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Mom and Nate's Cooking Date (revised)

An illustrated cookbook that stands alone as a fun story or serves as an aide to help caregivers and children cook together.

Photo of Bonnie Averbuch

Written by

School is out,
We’re rushing home
Off on my scooter
No time to roam.

“Beep beep,
I can’t be late.
Mom and I
Have a cooking date!”

Hang up my coat,
And kick off my shoes.
Run to the cookbooks,
Which one to choose?

Flip past breakfast
And past lunch, too
I have an idea
For what we can do!

Hummus pizzas,
Here’s the one!
We’ve made it before,
It’s so much fun.

Off to the kitchen
Grab pots and pans.
Lay out the food,
Open the cans.

I wash my hands
And pat them dry.
Put on my apron,
Let mom tie my tie.

Chickpeas and oil,
Give the lemon a squeeze.
Mom checks the bowl,
Removes any seeds.

Salt and pepper
Are sprinkled on top
While mom does her part —
She's got veggies to chop.

Mix it all up,
And mash it all well.
Boy, oh boy
I love this smell!

I grab two pitas
And put them down,
Scoop out some hummus
And spread it around.

Now on to toppings,
My favorite part,
Using veggies
To make some art!

Carrots and peppers
Piled on top.
This pita bread
Can hold a lot.

"The pizza's look great
I think they are done."
"They look so yummy!"
Says mom to her son.

We grab our napkins
And pick up our plates.
Mom and I
Have a pizza date.

Describe the intended vision for your early childhood book manuscript in 1-2 sentences

I see this as an interactive book - with fun activities such as reusable stickers to decorate hummus pizzas and similar concepts throughout - for children and caregivers to read together as well as a recipe for a healthy and delicious meal or snack. Healthy eating and reading are both such important parts of growth and development and this book uses a fun story to get children excited about cooking and a fun cooking experience to make children identify with and fall in love with the book.

Share your suggested book title

Mom and Nate's Cooking Date

How has this book been informed by early childhood language development research and evidence? (response minimum 250 Characters)

Studies have shown that proper nutrition is integral to a child's ability to think and learn. One successful approach to encourage children to eat healthy is to include them in the cooking process. My book takes this one step further and creates a fun, engaging story to help get children even more excited about being involved with cooking. The ability to live the story of this book by cooking the recipes brings the story to life and creates an opportunity to make the story personal for every caregiver and child. The how-to nature of the illustrations, combined with empowering the child to become part of the book by making the recipe, enables the child to follow along before s/he is actually able to read the words. Cooking and the interactive components of the book promote creativity - which studies show enhance learning. The book uses mostly tier 1 vocabulary and a rhyming, rhythmic, sing-song-y text, all of which are important tools for developing early literacy skills.

Please describe any familiarity you may have with Philadelphia and its residents? (optional question)

I lived in Bethlehem, PA, for 4 years and New York City for 8 years, so I know Philadelphia's surrounding areas. I have also cared for many New York City children, so I understand the realities of urban families. Additionally, I have many good friends -- quite a few who are parents with young children -- who live in and around Philadelphia, helping me better understand those realities specific to Philadelphia residents.

How have you crafted this manuscript to resonate with and/or reflect the experiences of those living in urban contexts? (optional question)

While in graduate school, I taught nutrition and cooking to elementary school children living in Central Harlem. This is one of the recipes the children loved -- both the experience making it as well as the taste. When developing the recipe, I had to take into consideration that inner city families often lack access to healthy foods or lack time to make healthy meals. This recipe and book overcomes that obstacle by using a simple and quick recipe with ingredients readily available to most people, no matter where they live (canned beans, oil, bread, fresh or frozen veggies). Additionally, it lays out which age-appropriate cooking tasks the children can perform.

Location: Country


Location: City


Tell us more about you / your team

I'm a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist currently pursuing a PhD in Denmark. While earning my M.S. in nutrition from Columbia University, I worked as a nutrition educator in an elementary school in Central Harlem. Observing the impact participation in cooking had on the children's dietary preferences astonished me. Children went from "ew-ing" any fruit or vegetable put in front of them to begging for more, their parents asking for the recipes that the kids were raving about at home. The link between nutrition and childhood learning and development is strongly correlated, I want to reach as many families as possible with simple, fun, and healthy recipes - already tested on children. Some of my favorite memories from my childhood are reading books with my parents. I can still recite some by heart. Illustrated cookbooks combine my fondness for fun children's books, their ability to promote learning and growth, and the lasting memories they create with a desire to encourage a healthy diet.

Provide an example visual identity for a look and feel you might like to achieve. ( (optional question, 3-5 visuals)

Images 1-4 are a few examples of the illustration styles I could see used in the book. Image 5 is inspiration for how to make the book interactive.

Multiple Choice - Have you been previously published (online, self-published, and print included)?

  • Yes

If yes, please list titles and publications.

I have a number of scientific journalism publications, mostly at Food Tank. I have also written for SlowFoodUSA and SuperKids Nutrition. Additionally, I have helped The Nutrition Twins develop recipes for several cookbooks and for many, many blog posts.

Do you have an agent?

  • No

How did you hear about the Challenge? (optional question)

  • OpenIDEO announcement email

What best describes you? (optional question)

  • I am/we are creatives, writers, or artists
  • I am/we are a formal part of a University or Research Institution


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Photo of Deena O'Connor

Cute! It makes sense that you are a nutritionist. Have you ever heard of a publishing house called Readers to Eaters? They are open to submissions, I bet they'd love your work. Good Luck!

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