Nine-year-old deemed honorary “Forty Under 40″ winner!

Sacramento, Calif.  – Nine-year-old Entrepreneur Nicolas Come, founder of the “Nicolas’ Garden” Mobile Application and digital platform, was presented with a special, “Honorary Winner,” Accolade at Sacramento’s recent, 2013 “Forty Under 40” Awards. Presented by in independent group of judges and the Sacramento Business Journal, Nicolas was (by far) the youngest winner of the coveted


, “Forty Under 40,” Honor – a full 21 years younger than the next youngest honoree!
Nominated and recognizedby the judges (and later quoted within the Sacramento Business Journal special, “Forty Under 40” publication), Nicolas was recognized with the other winners for, “…exceptional leadership skills, entrepreneurial savvy and intense community involvement.”

To see a portion of Nicolas’ acceptance speech for this highly respected honor, please check: To learn more about the “Forty Under 40” Awards, please refer to:

Nicolas is quite proud of the “Forty Under 40 Award,” and his recent recognition as the “Student Entrepreneur of the Year,” by North State Innovate. However, he is not resting on his laurels; he continues to build and promote his “Nicolas’ Garden” company, to inspire all children to make healthier choices. Having already launched the “Nicolas’ Garden” Mobile App (, and digital platform, (, Nicolas also recently launched a YouTube, healthy kids news program known as, “NG.TV”, which he updates every two weeks:

Nicolas hopes to release the next version of his Mobile App, launch a television show, and design his first, “Healthy Kids” Mobile App game in 2014.

“I’m very proud of receiving the, ‘Forty Under 40,’ Award,” states Nicolas. “I know everyone nominated for this honor has done amazing things for our community, and I feel really lucky to be included with them. I hope I can continue to help kids around the world be healthier. And I want to thank everyone who downloaded my App, followed me on Facebook or Twitter, or supported ‘Nicolas’ Garden’ in other ways. It’s great we are all working together to inspire children to be healthy!”

For further information and photos of Nicolas receiving the “Forty Under 40 Award,” please check:; or contact Drisha Leggitt, Nicolas’ Garden “Chief Momentum Officer”:

Nicolas Come Named ‘Student Entrepreneur of the Year’ at 29th Annual Regional Innovation Awards

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December 10, 2013, Sacramento, CA – Nine-year-old Nicolas Come, founder of the “Nicolas’ Garden” Mobile App and digital platform, was named by, Innovate North State, as the “Student Entrepreneur of the Year,” at the coveted, 29th annual, “Regional Innovation Awards.” The Innovation Awards are a celebration and recognition of innovative and “breakthrough” business success, occurring in the ‘530’ region.  The Innovation Awards were hosted at California State University, Chico, and were very well attended by an audience anxious to see the ultimate winners selected from among 100 finalists in 25 different individual and company/organizational categories.

Hosted and organized originally in 1984 by CEPCO, and since 2012 by Innovate North State, the 29th annual Innovation Awards have expanded to include the entire 530 area code, encompassing most of Northern California. Prior Innovation Award winners have included such market leaders asSierra Nevada Brewing Company and For consideration for an Innovation Award, companies and professionals are honored because of their tremendous, innovative achievements and their “game-changing”, positive impact, locally, statewide, nationally, and globally. =

Innovate North State’s Managing Director Jon Gregory stated, “The annual Innovation Awards Dinner represents our once-a-year hallmark gala event, honoring phenomenal business success, organization performance, products and services, as well as exceptional executives and professionals, educators and civic leaders, throughout the ‘530’ region.” Mr. Gregory continued, “We are honored to have the opportunity to showcase the tremendous success stories of business and civic leaders, entrepreneurs, educators, and professionals who are leaders in their respected industries.”

Innovate North State’s choice as, “Student Entrepreneur of the Year,” Nicolas Come, is the pint-sized third-grader that founded the, “Nicolas’ Garden” Mobile App and digital platform. Nicolas was selected by the Innovation Awards judges, due to his unique, but considerable, positive impact in promoting healthy eating for and among children worldwide. Since its launch over five months ago, the “By Kids; For Kids”, “Nicolas’ Garden” company has inspired thousands of children worldwide to try and share healthy foods and recipes, promote the importance of “Farm-to-Fork,” and support healthier lifestyle choices, using digital and other technologies, social media and You-Tube “NG.TV” video blogs, community appearances and partnerships. To date, Nicolas’ Garden has over 5,000 downloads, has generated over 9 million media impressions worldwide, and prompted an invitation to the White House to meet the President of the United States (only six weeks after the Mobile App was “live”).

Upon accepting the “Student Entrepreneur of the Year” Award, Dr. Paul Zingg, President of California State University, Chico, was so impressed with Nicolas, that he offered the nine-year-old Entrepreneur a scholarship to become a CSUC Freshman on the spot!

“I am very proud of this amazing honor,” Nicolas stated following the Innovation Awards. “It’s the first major award I have ever received. And after seeing the other students in the competition, I know all of the finalists deserve recognition for their great innovation. Thanks to the ‘Innovate North State’ judges for selecting me. And I hope everyone will introduce ‘Nicolas’ Garden’ to their children and schools very soon to help us keep up this positive momentum!”

To see photos frwordpress3.1om the 29th Annual Innovation Awards, please check the Innovate North State website: To learn more about Nicolas Come, or the “Nicolas Garden” company, please check:


Innovate North State ( – a public/private partnership driven by CEOs of leading California North State businesses – was established in early 2012. Innovate North State’s goal is to assist the region’s most innovative companies who have the largest growth potential garner a larger share of their national and global markets resulting in a more vibrant regional economy.

Nicolas’ Garden supports Nutritionist’s Suggestions for Happy, Fun & Healthy Halloween!


To ensure that your child stays healthy this Halloween and still has a fun time, Dr. Michelle Cardel, a nutrition scientist and registered dietitian at the Anschutz Health and Wellness center, offers these few tips to Nicolas’ Garden followers:

1. Don’t let your kids go trick-or-treating on an empty stomach - It is important to make sure your child doesn’t go out hungry when they trick-or-treat. Provide a warm, nutritious meal filled with fiber, protein, fruits, and vegetables to help them avoid snacking on treats along the way. This could also help decrease the amount of candy they eat when returning home.

2. Instead of giving out candy try giving out toys - You can help make your neighborhood a healthier place by giving out fun things other than candy to trick-or-treaters. In one study children were given the choice between candies or a small toy while trick-or-treating. Nearly half the time the children choose the toy, suggesting that children would be satisfied with receiving the toy instead of candy. Some inexpensive toy ideas include large glow-in-the-dark insects, Halloween theme stickers, Halloween pencils, bubbles, glow sticks, or bouncy balls. Kids love these and they can help cut back on calories in a candy bag. If you do buy treats, get the mini sized bars and choose items lower in calories, fat, and sugar, such as Starburst, York Peppermints, mints, and dark chocolates.

3. Get some physical activity on Halloween by walking instead of driving – Burn off some of those candy calories. Walk together as a family trick-or-treating instead of driving. You can add reflective tape to costumes to ensure that drivers see your child.

4. Keep candy consumption to a minimum - You can minimize the amount of candy your child gets by limiting the time or number of houses you visit. Be sure to also use a smaller bag, about the size of a grocery bag, to limit the amount of candy your child gets (one way to ensure this is to make your child carry their own bag). Tell the children they have to wait until you get home to eat candy. Once you get home check the safety of the candy by making sure it is commercially packaged and that the packaging is not tampered with. Take an inventory of your child’s candy and allow them only certain amounts each day to teach them the value of moderation and to help it last longer. Keep in mind that one of the leading causes of tooth decay is sugary candy, so be sure that your kid is brushing and flossing their teeth after they eat their candy.

Don’t be tricked into all the unhealthy treats that have typically consumed this holiday. As you take your children trick-or-treating or give out treats to those that come to your door, use these ideas to stay healthy and still have fun.


Check Nicolas’ Garden website for more healthy Halloween ideas:


Kids and Teens Ruled Farm to Fork Festival Sacramento

collage1jpgNicolas and his team at Nicolas’ Garden, and so many volunteers and families from Northern California came together this weekend in the Farm to Fork Capital of America - Sacramento – for the first annual Family Food Feud!

The goal was to display families working together to create healthy and tasty dishes, using farm-to-fork/locally grown products. This event drew hundreds at the inaugural Farm to Fork Festival early in the day as the first event – with attendance overall for the festival in the tens of thousands! Nicolas’ Garden’s objective was to engage the audience and community in the idea that cooking as a family is good – and it is also good fun! No one has to be a gourmet – just creative and healthy!

collage5Everyone was a winner on Saturday where each family that participated received Goodie Bags, Gift Certificates to the mentor chef’s restaurant, t-shirts and more!

It Takes a Village

Each team had a highly-respected Mentor Chef as well; and while they didn’t cook or prepare for the family, they did guide and coach the families as they prepared an award-winning new dish! Celebrity Mentors were Ian MacBride, Kurt Spataro, and Jason Veregge from Lucca, Hock Farm Craft Provisions, and Ten22.

Pre-feud, Nicolas and his co-host of the feud, Chef Adam Pechal of Tuli Bistro and Restaurant THIRTEEN, appeared on Good Day Sacramento on Friday and then again on Sunday morning with the winning family – the Wade family – with their mentor Chef Kurt Spataro!

collage6gooddaysac1The Wade family recently went through a 20-week Fit Weight program at Kaiser (Fit Kids and Families) to help with keeping their kids’ weight in check and have made major lifestyle changes.


Additionally, each family had teen leaders from the “Change Game” to support the children collecting food, aid in the preparation, and promote the event using social media! It was a total community enterprise that demonstrated just what kids can do if they put their mind to it!

Later in the day, the “Change Game” teens who are supported by curriculum from Teen Battle Chef, a nationwide youth development program, put on a Teen Battle Chef at this weekend’s Farm-to-Fork Festival, with top farm-to-fork mentor chefs Oliver Ridgeway of Grange and Adam Pechal of Tuli Bistro and Restaurant Thir13en.

collage2Celebrity Judges included the iconic “Queen” of fitness Elaine LaLanne, Jack LaLanne’s long-time on-air partner and wife and Clear Channel’s own (and favorite fan of Nicolas) Kitty O’Neal, as well as Lynn Fredericks (Author & leader of “Teen Battle Chefs”), Ed Corvelo (SaveMart Super Markets Produce & Floral Department Director), and Mark Powell (Institute of Technology Culinary Arts’ CEC Instructor).


Nicolas thanks every single person who came out, supported, led, and helped make sure this first Family Food Feud was a success! In the end, with food donations from Produce Express (local farms), Passmore Ranch, Lucky Dog, Stone Valley Farms, and SaveMart (pantry, basic items), and everyone pulling together – Survey says, “Awesome!”

See you next year!

If you have any questions about this or any other event with Nicolas’ Garden, please contact Nicolas’ Chief Momentum Officer or (916) 206-2553.





Celebrity Chef Adam Pechal and Nicolas Hosts Family Food Feud at F2F!

Chef Adam Pechal in his reality TV appearance on "The Taste"

Chef Adam Pechal in his reality TV appearance on “The Taste”

In celebration of Sacramento’s “Farm-to-Fork Festival,” Celebrity Chef Adam Pechal and Nicolas’ Garden founder Nicolas Come will co-host a fun, family cooking competition – rewarding the family for working together to create a healthy, tasty meal, equally as much as for the resulting meal’s taste and presentation. (See Chef’s website for his full bio). 

Details of The Feud

Three families will be paired with “mentor” chefs from local restaurants upon their arrival on Saturday, September 28, 2013, to the Sacramento Farm-to-Fork Festival, and “Family Food Feud” competition.

Among the judging criteria, “Showmanship,” which they can engage early in social media. The Food Feud Team will create a Facebook Page for each participating family. Each family will then be encouraged to invite friends, family, etc., to “Like” them on Facebook, Tweet, etc.

The number of social media and other proof of communications outreach (newsletters, emails to friends, flyers, etc.), as well as the number of people that come to cheer on their families (double points if they are dressed/painted in true “fan” garb like sporting matches), will be measured and scored for the “Showmanship” percentage of the total Food Feud score.

Come and Join the Fun!

On Saturday, September 28, 2013, the “Family Food Feud” event is scheduled to start at 11 am (set-up to begin at 9:30 am), on the Farm-to-Fork Festival Main Stage (Capitol Mall, between third and seventh streets), with three simple cooking stations which will be set up across the stage, with a huge mound of locally grown food, and a single “pantry” of herbs/spices, situated in the center.

At 10:30 am, representatives from each family will “draw straws” to determine the order of time for meal judging (judges to dedicate two-three minutes tasting meal per family). At 10:45 am, commentary and welcomes will begin, while each participating family is led through the cheering crowd and introduced to the attendees.

nicolas_approved_sealA large time clock will be posted for all to see on or near the stage. Promptly at 11 am and with ringing of the “Dinner Bell,” the event will start. The children from each family will run to the food mound/refrigerated truck, and then back to the cooking stations, bringing their families the ingredients for their entrees. The families will then have 45 minutes to create a healthy, family meal/dish from the ingredients collected.

Each cooking station will have salt, pepper and Olive Oil; and there will be a communal “pantry” with other spices and ingredients. The children must grab the pantry items, or find those items from other family’s stations, and “borrow” them from another family, throughout the competition.

Local “Change Game” teen volunteers will be available to help the children identify and bring the food to the families. For information about the amazing Change Game TV show in Northern California, visit their website here. Change Game TV is a presentation of California Farm to Table. 

Before, during and after the meal preparation, Adam and Nicolas will be the “hosts” and emcees of the “Family Food Feud”, engaging the audience and the contestants in healthy food trivia, asking after each question, “Survey says…” (similar to the televised “Family Feud” game), as well as interviewing the mentor chefs and families during the competition.

Nicolas with his Dad - his "sous chef" at the California State Fair's Caifornia Kitchen earlier this year.

Nicolas with his Dad – his “sous chef” at the California State Fair’s Caifornia Kitchen earlier this year.

At the same time that the families are creating their recipes, members of the technology community and/or teen volunteers from “The Change Game” will be documenting the recipes created, “real time” during the contest. They will help the families with their “Showmanship” point scores, and engage the online community in the Family Food Feud action.

All completed family recipes created during the competition will be uploaded to a special page on the Nicolas’ Garden Mobile App/digital platform (this blog) as well as shared on Nicolas’ Facebook page.

The Judging

After 45 minutes, Celebrity Judges will judge the families’ recipes through the following criteria:

  • Participation by all family members;
  • Ability of “Average” family to recreate and include recipe into “normal” routine;
  • Degree of “Healthy” in cooking/preparation/final product;
  • Taste of Meal;
  • Presentation of Meal.
  • Showmanship (or engagement of friends/family/community in positive, healthy activities).

The winning Family recipe will receive a family-friendly, grand prize; the other four will receive “goodie” bags. All will receive Nicolas’ Garden T-Shirts. The winning family will also receive a gift certificate for a free meal at an Adam-preferred restaurant. Each mentor chef will donate a gift certificate to his or her “mentee” family.

For more information about ongoing Farm to Fork festival activities through Saturday, please visit the City’s website “”

To visit Nicolas on Facebook….

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About California Farm to Table’s “Change Game”

“Rabbi David Wechsler-Azen of Congregation Beth Shalom temple in Sacramento, has for the past four years devoted himself to renovating the eating habits of a few South Sacramento communities by transforming their high school students into CSA salespeople.  He got the idea that one of the best ways to motivate young people to eat better would be to pay them to do it.  So he went about developing a system wherein participating students would be educated and trained to hit the streets of their neighborhoods selling bags of fresh fruits and vegetables. He’s developed the program as a fundraiser for seven different Sacramento area schools, calling it “Fresh Producers,” and along the way, the students have learned and added their own marketing techniques to make these foods more appealing to their families and neighbors.

But that’s not where the great idea ends.

Somewhere along the line, Rabbi David decided to up the ante and turn the entire venture into a reality TV competition. The “Apprentice” style show, titled “The Change Game,” features 10 teams of high school students going head to head in an all out battle to see who can creatively market and sell more produce. 

Teams will be engaged on every level, from growing, to cooking, to marketing and distributing, all the while inspiring their communities to enjoy the fruits of their labor through healthy eating.” – Excerpted from CFT Blog.

Nicolas’ Garden Chosen As A Top Finalist in SARTA’s AgStart Innovation Showcase

This story was released broadly to the media on September 22nd and updates you on the innovation venture competition Nicolas has been competing in in Northern California. It is the latest, official news there!


September 22nd AgStart Results Are In!

NG 13-Photo-Nicolas Pushing Open SARTA for Next Gen Entrepreneurs

At first, 17 well-respected agriculture innovation technology companies were selected as qualified to enter the Sacramento Regional Technology Alliance’s (SARTA) “AgStart Innovation” venture competition.

From among those companies, six were selected to compete in the “AgStart PitchFest,” before judges in a “Shark Tank”-like venture competition on September 19, 2013, at University of California, Davis.

Of the six articulate, passionate, and knowledgeable CEOs “pitching” to the SARTA judges that night, only ONE had an 8:00 pm bedtime!

Nine-year-old Entrepreneur Nicolas Come, inventor of the, “Nicolas’ Garden” Mobile App and digital platform, represented his company himself – without adult accompaniment – at SARTA’s upcoming, “AgStart PitchFest Finals;” and was selected by the judges to be one of the final three companies to “pitch” in front of key agriculture and technology stakeholders/investors at SARTA’s “AgStart Innovation Showcase,” on October 16, 2013; as well as receive a scholarship to attend the U.C. Davis Childs Family Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship’s Food, Ag, and Health Entrepreneurship Academy, on October 22 – 24, 2013. 

Nicolas Come, the Sacramento-area third-grader, who just four months ago launched a company to encourage healthier eating among his generation (and took his “Farm-to-Fork” advocacy, all the way to the President of the United States), plans to again “pitch” by himself – without adult accompaniment — against his final other two adult CEO competitors, at the October 16, 2013 “Showcase” before an audience of hundreds. The Wednesday, October 16, 2013, SARTA “AgStart Innovation Showcase” competition will take place at: McClellan Business Park Conference Center
, 5411 Luce Ave, McClellan, CA, 95652.

“Most people don’t know that my ‘Nicolas’ Garden’ App was always supposed to be ‘Farm-to-Fork’,” Nicolas reports. “With the team I recruited from Hacker Lab, we created the ‘Fork’ part. But now we need more funding and content partners for the ‘Farm’ part. If we win the ‘AgStart Showcase,’ competition, we can build the ‘Farm’ part of my company, and teach more kids where their food comes from, and why healthy food is better for them! I want my company and App to teach kids about growing their own gardens and farming, no matter where they live. I think a lot of kids are like I was: picky eaters. But once I started growing my own healthy food, I tried more of it, and liked it. I think ‘Nicolas’ Garden’ can do that for other kids, too!”

Nicolas Pitches Co to Venture JudgesA self-proclaimed, “Picky Eater,” Nicolas Come decided to develop an entirely new, digital business model to support healthier living and fight childhood obesity late last year. Knowing how much he enjoyed learning to grow his own food, and cooking the resulting, healthy ingredients with his family, he outlined and diagramed an idea for a mobile application and supporting technology that would be, “by kids; for kids” — allowing them to share healthy recipes, cooking tips, and other healthy options, in an easy, fun, digital format.

More History            

Convinced and emboldened that his idea was important, Nicolas bravely pitched his idea (by himself, while standing on a chair) to over 100 technical experts during a Sacramento Hacker Lab “Hackathon” (a weekend coding competition). At the Hackathon, Nicolas recruited a team of designers, computer programmers, and content specialists; and ultimately developed the concept for Nicolas’ digital platform and business, known as, “Nicolas’ Garden.”

            Now “live,” the Nicolas’ Garden website and mobile App allows children and families to share healthy, family- and kid-friendly recipes, create meal plans and shopping lists, learn easy and fun cooking tips, play health-related games, and link to other healthy programs and services. In the next generation of the App, kids will earn points and badges for interactivity, growing gardens, making healthy choices, and participation.  A map of local healthy eating events, farms, and venues will be available to support farmers markets, restaurants, and other locations and activities promoting family-friendly, farm-to-fork programs.

In the continued effort to promote the use of his Mobile App, as well as his website (, Facebook page and Twitter account, Nicolas has become quite the accomplished chef! He has appeared on numerous media programs conducting cooking demonstrations of his favorite recipes.

In the thick of it!

In the thick of it!

He has also been interviewed by dozens of print publications; in fact, in the merely four months that the App has been, “live”, Nicolas has generated over nine million, positive media impressions worldwide, including media in Japan, India, Malaysia, Latin America, the United Kingdom, and many more. Nicolas has even shared his message (and his tiny business card), with the President of the United States! The White House selected Nicolas’ photo with the President as the, “White House Photo of the Day!”

            Convinced that that Nicolas’ Garden Mobile App should be a vital tool to support the “Farm-to-Fork” initiative, Nicolas recently presented a cooking demonstration before over 100 teachers at an “Ag in the Classroom” Conference, inspiring instructors to incorporate his App in their classroom curriculum. He was also twice a featured chef at the California State Fair. Additionally, he is partnering with Chef Adam Pechal to present the “Farm-to-Fork Family Food Feud” event, as the Opening Act on the Main Stage of the “Farm-to-Fork Festival,” on September 28, 2013.

            “I know the ‘AgStart Innovation Showcase,’ is going to be a hard competition,” concludes Nicolas. “And maybe some people won’t understand right away why ‘Nicolas’ Garden’ should be considered Ag innovation. But think about it; if no one wants to eat their fruits and vegetables in the future, who’s going to buy from our farmers? I am trying to help kids like fruits and vegetables now, so that they will grow up, and feed the healthy food to their families, and buy more from our farmers. And we are using a Mobile App and digital technology to do it! What’s more innovative than that? These judges are business people and entrepreneurs like me. I’m sure if I explain it to them myself, they’ll understand that ‘Nicolas’ Garden’ should be the winner of the AgStart Showcase!”

For further information regarding the Nicolas’ Garden, please check: For further information about SARTA, please check:

Photo credit:  Riverview Media Photography/Tia Gemmell: Photo Caption(s): Nine-year-old Entrepreneur Nicolas Come, inventor of the, “Nicolas’ Garden” Mobile App and digital platform, represented his company himself – without adult accompaniment – at SARTA’s upcoming, “AgStart PitchFest Finals;” and was selected by the judges to be one of the final three companies to “pitch” in front of key agriculture and technology stakeholders/investors at SARTA’s “AgStart Innovation Showcase,” on October 16, 2013; as well as receive a scholarship to attend the U.C. Davis Childs Family Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship’s Food, Ag, and Health Entrepreneurship Academy, on October 22 – 24, 2013. 

Back to School Healthy, Fun Food!

It’s back to school time. Time to get serious again about things like backpacks and supplies, and shifting to a busier schedule for everyone in the family.

We’re celebrating Back to School at Nicolas’ Facebook Page this week. At Nicolas’ Blog Central we wanted to share a few more tips of our own for how to get “healthy food ready” at your house.

Are preschoolers getting healthier?

Are preschoolers getting healthier?

And some good news: At, a site dedicated to all things kids, they reported that the USA Today released news from a recent study by the CDC finding that several states are beginning to see a small, but significant decline in childhood obesity rates among preschoolers. This means you at home can step up your game to keep the tide moving for a new generation of children to be among the first in decades NOT to grow up with obesity as a factor in their lives.

That’s the whole mission behind Nicolas’ Garden: to use technology tools and share what works for helping kids make real, sustainable healthy food behavior changes.

Here’s a few more tips to get you started and off to a new school year right!

Get Cooking

Nicolas' Garden TV

Nicolas’ Garden TV

1)   Use Nicolas mobile app to plan for at least one family night in the kitchen where your kids can drive the “cooking” for a change. A great opportunity to help empower them by teaching them tips. You can also check in on the few cooking videos Nicolas has done since he launched his app in May.

Plant a Winter Garden

2)   Plant a garden together of winter vegetables. Here is a great resource for winter planting: the National Gardening Association is a terrific resource for all things gardening. This article focuses on Winter Vegetable Gardens in Warm Climates.

Eat Healthy by Planning/Shopping Healthy

3)   Cut out sugar drinks and white flour snacks. Work in far more fruits and veggies into the snacks for home and school, and visit regularly your local farmer’s markets. We found this great resource locator online: See if your local markets are there!

And don’t forget to share what works and upload your latest family, kid-friendly recipes here at Nicolas’ Garden! 

Happy back to school…

What’s In Your Fridge?

Nicolas' Fridge. What's in your's?

Nicolas’ Fridge. What’s in your’s?

Here’s a great question: what’s in your fridge, and what can you do with it? Or what’s in your fridge, and is it reflecting healthy options for you and your family? The idea here is that whatever IS in your fridge, is probably what you’ll eat. And if it’s empty, that’s a sure sign you eat out too much or eating options that are not as healthy as they could be.

For kids, especially those who spend time unsupervised after school, or who have access to fridges and food freely without foundational family rules to go by (yes, that alliteration is fun!) – empty fridges or fridges filled with things that are less good for you is setting kids up for failure. Whew!



This week Nicolas’ Garden had a new friend, Robin Plotkin, write a terrific article spotlighting Nicolas and what he has in his fridge at home. Robin is a culinary and nutrition expert based in Dallas, Texas. She blogs, tweets, teaches, talks and tastes food for a living. She’s an RN, smart about how to engage people in wisdom around healthy eating, and above all else puts her culinary and nutritional expertise to work helping kids get healthier.

Thanks, Robin, for being a champion of Nicolas’ mission! Here’s Robin’s article at RobinsBite.

Now we want to know: what’s in your fridge?

Share with us the photos before and after cleaning up your act at Nicolas’ Facebook page! Until next week – follow and engage with Nicolas! Above all – upload those recipes! To share your ideas with Nicolas, follow him, and share with him at his social media sites:

Upload, search, and share recipes now!



Parents and Teachers Are Keys to Putting the “Want” Into Healthy Food

July 23, 2013

We all have to learn how to “do things we don’t want to, but are good for us.” But we all also understand how much easier anything is if we really want to do it.

When it comes to being inspired, to do things that may not seem at first to be obviously fun or cool, most often kids inspire kids – they want to do what their friends can do, and so being with healthy role model friends is a first step.

Nicolas with his Dad - his "sous chef" at the California State Fair's Caifornia Kitchen teaching how to make Dad's Tomato Sauce

Nicolas with his Dad – his “sous chef” at the California State Fair’s Caifornia Kitchen teaching how to make Dad’s Tomato Sauce

When their friends or kids they admire accomplish seemingly impossible goals that they respect, kids will often want to emulate the behavior they admire, if they have the right support and encouragement from their family, their school, and their community at large.

What can parents and teachers do to inspire self-motivation that inspires others?

Helping children achieve their best in school, at home, and in life, The National Association of School Psychologists  (NASP) is a guiding resource to help foster motivated learning in children. One thing Nicolas knows all too well is how important the role of his own self-motivation is in changing his own eating patterns, and how important it has been for his own parents to foster that intrinsic motivation along the way. And Nicolas is learning that by doing, other kids will also be inspired to try, and trying can lead to achievement, and achievement leads to wanting to do it again!

Nicolas is a picky eater and he has a strong opinion about food – it should taste good and it should definitely be fun to make. Not a bad standard set of expectations, right? Don’t we all feel that way?

According to the NASP, “we need to allow children to explore and discover their world…the habits and attitudes toward learning that are formed in (the) early years sets the mood for all future learning.” In other words, to help kids make changes in their own behavior that is “good for them,” we have to encourage and plan for discovery and do it as early as possible. It is never too late, however, to start with your own kids at home or in the classroom.

When we dictate to kids “eat your vegetables because they’re good for you and I say so,” we’re actually saying “I know vegetables taste yucky, and I don’t like them either, but they’re a necessary evil, and sometimes we have to do what’s good for us even when we don’t like it very much.”

Making family food time fun AND enough of a challenge to spark self-motivation!

Making family food time fun AND enough of a challenge to spark self-motivation!

We have to be children’s models for the behavior we hope to see in them.

When another child cooks a cool-looking, yummy-tasting green bean salad they picked with their own hands, and that they prepared with their own hands, fun becomes inspiration.

When the entire family praises and eats their creation with great excitement – well, then you’re cementing a sense of success behind a new behavior that will actually sustain itself over time. The brother or sister, or friend of that child present will be inspired as much by the success behavior as they will be by the kid-friendly, great-tasting, healthy food.


  • Provide an environment that allows children to freely explore a wide variety of healthy foods and preparatory skills. Do, and then also set up a “doing station” for your child in the kitchen that is theirs and theirs alone. Go to the farmer’s market once a week and allow them to learn/choose a new recipe every week using ingredients they pick (or grow!).
  • Allow children ample time when working to allow for persistence. When children are deeply involved with cooking, growing, or healthy eating activity, make sure that they can finish without interruption. Resist the natural urge to “help,” and let the child know if, for example, we have to move on to another task in a few minutes.
  • Respond to children’s needs in a consistent, predictable manner, but allow them to be as independent as possible. This does NOT mean ceding all control to your child. All children need clearly defined limits. Time to garden, cook, and play with healthy food, however, need not be structured and organized. Let your kid be a kid!
  • Provide many opportunities for children and adults to explore together and interact directly. It is important for both children and adults to be working together in the growing, cooking, and eating of healthy food. Don’t eat in ways you are attempting to change in your own children. Modeling the behavior for them is absolutely critical.
  • Provide cooking situations that give children an acceptable challenge.  Activities that are slightly difficult for the child will be more motivating and provide for stronger feelings of success when accomplished. This may take some trial and error at first.
  • Give children opportunities to evaluate their own accomplishments. Rather than stating that you think they have done a good job, ask them what they think of their work. You’ll never go wrong by asking the question, “What do YOU think?”
  • Praise and rewards should be based upon children’s effort and persistence, rather than on the actual accomplishment. Encouraging sustained gardened, and cooking at least one meal for the family a week over time – these are life=long new behaviors to praise!

What do you do at home to inspire your kids that in turn creates behavior in them that inspires other kids around healthy eating?

We’d love to share your stories and insights! Share those stories at Nicolas’ Facebook page!

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Summer is About Agriculture, Fresh Food, Farms, Fairs and Fun!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

After a pretty busy two weeks for just one little guy, Nicolas is fresh off his trip from meeting the President of the United States and had to prepare to turn right around and head to San Diego to speak at the Ag in the Classroom annual conference (details below), as well as check in with some media partners and go to LegoLand. Even Nicolas needs some fun in the sun! 

Dad's Tomato Sauce

Dad’s Tomato Sauce

Following a trip of a lifetime, and certainly one of the coolest vacation adventures any 8 year-old could have, Nicolas returned to Sacramento for check-ins with a few of his terrific media partners to share the Washington story experience. You can catch up and see or read some of that coverage at the following links.

Thanks so much to Alisa Becerra Fox40, Good Day Sacramento, Beth Ruyak of Insight, Channel 10, the Sacramento Press, the Sacramento Bee, KFBK and the Sacramento Business Journal, as well as our new friends at the California State Fair, where as we write this Nicolas is giving his cooking demonstraton to fair goers and teaching all how to make Dad’s tomato sauce!

You can also catch up by exploring these tories and watch or listen to the Good Day return visit interview and Beth Ruyak on Insight’s radio update at the end of this post by clicking on the images

For our latest you can catch up on his trip here.

From Washington to the Farm to the Classroom

One of the best benefits of living in a region called the Farm to Fork Capital of the World, aside from having one of the largest windows of growing seasons anywhere, and a menu of options for fresh fruits and vegetables un-paralleled to anywhere else, is the commitment by so many people to kids’ health.

From those in public service, to average people in the community, to classrooms and schools across our green state, California is blessed to possess farms and healthy foods and a commitment among its people to make sure those resources benefit kids in innovative ways.

A great example of that is Kaiser Permanente, who recently announced several grant awards to nonprofits helping kids get healthier. With more than $200,000 being distributed to nine nonprofit programs as part of a larger $1.4 million dollar grant program to more than 56 Sacramento-area nonprofits, those helped included Soil Born Farms, the California Food Literacy Center, the Oak Park Farmers Market, and the Placer Food Bank, all working to help connect kids wth fresh, healthy foods.

History of Farm to School Programs

According to the report, “A Decade of Farm to School in California,” published by Anupama Joshi and Moira Beery from the Center for Food & Justice and The Urban & Environmental Policy Institute at Occidental College, one of the very first farm to school programs was started in California in the Spring of 1997:

…(by), Bob Gottlieb, a parent at the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District (SMMUSD) who was also involved with the Community Food Security Project at UCLA, (who) heard his children complain about the quality of salads offered in their school cafeteria. Gottlieb approached Rodney Taylor, the SMMUSD food service director with a proposal to start a farmers’ market salad bar. What transpired between Gottlieb and Taylor has helped lay the groundwork for an international farm to school movement.” See report here for the history of how far we’ve come from farms to schools. 

That is a lot of what Nicolas’ Garden is all about – movements, collaboration, and working together to get kids on board – connecting technology, great ideas, and a room full of passionate people over inspiring ideas about how to help kids get the messages they need to eat more fruits and vegetables, and to share ideas on how best to help kids in the classroom really acquire new behaviors that can take them from the garden or farm, to their own kitchens and beyond.

This past weekend Nicolas was truly honored and fortunate to be invited to attend the California Agriculture in the Classroom Conference in Del Mar, near San Diego. He was there to talk with California teachers and supporters of agriculture and education, providing hands-on ideas for engaging experience that educates and inspires teachers to incorporate agricultural themes into their daily lessons.

Of course, Nicolas being who he is, wanted you to know that he himself created his very own PowerPoint presentation, and he was thrilled and honored to be among so many passionate teachers and to be able to share his ideas.

Next week Nicolas will share that video presentation, his thoughts on the experience, and the PowerPoint presentation with friends and readers. Stay tuned!


For more information about the conference, please see below, and visit, where Ag in the Classroom (from the California Foundation for Agriculture in the Classroom) recognizes how 7 million California students are fed, clothed and housed with products grown right here on our farms, in our fields and within our forests.

The California Foundation for Agriculture in the Classroom is dedicated to helping students and teachers across our great state gain an understanding of how agriculture provides the daily essentials necessary to make our society and our world function.

THE CFAITC is a 501(c)(3) organization that works with K-12 grade level teachers, students and community leaders, to enhance education using agricultural examples. The organizations mission is to increase awareness and understanding of agriculture among California’s educators and students. The ultimate vision of the organization is an appreciation of agriculture by all.

Do you have great ideas to share with teachers to inspire kids in their classrooms?

Please share with Nicolas and the community at his Facebook Page!

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