Homemade Gumbo Ya Ya!

by Mrs. C’s Young Chefs Cooking Club (ages 11-13)

What happens when you get cool kids and DooFy zebras into the kitchen for a dynamite day of gumbo-making and food blogging? Let’s find out!

Want to make food more fun than ever? Try blogging about it!

Go for the gumbo!

by Ashleigh, age 12

Today, we’re making gumbo. I’ve never had it before. It sounds okay, but I think the name is funny. Mrs. C said it comes from an African word for a vegetable I’ve never tried: okra. That sounds funny too!

I’ve been cooking since I was eight. The first thing I cooked was scrambled eggs. My older brothers taught me because they said that’s the easiest thing to learn.

The coolest thing is how eggs change. When you first crack an egg into the pan, it just looks like a regular egg inside. Then the white of it turns kind of yellow and the texture goes from slimy to normal and then it turns into scrambled eggs. That’s why cooking is magic!

Zebras need onion protection gear — but I am INVINCIBLE!

I know how to be cool in the kitchen — even when the heat is on!

by Logan, age 11

First of all,  I am invincible. I say that because when I rub my eyes after I cut onions I don’t tear up.  When we made gumbo, I chopped onions with no goggles. That makes me feel INVINCIBLE!

ZeBot and his DooFy cousin ZakBot gear up for onion chopping!

If zebras can cut up onions and write about food, just think what cool kids can do!

by Ninja Monkey (aka Joey), age 11

We cut up meat and we diced onions. I started crying so much because every time I cut up onions I cry. Even though I put on onion goggles, I still cried, but I kept chopping till I was done. Then I cut up celery into bite-sized pieces.

Now I’m watching my friend Clarence play cooking games online which is not as good as real cooking, but it can teach you recipes.

And then you can cook more food and be a great chef if you want.

Zebras go gaga for gumbo — and loco for hot sauce!

It’s getting hot in here!

by Tati, age 13

We’re cooking chicken for our Gumbo Ya Ya right now. We had to cut it into one-inch pieces. Our cooking teacher Mrs. C. told us to measure by putting two fingers over the meat and then cut carefully with a knife. That will make a one-inch piece.

Then we had to take a paper bag and put flour in it, then put in the chicken and we shook it up. Now we’re frying the chicken. It’s on the fire right now. It sounds sizzly – and that’s a good thing.

Speaking of sizzling: I was feeding hot sauce to ZeBot. He went loco!

ZeBot dared me to drink a spoonful of hot sauce. And I went gaga!

P.S. I also made a  smoothie out of blueberries, strawberries, peaches and orange juice. It was really good.

Making gumbo is one great way to make a great chef!

by Clarence, age 12

I first learned to cook when I turned ten. The first thing I remember cooking was goulash. It had noodles, sauce and hamburger. It had a really good flavor, it wasn’t clummy or mushy – the texture was just right. It wasn’t watery either. It was just thick enough. It wasn’t real nasty, just real good. It really had this great flavor of tomato, garlic and cheese.

I like cooking and playing cooking games online. I will be a great chef someday!

Holding a knife with hooves can be tricky — but practice makes perfect!

Learn to cook — you’ll love it!

by Ella, age 12

My job to do with gumbo (which sounds like jumbo) is to cut up the meat (chicken and sausage). I like cutting things because it gives me the confidence to be a professional cook or make great food when I have any children or a family.

It’s so cool feeling all the slimy chicken. Sometimes it can be really gross touching the raw meat, but I like it. So if you have any cooking classes in your school, I would consider registering in it! 🙂

At first I felt scared using the knife, because I was afraid it would cut me. But now I feel confident in cutting because Mrs. C taught me how to cut. And now I know I won’t get cut!

Frozen fruit smoothies are so COOL!

 by Jaylin, age 11

I’m taking this cooking class because I want to learn how to cook. Because when I get older I’ll need to know how to cook. Also, I think cooking is fun.

Right now we’re having fruit smoothies that some other kids in our class made. It’s good: it feels cold and smooth in my mouth.

We just had some gumbo, and it had meat and vegetables and rice. It was okay. I would have rather had just gumbo without rice. I don’t really like brown rice, but I like yellow rice. Maybe I’ll make it with that next time. I had a good time!

Let’s stir up some fun!

Kendra know how to serve up gumbo in style!

by Aleema, age 12 and Jada, age 11

Stirring gumbo is fun! It was delicious. (Actually, we haven’t tried it yet, but it smells delicious.)

Zebras love homemade gumbo — and so do we!

Yikes: this is hot, hot, HOT — and we love it!

by Cheryce, age 12

Today we did Gumbo Ya Ya, I helped cook the Okra. I did not help cook the Gumbo part with the meats and vegetables, but I know everything will turn out good.

Ever since I started this cooking class, I loved the healthy and delicious foods. I like learning skills every Tuesday! Cooking is a great hobby for everyone. I encourage you try it!

As much fun to say as it is to make: GUMBO YA YA!

by Marilyn age 13

I have always wanted to make jambalaya. I have never tried it but found out it about from a movie I watched called Princess and the Frog. I don’t really know what it is but it looked really good. I’ve always wanted to go to New Orleans and go to the Mardis Gras just like in the Princess and the Frog.

Today we’re making Gumbo Ya Ya which sounds like jambalaya. I hope it tastes almost like jambalaya so I can try something new.

P.S. Hey, I just found out that Ya Ya is almost like saying wahoo!!!!! It means a party. So Gumbo Ya Ya means gumbo party!

My whole family goes bananas when I bake my special bread for them!

by Nadjah, age 12

My parents always tell me that I have to learn how to cook. And now I’m in a cooking class and I bring home all kinds of recipes. One time I made banana bread for my family. They really liked it and they always want to me make it over and over again. It makes me feel really proud of myself. And now my parents DO know I can cook!

PS: Now I can make great gumbo, too!

There’s nothing like a kitchen from a zebra’s-eye view (and ZeBot’s riding high)!

Young Chefs’ rules of cooking: written by kids, for kids!

by ZeBot and his DooFy cousin ZakBot

Being a zebra is fun, but it can be challenging to cook when you’re all hooves. But thanks to Mrs. C and her super-cool kids’ cooking club, we’re learning to be master chefs!

Food blogging is a blast!

Want to write your own blog? It’s easy and lots of fun!

To savor more culinary adventures with kids and zebras, please visit ZeBot’s Kitchen!

The amazing arts of food: cooking, eating, writing, taking fun photos — and sharing!

Eat well and prosper!

Nopalize, the food media project from Nopa and Nopalito Restaurants is launching an amazing series of events called Seasons that take you to some of the most inspiring food source locations in Northern California.

We’re proud to be working with them on video content for the Seasons series, as well as the Nopalize web site.

The series begins on Wednesday, August 20th at Devoto Gardens, led by second generation apple farmer and cider maker Jolie Devoto, whom we featured in our DooF on Wheels video series a few moons back. The event will feature a tour and a lunch prepared by Nopa chef Laurence Jossel. Buy tickets now at eatfeastly.com/nopalize.

Yummy Chicken Apple Bites

By Jenny, age 14

We have a great cookbook called Petit Appetit: Eat Drink and Be Merry, written by my mom’s friend Lisa Barnes. She makes lots of recipes using only organic natural products.  I saw this recipe and knew I had to make these Chicken Apple Bites because it had all my favorite ingredients. I love chicken, apples and the special dipping sauce made from honey and mustard. Keep reading to see how I put it all together.

The first thing I did was peel the apple. I always try to keep the peel intact. Check it out. It worked for me this time.

Next I grated the apple using a grater that you would use if you were grating cheese. I think the grated apple looks like mozzarella cheese.

Once all the ingredients were measured I laid them out in front of me to make sure I had everything. The French call this mise en place. It means keeping everything in its place.

Now that all the ingredients are together it’s time to put everything in the food processor to be blended. I think you could easily use your hands and combine it just like you would if you were making meatballs.

When it was finished blending I used a melon-baller and scooped out individual chicken apple balls and laid them out onto a baking sheet covered with parchment paper. I rolled a few of them around in breadcrumbs mixed with a little “bam” to kick it up a notch.

Then it was time to pop them into the oven. They only take ten minutes to cook.

Check out these chicken apple bites. They look so good. They smell good too.

It was such a beautiful day I decided to take them outside and enjoy what was left of the sunshine.

Baked Chicken and Apple Bites

Recipe from Lisa Barnes, Petit Appetit: Eat Drink and Be Merry

Makes 20 bites


1 green apple, peeled, cored and grated.

1/2 pound ground organic free-range chicken (I used 1 pound of ground chicken because I like a lot of chicken)

3 green onions, minced (about 3 tablespoon)

1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley (we had some fresh thyme in our garden so we used a tablespoon of that too)

3/4 cup dry breadcrumbs

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar


1. Preheat oven to 400. Line baking sheet with parchment and set aside.

2. Squeeze out excess liquid from gated apple using a paper towel.

3. Put all ingredients into a food processor and pulse until blended.

4. Using a melon baller, spoon out a heaping tablespoonful of chicken mixture and roll into a ball using your hands.

5. Repeat until all mixture is used. Place chicken balls on prepared pan.

6. Bake for 10 minutes, until cooked through and brown on bottom

Honey Mustard Sauce


1/4 cup Dijon mustard

2 tablespoons honey


1.     Combine mustard and honey in small bowl and whisk to smooth together.

Tip: Coat the inside of the measuring cup with cooking spray before measuring sticky ingredients such as honey and nut butters to minimize sticking, ease release, and help clean up.

READY TO WRITE YOUR OWN BLOG? Click here for info about ZeKids’ Food Blogging Program!

Snack Attack: Healthy Baked Fries!

by Jess, age 13

It was one of those days when I got hit by a major Snack Attack. After looking around our kitchen for the ultimate healthy snack, I spotted a few potatoes. Then it hit me. We should make some yummy french fries!!

I love french fries, but they’re not exactly a health food. And then I remembered something else: I don’t know how to make french fries.

But did that stop me? No way!

My Uncle Don came to my rescue with the perfect recipe for healthy oven-baked “fries” that actually taste GREAT!!! This recipe is so AMAZING I wish I could eat these scrumptious shoestring baked fries every single day. And you know what? Uncle Don’s recipe is so fast and easy that I actually can — and so can you.

I get really happy just THINKING about french fries!

Here’s what we did:

So first we grabbed some potatoes and washed them until they were squeaky clean. (I’m not kidding — they really squeaked!)

Next, we took a long serrated knife and cut each potato into layers. With those layers, we cut them almost to look like match sticks.

For me, a serrated knife is easier to control.

Always be super-careful when you’re using a knife!

We greased the pan with canola spray ( very light) and we laid the french fries side by side on our lightly greased pan.  If you like your fries jazzed up, you may add some additional flavoring of your choice including: salt, pepper, rosemary, etc.

Uncle Don makes a great sous chef!

As you can see, he likes to amuse the kitchen staff with his jokes!

Then we put the pan in the oven at 425 degrees for about 20 minutes. (Everyone’s oven is different though, so feel free to experiment to find what works best for yours. And keep checking to make sure your fries aren’t burning!)

I think these look yummy even BEFORE they’re baked.

Want some? Just kidding – these are still raw!

Ding! Our fries are done! Hurray!

Take a basket or a bowl, place your french fries in it and sprinkle them with your favorite seasoning.

Crispy, golden-brown — and super-healthy!

Set the bowl on the table and dig in!

YUM! I survived my Snack Attack — and I feel AWESOME!

PS If you want to be super healthy (like my friends and me), pour a glass of juice and make yourself a salad to have along with it. We think fruits and vegetables from our local farmers’ market are the best companions with our french fries. Try it yourself and see how great REAL FOOD can be!


What Do You Crave During Fall?

Carving pumpkins and dressing up as a ghost is only half the fun of Fall. There are so many seasonal foods that are not only delicious but super healthy for you! Check out these awesome goodies that you and your friends can snack on! We think our Planet DOOFers would really enjoy Fall on Earth. What do you think their favorite Fall food might be?

Can you list any more seasonal foods that you like to eat during Fall?

Pumpkin Souppunkin

Apple Peanut Butter Snack Barsapplepb-1

Pumpkin Granolapumpkin-seeds

Spiced Popcornpopcorn02

Twice Baked Spaghetti Squash


What will YOU put in your sandwich?

Chips? Mayonnaise? Avocado? American cheese? Tomatoes? Bologna?


Our Planet DOOF game is now LIVE and tons of kids are already playing!

Just click here and you can play too!

We are so excited to finally be sharing our project with you and we are already working to get this game to as many kids as possible. Share the link to our site with as many friends as you can! We will, very shortly, be initiating a contest to see who can recruit the most friends to play Planet DOOF.

Prizes include:

iPad Mini

Handheld gaming device

Planet DOOF hoodie

Recipe cards

Glow in the dark frisbee

Email Lauren at lauren@foodbackwards.com if you want more information on how to get Planet DOOF at your school or community program!

Planet DOOF: Now Launched & Coming to a School Near You!

Play Planet DOOF!

Yesterday’s Planet DOOF Game launch event, aka Terrestrial Gastronomy, was a huge success. Thanks to the tremendous efforts of our TG Event Team, and some very wonderful volunteers, we transformed 440 Brannan Street into the Planet DOOF Earth Embassy and filled it with supporters, team members, friends, family, educators, Doof-a-Paloozers, and most-importantly kids.


This was no DooF-a-Palooza, nor was it intended to be. As much as we loved doing those events, we’ve realized that our abilities as media, food, and education experts can serve a larger purpose through media that can take good food fun to a bigger audience. Instead of impacting thousands or even tens of thousands, our goal with Planet DOOF is to impact hundreds of thousands and even millions. The event was also an opportunity for us to spread the word about Planet DOOF, as well as a date by which we committed publicly to complete a version of the game.

Our game development team, including Lauren Hopfenbeck, Rob Beeson, Troy Norcross, Jim Allison, Joe Lang, Noah Dietterich, and Joshua McCoy put in all kids of hours to make sure we would have something to show yesterday. We’re happy and proud of the result, but as with any new product, we intend to continue tweaking and improving, and responding to your feedback until, well…as long as we can.

In addition to thanking our game team, I also want to thank Alan Tangren, our food director, who masterminded an awesome menu for yesterday’s event. My friend David Cates, who jumped in as sous chef. Andrew Ellis, of New Urban Eating, who put together a pickling demo that was appropriately out of this world.  We’re grateful to our Game Navigator kids, who journeyed from Merced and Planada to show their support, accompanied by Game Navigator partner Claudia Corchado. Tallulah Axinn, our summer intern, helped us plan and promote the event, as well as leading the School Lunch Panel; and panelists Shakirah Simley, from Bi-Rite, Esperanza Pallana, from Oakland Food Policy Council, Jessica Lioon, from Revolution Foods, and Jonathan Hernandez, from Planada were all wonderful. Laura Martin Bacon continues to be essential in promoting Planet DOOF across the social media universe to a thriving community of food professionals and food lovers who adore her posts as Planet DOOF Zebot.

We’re especially proud of the work we did with our Game Navigators to develop all our game content, from the design of our extraterrestrial characters to the game dialogue, which we created in a workshop at 826 Valencia in San Francisco, to the voices of the two main characters, 826ers Jackson Penfield (as Zorp) and Ben Friedman-Hibbs (as The Kid). For the moment, The Kid is a boy, but future versions of Planet DOOF will include both boy and girls avatars, so stay tuned…

Thanks to Bi-Rite, for sponsoring the event, and to our Planet DOOF Sponsors, the California Endowment and Newman’s Own Foundation.

If you’d like to get Planet DOOF in your school, have your kids participate in our Game Navigator program, try it out first here, then get in touch.

It’s Alive!

Our Planet DOOF game is live on our web site, thanks to the superhuman efforts of Game Designer Rob Beeson and Game Developer Joe Lang, who sent me the link at 6:15am this morning! It’s live on our web site! You (and the kids) can also play it with us at 440 Brannan St., SF, from 3-6. Stop on by for some Terrestrial Gastronomy and our panel on school lunch!

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