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Max Nania began “inventing” different kinds of snacks when he was 3. By the time he was 7, he published his first cookbook, Cooking with Max: 45 Fun and Kind of Messy Recipes Kids Can Make by Max Nania with special tips and photography by Sienna Nania (Little Five Star, 2007). Max’s mother, Sienna, says she always encouraged Max: “The only agreement we had was that he could invent if he would help clean up afterward.”

Who better than a kid to come up with recipes that kids will like? Max uses wholesome household ingredients to come up with new combinations that are very well-suited to a kid’s tastes. Below are recipes for Max’s homemade peanut butter and a dip for carrots and apples.

Note: Max lists ingredients and utensils at the beginning of each recipe, so you can make sure you have everything you need to get started.

Max’s Best Peanut Butter

1 cup honey roasted peanuts
1/2 cup dry roasted peanuts
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup milk chocolate chips
1 wooden spoon
1 airtight container

Place all the ingredients in the blender that your grown-up helper has set up for you. Now make sure the lid is on. Have your grown-up helper press the blender’s “chop” button (your grown-up helper might let you if you’re old enough—but you have to ask first!). When the nuts all go to the side, stop the blender and use the wooden spoon to push the mixture back to the middle. Once you’re sure the lid is back on tightly, press the “chop” button—or try the other buttons. Repeat this whole process as many times as necessary until it looks like peanut butter. It takes a while!

Warning: Never put your hand in the blender and always let your grown-up helper clean it up for you. The blades on the bottom are way sharp and can really hurt, so always have some help.

Serving size: 2 tablespoons. Per serving: 204 calories, 6 g protein, 17 g fat, 11 g carbohydrates, 122 mg sodium, 2 mg cholesterol

Peanut Butter Dip

1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup cream cheese
Several carrot sticks
1 apple (sliced)
1 large mixing bowl
1 large plate

In a mixing bowl, combine the two ingredients and stir until they’re blended together. Plop the whole mixture in the center of the plate, and place carrot sticks and apple slices all around it like the sun.

Serving size: 2 tablespoons. Per serving: 146 calories, 5 g protein, 13 g fat, 3 g carbohydrates, 118 mg sodium, 16 mg cholesterol