I have found a way to keep the spirit of the I Grow Chicago community close to me while we’re living in the age of social and physical distancing. In these times of coronavirus, overt racism, social injustice and quarantine, we have the opportunity and ability to make meaningful changes no matter how big or small.

My favorite day of the week is Wednesdays, when I volunteer at I Grow Chicago.  I share cooking and nutrition classes in the Life After School program and Summer of Hope camp.  This year has been quite different.  With many changes and much upheaval with remote school, I have only been able to be there for a few classes over the summer and after school.

When I first started teaching at I Grow Chicago I wanted to put together recipe cards so the children could have their own books to recreate the recipes at home, but that didn’t work out.  Then I thought about making a small book with the recipes I put together with a spiral binding at Kinko’s, a photo book with Shutterfly, didn’t happen, and then a small book in the IIN course.  So, now, with much love, dedication and hard work I have an official, legit, for real book—bookstores and available on Amazon. 

I wanted to take my experience working with children, inspiring them to love cooking; educate them on healthy, local and organic food from the garden; empowering them through skills and having fun being creative, and share that with families everywhere.  In the process, I got to learn alongside the children.  We had fun, made mistakes, experimented and got messy.  

The recipes are easy, quick, fun and exciting.  And delicious!  This is a curated compilation of kid-approved recipes that we have made together in classes.  All of the recipes are based on a fruit or vegetable, often from the garden, or something else that is local and seasonal.  The recipes are divided into seasons.  There are plenty of cooking tips, tools and healthy lunch and snack ideas.  It is a user-friendly tool in and of itself.

The joy of working together shines through this book with photos and stories of togetherness.  My biggest joy is when the children yell “Ms. Erin!” and run to me and hug me.  And when they ask to make kale salad or cucumber spirals with lime and Tajin.  I’ve made many friends, big and small at I Grow Chicago.  It’s remarkable to see the children grow over the past 4 years.  I know these kids are going places!  They are leaders and givers and have huge hearts.  It is such an honor to be a part of 64th & Honore.

The children have inspired me to share my passion to a reach a wider audience.

Here’s a holiday recipe from my cookbook “Grow: Recipes for Happy Healthy Children, Seasoned with Love”, available on my website and on Amazon.

These make great holiday gifts or party favors, or make them for your own cookie jar. 

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookie Jars


  • 1 1/3 Cup flour (all purpose, gluten free, etc.)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup Turbinado sugar
  • 1/2 cup melted butter
  • 1 egg, or egg replacer
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract


  • Mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Transfer into a 1-quart mason jar.  Level out.
  • Next layer the oats over the flour mixture.
  • Layer the chocolate chips over the oats, then the brown sugar and Turbinado sugar.
  • Put on the lid,  put a square of fabric over the lid and attach the outer ring.  Attach a bow, ribbon and a tag including the following baking directions.
  • Preheat oven to 350° and prepare baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Pour the contents of the jar into a large bowl and mix with 1/2 cup melted butter, 1 egg and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract.
  • Roll dough into 1/2 inch balls, place on the baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes.
  • These make great holiday gifts or party favors. 



Erin B Walsh, C-IAYT, Health Coach
Nutrition As Prana
IG: Nutrition_as_Prana
FB: Nutrition as Prana