What We Do
Started in 2010, Teach Kids to Cook Media launched an indie print magazine for kids called Ingredient. Why? We believe that kids should be curious about the world they live in and about the hows, whats, whys, and whens of the food they put in their bodies. We believe that cooking is a form of creative self-expression, and that fostering it in children empowers them to be taste risk-takers. We are proudly ad-free and sponsor-free, and write with no particular public health agenda, except that a diet rich in knowledge and curiosity is good for kids.
With an editorial board comprised of food writers, parents, teachers and special needs experts, Ingredient aims to entertain and challenge readers with its depth and breadth of topics. We encourage a multi-disciplinary approach to food that refuses to dumb down content. We believe that kids are little people, so we don't patronize our young readers. Include an article about offal? Yup, that's us. We write about the science of pressure cooking, the regional legends around the eponymous submarine sandwich, and the best bedtime snacks for restful sleep—all in the same issue. Each issue includes q&a, a round-up of food trends, a close-up look at a food, short pieces, features, activities, recipes, quizzes and games.
In 2015 we launched Butternut, the kid-sister (or kid-brother, if you wish) magazine to Ingredient. Butternut is a print and digital magazine that encourages reading literacy and food literacy for young readers ages 3-6.
Filled with color photographs, Butternut helps young children understand conceptual ideas about food—what it is, where it comes from, how to eat it—using photo essays and vignettes. Each issue focuses on a central idea, such as a specific food or method for growing or cooking a food.
How Parents and Caregivers Can Use Our Magazines
We love when we hear from parents that they learn something when they page through our magazines. Wouldn’t it be great if families cooked and ate satisfying and nutritious food together every single day? It would, but that would be a huge undertaking of enormous proportion for most people. We suggest that parents begin where they are. Start simply. Not quite ready for cooking together? Find food adventures at places like grocery stores and farmer's markets. The magazines can be used as tools for creating quality time together, and can do other important things, too. Butternut and Ingredient provide teachable moments that enrich every family’s relationship with food, even if you only talk about–let alone cook—the recipes in the magazine. We encourage children and families to build their food literacy in ways that are accessible to them—for some it may be cooking often with adult supervision, and for others it may be daring to try something they read about when it is served for lunch at school.
Our magazines are informative and instructive, but not prescriptive. We respect that different families have different beliefs and needs when it comes to food. We also have seen how some types of overt (and covert) nutrition education for children can backfire, with terrible consequences like first graders quite literally worrying about calories or believing that butter or cookies or hamburgers are inherently “bad.” Replacing curiosity with fear is not our jam (and it should be noted that our jam preference is strawberry). When it comes to food and lifestyle choices, we avoid language about “shoulds” and instead redirect our young readers to the people in their lives who can have a conversation about values that underscore these choices.
We know that our magazines fit STEM objectives and meet the growing demand for non-fiction in elementary and middle school classrooms. Butternut has ideas for activities and resources right on board and--because it was designed by teachers--can actually be used as a complete mini-unit plan by early education teachers.
A Note from Teach Kids to Cook Founder, Jill Colella
Ingredient and Butternut evolved out of my own curiosity about food. I was a very picky eater; that is, until I learned to cook in my mid-twenties. That interest eventually grew into teaching kids about food, first by giving cooking lessons to children, and later by writing cookbooks for children. As an English teacher by trade and a foodie by hilarious karmic design, I eventually merged my love for food, words and kids, and Ingredient and Butternut were born.
Personally, I believe in cookies and kale. I believe that sometimes the most nourishing food for my body might not be the most nutritious one. I won't yuck someone else's yum. I believe that hunger cures work better than restrictive diets. I believe that the best antidote to fear is knowledge. And I believe that you can't get hungry for something if you don't know that it exists. That's why I do what I do.
I found a dearth of good, fun, educational materials about food for young readers, and I saw a need to fill. I think of our readers the same way as the students I taught in the classroom: deserving of respect, capable of achieving any heights, and important because they are special, just the way they are. In each issue, you will find a column I write directly for our readers. Too often, reading materials for children actually address parents, not children. You will also find many questions for critical thinking in each issue—these engage children personally because their opinions, ideas and experiences matter. I am humble and grateful that, while I am no longer a classroom teacher, my classroom has expanded to include so many young readers near and far.
With immense gratitude and cookies,