Advocate for Healthy Kids
Already an accomplished cookbook author and entrepreneur, Sally Sampson decided she wanted to address obesity by inspiring kids to cook and eat real food. In 2010, she launched ChopChop, a nonprofit quarterly magazine that features nutritious recipes, as well as food-related fun facts and games, and in 2013 ChopChop was named Publication of the Year by the James Beard Foundation. We talk with Sally about the vision of ChopChop magazine, how cooking from scratch can help America’s obesity problem and tips for getting picky children to try new foods.
AndrewZimmern.com: What is your background?
Sally Sampson: I owned a takeout shop in Brookline, MA for 10 years and eventually wrote a cookbook based on the soups I served there. I realized then that I preferred writing about food to producing it on such a large scale and have been writing cookbooks ever since. I did the writing and recipes for most of them but sometimes I collaborate with a chef and just do the writing and sometimes I collaborate with a writer and just do the recipes.
AZ.com: What motivated you to create ChopChop magazine?
SS: My daughter was diagnosed with a rare chronic illness when she was one and I got deeply immersed in health care. I wanted to figure out a way to give back by using my skills and realized I could help address obesity by encouraging pediatricians to prescribe cooking to families during well-child visits.
AZ.com: What is the mission of ChopChop magazine?
SS: To inspire and teach kids to cook and eat real food with their families.
AZ.com: Any tips for introducing picky children to new, healthy foods?
SS: Pair what they don’t love with something they do love. Not by hiding it. In fact, the very opposite: by making it irresistible.
AZ.com: What is your prescription for reversing the country’s obesity epidemic?
SS: We know that the decline in cooking is a huge contributor to obesity, so our solution is to get everyone cooking at home. Start with kids and be happy with little changes. Don’t expect someone who doesn’t cook at all to start cooking everything from scratch: expect incremental change.
AZ.com: Your favorite kid-friendly recipes?
SS: At ChopChop we don’t think about “kid-friendly” recipes. We think of our recipes as ones for the beginner cook. That said, smoothies, dips, anything with a lot of interaction, anything you can shake in a jar. One kid recently told us, “When I cook, everything tastes better.”
AZ.com: You just won the James Beard award for Publication of the Year, what did that acknowledgement mean to you?
SS: We hadn’t received much attention from the food world so it brought us a whole new audience, but more importantly, the James Beard Foundation really understands that we are trying to make huge and sustainable change by getting kids from every walk of life into the kitchen. They also understand that the way to get the message across is not to preach about what’s wrong, but to excite families with positive messaging about cooking and eating together.
AZ.com: What’s in your fridge?
SS: I just went shopping so it’s very, very full: raspberries, blueberries, Pink Lady apples, lemons, limes, romaine lettuce, English cucumbers, green beans, red cabbage, red bell peppers, carrots, celery, radicchio, cauliflower, eggs, tofu, cheddar and Parmesan cheeses, yogurt, two kinds of maple syrup, Dijon mustard, Sriracha sauce, anchovies, sardines, capers, canned chipotles, pickles, milk, REvive, toasted sesame and peanut oils, tahini and horseradish. Homemade salad dressing and homemade hot oil. My goal is to be able to make a meal at any time without having to run to the store.
Sally Sampson is the Founder and President of ChopChop Kids, the non-profit publisher of ChopChop, The Fun Cooking Magazine for Families. She is a James Beard Award -nominated author and coauthor of 22 cookbooks, including The Olives Table (with Chef Todd English), The Fifty Dollar Dinner Party and Souped Up!
She has been a contributor to Bon Appetit, Food and Wine, The Boston Globe and Cooks Illustrated, among others and previously owned From the Night Kitchen, a café in Brookline Village MA.
Ms. Sampson is a member of the Board of Directors for Action for Healthy Kids, a Food Day Advisor to the Center for Science in the Public Interest and a member of the Family Advisory Board, Children’s Hospital Boston. Previously, she was a member of the Board of Directors, National Pancreas Foundation and a member of the Advisory Board, National Initiative for Children’s Health Care Quality.