Monday, March 15, 2010

Interview with Cricket Azima- Child Nutritionist and Chef

I spent my morning chatting with Cricket Azima, Child Nutritionist and Kids' Chef and author of Everybody Eats Lunch. First of all, she is delightful :) Seriously. We spent last week with her cooking on Bridge Street on 9WSYR. She's super smart when it comes to kids nutrition and cooking and a fellow mom, so we love her. Read the interview and you will too become a fan.

What made you decide to write Everybody Eats Lunch?

For about 10 years I had been teaching kids cooking classes while getting my Masters at NYU in Food Studies and Food Management. I saw how to teach traditional curriculum through food and saw how it could translate to any age. Teaching Science and Math through food really engaged kids. I am a big fan of Montessori learning and saw how children, when using all of their senses retained more information.

What is your favorite or most popular recipe from the book?

It is the yummy Pumpkin Fritters. Kids love them.

Which "camp" do you belong to-- the "hide-the-veggies-in-the-food" or openly offer them?

Don't hide the veggies!! Foster a healthy relationship with fruits and vegetables by frequent exposure. When cooking with kids, I often use repeat ingredients. So maybe on the first time they don't want to try the green peppers, but the third time they are more likely to give it a try.

What are your suggestions for the moms of super picky eaters who feel they have tried all the "tricks" with little success?

Get the kids involved from the beginning of the process. Have them help plan the menu. Take them to the grocery store and give them a simple task like locating some of the ingredients. Offer them a choice- but without setting yourself up. For instance, offer the choice of broccoli or cauliflower. Let them help in preparing the meal- washing the vegetables, tearing off leaves, or cutting up fruits depending on the age of the child. What I have found is the more invested the kids are in the meal by planning and cooking, the more likely they are to eat it.

You have become the Spokesperson for Fruit Simple. What made you make that decision?

The sad fact is less than 10% of kids are getting the proper amount of fruits and vegetables in their diet.
Fruit Simple is great because it is 100% all natural with no sugar added. Sometimes it is more convenient that fresh fruit, its portable, and often more economical. If you were to make your own smoothies it can be pretty costly and often you would end up with some waste. Fruit Simple is great because you can throw it in a bag whereas a pear isn't always as conducive for that. Its also a "treat" for kids. All of my desserts are fruit based and Fruit Simple can be used the same way, as a easy and healthy treat.

What are the two messages you want parents to take away from this conversation?
  1. Balance. Balance is key-- for kids and adults.
  2. Get the kids involved and start forming that healthy relationship with food while they are young.


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