Sunday, December 4, 2011

Sharing Sunday: Teens Can Cook, Too!

Well I have to thank Twitter for this wonderful connection.  I saw one of Madison's posts and followed through to read her blog, Teens Can Cook, Too!...and I was blown away!!! At the ripe age of 13, she shows so much promise of what healthy eating can mean to today's youth.
Stop by and check out these yummy looking recipes or check out one of her many videos.

  • Salmon Salad with Spicy Nuts and Cilantro Dressing
  • Vegetarian Lasagna
  • Honey Drizzled Apples and Pears with Melted Gouda
  • Italian Salad with Asiago Cheese Crisps

We had a little Q&A so I could get to know her a little better. Here is what I learned:

How did you get interested in cooking?
I've enjoyed cooking since I was about six years old. I was a bit of a picky eater (Tillamook cheddar cheese chunks, grapes, organic cheerios, other fruits) and was beginning to branch out once I hit Kindergarten. At this point, I ate rice and mashed potatoes like any other normal kid, but I still had an aversion to soups and salads. My mom bought me a Rachel Ray kids' cookbook, and that cookbook was the instigator for my love of gourmet food. Once I got older, I wanted to gain independence in the kitchen. I tried to cook meals from various cookbooks on the weekends. After Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution, I discovered that I was so passionate about his cause that I could make a difference through my own recipes. 

Why did you start blogging?
I started blogging because of, again, Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution. I was beginning to create my own recipes at that time and figured I could combine my enthusiam for healthy eating with my original recipes to create an accessible website.

How do you come up with your recipes?
You'd probably expect me to say I have a method for inventing recipes, but I don't. A lot of them come off the top of my head 3 hours before dinnertime based on a couple veggies we have in the fridge. Other times, my mom will make dinner from a Food Network recipe on weeknights (homework, theatre, dance and Girl Scouts get in the way a bit) and I'll feel inclined to modify the dish over the weekend. I pick up on subtle things that I would change to make the meal fresher, healthier and more suited to how I envision a complete plate of food. Eventually, the recipe has been changed so much that the basic foundations are barely present and the dish becomes my own. 

What influences / inspires your cooking?
I'm inspired by ideas I see on the Food Network or seasonal vegetables and fruits that keep popping up in the grocery store. During the summertime, I try to go with many ethnic cuisines (Italian, Mexican, Asian, etc.) because it is easier to access those types of ingredients in the summer in Washington State. In the fall, I rely heavily on seasonal produce and bold, fresh flavors to tie a dish together. There are so many different flavor combinations that can be tweaked to produce entirely different meals, and when I can tap into flavor incorporation my recipes come to life.

How did you learn about organic foods?
I've been eating organics my whole life, and once I was old enough to understand the difference between organics and naturals, naturals and junk food and so on, I began to learn more about them through documentaries, word of mouth and websites. 

What are you cooking next?
Honestly, I don't even know much about what I'll be cooking next; not many specifics, that is. I know I'll be highlighting seasonal vegetables and the use of canned items (organic beans, for example) for the holidays. I also want to nail down some healthier versions of holiday classics. 

What are your favorite foods to eat during the Fall/Winter?
I absolutely love pomegranates. They are so delicious. I also love eating plums, which are currently at the very end of their growing season. 

What are your least favorite foods?
I don't like seafood, olives or parsnips. Foods like scallops and lobster are much too squishy. I'm perfectly fine with moderately squishy foods like tofu, but seafood is just taking it too far. Other foods like white fish are too bland. To suit my taste buds, you have to blast the fish with an insane amount of flavor for me to eat a few bites. I'm only 13 though, so maybe my tastes will change and my aversion to seafood will dissipate over time. At least I like salmon! 

Where would you like your blog to take you?
I would love my blog to get thousands of pageviews and have hundreds of followers, but I'm not quite there yet. I really want my blog to be a helpful resource to families, kids and adults making a change in their eating. Not only that, but I hope my blog is an inspiration for other teenagers to take action and impact a community's eating habits. 

What is your favorite kitchen tool?
I absolutely adore my Vita-Mix. My family bought one a few years ago and it is fantastic! We make so many breakfast smoothies in it. I like to use it when I cook as well. I made a white bean dip in my Vita-Mix the other day, and it was super creamy and delicious. Although a Vita-Mix is quite the investment, it literally will last you a lifetime! I completely recommend that you purchase one.

Squash and Sweet Potato Soup
Serves 8

1 large acorn squash
¼ cup olive oil
2 large sweet potatoes or yams, peeled and cut into 1-inch
1 large onion, diced
1 (15 oz) can diced tomatoes
10 (¼-inch thick) ginger “coins”
2 garlic cloves, minced
½ tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp curry powder
6 cups chicken broth
3 tbsp milk
2 – 3 tbsp Greek yogurt
Salt and pepper, to taste

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Cut the acorn squash in half. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast in the oven for 45 minutes to an hour, depending on the size of your squash.

2. While the squash is baking, heat the remaining olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add onions. Sauté until translucent. Then stir in the tomatoes, garlic, salt, pepper and cayenne pepper. Sauté for about 5 minutes. Stir in chicken broth, ginger coins, curry powder and diced sweet potatoes. Cook until sweet potatoes are fork tender, about 10 minutes on high heat. Remove from heat.

3. Using an immersion blender (also called a Bamix), puree the contents of the pot, and add milk. Once the soup has reached a smooth consistency, add the yogurt and mix thoroughly. Adjust salt and pepper one more time and serve.


  1. That soup sounds amazing and easy to do. I think my daughter will love the color too.


  2. I love to hear that young kids are getting involved in cooking! This soup recipe looks so good, I am going to make it this week!

    And congrats on your VB featured status this week! :)


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