IRVINE, Calif. — Cookbooks can help us try new dishes, improve a meal and cook anything from a sugary treat to a casserole.

A new cookbook written by a college student in Southern California is doing more than providing step-by-step instructions on how to bake a cake.

What You Need To Know

  • A college freshman at University of California, Irvine has written a cookbook full of sweet treats

  • The book's profits will go to No Kid Hungry

  • No Kid Hungry helped organizations feed 1.5 billion meals in 2020

  • Sahana Vij's favorite recipe is the U District Chai Infused Cake

Melting, measuring and mixing — anything involved with baking, Sahana Vij is into. Why? Well, a movie explains it best for the college freshman.

"My favorite movie is 'Ratatouille,'" she said. "And Chef Gusteau always says, 'Anyone can cook,' and I agree with that."

While cooking is one of her passions, the other is writing. So Vij combined her two loves and started writing a cookbook four years ago, which was recently published. Titled "Bake Away," the book includes her favorite desserts that are inspired by memories with her family. For example, her recipe for a chai-infused cake, which happens to be her favorite, is extra special.

"It comes from this tea room in Seattle that I go with my mom," she said. "And we get chai tea every time we go."

Vij also has a recipe inspired by her dog, who recently passed. While the book provides Vij a way to share her twists on sweet treats, for her, it also provides a sweet opportunity to give back.

"So, 100% of the author royalties will be going to No Kid Hungry," she said.

Vij explained that she grew up volunteering at shelters with her parents, so it was an easy decision.

"It’s a lot more rewarding to see the profits go to help people who really need it," she said.

No Kid Hungry provides grants to help groups feed hungry kids, and the list includes the Capistrano Unified School District. Kristin Hilleman, director of Food and Nutrition Services, says that even in affluent areas like her district, there are still pockets of need. She noted that, thanks to the grants from the nonprofit, they’ve been able to expand their breakfast program.

"We were able to team up with our transportation department to deliver meals via our buses," said Hilleman. "We were able to expand our curb side service over the years."

No Kid Hungry helped organizations serve more than 1.5 billion meals in 2020. 

Vij said she’s hoping to offer help to provide even more meals to kids who may not know where their next meal is coming from.

"It definitely feels fulfilling," she said.

This year, Vij was named one of People Magazine’s Top 10 Girls Changing the World.

To order a copy of the book with 100% of the profits going to No Kid Hungry, click here. The book is also available on Amazon.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated the name of the “Chef Gusteau” character and also incorrectly stated that Sahana Vij was named to People’s Top 100 Girls Changing the World, rather than the top 10. The story has been updated to reflect these changes. (Dec. 20, 2021)