When Sally’s daughter was born, she got very sick. The doctors initially thought it was a flu, but as a mom, Sally just knew something was wrong. So when it happened again in a month, she took her daughter back to run tests. At one month of age, Sally’s daughter was diagnosed with pediatric pancreatitis. Pediatric pancreatitis is characterized by extreme abdominal pain, nausea, and vomiting. Though there’s been a rise in diagnoses due to a better understanding of this disease, 20 years ago it was a rare and not well understood condition. “If you typed pancreatitis into your word processor, it would flag it as a spelling error”.
At that time, the recommendation was to adhere to an extremely low fat diet, only 5% fat. “As a child, my daughter never had French fries. She never tasted ice-cream”. Sally had to quickly learn a lot about nutrition and calories and started to develop fun, low-fat recipes to keep her daughter’s diet interesting and tasty.
For Sally, the decision to launch a kid-friendly cooking magazine required no contemplation. “I was in the cookbook business for many years and really enjoyed it, but ultimately felt that wanted to use my skills to do more”. With her expertise in low-fat cooking, Sally decided to put her skills to use to help prevent childhood obesity. The idea was to get doctors to prescribe cooking during well-child visits.
Today, ChopChop is endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics and can be found in pediatric offices (also available by subscription). There is also a separate publication distributed through Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) offices, with recipes specific to the ingredients families have access to through WIC.
Over the past six years, ChopChop has been tremendously successful. Sally’s team gets letters from kids and their grateful parents. These letters often say a child, who had never tried specific food, now eats it - after cooking from scratch, by themselves or together with parents. Other letters say that cooking is now fun and not a chore, it’s something parents do with their kids and enjoy tremendously. And as a side effect, kids eat great healthy things.
I asked Sally if she created the magazine as a way to honor her daughter’s remarkable journey. She agrees, but also adds that the magazine is a way to create a community. When her daughter was young, there was no support network for Sally. So she created a cooking club that families can join for free. Club members get a delicious recipe once a month and pledge to cook dinner together as a family. Each cooking challenge comes with how-tos, shopping and storage tips, fun activities, and conversation starters.
Sally’s daughter is a healthy and resilient young woman now. Sally also has a son, an incredibly caring, wonderful young man. Her third child, the magazine, is also a major success. ChopChop is literally changing the way kids are eating.