This is a pretty good cookbook. It's not ideal, and my personal preference is still for the DK books, even though they often have confusing British terms, but it's definitely worth purchasing. Most of my patrons and their kids want books on baking, but I try to add in some general cookbooks from time to time.
ChopChop is apparently a magazine, although I've never heard of it (which wouldn't be surprising, as I don't read magazines). The layout of the book is quite magaziney though, with lots of photographs, bold and large text, and the title is only available in paperback.
It starts with a simple introduction to kids on why it's fun to cook and not to be scared to try new things. Then there's a series of general tips, like being willing to try new tastes, and more specific things like remembering to clean up. There's instructions on how to wash your hands. The next section is an introduction for parents. It acknowledges the extra mess kids in the kitchen can make, but encourages parents to let kids try anyways! There's a list of essential ingredients - I don't agree with their thoughts on kosher salt, but they do say you can use any kind of salt. The photograph shows organic yoghurt, 365 (Whole Foods brand) oil, King Arthur flour, white tuna, dijon mustard, and organic chicken broth. The essential equipment list is pretty reasonable - knives, bowls, measuring tools, etc. and there's a second "not essential" list that includes a blender, salad spinner, and food processor.
The first "recipe" is actually a "seasoning experiment." It shows the kids how to cook plain potatoes and try out different kinds of seasoning to see what they like. This was a pretty good idea and one I haven't seen before. The recipes in the book are divided into Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, and Desserts. Breakfast starts a section on things that don't need to be cooked, then has smoothies, oatmeal and granola, pancakes, french toast, eggs, and breakfast sandwiches. Lunch stars with a section on sandwiches, including quesadillas, then has some more egg dishes, and tuna and chicken salads as well as a recipe for trying your own mayonnaise. The rest is a wide variety of dips and spreads ranging from hummus to guacamole and peanut butter. Then they have "lunch bowls" which are things like "pasta or grain bowl" sort of salads.
In between lunch and dinner they have a section on soups and the introduction emphasizes how easy it is to change soups to match your own tastes. I, personally, feel I have eaten enough beans to last me a lifetime and refuse to eat any soups containing beans. Except maybe lentils which aren't really beans in my opinion. There's also a section on breads in the soup section - cornbread, multigrain rolls, and buttermilk biscuits. After the soup section is a salad section, which is actually a salad dressing section since that's what all the recipes are. The actual salad "recipe" is lists of ideas of things you can put in salad.
The last section on dinner once again encourages kids to try new things and experiment with "family dinners" using candles, having conversation, etc. Again, it may not be to my personal taste (I remember family meals where we were supposed to "talk about our day" with great distaste and much preferred being in my room with a good book, but again that's just me and most parents will probably applaud the ideas presented here. Just...if you have introvert kids or sulky teens, do you really need to have conversations about what they would change about the world or if they could have dinner with one person, living or dead, who would it be? My choice would be dead because they wouldn't talk to me while I was trying to read.) Ok, a little off topic here. Anyways.
There are a lot of basic chicken recipes, then a selection of burgers (including a bean burger). There are tofu recipes and then customizable meals like chili, baked potatoes, and tacos. There's a section on pasta (and I'm sorry, but there is no point in eating whole wheat pasta when "you will learn to appreciate its flavorful, grainy goodness." It starts out tasting like cardboard and keeps on that way. Again, just my opinion.) which includes lasagna and then finally some vegetable recipes, mostly different things you can roast. I did notice with appreciation that they include artichokes which makes me wonder if they didn't have some California influence somewhere - only people I ever met who regularly eat artichokes were from California.
The dessert section is probably the weakest part of the book, but I wouldn't be buying this for that part so it doesn't really matter. It starts off rather patronizingly saying that "Of course, we think a piece of fruit is itself a lovely and satisfying dessert - but we understand you might feel otherwise." The first dessert is baked apples, not bad, then applesauce (since when is that a dessert?) fruit crisp, frozen yogurt, and fruit tart. Then they have brownies. Now, I can't speak from personal experience but having done quite a bit of baking with whole wheat flour, I am highly skeptical of their statement that brownies made with whole-wheat flour makes them "nutty, rich, and amazingly yummy." Banana bread, yes, cupcakes, yes, chocolate chip cookies, yes. Oh wait, chocolate chip cookies with whole wheat or whole wheat graham flour. Here I can speak from personal experience. Cookies made with whole wheat flour are disgusting. They taste like sugar-infused cardboard. They make great weapons, being as hard and heavy as a brick, but not great desserts. Molasses cookies might be ok with whole wheat flour, and their peanut butter cookies have no flour. Fruit and nut energy bars are not a dessert.
The final section is drinks and has lots of things kids will enjoy mixing like fruit, honey, mint, etc. The book ends with acknowledgements, an index, and a brief note about ChopChop magazine and the author.
Verdict: There's a really great diversity of recipes (and kids used in the pictures) and they're laid out in a way that's easy to follow, with some things marked "expert" and most being projects kids could easily handle with a little adult help. There are a couple slightly patronizing areas and I think they should have either left out the desserts section or relabeled it fruit and just skipped the baking part but I think people will be able to mostly overlook that. It's not the book I'd hand to kids and parents who have no experience cooking or are just starting trying to eat more healthily; the emphasis in the photographs on expensive, brand-name or organic food and again several patronizing areas could be very daunting, but for families who are serious about kids being involved in cooking and family meals and who already have done some research about their food choices, this is a good selection.
ISBN: 9781451685879; Published 2013 by Simon and Schuster; Borrowed from another library in my consortium; Purchased for the library