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Cooking Ideas For Kids From A Sacramento Chef

If you get children interested in food preparation early on, they are more likely to enjoy eating healthy for the rest of their lives. There are many simple recipes that kids can make with you, In addition to learning a valuable skill in a fun way, cooking is a great opportunity to spend time together and form some wonderful memories. Chef George Karyszyn of Sacramento's Uptown Café has seen the positive effects of this with his daughter, who spent a lot of time at the restaurant growing up.

kids pizzas
(credit: permanently scatterbrained via

Chef George Karyszyn
Uptown Café
1121 Del Paso Blvd.
Sacramento, CA 95816
(916) 649-2233

First-time visitors to the small and decidedly unsophisticated Uptown Café may not expect haute cuisine, but owner and chef George Karyszyn knows his way around a kitchen, and then some. After receiving his culinary training in Europe, Karyszyn worked in fine restaurants all over the world. The Chicago native visited Washington, DC in 1981, where he prepared abalone bisque for Ronald Reagan's presidential inauguration. After retiring, Karyszyn moved to Sacramento and opened the quirky Uptown Café.

Locals flock to Uptown for breakfast and lunch, sampling everything from meatloaf, southern fried catfish and the world's fluffiest pancakes to chicken cordon bleu and a crab benedict covered in pesto hollandaise sauce.

Karyszyn's wife works with him at Uptown, and he says their daughter grew up in the restaurant. She still comes in and helps out on weekends. Getting hands-on experience at her parents' sides has brought her a life-long appreciation both for her parents and for food.

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Breakfast: Tropical Crunch Morning Wraps

Get the morning started off right with a good breakfast. Even young children can help make Tropical Crunch Morning Wraps using a halved banana on fresh tortillas. Drizzle with blended honey and peanut butter, and then let the kids sprinkle on shredded coconut, granola, minced pineapple, etc. Roll up the tortillas and cut into easy-to-manage chunks.

Lunch: My Own Pizzeria Muffins

Help children stay focused and energetic all afternoon with My Own Pizzeria Muffins, a quick and easy lunch packed with protein and veggies. Split English muffins open and spread a dab of canned pizza sauce on each. Let the kids customize their own pizza by adding their own toppings, such as pre-sliced ham or pepperoni, onions, green or red peppers, mushrooms or other vegetables. Sprinkle on some shredded mozzarella and bake at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for seven to 10 minutes. Feeling adventurous? Use a dab of leftover pizza sauce to draw Italian pizza-maker mustaches on the young chefs.

Dinner: Box of Crayons Dinner Salad

Karyszyn knows that fresh ingredients are a critical part of making food that is tasty and visually appealing. Letting the kids help shop for ingredients can be fun. Visit one of the certified farmer's markets open all year round in Sacramento (click here for locations and times) to make a Box of Crayons Dinner Salad. Start with lettuce and let the youngsters add chopped vegetables in all colors of the rainbow, such as bell peppers, onions, tomatoes, mushrooms, zucchini/squash, chilis, radishes, celery and pea pods. Chopped fruit can make the salad even better, so let the kids add apples, pears, raisins, berries, kiwi, orange slices, sunflower seeds, nuts or dried cranberries. Top with a squeeze of lemon and a small amount of prepared salad dressing or salsa. Chunks of cheese, tuna or chicken can also be added to up the protein in the meal.

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Valerie Heimerich is a freelance writer out of Sacramento. She typically covers animals and community issues. She has volunteered and worked for many organizations helping animals and people.
Her work can be found at

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