying home

Our editors independently selected these items because we think you will enjoy them and might like them at these prices. If you purchase something through our links, we may earn a commission. Pricing and availability are accurate as of publish time. Learn more about Shop TODAY.

Our editors take care to highlight sales and deals on items that we think you’ll enjoy — and at prices we think you’ll like. Shop TODAY has affiliate relationships so we may earn a commission if you buy something through our links.

We’ve all been spending more time at home than we’re used to over the past few months, and it can be hard to miss out on those special nights out of the house, whether it be a dinner date or a girls’ night out.

To take a look at the brighter side of things, TODAY lifestyle contributor Jill Martin is sharing a few ways to make your home feel brighter and more organized on “At Home TODAY with Jill Martin” — and of course she’s also featuring discounts!

Martin has been quarantining with her parents, brother and sister-in-law and they are all highlighting the products they’ve been using during these past few months while at home.

“For us as a family, the thread that we’ve used to navigate whatever this new normal is strength, being grateful, laughter and having fun,” Martin said.

Read on for the full list of great deals from kitchen items to kids toys.

Around the Table

1. Kalorik 3-in-1 Treat Maker — 60% off

Kalorik 3-in-1 Treat Maker

Kalorik 3-in-1 Treat Maker $28.00 at Shop now

This multi-use appliance has everything you need for a fun night in, and you can get it for 60% off. Create your own gummy candies using the silicon molds, toast marshmallows over the heating element, or make your own fondue in the melting pot. There are four storage elements to help hold all the treats you’ll be enjoying.

2. Tim Clarke Coasters — over 65% off

Tim Clarke Coasters

Tim Clarke Coasters $16.00 at Tim Clarke

Get over 65% off these chic wool coasters, available in round or square styles. The coasters are designed to be ultra absorbent, protecting your surfaces while providing a pop of color to your room. Designed by a celebrity decorator, these coasters are the perfect addition to any home.

3. Picnic Time Artisan Serving Planks — 50% off

Picnic Time Artisan Serving Planks

Picnic Time Artisan Serving Planks $30.00 at Picnic Time

You can get these serving boards for 50% off right now! Whether you use them as cheese or charcuterie boards or for cutting vegetables, these reversible boards are as gorgeous as they are useful. Hang them by the rustic rope on the handle or use them as a centerpiece for your table – you can’t go wrong.

4. Mad Hungry Spurtle Set — 60% off

Mad Hungry Spurtle Set

Mad Hungry Spurtle Set $16.00 at Kalorik

This 9-in-1 kitchen utensil has sold over

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White House reportedly pushed CDC hard to fall in line on sending kids to school, sought alternate safety data

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention began working in early summer on guidance for sending children back to school, and the White House then “spent weeks trying to press public health professionals to fall in line with President Trump’s election-year agenda of pushing to reopen schools and the economy as quickly as possible,” The New York Times reported Monday night, citing documents and interviews with current and former government officials.

This “strikingly political intervention in one of the most sensitive public health debates of the pandemic” included searching for “alternate data” that suggested children were at little or no risk from the coronavirus, the Times reports, and trying to swap in guidance from a little-known Health and Human Services Department agency, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

SAMHSA was focused on the emotional and mental health toll remote school could have on children, but CDC scientists found multiple problems with the agency’s assertion that COVID-19 posed a low health and transmission risk for children. That’s the language the White House was most interested in, though, and throughout the summer the CDC won some battles and lost others trying to keep it out of public guidance, the Times documents.

Olivia Troye, one of Vice President Mike Pence’s envoys on the White House coronavirus task force until leaving the administration in July, told the Times she regrets being “complicit” in the effort to pressure the CDC to make children look safer than the data supported. She said when she tried to shield the CDC, Pence’s chief of staff, Marc Short, charged “more junior staff” to “develop charts” for White House briefings.

In early July, several prominent medical groups, including the American Association of Pediatrics, advised sending kids back to school with stringent safety measures, in part because the data at the time suggested lower risk for kids. “More recently, data compiled by the academy from recent months shows that hospitalizations and deaths from the coronavirus have increased at a faster rate in children and teenagers than among the general public,” the Times reports. Read more at The New York Times.

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Barbie Bakes Cookbook For Kids

Budding bakers who are looking for a slew of sweet recipes to try are in luck because a brand-new cookbook, Barbie Bakes, is hitting shelves on Nov. 3. Created for kids between the ages of 5 and 11 years old, it includes 50 recipes for easy-to-make treats, like chewy granola bars, gluten-free meringues, and even a Barbie-themed birthday cake.

Although the recipes in Barbie Bakes include desserts, its mission is to educate kids on facilitating healthy eating habits and learning proper baking techniques. “Barbie Bakes fosters an intergenerational cooking experience while simultaneously educating kids on essential baking techniques and making healthy choices,” the Bookshop description says. “With 50 recipes presented alongside stylized, colorful images and inviting illustrations, Barbie creates an engaging and inspiring atmosphere for kids to learn, setting them up for a lifetime of rewarding experiences in the kitchen.”

Ahead, get a look at a selection of recipes from Barbie Bakes, and be sure to preorder a copy for your children ASAP.

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Men Who Cook and local restaurants teaming up for Hope House and abused kids | St. Tammany community news

While demand for the services of a local center that combats child sexual abuse increased right along with COVID-19, the prospects for the big fundraiser the nonprofit Hope House depends on for half its budget appeared diminished.

At that point, supporters of the Children’s Advocacy Center-Hope House in Covington got creative.

The group has decided to pivot in order to bring the popular culinary competition (and Hope House fundraiser) “Men Who Cook” to a larger audience than what St. Tammany Parish residents are used to seeing, said Thomas Mitchell, the executive director of Hope House.

Instead of a traditional one-night event, celebrity chefs on the Men Who Cook 2020 Team will partner with more than 10 local restaurants between Oct. 5 and Nov. 8 to present “Hope House Weeks.”

Donations can be made on-site or online through Nov. 8 at support.cachopehouse.org/MWC2020.

The restaurants will offer special deals for patrons who donate to help their celebrity chef compete for the Most Money Raised for Hope House award. And a panel of judges will sample a highlighted dish from each restaurant to determine the winner of the Judges’ Choice award.

It will be a win-win because it has been so been difficult for both nonprofits and restaurants during the coronavirus pandemic, Mitchell said. And he hopes the public will patronize the restaurants and the teams to help create more public awareness of Hope House.

“While there is a pandemic, there is also an epidemic of child sexual abuse,” Mitchell said. “We’re seeing greater numbers because kids are stuck at home or because parents have to rely on child care they otherwise would not have relied on before the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The Children’s Advocacy Center-Hope House is the only agency in St. Tammany and Washington parishes that provides mandated forensic interviews for children when there are allegations of abuse.

The center does not investigate allegations on its own; there must be a law enforcement investigation, Mitchell said.

“There were 336 kids who came into the CAC in 2019 to disclose sexual abuse because of a pending investigation,” Mitchell said. “When the forensic recordings were used, 96.1% of those cases charged, resulted in convictions.”

From January through June, the CAC has already served 189 youth, which puts the group on track to surpass its 2019 sex abuse numbers.

Hope House provides a child-centered environment that houses a staff of eight and a multidisciplinary team with representatives from 12 other agencies who are part of the investigations.

Mitchell moved here from Tennessee to become the executive director three years ago and has since implemented a program of recovery for the young clients. Hope House can provide up to 12 or 16 months of free “trauma-focused counseling,” an evidence-based treatment program for PTSD and recovery from sexual abuse.

“We’re privileged to work with kids and see their recovery,” he said.

Mitchell also initiated a free education program to prevent child sexual abuse. The age-appropriate classes for youth in prekindergarten through high school is called Play it

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Gardening: Two former farm kids embark on new life in Clarkston after helping grow church garden

When I’m 86 years old, I hope I still have the spunk and the ability to garden like Jeanie Baker and Leon Alboucq do.

These two intrepid former farm kids have inspired – and put to shame – the rest of the gardeners at the Resurrection Episcopal Church Community Garden.

Between 2013 and 2019, they grew more than 18,000 pounds of produce and donated it to Spokane Valley Partners Food Bank. Earlier this summer they decided to hang up their hoses in Spokane and head back to Clarkston, to be closer to old friends, family and a milder climate.

The Resurrection Community Garden was started in 2013 when members of the church converted about a half-acre of the field behind the church into raised beds. There weren’t enough resources to build beds in the entire space, which left a quarter-acre empty. Jeanie and Leon saw an opportunity and asked to have the space to plant.

The two dusted off the farming skills they learned as children during the Depression era and began planting.

“We were a couple of old farm kids who knew how to grow stuff,” Jeanie said, so taking on a large garden was no big deal. “We remember the Depression and how people went hungry.”

They grew up in the Lewiston area and met as high school students at the 1951 Junior Livestock Show in Spokane.

“Leon was on the FFA judging team, and I was a cute blonde who was showing an Angus steer,” Jeanie said. Life took them on different paths for the next 60 years: Leon as a stock car racer, cattle rancher, grocer, fire chief and Snake River mailboat operator and Jeanie as a nurse in Henderson, Nevada, and Spokane.

Their paths crossed again in the early 2000s. Leon’s wife died, and Jeanie sent him a sympathy card and then two Christmas cards before he responded.

“It was like all those years just disappeared,” Jeanie said. “We’ve been together ever since.”

Leon moved to Spokane to be with Jeanie, saying what else was he going to do, “that’s where the cook went.”

Jeanie and Leon raised cabbage, cucumbers, peppers, tomatoes, radishes, several kinds of squash and collected produce from the other members of the garden to take to the food bank.

“It’s the right thing to do,” Jeanie said.

She also grew a long row of colorful zinnias to draw in pollinators and taught other members of the garden how to gather the seed for the next season.

Jeanie and Leon have been a priceless inspiration to all the members of the garden. Their knowledge of gardening has given confidence to many new gardeners. Their words of wisdom have made us better people. Their stories have grounded us in local history and the value of living a practical life. Lastly, their homemade wine kept us laughing. We will miss you, Jeanie and Leon.

And yes, they are already planning their new garden beds in Clarkston.

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Free admission for kids, college students this fall at U of A Botanic Garden



a small boat in a body of water: The Kurimoto Japanese Garden at the University of Alberta Botanical Gardens southwest of Edmonton in Parkland County, Alta. on Thursday, September 10, 2020.


© Global News
The Kurimoto Japanese Garden at the University of Alberta Botanical Gardens southwest of Edmonton in Parkland County, Alta. on Thursday, September 10, 2020.

The University of Alberta Botanic Garden is opening its gates to children and students for free this fall.

“We know what a tough time families have been having, especially kids,” education co-ordinator Jennine Pedersen said. “We want the garden to be a space where they can come and explore nature.”

Read more: University of Alberta Botanic Garden reopens amid ongoing COVID-19 pandemic

Pedersen said while the move is temporary, it’s hoped one day to be permanent.

“This is actually part of a larger dream we have,” she said. “We’re looking for partners to reach out to us, who maybe want to be involved in making this dream possible and having kids at the garden free forever.”

The ultimate goal is that all the garden’s children’s programs — like school field trips — will be free and accessible to all kids.

With borders locked down due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many Alberta families have stayed closer to home this summer. The garden normally opens to visitors in the spring, but this year didn’t until June 1 — and Pedersen said it has been busy.

“We’ve had pretty good attendance over the summer. This is a great, safe area. Lots of space to spread out,” she said.

While some programming such as field trips had to be cancelled due to COVID-19, the garden is looking to develop new programming that’s safe, fun, engaging and gets kids back outside.

“Having kids connect with nature is more important than ever,” Pedersen said.

“Nature teaches you so many lessons that you can’t learn on a screen. So it allows you to learn problem-solving skills and creativity skills and you just learn about the wonder that’s around you.”

Read more: U of A Botanic Garden closing early for entry pavilion construction

The gardens have seen several major upgrades in recent years, including the construction of a new entry pavilion structure over the past year, which included a new admissions area, gift shop, concession and outdoor seating area.

The opening of the Aga Khan Garden two years ago also resulted in twice as many visitors as normal during the first two months.

Read more: New U of A Botanic Garden saw spike in attendance; Aga Khan in town for inauguration

The 11-acre garden has 12 water features, about 665,000 kilograms of granite, fruit orchards and more than 25,000 trees, shrubs, perennials, annuals and wetland plants.

Also popular at the facility is the the five-acre garden Kurimoto Japanese Garden — which opened in 1990 and is created in the kaiyou (strolling garden) style but filled with plants hardy to Alberta’s northern climate.

“We have 240 acres of beautiful, beautiful garden to explore,” Pedersen said. “Beautiful ponds, flower beds, trees, lots of insects, squirrels.

“It’s just a great place to enjoy with a family.”

While the tropical butterfly showhouse is also a popular

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Fair Oaks kids grow pandemic side project in backyard garden

During World War II, Victory Gardens were all the rage. In order to help stave off a food shortage, people planted vegetable gardens in their yards. Not only did they help make sure the soldiers off fighting had enough to eat but they gave the people a purpose and helped them feel like they were contributing something of value during the war.

The springtime start of the coronavirus pandemic this year coincided with a rebirth of the home garden for many. For the Gordon family of Fair Oaks, it was time to tear up the backyard to try something new — and old.

Tavon Gordon, 17, is used to spending his summers in basketball camps with his friends and Del Campo High School basketball teammates Jackson Taylor, Brayden White and Damjan Agovic. As it became clear in March the summer was going to look very different for the Gordons’ eldest son and his friends, the idea came quickly into place.

The Gordons knew Tavon and his friends would need a way to get together outside and have a safe activity during quarantine. They consulted Kenneth Karl White — one of their neighbors and Brayden’s father — who is a very experienced gardener. Game plans were drawn and the boys traded basketball drills for urban farming.

“When COVID first hit in the middle of March, we were all trying to figure out what is ‘shelter in place and why is there no toilet paper?’” said Chantell Gordon, Tavon’s mom. “And wondering if we would run out of food — What’s going to happen? Our neighbor grew up on a farm and has a garden at his house. They even have chickens and a greenhouse, and he’s rented land somewhere else in Sacramento so he can have a bigger plot. He asked us what we thought about doing this.”

The families decided to use the Gordon’s backyard to start another garden, and have the boys’ core group of friends work on it.

“It would give them a chance to do something — to be outside, and it’s a skill they can take with them,” said Chantell.

White drew up plans based on what was best to plant at the time, and how long those plants would need before they could be harvested. The Gordons tilled up their backyard. Both Chantell and her husband Greg were mostly working from home and figured the money they were saving on gas to commute would offset the costs of getting started with the garden. Whether it did or not, it would be worth it to keep the boys busy with something other than just video games. In April, the families all put on their masks and headed to the nursery to pick up their first plants.

Under the guidance of their neighbor, they were starting to grow tomatoes, peppers, corn, squash and strawberries.

“It’s been so cool to see it happening,” said Chantell.

The garden has proved to be a silver lining during stay-at-home orders, since

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‘It’s been too quiet’ at Garden City elementary school as kids return

It’s never an easy logistical task, shepherding more than 400 second-, third- and fourth-graders into an elementary school on the first day of classes. And that’s especially true in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, when children are supposed to maintain a 6-foot distance from each other, while following directional signs and keeping their masks above their noses.

Still, Linda Norton, principal of Stewart Elementary School in Garden City,  was moving them along at a brisk pace Tuesday morning, welcoming as many as she could and wearing her own mask with the inscription “Be kind, world, be kind.” 

“That’s in the second gymnasium,” Norton said, directing one backpack-toting boy to a converted classroom. 

“She’s on the second floor,” the principal told another student who remembered her teacher’s name but not the classroom number. “It’s 228.” 

And to a third student, “You go up the stairs. It’s right next to the art room. To the left.”

Arrivals at the Stewart School began shortly before 8:30 a.m. and were mostly secured in classrooms, some in converted gyms and a library, by shortly after 9 a.m.

A few things had gone wrong on welcoming day as they always do, staffers said later.  Too many students had bunched up rather than maintaining social distance, after alighting from buses or their parents’ cars. Many parents found themselves unable to use cellphone apps that were supposed to verify that students had experienced none of the headaches, fevers and other symptoms associated with coronavirus.

On the other hand, students were in school for the first time in almost six months.. 

“I think they were excited to be back,” said Zeynep Vitale, a PTA officer with a daughter enrolled in third grade at Stewart School. “They’ve been chomping at the bit. They missed school, they missed their friends. We told them things would look a little bit different — so just hang in there.”

“There’s laughter,” said Keri Hand, the elementary school’s assistant principal. “This is how it’s supposed to be. It’s been too quiet.” 

Garden City was among more than 60 school districts that opened Tuesday across Long Island, providing the first live instruction since schools closed abruptly in mid-March. Traditionally, the day after Labor Day marks the biggest wave of student returns to classes, and Tuesday was no exception in that regard.  

In other ways, however, the lingering threat of coronavirus infection has had a major impact. For starters, this season’s school schedules include a combination of in-class and online instruction. Parents of about 30 students at Stewart, for example, have opted for their children to spend full-time in remote instruction.  

Moreover, a substantial number of districts have pushed opening schedules back this month, in part to gain more time for establishing health safeguards. 

In Garden City, as elsewhere, school administrators are taking a flexible approach to the question of opening

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