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chefs at home
 

Allen Susser

Allen Susser is a critically acclaimed chef and father of two. FoodFit wanted to know how Chef Susser teaches his daughters about cooking and nutrition and gets them involved in the entire food experience. He previously worked with our founder, Ellen Haas, to make improvements to the National School Lunch Program. Susser is currently involved in the American Institute of Wine and Food's "Days of Taste", a nationwide program that teaches 4th and 5th graders about farmer's markets and the importance of fresh produce.

FoodFit   Why do you think it's important for kids to become involved in learning about food and nutrition?
ALLEN
SUSSER:
  There's always the obvious—introducing them to food and nutrition allows them to become involved in their own well-being and gives them choices to make. It's important to teach children that food and cooking can be fun and exciting. Cooking also allows them to express their creativity and make things that taste good. Most importantly, they need to understand the connection between food and what's going into their body and how they are affected. This is a natural, further application of the basic food pyramid that is currently taught in schools.
 

FoodFit   Do you have any ideas for getting kids interested in cooking?

ALLEN
SUSSER:

  They must learn initially from their parents. Parents need to involve their children in the kitchen; take them to the grocery store to help them shop. Allow kids to pick out a few grocery items and include them in the planning of meals. Assign them simple tasks to help prepare meals such as whisking salad dressings together or washing and drying lettuce.
 

FoodFit   How can you make a child's school lunch more fun and appealing, yet still healthy?

ALLEN
SUSSER:

  Involve children in the planning of their school lunches each week. Give them choices and ask them what fruits and vegetables will play a role in their lunches that week. It is possible to incorporate healthy "chips" or pretzels—just let them choose two days of the week to have them. Involving kids in the decision-making process will help them to appreciate what they're eating more and understand the value of what they're eating. You can make lunch items like sandwiches, fruits and raw vegetables fun and appealing with creative types of cuts (diagonal, zigzag, etc.). Fun dips for vegetables are always good too; kids can even make these dips. Let them help you choose lunch recipes sometimes as well. Any sort of inclusion will make them more likely to want to eat their lunch and keep it healthy.
 

FoodFit   What are some healthy breakfast and after school snack options for kids?

ALLEN
SUSSER:

 

Yogurt and fruit are always good, easy choices for breakfast. Smaller apples are easier to hold and eat and clementines, which have no seeds and are easy to peel, are also good choices. Parents should try to stay away from processed, sugared cereals. More fibrous, whole grain cereals like raisin bran are better options. As for after school snacks, fun trail mixes always seem to be a hit. Mix together healthy cereals and granola with dried fruit and raisins.
 

FoodFit   Do your children cook with you?
ALLEN
SUSSER:
 

My two daughters, ages 5 and 10, love to be with Dad. They both enjoy cooking at both places. At the restaurant, they help rolling out homemade breadsticks and helping make soufflés. At home they help make easier items like pancakes, cakes, pastas, eggs and omelets. They both like to be involved in the process.
 

 

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