When we last heard of the cooking teacher’s classes, she was busy getting ready to teach preschoolers their basic shapes and letters as well as some fun cooking skills. This time around the average age of the students was about 9 years old.Keep reading to learn of the newest adventure.
Yesterday was my “Healthy Eating and Cooking” class for a group of 3rd-5th graders from a school very close to the shop where I work. The kids were simply wonderful! They were attentive and a joy to work with. They are also very smart and skilled so I was able step things up a notch from my original game plan. The goal was to include a few different educational disciplines with the healthy eating and cooking. When it comes to cooking, it includes so much math and science so it was easy to pull in those subjects.
First, we started talking about being a chef/cook and all the job opportunities one can have with that training. I did not tell them I was not professionally trained but it didn’t seem to matter one bit. I did my research so I was confident in the information I passed along to the kids. Next, we started them off with a few snacks including frozen juice pops, pretzels with yogurt dill dip, apples with peanut butter and fresh, ripe strawberries. The kids were very surprised to learn the dip was made with plain yogurt. One girl thought there were dill pickles in the dip. With a bit of dried dill seasoning I can see why she thought the pickles were in there. Then we dipped some frozen bananas on sticks into melted chocolate. My assistant handled that and what a great job she did. I didn’t buy the right kind of chocolate to melt for dipping so she had quite a chore for herself but made it work. I am so appreciative of her and all she did to help me out yesterday.
We moved into making salsa from scratch which I learned from an online source a few weeks ago. It was so easy to make and much more economical. We mixed a can of whole, peeled tomatoes with one can of Rotel tomatoes with lime and cilantro in a food processor until well blended. We then took 1 can of black beans, rinsed and drained, and one can of corn, drained, then mixed those with 1 cup of the salsa for a different type of salsa called “confetti salsa”. All the kids were willing to try both of them which was good to see. I made cheese quesadillas with whole wheat tortillas and they dipped those in the salsas.
We also made homemade taco seasoning mix, giving each student their own bag to take home, and I used my sample mix to make taco meat with browned ground turkey. Next we scrambled some eggs and made breakfast burritos using the eggs, tortillas, meat, cheese and salsas. It was fun to see the kids try something new. Before the kids arrived I scrubbed and baked a few potatoes so we could use our Mexican toppings for a baked potato bar. Again the kids were wowed by this and had a lot of fun fixing their potatoes to their liking. When I told them how to save the skins to make roasted potato skins with cheese and some bacon, one girl was shocked to learn the skins could be eaten. At that point some of the kids just starting eating their potato skins. Too funny.
We ended the food portion of the class by serving the chocolate covered bananas and a healthy pumpkin pudding, which I made with a low-fat pudding mix, skim milk, canned pumpkin and cinnamon. It was a new flavor for some but they enjoyed the taste. I have enough for the parents to taste on Thursday when I will teach their class.
Throughout the whole class I asked questions about heart health and answered any of their questions and just listened to their stories. Kids love to talk about their families and their own experiences so I find that if I listen to them, they will listen to me. One demonstration I did was open a bag of those fruit snacks where you get about 11 pieces of sugary treats and show them just how little that looked next to a big apple, or a banana or the big strawberries. I showed them the better snack option and why and they said next time they will try to eat the apple or banana instead of a fruit-y snack of sugary treats.We also talked about exercise, being active and the importance of eating dinner or meals at the table.
On Thursday’s class with the parents I will be focusing on stretching their food budget and choosing healthy food options while doing that. It’s tough because all the food prices have increased but there are some tricks I can teach them. Again I will be feeding them a lot of food, getting them involved in the cooking and talking with them about their situations and how to improve them.
I truly enjoy doing these classes and hope to be doing more in the future. Who knew this is where I would end up a few years ago?