Anna Taylor advocates playing with food.
In fact, that’s the title of a children’s cookbook designed and written by the 22-year-old Bowling Green
"All cooks learn quickly that cookbooks are not rule books," she writes in the forward to the
cookbook, geared to readers between ages 9 and 11.
"It’s absolutely fine to use slightly different ingredients than the ones listed in the recipes. For
example, if you don’t like strawberries, then the smoothies on page 16 might not look so great to you at
first. You can use your imagination in the kitchen, though. What is another fruit that would taste good
in a smoothie? How about blueberries or peaches instead?"
She continues that conversational tone.
"Maybe you don’t have any red peppers in the house for the quiche recipe on page 7. That’s fine –
maybe you’d like to put black olives in it instead. That would taste great!
"The bests chefs in the world didn’t become so good at cooking by just following other people’s
recipes – they made their own!"
Taylor advises her young readers to "have fun with (these recipes) and experiment. What other time
can you get away with playing with your food?"
The cookbook is the culmination of two-plus years of work as a dietetics major at Bowling Green State
University, where just 12 days ago Taylor earned her degree summa cum laude, graduating with university
"It wasn’t just a catchy title," she says of "Playing With Food," her senior honors
project. "It really was the main idea."
Taylor, who came to BGSU in the 2005 after graduating from Sylvania Southview High School, had been
thinking about creating a kids’ cookbook ever since the end of her freshman year. By sophomore year she
was drawing up lists of possible recipes.
"I started with the foods I like. ‘OK, well, what does a 10-year-old know how to make?’"
She gravitated toward "foods kids aren’t afraid of, that don’t sound weird. By starting with
something they are familiar with and building from that" she found it possible to introduce a wide
array of healthy ingredients.
Recipes are broken down into breakfast, lunch, snacks, dinner and dessert categories. Turkey chili with
beans and cornbread appears under "lunches."
The snack recipes are for strawberry-banana smoothie, nachos with guacamole, hummus and vegetables.
The most challenging recipe in the entire 57-page volume is the one for her pumpkin raisin muffins, and
that’s the one she’s sharing with Cook’s Corner readers today.
It shares space in the dessert section with apple crumble and easy chocolate-covered strawberries.
The pumpkin muffins already have a wide following on campus.
"I was president of the Student Nutrition Association this past year and we did this big project
this spring –
‘Empty Bowls’ – with two other organizations on campus. We raised awareness and money to fight world
hunger. The Global Village did all the publicity; we were in charge of food."
Guests made a $10 donation, with proceeds going to the Heifer Foundation and to the local Cocoon Shelter
for women and children fleeing domestic violence, to give each woman a sum of money for groceries
"for when they leave" shelter.
"We made those muffins from the cookbook for (Empty Bowls)."
At day’s end "we had 10 muffins left. One of the people who was volunteering to work the meal said
‘I will give you $10 for those muffins!’ They were a really big hit.
"They have a really warm flavor, spicy, but not too sweet. I think they’d probably be really good in
the fall, too."
Taylor dreamed up the recipe after doing extensive research on Internet cooking sites. She took bits of
inspiration from five different recipes and put her dietetics knowledge to work.
"It’s a chemistry thing – how much baking powder and baking soda is going to be required for
something to rise, etc. Balance between wet ingredients and dry ingredients; that’s a big thing. It
doesn’t end up well if the balance is wrong. Also, people won’t like it if it’s too dry.
After a trial run Taylor decided it was a bit too sweet "so I cut down on the sugar. Raisins are
very naturally sweet; you don’t need all that sugar!
"I’m always a big proponent of using applesauce instead of all vegetable oil," and substituting
half the flour with whole wheat flour.
"I never use the terms low-cholesterol, low-calorie; they’re a turnoff for kids."
Instead, the chatty tone of her cookbook is meant to make kids in grades 3-6 more independent and
inclined to help with dinner; feeling more adult.
"Instead of ‘Oh, I can go to McDonald’s with my friends’ it’s ‘Oh, I can make a smoothie for my
She includes a section of "culinary challenge" directions such as how to use a can opener, how
to crack
an egg, or use an electric mixer, all skills used in the muffin recipe.
Taylor’s already burned the cookbook onto CDs and given it to others.
"I think that one day I could publish it" in expanded format, she noted.
This summer she’ll be volunteering for Lil’ Shots, a children’s diabetic camp at Olander Park in
In the fall she’s headed to Illinois State University for a graduate school-internship program that will
put her in hospitals, schools and community programs.
Pumpkin raisin muffins (kids’

2 mixing bowls, can opener, 1 wooden spoon, 1 rubber spatula, electric mixer, measuring cups, measuring
spoon, ice cream scoop, muffin pan, muffin liners, toothpick
3/4 cup brown sugar (pack it into the measuring cup)
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup vegetable oil
¼ cup unsweetened applesauce
3 eggs
1 1/2 cups canned pumpkin (this is around 6 ounces)
1/2 cup skim milk
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ cups whole wheat flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder (this is different from baking soda)
1 teaspoon baking soda (this is different from baking powder)
3/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups raisins
Makes 24 muffins
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line the muffin pan with muffin liners.
Open the can of pumpkin using the can opener.
Crack the eggs into a large mixing bowl. Add the sugar, oil, eggs, pumpkin, and milk. Using the electric
mixer, beat the sugar, oil, eggs, pumpkin, and milk together for 1 minute on low speed.
In another mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, soda, spices and salt. Then, add this mixture
to the pumpkin mixture in the bigger bowl.
Stir together everything until it is all the same color.
Fold in the raisins. Spoon into muffin liners using the ice cream scoop, filling each liner 3/4 full. Do
not fill the muffin liners completely full or else they will rise too much when they’re baking and make
a big mess.
Bake for around 15 minutes. The muffins are done when you can slide a toothpick in and it come back out
without getting gunk on it.
Pumpkin – Vitamin A
Whole wheat flour – Fiber
Raisins – Iron