What kid wouldn’t jump for Ninja Pancakes?
Jessica James flips a golden pancake onto a cutting board and presses in a cookie cutter she bought on Amazon. Her 31/2-year-old son, Race, reluctantly leaves his toys to gobble up the flapjacks before pleading with a visitor to come see his life-size pirate ship.
James, an executive chef of culinary innovation at Applebee’s, knows kids need foods that are fun. As a mom, she also wants that food to be nutritious.
In December 2013, James created a healthier kids menu that includes wonton tacos, Caesar salad, high-protein chicken mac and cheese and lot of sides to “dip and squeeze.” To promote the new items, James starred in ads that aired on the Food Network.
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James grew up the daughter of a single parent, and she learned to cook at an early age. She graduated from Johnson County Community College’s culinary program and was a proud member of the school’s award-winning 2002 Culinary Olympic Team.
A year ago, after completing a graduate degree in journalism, James started her own food blog, realfamilykitchen.com, which focuses on simple, direct, family-friendly recipes using fresh ingredients.
James also is working on a business plan for Baby Foody, a line of organic, all-natural baby food delivered direct nationwide.
Look for her weekly posts and find her recipe for Ninja Pancakes on The Star’s Chow Town blog.