Michelle Obama knows we've got to shape up. That's why she enlisted Beyoncé's help to spread the word about her Let's Move! campaign. Beyoncé's catchy "Move Your Body" dance routine has been viewed nearly three and a half million times in just ten days on YouTube, and has presumably inspired kids (and grown-ups) of all shapes, sizes, creeds, colors, and whatnot, to get moving and grooving.
But we can't leave all the heavy lifting to Beyoncé, especially if she's going to insist on wearing those scarily high heels (and yes, she really can dance in them, as a group of Harlem school kids learned on Tuesday when she dropped in unannounced to join in their own performance of "Move Your Body.")
We need more boots on the ground, stilletto-heeled and otherwise, when it comes to encouraging kids to embrace healthy habits. And we need to give our kids knives--kitchen knives, that is--and teach them how to use those knives to prepare fresh, wholesome meals.
That's why I'm eager to help spread the word about FamilyCook Productions, a non-profit on whose board I'm proud to serve and whose mission is, simply, "to bring families together around delicious, fresh food while positively impacting their health and well-being."
FamilyCook's founder is a vibrant, vivacious nutrition advocate/educator named Lynn Fredericks. Lynn has been a pioneer in the fight to get our kids fit, creating innovative programs that inspire kids of all ages--and their parents--to prepare and share healthy meals.
One of Lynn's most influential initiatives, Teen Battle Chef, has an extraordinary record of success at getting kids excited about cooking and growing food--and, just as important--learning to work together, whether it's in the kitchen or on the farm.
That's why Dr. Mehmet Oz's HealthCorps chose to partner with FamilyCook Productions to bring the Teen Battle Chef program (formerly known as Teen Iron Chef) to schools all over the country; this school year, Teen Battle Chef will be operating in more than 75 schools in 15 states.
Four basic principles sum up the FamilyCook approach to healthy eating:
1. Eat homemade meals
2. Cook with fresh ingredients
3. Let everyone help
4. Enjoy meals together as a family
Sounds simple, but many of us find it hard in these harried times to sit down to a wholesome meal with friends and family. So when someone comes along with a genius for inspiring folks to do just that, you can bet I'm gonna get behind it.
So, now that I've taken my hat off to Beyoncé for lending her celebrity to this critical campaign for the future of our nation's youth, allow me to pass that hat on behalf of FamilyCook Productions, which has been doing phenomenal work for more than a decade but is only just launching in its new incarnation as a non-profit.
If you're in the NYC area, please consider showing your support for FamilyCook by coming to the May 12th Teen Battle Chef Invitational at the New York Institute of Technology's Auditorium on Broadway, aka "Kitchen Stadium." Hosted by celebrity chef George Duran, of TLC's "Ultimate Cake Off" fame, the event will be an exciting showcase for thirty all-star students from schools across the Northeast to display their newly won cooking chops.
And check out the beaming faces of some of FamilyCook's Teen Battle Chef participants in the slide show I've attached. Beyoncé is the undisputed queen of the dance floor, but in the kitchen, Lynn Fredericks is the fresh princess. So, please, give FamilyCook the royal treatment.