No doubt about it: we are living in a foodie world these days. So it should come as no surprise that little ones are becoming more and more interested in food, where it comes from and how to prepare it. The new book FutureChefs: Recipes by Tomorrow’s Cooks Across the Nation and World compiles some of the up-and-comers in the culinary world: from 9-year-old food bloggers to teens who have competed on The Food Network, to 18 year-olds who have already trained with celebrated chefs and cooked for the First Lady! What sets FutureChefs apart from many cookbooks are the compelling stories of the recipe authors. These young people, who come from a variety of backgrounds and who have often overcome obstacles at an impressionable age, are united in their passion for cooking and for bringing awareness to food-related issues. Some volunteer by cooking for homeless shelters and soup kitchens, others have created web series about farming and sustainability, one is even paying her way through college by baking and also donates some of her products to be distributed to her town’s homeless population! The recipes they contributed to this book are thoughtful, demonstrate their diverse heritages and influences, and look delicious!

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While kids and teens are the focus of this cookbook, the recipes go far beyond standard kid-fare. Many of the recipes are sophisticated and inspiring (although you can still find standbys like chocolate chip cookies and stuffed shells). Your family can start with the dairy-free “cheesy” kale chips, created by a 6-year old, and work their way up to the mouth-watering and complicated vegetarian pasteles. While the cookbook is definitely not vegetarian, it does feature (and clearly labels) many veg-friendly recipes, as well as gluten-free recipes. With widespread culinary influences reflecting goodies from all over the globe, this cookbook is a great way to get little ones and teens more interested in what ends up on their plate and how it gets there! Read on for two recipes from the cookbook!

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Butternut Squash and Brussels Sprouts with Toasted Pumpkin Seeds

  • 2 cups peeled and cubed butternut squash
  • 3 teaspoons olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups Brussels Sprouts, ends trimmed
  • 1/2 medium onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh dill
  • 2 tablespoons toasted pumpkin seeds

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

2. Place the butternut squash pieces in a baking pan or oven safe dish in one layer. Add one teaspoon of the olive oil and salt and pepper to taste, then lightly mix so that all the pieces are coated. Place the Brussels Sprouts in a separate baking dish or other oven safe dish in one layer. Add another teaspoon of the olive oil and toss well so that all the Brussels sprouts are coated with oil.

3. Bake the squash and Brussels sprouts until just fork-tender, 20-30 minutes for the sprouts; 30-40 minutes for the squash.

4. While the butternut squash and Brussels Sprouts are roasting, heat a medium skillet over medium heat and add the remaining 1 teaspoon of oil. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are softened, 2-3 minutes. Add half the fresh dill and mix well. Cook for 1 minute more. Remove from the heat.

5. Transfer the roasted squash and Brussels sprouts to a large platter. Add the onion-garlic mixture and mix well. Sprinkle with the remaining fresh dill and roasted pumpkin seeds. Serves 4.

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Chocolate Pecan Cookies

    • 24 pecan halves
    • 2 1/3 cups almond flour
    • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
    • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
    • 1/8 teaspoon salt
    • 1/2 cup vegetable oil (*Note from Inhabitots: you could also try subbing in coconut oil)
    • 1/2 cup pure maple syrup

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. Arrange the pecan halves on the baking sheet and toast them in the oven until slightly darker and aromatic, about 10 minutes. Remove from the baking sheet and cool completely. (Leave the oven on.)

3. In a large bowl, whisk together the almond flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Stir in the oil and maple syrup and mix until everything is well-combined.

4. Using a melon baller or teaspoon, drop teaspoons of the mixture 1 inch paper onto the baking sheet. Press a pecan half onto each cookie.

5. Bake the cookies until firm to the touch, 7-8 minutes. Allow to cool slightly on the pan before transferring to a wire rack. Makes 2 dozen.

+ FutureChefs: Recipes by Tomorrow’s Cooks Across the Nation and the World $19.94

Recipes and photos reprinted with permission from Rodale Books. Last image via Shutterstock.