At a recent Best Start East LA meeting at the Centro Maravilla center, 15 smiling kids’ faces looked on as Chef Aaron Perez crushed corn flakes on a table encouraging them to do the same at home. Parents smiled and agreed as Chef Aaron demonstrated how to make homemade, oven-baked chicken nuggets with fresh and unexpected ingredients.

Chef Aaron, an East LA native, is part of First 5 LA’s “A Father Really Matters” campaign, an effort to encourage dads to take an active role in their child’s life from pregnancy through childhood and beyond. In the interactive cooking class, Perez crushed corn flakes with his fists, an easy and fun activity for parents and kids, and a healthier alternative for a crunchy chicken nugget.

“Sometimes we think cooking healthier is going to be more expensive, but it doesn’t have to be,” Chef Aaron explains. “Today we made chicken nuggets from chicken breast with bone. Cutting off the bone is simple, and saves you at least a few dollars.”

The children agreed that chicken nuggets were a favorite, and their parents quickly took notes to make sure that they could take the learning home and implement the tips in their own kitchens.

Eliseo, a first time visitor at Best Start East LA, volunteered from the crowd of families to come up to the front of the room and demonstrate the recipe with his daughter.

“I promised my wife that I would cook for her. I am going to try to make the recipe,” says Eliseo. “It’s the first time that I come to a Best Start meeting and I thought it was interesting.”

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