Author - Melissa Graham

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Melissa Graham, a former attorney, is the founding Executive Director of Purple Asparagus, a 501(c)(3) non-profit dedicated to educating families about all things associated with good eating, eating that's good for the body and the planet. Though its Delicious Nutritious Adventures program, Purple Asparagus has taught thousands of parents and children about healthful, sustainable eating in schools, community centers, and farmers' markets. Melissa speaks and writes regularly on child nutrition and sustainability both in the Chicago community and online, blogging at Little Locavores, as The Sustainable Cook on The Local Beet, and as a regular contributor to Kiwi Magazine’s KiwiLog. She resides in Chicago with her husband and 7-year old son in a rowhouse built in 1896.

Sing Spring with Green Eggs & Ham

Spring has arrived alarmingly early in Chicago. With five straight record setting 80 degree days in March, the tulips are shooting up and the trees are nearly in full bloom. 5 tips for welcoming the change in season with kids!

1) Take a family trip to the farmers’ market or to a farm. There are few better ways to connect your children with the earth. We’re all so used to the blessings of modern transportation and our grocery stores do not lack asparagus and raspberries even in the deep...

Posted on March 30, 2012 at 7:00 AM by Melissa Graham

Cooking with Kids - Orange You Glad

While Purple Asparagus incorporates as many local products into its school programs as possible, during the winter months, we turn to some imported fruits for our school program. From January through early February, we tote a whole assortment of delicious citrus fruits all over Chicago.  At home, you can help your little ones learn about these five orange siblings:


Naval Orange: While kids may have tasted their fair share of the navel, few know that the name is not the result of it...

Posted on March 01, 2012 at 7:00 AM by Melissa Graham

Cooking with Kids - Sausage & Cheddar Strata

The holidays are a magical time. On almost every street, homes sparkle in the dark December skies. Even with the busy-ness of the season, we seem to enjoy our families more as the holidays close in and our everyday work slows down.

Whether dinner is a quick casserole after a shopping trip or a multi-course weekend feast, December is the perfect time to rediscover the family table. While you are enjoying the holidays - enlist little hands to assist with cooking.

While your kitchen h...

Posted on December 27, 2011 at 8:00 AM by Melissa Graham

Recruit Little Helping Hands This Thanksgiving

The air these days is heavy with anticipation. Trees are arriving by the truckload, Starbucks is playing holiday music, and the rest of the retailers have festooned their walls with garland and Christmas baubles.

Hang on. What date is it again?

It’s easy to get caught up in the holiday madness. It’s all so sparkly, so festive. To borrow a line from of my favorite Yuletide ditties, “we [all] need a little Christmas,” especially in these uncertain and troubled times.

I get i...

Posted on November 22, 2011 at 8:00 AM by Melissa Graham

A is for Apple & Apple-Pumpkin Pancakes

October is National Apple Month!  At Purple Asparagus, our cars smell apple-licious as we cart Mutsu, Razor Russet, Scarlet O’Hara, and Lucky Jon’s apples to Chicago Public Schools all over Chicago.

Purple Asparagus is a non-profit that educates children, families and the community about eating that’s good for the body and the planet. Our cornerstone program, Delicious Nutritious Adventures, teaches elementary school students starting with a tasting and ending with a cooking lesson - k...

Posted on October 28, 2011 at 8:00 AM by Melissa Graham

Want kids to eat veggies? Try Purple Asparagus

Imagine a class full of children swearing that they hate vegetables. Not hard to envision, right? Come back in an hour and watch them swarm the teacher’s desk for any leftovers from their veggie tasting. Believe that? I’ve witnessed this transformation on hundreds of occasions while teaching with Purple Asaparagus in the Chicago Public Schools.

Purple Asparagus educates children, families and the community about eating that’s good for the body and the planet. Delicious Nutritious Adven...

Posted on August 24, 2011 at 2:00 PM by Melissa Graham