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Best of 2010: iPad Cooking App for Kids with Top Chef Master Marcus Samuelsson

Big Fork Little Fork iPad AppI have a filing system in my brain. I see, read, hear about and, of course, taste things and neatly file them in my noggin (maybe I jot them down on a post-it, too!). One of my categories is “big companies doing cool things.”

By now you’ve probably guessed that I don’t easily fill that file but when something earns a spot, I think it’s important to share it. I think it’s especially important in the case of Big Fork Little Fork, a Kraft Foods iPad app for kids and families done with Top Chef Master Marcus Samuelsson that encourages food literacy and healthy eating. Because, if you ask me, any well done effort to encourage healthy eating at home is an effort that should be applauded.

Big Fork Little Fork, a 2010 Babble Best “Kitchen Tool for Kids” Pick, is chock full of recipes and content designed to inform and get kids excited about healthy foods. The recipes are easy and kid friendly. I was worried that they might be too kid friendly, if you know what I mean. I’m not looking for an app that’s going to have me eating smiling pizza faces every night, and you know how I feel about separate meals (no thank you!). Enter Top Chef Masters winner Marcus Samuelsson.

Marcus is a world renowned chef whose cooking is influenced by far flung cuisines including Swedish and Ethiopian cooking. With a delicate hand, Marcus brought his worldly point of view to a series of recipes that he developed exclusively for Big Fork Little Fork. His accessible, easy-to-make meals are full of big flavors that will, at once, feel familiar and exciting. Like this Tomato Polenta which I got to try myself. So easy, super versatile (can be served at breakfast with eggs, for lunch or dinner), and totally delicious for grownups and kids alike (it’s made with a little smoked paprika, which is one of my favorite spices of all time!).

samuelsson tomato polenta

Sure, every recipe in the vast Big Fork Little Fork library, even the ones developed by Chef Samuelsson, calls for a Kraft product. In most cases, though, it’s pretty innocuous. Sour cream, grated cheese — staples of every kitchen. Spending time on Big Fork Little Fork does not feel like a Kraft-branded experience (and if anyone would be sensitive to that, it’s me!). Plus, the extended content — games, how-to videos, fun facts, tips and tools — promote the food pyramid, seasonal eating, cooking with kids, learning about fresh fruits and veggies and meal planning, an important part of healthy home cooking.

All this, not to mention the easy-to-navigate interface. A combination of clear content sections — cook, watch, tips, tools, play, learn — and secret nooks and crannies makes for a fun experience.

I know it’s complicated when huge companies like Kraft do cool stuff to help make the world a better place. I never said that my “big companies doing cool things” category is an easy one to define. But it’s there and, to be honest, I’d rather it be full than empty. So, thank you, Kraft Foods and Chef Samuelsson, for giving me something new to file away with Big Fork Little Fork.

You can download the Big Fork Little Fork app for free through iTunes and purchase Chef Samuelsson’s 50 premium recipes and 10 videos for $4.99.

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