30 Days to a Food Revolution Day 19- What’s Cooking

30 Days to a Food Revolution Day 19- What's Cooking Welcome to day 19 of 30 Days to a Food Revolution.  Our guest blogger today is Michelle of What’s Cooking.  Michelle Stern owns What’s Cooking, a certified green company that offers cooking classes for children in the San Francisco Bay Area.   Not only do her classes teach kids and their families to enjoy delicious homemade foods, but they also motivate families to use food and cooking to help those less fortunate.  Michelle has appeared on ABC’s View From the Bay 7 times and was recently a guest on a radio show about Childhood Obesity.  When she isn’t in the kitchen or at the computer, she’s the head chauffeur for her two children, dog walker to her two mutts, and chicken feeder for her backyard flock.

Michelle’s Recipe: Smashed Tomato and Basil Bruschetta and Pear, Honey and Quark Bruschetta

Michelle’s Tip: Cooking with Kids, a Grassroots Strategy for a Food Revolution

30 Days to a Food Revolution Day 19- What's Cooking I just might have the best job in the world.  But I am pretty sure that lots of people think I am completely off my rocker.  Why else would I want to spend my days in the kitchen with children or teaching their families how to avoid power struggles during mealtime?  Regardless of my mental condition, 6 years of teaching children and their families how to cook has made one thing perfectly clear:  Children who cook eat better.

30 Days to a Food Revolution Day 19- What's Cooking

I could end this article right there.  It’s a simple enough concept.  Why then is it so hard to find people who are willing to cook with their children?  Is it because it is messy? Maybe it’s because it slows them down?  Or maybe they don’t want to risk that the recipe won’t turn out as expected.  While all of those concerns are valid, the benefits of cooking with kids way outweighs these inconveniences.

It’s easy to make excuses about why not to cook with your kids.  But with a little effort, it can be done – even without a proper kitchen.  If I can cook with a group of children in the middle of a farm festival, anyone can do it at home or in school.

Back in October, I found myself cooking with an eager and hungry group of kids atop hay bales in the middle of Full Belly Farm for the third year in a row.   We were sitting outside with dust in the air, ants skittering around, and hay bits clinging to our ingredients.  It was a far cry from cooking in a sterile commercial kitchen or even at home.  But we were close to our food.  Most of our ingredients, in fact, were grown within a stone’s throw from our makeshift kitchen.  It was perfect.  (Just don’t tell the health department.)

I wanted to use fresh ingredients that were in season.  Even for the pickiest eater, it is hard to resist foods that are fresh from the ground, fragrant, juicy and delicious.  I decided to make Bruschetta 2 ways.  Both took advantage of ingredients that were either grown at Full Belly Farm, or those that were donated by local artisans and farms from the farmer’s market.  Neither of these recipes required “cooking”  and both were perfect for our rustic surroundings.

30 Days to a Food Revolution Day 19- What's Cooking

Smashed Tomato and Basil Bruschetta
Adapted from Jamie Oliver

1 basket cherry tomatoes, or 2 handfuls

1 clove garlic, minced

3 Tbs extra virgin olive oil

1 tsp balsamic vinegar

Small handful fresh basil leaves, chopped.

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1 baguette French bread or similar Italian bread (choose gluten free if needed)

1/4 cup olive oil

  1. Squash the tomatoes in a bowl.  You can squeeze them in your hand, but be careful of spraying juice.
  2. Make sure there is a top rack in place in your oven. Turn on the oven to 450°F to preheat.
  3. While the oven is heating, add the remaining ingredients to the tomatoes.
  4. Slice the baguette on a diagonal about 1/2 inch thick slices.
  5. Coat one side of each slice with olive oil using a pastry brush. Place on a cooking sheet, olive oil side down. You will want to toast them in the top rack in your oven, so you may need to do these in batches depending on the size of your oven.
  6. Once the oven has reached 450°F, place a tray of bread slices in the oven on the top rack. Toast for 5-6 minutes, until the bread just begins to turn golden brown.
  7. Alternatively, you can toast the bread without coating it in olive oil first. Toast on a griddle for 1 minute on each side. Rub some garlic onto the bread and drizzle half a teaspoon of olive oil on each slice.
  8. Align the bread on a serving platter, olive oil side up.
  9. Either place the tomato topping in a bowl separately with a spoon for people to serve themselves over the bread, or place some topping on each slice of bread and serve.

10.  If you top each slice with the tomatoes, do it right before serving or the bread may get soggy.

Pear, Honey and Quark Bruschetta

Michelle Stern, What’s Cooking


Honey, to taste

Quark (cheese)

Country bread (currant or walnut raisin) again, choose a gluten free option if needed.

  1. Toast bread slices.
  2. Spread each slice of toast with quark.
  3. Top with diced or thinly sliced pears.
  4. Drizzle honey over the pears, to taste.

Michelle has more information here.

Don’t forget:

In order to be entered to win one of 7 cookbooks, here’s what you need to do to gather entries into the drawing.  The more you do, the more chances you have to win!

  1. Leave a comment on this blog on as many of the 30 guest food bloggers as you like.  Each comment is an entry.
  2. Sign up for The W.H.O.L.E. Gang newsletter.
  3. Visit that guest blogger’s site and leave a comment there too.
  4. Tweet about this project using both of these in your tweet so I’ll find you  #30days2 #foodrevolution

When the initial 30 days of guest posts are over on June 4th, we’ll pick the winners.

22 Responses to 30 Days to a Food Revolution Day 19- What’s Cooking

  1. Michelle May 20, 2010 at 3:54 am #

    My kids are ALWAYS trying to help me in the kitchen and more often than not I am trying to get things done andtry to have them do something else. I will be having them help me more often. They may be better eaters also!

  2. Janette May 20, 2010 at 5:32 am #

    Great idea to get kids to help in the kitchen. I'm going to start doing that on the weekends. Thanks!

  3. Christa May 20, 2010 at 6:53 am #

    Those recipes sound great! It's awesome that you teach kids and families to cook healthy foods. My son is two and he loves to cook with me. I have to be careful, though, because he will randomly throw in some extra salt or whatever else he can get his hands on. I was thrilled the other day when I gave him a rice cracker and he asked for some "tummus" (home-made black bean hummus) to go with it. He recognizes most fruits and veggies and likes to munch on them. I hope to raise him to be a healthy eater!

  4. Jillian May 20, 2010 at 7:34 am #

    My kids love to help out in the kitchen. I have them make the salad all the time, it's their "thing" and more often than not we have some crazy additions to it which they gobble up, even my two year gets into it, it's fun. It does get them to eat better, even my very picky 6 y.o seems to eat slightly better on days she's had a hand at what's for dinner.

  5. Alta May 20, 2010 at 7:37 am #

    I love cooking with our kids. While two of them are resistant to eat a lot of things, I do have one that's always adventurous – we're making alligator (if I can find it) the next time we're cooking together – fresh from a vendor at our farmers market, who brings Louisiana gulf seafood! Yum.

  6. I Am Gluten Free May 20, 2010 at 7:45 am #

    As an Early Childhood Music Educator and Performer (who is passionate about all things food, especially gluten free and dairy free and working on egg free!), I know the value of encouraging and empowering children to participate in activities. The benefits, as you say, far outweigh the disadvantages. I agree with you wholeheartedly!


  7. Stephanie May 20, 2010 at 9:21 am #

    My 5-year-old son has designated himself as my soux chef! I LOVE IT! But I have to admit I'm not very good at having them help me out for savory foods–more so on the baking projects.

    I love the bruschetta idea and will definitely do more of this. We'll squeeze the cherry tomatoes outside 🙂

  8. susan from food blog May 20, 2010 at 9:45 am #

    I don't have children, but when my nieces come to visit, I always take them to the farmers' market. My oldest niece has been introduced to many news foods that way, and then she is inspired to help me cook when we get home.

    I'm going to tell her about the bruschetta since she adores it. Plus, she'd get a giggle out of saying "quark." 😉

    Michelle, you're doing amazing work. Thank you!

  9. Debi (Table Talk) May 20, 2010 at 10:01 am #

    My daughters have been cooking in the kitchen with me since they were toddlers. A few years ago we started doing a family cooking night (usually on a weekend night when we are less scheduled). The kids decide on a menu/cuisine, and we all work together in the kitchen to make dinner. This experience has not only expanded their skills in the kitchen, it has given them an appreciation for all different types of ethnic food. This time also gives a chance to talk, laugh, and stay connected. Some people have family game night, we have family cooking night.

    I am a huge advocate for getting your kids in the kitchen to cook with you, and think what you are doing here is so important.

  10. Michelle (What' May 20, 2010 at 10:55 am #

    Thanks for the nice feedback, everyone. Since so many of you already cook with your kids, I would LOVE it if you would consider writing a guest post for my blog! I have a popular series called What's Cooking with YOUR Kids, where people share stories about their kids in the kitchen. Thanks for considering it! You can email me through my blog: http://www.whatscookingblog.com xoxox

  11. Kelli May 20, 2010 at 11:26 am #

    It is so important to me to feed my kids healthy food.

  12. Kelli May 20, 2010 at 11:37 am #

    I tried to leave a comment on her site, but I could not figure out how to. There was a security code, but I could not figure out what to do.

  13. Jenna May 20, 2010 at 7:29 pm #

    It is fun to cook with your kids, and kids love to cook too, so it works well for everyone.

  14. gfe--gluten free eas May 21, 2010 at 4:35 am #

    Great post, Michelle! It's really a wonderful idea to seize the enthusiasm that all kids have and put it to use in the kitchen. It's a much better use of everyone's time than so many other activities. And, it's active, not passive, and definitely gets kids to eat better. I tended to have my son bake with me, but not make savory dishes as others have mentioned. Since he's 22, that opportunity has long passed (although I am still teaching him some gluten-free recipes, and mostly savory ones now), but I'll have to share this with others and remember it if one day (in the far, far future) I have grandkids!

    BTW, I'd never heard the term quark, but anything that sounds like a sci fi name will definitely draw kids in! 😉



  15. Aubree Cherie May 21, 2010 at 6:38 am #

    I love the fresh recipes and that they're simple and fun! Working with families must be so rewarding. Keep up the amazing work 🙂

    ~Aubree Cherie

  16. Terri May 21, 2010 at 2:09 pm #

    I don’t have kids, but a good friend does and I love to go over there when she has them. We’re also teaching them to sew as well as cook. They’re all girls under the age of 10, so they’re eager to learn.

  17. alison May 24, 2010 at 11:39 am #

    Great post Michelle!

    I am excited that my girls are getting old enough to help me in the kitchen more. The most exciting thing recently was that my 5 year old flipped the pancakes! And she didn't even burn herself! (phew!) I need to incorporate them more into dinner.

  18. Treasa Michelfelder January 20, 2011 at 12:58 am #

    Children loves cooking, I have not long ago decided to buy a cooking kit for children and I see that they really like it and appreciate assisting me.

  19. Calvin Raposo June 23, 2012 at 6:41 pm #

    Useful information. Fortunate me I discovered your web site by accident, and I’m shocked why this twist of fate did not took place in advance! I bookmarked it.


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