Newsday Interview with Rachael Ray

I was cleaning out the ERR archives and ran across this Newsday story that I never shared. Rachael was on a book tour promoting was is quickly becoming on of my favorite cookbooks: Yum-o! The Family Cookbook. As you may recall, the proceeds from the sale of that book went to Ray's Yum-o! nonprofit organization.

Here are a few highlights from the interview:

How is this book different from your other books?

The recipes are designed so that kids 10 and up can prepare them by themselves. Younger kids can help with some of the steps, too. And a lot of the recipes were submitted to the Yum-o! Web site by kids.

How do you make healthy food appealing to kids?

You have to ask yourself, "What do kids like to eat?" and then make that food cool and fun to eat, but with healthier choices. One of my most downloaded recipes is Buffalo chicken chili, which has all the flavors you would get with greasy Buffalo wings, but it's made with lean ground chicken instead of deep-fried wings.

Or, with mac and cheese, you swap in whole-wheat pasta for regular, and instead of milk and cream use milk and chicken stock. Instead of processed cheese, you use a sharper-flavored cheese and use less of it.

What about no-fat cheese?

I'm not somebody who tries to use reduced-fat cheese or low-fat cream or nonfat products. They are usually made with fillers, so you end up swapping one not-so-great thing for another.

How do you encourage kids to eat vegetables?

I believe that all things are fair in getting kids to eat vegetables. If they won't eat it, I say, hide it - hide it under cheese, put it in a tortilla wrap.

But the greatest trick is to get kids into the kitchen to cook. Once they become invested in the meal and see that it is going to please the whole family, there is a real sense of pride and they will want to eat what they cooked.

Who are the children in the books' photographs?

They are the kids of my friends and co-workers. Everybody in the book is part of the extended family.

Where do you draw your inspiration from?

What I write is always based on what people are asking me to write. I consider myself a waitress. I grew up in the service industry, and I am just bringing the customers what they want. I look at what they are downloading from the Web site or what they tell me when they see me in the grocery store.

When they see you in the grocery store?

People don't treat me with any celebrity. When they see me in the grocery store, they ask me what aisle to look in to find something, they tell me what their kids are eating.

To read the full article, go here.

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