I am excited to share this educational and informative cookbook called The Kitchen Classroom that was created to be used with a parent and their children. I was contacted by Gabrielle after posting my article on ASHAsphere discussing speech and language goals to target during food and drink preparation. I was really impressed with the book when it arrived in the mail because of the amount of work and thought that went into the work of creating this book.
One of the wonderful things I love about blogging is meeting interesting authors who have a diverse background. The author of The Kitchen Classroom, Gabrielle Kaplan-Mayer is a writer, educator, chef, special needs advocate and parent.
The Kitchen Classroom is divided into three parts. The first part of the book contains chapters with information about the process of cooking, how to prepare for the experience and how to ensure you get the most of the experience. The next session gives 32 recipes that are all gluten free and have the potential to be casein free as well. The third part of the book contains a CD-ROM with all of the photos and basic written instruction for each step on the recipe. The CD-ROM is an excellent tool for your child to help follow and participate in the recipes.
What makes The Kitchen Classroom different than other cookbooks? There are many differences that set this book aside from other standard cookbooks. Firstly, the author describes various ways to boost developmental skills as you are cooking. For example, my children and I were making the gluten free banana chip bread and there was information regarding how mashing the banana can help build fine motor skills. There are also diverse and functional tips throughout the book which make it extremely informative for a parent.
The Kitchen Classroom is like a standard cookbook with the ingredients and steps to the recipe but is marked with symbols. Each symbol represents a particular skill set that you and your child will target during the cooking process. Symbols represent literacy, math, science, fine and gross motor skills, sensory input and language and communication.
To download the recipe for Almond Butter muffins….download here.. Almond butter Muffins Parent Version
To download the kids version of Almond Butter Muffins…download here…Almond Butter Muffins Kids Version
I asked Gabrielle Kaplan-Mayer some questions regarding her book and background. I hope you find these responses helpful! To learn more about Gabrielle, click here.
1. What inspired you to write The Kitchen Classroom? My son was diagnosed with autism when he was 3 and 1/2. Cooking was recommended to us by a really smart therapist who thought it would be agreat way to help him engage with me and work on sensory integration and other skills. At the time there were no activities we could share together but he loved cooking instantly and so our fun began! As a writer and educator, I kept notes of our process and wanted to share what we were doing together with other parents as well as therapists and teachers.
2. Why did you write a gluten free cookbook and how has a gluten free diet influenced your life and your child’s life? We started my son on a gluten and dairy free diet when he was four–many kids on the autism spectrum are gluten intolerant and we saw major changes in his emotional regulation and digestive health with this change. (He can now tolerate dairy but still not gluten). At the time, there were fewer GFCF cookbooks and practically none for kids so it was natural to make the recipes GFCF.
3. Can you give some strategies for parents who are learning how to cook and bake gluten free? Keep in mind the baking will be different from what you are used to with using wheat–it takes time to get used to using GF flours. You may have some crumbly disasters–it happens. Try different GF flours and see what you and your kids prefer. In terms of cooking, focus on whole foods–vegetables, fruits, meat…so may wonderful gf grains to try from various kinds of rice to protein-rich quinoa.
4. How would you modify the book for different ages and disabilities? We included four different levels of recipes just for that reason–start with one of the simple ones and as you and your child gain confidence cooking together, choose a recipe that is more complex. Every child has different fine and gross motor skills and parents can always check in with the occupational therapist you are working with for recommendations about which recipes would work well.