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Chef Nancy Russman

JCTC chef whips up special kids cookbook

How much fun does it sound to make and eat a messy apple wrap? You can probably just ask the nearest kid. Just don t let them know it s good for them.

That s the idea behind a new book by Chef Nancy Russman, program coordinator for Culinary Arts at JCTC.

Russman, whose work with schools and social agencies such as Kid s Cafe, the Presbyterian Center and Home of the Innocents, taught her a lot about the way kids eat. It also taught her that sometimes kids don t eat, and as a result, they struggle in school.

A lot of the kids I saw came to school too hungry to listen to their teachers, Russman told The Courier-Journal for an article that ran Dec. 9. They didn t have food in the house in the morning, or their parents weren t there to make them anything for breakfast. Latchkey kids sometimes have to wait for a snack until their parents come home.

Her experiences taught her that children need to learn how to feed themselves and need to what s good for them. They also needed to know how prepare something good to eat without knives and stoves.

The result was Chef Nancy s Kids Club Cookbook, illustrated by Christina Bayens (Butler Books, $19.95).

In it, Russman walks kids through foods that are tasty, nutritious and even messy. Because as she told the Courier-Journal, messy is fun. And kids (with clean hands, she notes) who lick peanut butter or honey off their fingers while making the apple, cinnamon, honey and peanut butter stuffed messy apple wrap are getting some nutritious food at the same time.

Nancy also notes that gross is fun too, especially for boys, who love her worms and ants in grass, a wrap using lettuce, string cheese and raisins.

The book is for grade schools kids, but Russman said parents and grandparents will enjoy learning recipes they can make with the kids. She was featured in today s (12/10/09) Courier-Journal discussing her new book, Chef Nancy's Kids' Club Cookbook.

I wanted to get kids to know how to eat better from what they know, in ways that does not require them to use things that might cut or burn them, Russman explained. The book grew out of her work with at-risk children, who often suffer from poor nutrition.

The story says: Her work over the last several years with children at risk of hunger or homelessness convinced Russman that kids needed to know more about how to feed themselves in healthier ways, and how to feed themselves when adults weren't around.