On most kids' menus, you're likely to find chicken nuggets, mac and cheese, french fries, and smiley faces on just about everything. But not if Jacques Pepin is in charge. His recipes for kids — to both eat, and cook — include spinach with croutons, sushi salmon cakes, skillet bread and homemade butter, and more.

It's all in his latest cookbook, a collaboration between him and his granddaughter, Shorey, called "A Grandfather's Lessons: In the Kitchen With Shorey." Pepin and Shorey stopped by Boston Public Radio with Jim Braude and Margery Eagan to talk about what they've learned from cooking together in the kitchen.

MARGERY EAGAN: What were you doing in the kitchen when you were two?

SHOREY WESEN: I definitely wasn't chopping or anything —

JACQUES PEPIN: She was eating chocolate.

WESEN: Mostly, yes. I spent a lot of time sitting with my grandfather and my parents and stirring sometimes, just helping in the few ways I could.

JIM BRAUDE: Where did this idea come from?

PEPIN: It was always this way at the house. When Claudine was a year and half — Claudine is Shorey's mother — I'd hold her in my arms, and she'd stir the pot. She "made it," so she was going to taste it. That was part of the way we lived. Her father is a chef as well, and he has a big garden, too, so we start with the garden. "Go get some tarragon — that's not tarragon, that's parsley, that's chives." And going to the market, too. I'd go to the market with her and say, "Get me some tomatoes. Are they ripe? Are they good?" "If you want some pears, smell them." Start handling the product, tasting, cooking, and [doing] little jobs in the kitchen.

BRAUDE: Do you think you could hold me while I stir in the kitchen?

PEPIN: No, but you could hold me.

BRAUDE: This story really struck a chord with me ... we talk a lot about how, when schools or other institutions try to introduce healthy food into kids' lives, they reject it up front. What you essentially did with your kid and grandkid was initiate this contact at an early age.

PEPIN: Yes. There is never any "healthy food" or anything. Just the food that we do. It is a mistake to give a reward to a kid who is five years old and hates spinach. You put the thing on the table [and say] "That's what we're eating tonight, and that's all there is."

EAGAN: Shorey, I'm looking at your tomato sauce recipe ... This looks like something I could do without too much trouble.

WESEN: The idea is not necessarily to let your kids cook this by themselves, but to have it so the whole family can cook together. They're all really simple recipes, and really delicious. It's good, kid-friendly food, but not chicken nuggets.

EAGAN: You've got on page 11 something that's very important for all of us. In the grown-up cookbooks, you don't have a section on good table manners, but you do here! It is terrible to say how many people who, you notice, don't bring the food up to their mouth, but their mouth down to the food.

PEPIN: You know, the beauty of it is we have about 75 recipes there, but 36 of those you can see in the DVD. You talk about the table manners, [Shorey] had a ball doing that because I was the guinea pig. She'd tell me, "Don't slouch. Don't put your elbows on the table. Don't speak with your mouth full. Don't interrupt me." She had a good time telling me what to do.

Click the audio player above to hear more from Jacques Pepin and his granddaughter, Shorey. This transcript has been edited and condensed for clarity.