It is being discovered in a broadening array of quarters that if you want children to eat healthily, get them involved in how and why. Abernethy Elementary School, for example, discovered that if they include vegetables as part of the school curriculum, the kids demand to eat them. Similarly, a unique cooking magazine for kids called ChopChop has demonstrated that when you show children how to cook healthy meals, they dive right in.
ChopChop is a quarterly food magazine and website for kids aged 5 to 12 and their families. The magazine’s mission is to educate kids on cooking, make them nutritionally literate, empower them to actively participate as health partners with their families, and help establish and support better eating habits. It was created with the vision to help reverse and prevent childhood obesity.
ChopChop is the brainchild of founder and president Sally Sampson and, as is the case with many such creations, it originally stemmed from a personal motivation.
“I have a child with a chronic illness,” Sally told Natural Vitality Kids. “She’s 17, almost 18 now, and she’s fine. But she was diagnosed with this illness when she was one year old, so I ended up doing a lot of work in the medical field, in healthcare. I am a cookbook author, have written 21 cookbooks, so I had these two tracks going on in my life; I had my cookbook career and then I was very involved in healthcare. Every now and then I would do a little project in healthcare and I would feel like, ‘Oh, I really want to do this. I don’t want to write cookbooks anymore.’ But then I realized I didn’t actually have the skills to change careers, so I would go back to writing cookbooks.
“Eventually I realized that I did have the skills, and that I could address obesity with this magazine. The idea originally was to distribute it in pediatricians’ offices, and that is what we did for the first issue. After the first one came out, we got requests from schools, then grocery stores, and more—so we expanded. Basically, now, we want to get to kids wherever they are.”
ChopChop is still available in pediatrician offices, but it can additionally be found at schools, after-school programs, and even Native American reservations. It is also on sale at Whole Foods Market and other stores, as well as on the ChopChop website. The magazine is non-profit and is funded through sponsorships, subscriptions and bulk sales.
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The content of the magazine centers around helping children, with their families, to create healthy meals. “Each issue has about 12 recipes,” Sally explained. “The rest of it is healthy tips, fun fitness activities, games like word searches, and things like that. For the most part there are two of us working on it—myself and editor-in-chief Steve Slon. I do the recipes, and then most of the other content follows from the recipes. For example, in the second issue, we’ve got bean recipes, and we follow with ‘What’s your bean style?’”
ChopChop has been very well received. “Parents are loving it,” Sally continued. “We’re hearing stories of ‘I brought the magazine home, and we were trying to figure out what to do for dinner. I put the magazine on the table and went and walked the dogs, and when I came home my kid was cooking!’ Parents are also saying that their children are eating foods that they hadn’t eaten before.”
The approach taken with the mag is one of fun—not of scolding. “There is so much stuff in the media these days, and I think that not just Michelle Obama, but everybody, is talking about obesity and healthy eating,” said Sally. “We’re not doing any finger wagging. Our message is pretty low key; it’s just ‘Here is a really fun magazine that you might want to take a look at.’ I think because we’re not doing finger wagging, the message is easier to take.”
Lesson learned: Engage kids’ involvement and spirit of fun, and you can get them to embrace healthy eating! ChopChop magazine is a great way to do that.
For more information on ChopChop magazine, visit www.chopchopmag.com.