In an era of obesity in our country, the message of healthy eating and knowing where our food comes from has become more important than ever; especially when it comes to our kids.
And in this great time of need for awareness, powerful movements like Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move and Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution have sprung up to get our nation thinking more consciously about our health.
The latest of those movements? Tyler Florence’s new children’s book ‘Tyler Makes Pancakes,” which teaches kids about the importance of eating healthy through the story of a little boy named Tyler and his curious dog, Tofu.
Throughout the book, the likable pair go on fictional adventures to discover where food comes from and how to cook with it. One such adventure takes them to a local farm where Tyler learns that eggs come from chickens. Small lessons such as this can teach young children a surprising amount about the importance of eating whole foods.
In a recent interview with Diets in Review, “Tyler Makes Pancakes” illustrator, Craig Frazier, told us where inspiration for the book came from, what he and Florence hope to achieve with the project, and why this story is such an important one to tell.
Tyler and I live in Mill Valley and I got to know him from the gym as well as his store, which is across the street from my studio. I proposed the idea to him one day and we got right to it. Having authored and illustrated seven or eight kid’s books myself, I thought the experience of doing a theme-specific book with an expert would be fun. The idea of developing characters was very attractive as an illustrator. I developed a particularly simple style of representing Tyler and his dog Tofu that asks a lot of the fewest pen strokes.
What would you say is the message of ‘Tyler Makes Pancakes’?
That food for kids becomes a lot more interesting (and fun to make) when you learn where it comes from. Eggs don’t grow in cartons. A good chef is a knowledgeable chef.
Do you feel personally connected to the message of the book?
I do and I know Tyler does. We are in the home of the farm-to-table movement and curiosity about where food is grown is standard fair.
Do you think getting kids to become more aware of their food and involved in the kitchen is important?
Of course, the more you know, the better choices you can make. Diet is a big issue in our country and it starts young and at home. Developing a taste for good ingredients is half the battle of eating right. Wanting to participate in food preparation and those choices is empowering for a kid and sets them on the right track of tending to their own health. We eat our entire lives and those habits get a good or bad start at the earliest of ages.
What are your favorite healthy foods to cook at home?
Fish prepared in any way. Salmon is amazing right now! Our local farmers markets are fantastic, so any fresh and local produce is always good. My wife is a great cook and cooks quite healthily. No butter, just extra virgin olive oil and lots of veggies.
Did you ever struggle with eating healthy as a child or an adult?
I never ate great food growing up. My mother didn’t like to cook and we grew up in the desert. The combination made for less than optimal eating experiences and the forming of many bad habits. I don’t think I had fresh broccoli or asparagus until I was married; certainly not fresh fish. My grandmother did make killer french toast with white Wonder bread! My children both know good food and seek it. My daughter cooks very well for herself in Brooklyn, and my son is an aspiring chef working in Berkeley.
We love the message Florence and Frazier share in this book and know you will, too. Pick up “Tyler Makes Pancakes” online or at bookstores nationwide.