By Janice Malone
It will soon be time to start a New Year and that can mean plans to make a new you, but don’t forget about the children too. As state, local and national data clearly shows the U.S. has a serious problem with childhood obesity. According to information listed on www.walkingworksforschoolstn.com/fast_facts 43 percent of students in the U.S. reported they were trying to lose weight. Twenty-five to 43 percent of Tennessee school students are at risk for being overweight. As childhood obesity rates continue to inch higher, particularly amongst minority groups, and unhealthy convenience food remains attractive to busy parents, widespread change in the eating habits of our nation’s children is vital. Chef Rock Harper, is stepping up to the plate and joining the mission of Michelle Obama and others, with 44 Things Parents Should Know About Healthy Cooking for Kids. It’s a unique and refreshing guide book that teaches kids and their parents how to develop a lifelong habit of healthy, conscious eating.
Through his humorous, laid back tone and pop culture references, Chef Rock covers everything from healthy breakfasts and being active, to creativity in the kitchen, picky eaters, moderation, and much more. And as a father of three, Rock has some great first-hand experience and insight to share. 44 Things is just what parents need to start teaching kids to eat right today and embrace real food for a lifetime. “When the editors first started talking to me about doing a book I didn’t want to do one that included information that was already over saturated on the market. So I put this book together as a guide book for parents to use,” says Chef Rock. “The 44 things listed in the book are there to help parents and their children live a healthier lifestyle. You may not can do all 44 items listed but use what you can as you go along.”
Rahman “Rock” Harper found national fame as the Season 3 winner of Fox’s hit reality show Hell’s Kitchen. But long before he found fame and fortune in reality television, he had already served as the head chef at some of the country’s most prominent restaurants, hotels and resorts. Chef Rahman discovered his love of cooking when he was in his teens. In high school, he took both cooking and home economics classes. He soon became obsessed with the challenge of running a restaurant kitchen, and decided that this would be his career. Making the most of his talent and determination Rahman became an award-winning, honors culinary graduate of the noted Johnson and Wales University. Here, he gained extensive experience in both front and the back of the house at the University-run J&W Radisson in Rhode Island. During his school vacations, Harper worked as Chef’s Assistant to Chef Osama El-Sayed, on his acclaimed internationally syndicated television show Bil Hanna Wa Shiffa (With Joy and Good Health). This became Rahman’s first full-time position after graduation from Johnson & Wales. The multi-talented culinary expert’s resume also includes stints at Terra Verde Green Valley Ranch Resort in Henderson, Nevada; Café Calliope in the Embassy Suites Hotel, Alexandra, VA, and as Sous Chef at Planet Hollywood, Washington D.C. By age 21, Rahman was Sous Chef at Bet On Jazz restaurant in Washington, DC , where he helped to revitalize the kitchen to improve the food and streamline operations. It was here that he further refined his ability to recognize the freshest and most flavorful meats and produce as he was solely in charge of all food purchasing. Rahman joined B. Smith’s Union Station in 1999 as Sous Chef and has earned his promotion to Executive Chef. These days Chef Rock is sharing is culinary expertise with future chefs by teaching part-time at Stratford University and he’s been the national celebrity chef for the March of Dimes, while working on his next book.
The talented Chef offers advice to parents from his book about healthy eating and children: “It’s challenging trying to get kids to eat the right foods but it’s even more of a problem if you wait until they get older. I strongly suggest that parents start at an early age with giving their kids more healthy foods. If kids are not trained to eat good fruits and veggies they definitely will not do so as adults, and of course that can lead to a variety of health problems later in life. Kids are not going to like every vegetable but as parents we have to give them options for their taste palettes. Prepare the foods in different ways—sauté, grilling, baking and with good seasonings. In the book I talk about the value of teaching kids about where food comes from. Take your kids on field trips, like the farmer’s markets and actual farms. Let the child buy their own produce and help with cooking it when you get home. I say start letting the child help out in the kitchen, again at a young age. Of course safety is always first, but let them do things like roll out the dough, stirring things in small bowls, toss some salads. This helps them get comfortable with foods, while having some fun plus, the benefits of healthy eating will last them for a lifetime!” 44 Things Parents Should Know About Healthy Cooking for Kids is available on Amazon.com and most places where great books are sold or visit Chef Rock’s website at: www.chefrockinc.com