Friday, April 06, 2012

Sam Kass Stars In The Spring Issue Of ChopChop

Joined by a gang of kids and Sesame Street's Grover, the Senior Policy Advisor gives a White House cooking lesson...
The White House is loving ChopChop, The Fun Cooking Magazine for Families. The colorful quarterly offers the exact messages about healthy foods and the importance of cooking that First Lady Michelle Obama has spent so much time promoting with the Let's Move! campaign. The Spring issue stars Senior Policy Advisor for Healthy Food Initiatives Sam Kass on the cover, and it's the second time a White House chef has been featured.  He's joined in the presidential kitchen by Sesame Street's lovable blue monster Grover and a gang of kids as they create a "Rad Radish Salad" for the cover story.  There's also a fun "co-interview" with Kass and Grover, which kids will love. (The cover, above)

ChopChop is published by the non-profit foundation ChopChopKids, Inc. Sally Sampson, president and founder, calls the magazine, aimed at kids ages 5-14, a "public health initiative," and indeed it is: The project is entirely in service to preventing obesity through teaching skills that were once-upon-a-time a regular part of family life. And though the mission statement is very serious--educating kids to cook and to "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"--the magazine does it with a big dose of fun.

"Our message is positive – no finger wagging," said Sampson.

She's a James Beard Award-nominated author of 20 cookbooks, and a frequent contributor to America's top food magazines. Sampson notes that parents and kids cooking together not only builds relationships and leads to better health, but it also teaches math, science, and cultural literacy. Each issue of ChopChop contains a wealth of information on cooking and growing food, with detailed instructions in kid-friendly but no condescending text.

And--something that will thrill parents--the magazine is free of advertisements. That means kids aren't staring at glossy promos for junkfood while trying to learn about nutritious foods.

Since the magazine launched in March of 2010, Sampson said that over 3 million copies have been distributed to more than 10,000 pediatricians, children's hospitals, and youth-based community organizations, as well as to schools and to after school programs, food banks, farmers markets, and grocery stores in every state and twelve countries. The Foundation's Advisory Board is made up of prominent child health, nutrition and education experts.

"We are currently in almost 50% of all pediatricians offices in the United States," Sampson said.

The publication is also available through subscription at It's $14.95 per year.

Kass and Grover...furry fun
During the photo shoot in the White House kitchen, Sampson said she was amazed that the kids featured with Kass and Grover completely ignored the adult puppeteer who was operating Grover, instead speaking to the puppet as if he was a real live being. (Above: Kass and Grover in their "co-interview)

"Just talking away to Grover a mile a minute, as if the puppet man was invisible," Sampson said.

Kass and Grover's co-interview in ChopChop is a perfect example of messaging dressed up in fun:

"I love to snack on healthy fruits and vegetables," Grover says. "Fresh carrots are especially fun since they make a super crunch sound, which perfectly complements my theme of being super."

"I love eating any kind of fruit, especially apples and bananas," Kass says. "I also love nuts: Peanuts, almonds or cashews!"

Kass has hosted a Muppet in the White House kitchen before: He was joined by Elmo for a video introducing healthier school lunch standards. Grover was chosen to join Kass for ChopChop because he's a "cooler" character for older kids, Sampson said, noting that Elmo is most beloved by the kindergarten and pre-school set.

The radish salad recipe was selected to introduce kids to a vegetable they might think twice about trying, and it is billed in the magazine as "a fab salad" that's "a little crunchy, a little spicy, a little sweet, and a lot delicious." Radishes are, of course, grown in the White House Kitchen Garden, and there's a page in the issue devoted to radish facts. It includes instructions for growing them at home in containers. It's a terrific example of the magazine's devotion to every aspect of nutrition literacy, from dirt to dining.

Rad Radish Salad

3 Cups Spring Mix Salad Greens (Green Oak Leaf lettuce, Red Leaf lettuce, Mizuna, Romaine, Spinach)

3-4 radishes, thinly sliced

1 small orange or tangerine, peeled, seeded, and thinly sliced

1/2 Cucumber, peeled or washed well, and thinly sliced

1 Tbsp olive oil

2 Tsp fresh lemon juice

1/2 Tsp salt

1. Put the Spring Mix, radishes, orange or tangerine and cucumber in a large bowl and toss well

2. Add the olive oil, lemon juice, and salt, and toss again

3. Serve right away

*Check out for more from the issue.

*Photos courtesy of ChopChop magazine