Making Healthy Food Fun For Kids With Aliza J. Sokolow

Making Healthy Food Fun For Kids With Aliza J. Sokolow

We caught up with the award-winning food stylist, photographer, and debut children's book author, Aliza J. Sokolow. Aliza shares her love of food and food education with a global perspective, focusing on community and humanity.

That said, her work has won her an Emmy, two Emmy nominations, and a James Beard Literary Award. Aliza is also a photographer whose work can be seen in The New York Times, Architectural Digest, Bon Appetit, The Wall Street Journal, and The Los Angeles Times.

These days, Aliza is helping kids better understand food and nutrition via her new children's book, This is What I Eat. After working with chef Jamie Oliver on his Food Revolution Project, inspiration struck to write her inaugural text. Aliza's goal in releasing this book is to inspire both parents and children to eat healthier while making it fun, colorful, and educational.

Here, Aliza spoke to us about her passion for cooking; she further shares the inspiration behind her new book, and advises those trying to eat more healthily, but are picky eaters.

What made you want to pursue being a chef?

I grew up as a competitive swimmer. Intuitively I knew that food was fuel to help me swim fast. I really got into cooking after I graduated college. My first job was working as an art department assistant building sets for tv shows. The first show I worked on was a food TV show. I graduated from UC Berkeley with a degree in architecture and industrial engineering and saw the work of food stylists' and thought, this is it! It's teeny tiny architecture. Thus, I began my career apprenticing and became a food stylist.

You just released your first book. What inspired you to write it?

I worked with kids in inner-city schools when I worked on Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution over a decade ago. These 8-year-old kids had type 2 diabetes and it was completely because of their diets. Some of the kids I worked with had never eaten a salad in their life. They didn't know that french fries came from a potato. I wrote this book for those kids.

What do you hope to accomplish with this book and who is this book for?

I hope this book will inspire both parents and kids to eat a little better, a little more colorfully, and understand you are what you eat. This book is for any human who eats and wants to live a healthy life. It is for everybody!

How does this book reflect you as an individual?

 My passion and obsession are farming and eating. I love knowing where my food comes from, who grew it, the soil health, and the fact that there are at least 60,000 different types of apples. I love to research and I love to teach. This is a love letter to my second-grade self, who learned about apples in school and has made it my life’s work to share that info.

What is your skincare mantra and how do you apply that to your own life?

If it’s meant to be, it’s up to me. I get compliments on my skin every time I leave the house. My attitude is to keep it simple simple simple. I absolutely cannot sleep unless I wash my face. I wear sunscreen every day and always wear a hat if I’m outside. I’ve been a mega Agent fan before I even met Jena. I use her toner, vitamin c, and face oil. I also double cleanse if I wear makeup. Like I said, I keep it simple.

What is your advice for those wanting to try new foods when it comes to eating healthy?

For those wanting to try new things or parents who want their kids to try new things, make a snack board of a bunch of cut-up fruit, veggie, or whatever it is. Try one bite. If you don’t like it, spit it out. But you don’t know unless you try.

What are your favorite foods and how do you like to cook them?

I love eating a huge salad. My friends always make fun of me for eating ruffage. It’s what my body loves. I go to the farmers market, buy a bunch of in-season veggies, wash, chop, and eat. I also buy animal proteins at the market. My friend Meredith grows beautiful cattle. I love to grill a flank steak or some beautiful fish.

What is a favorite nostalgic food, and why?

My bubby (Jewish grandmother) used to sit and peel grapefruit for me. We would eat each section for hours. I love grapefruit. 

What advice would you give picky eaters who find eating healthy challenging?

Keep trying. Chop up everything and find dips. Grill them, roast them, or eat them plain. Find what works best for you and your body. There are so many hot tips in this book! You are going to love it.