People LIKE Healthy Foods Done Right

Great news in the world of health and nutrition! Story Number One: Kids will love their veggies. Here’s one way the BEANS (Better Eating, Activity, and Nutrition for Students) teen peer educators introduce lots of veggies to the pickiest of kids… Lettuce Tacos. First off, they get kids involved in the chopping and preparation. The peer educators ask the kids about edible parts of the plant... root, stem, leaf, flower, seed, fruit. Then they work together to chop, dice, and mince carrots (the root), red bell peppers (the fruit), cilantro (the leaf), celery (the stem), and broccoli (the flower). Even the littlest kids can break heads of broccoli into little florets. Add a few spices and some flavor with garlic, cumin, and chili powder, then sauté. Next, add the refried beans (the seed). Put this tasty mixture into a leaf of romaine lettuce and top with non-fat sour cream, salsa, and avocado. Eat it like a taco… Mmm, good! It’s a proven fact that when kids help grow and prepare vegetables that they will be more willing to eat them. Also, experience has shown us that adding vegetables to a kid favorite (like tacos or mac&cheese) is a great way to develop their taste for even more vegetables. Story Number Two: Grown-ups can change their habits. On a recent visit to the monthly meeting for the Foster Grandparent Program, I presented an example of nutrition and physical activity lessons that we share with local school children through the BEANS program. I am hoping that our healthy messages can be promoted by the greater community of grown-ups, and Foster Grandparents hold a lot of sway in the classrooms they visit, hence my visit to their meeting. Here’s what I did. I made the ever-popular Banana-Berry Pancakes for the Foster Grandparents to try. At the beginning of the presentation, I talked about the importance of incorporating fruits and vegetables into every meal, and that these pancakes were a great example of how to do this. Then I talked about reducing added sugars and fats, and said that we would be tasting today’s pancakes without syrup or butter… a few groans were heard in the room. The banana pancakes were cooked, the toppings of low-fat yogurt and fresh strawberries were put on the tables, and I demonstrated the “kid way” to eat the pancakes like a taco (no worries about sticky syrup or oily butter oozing out!). From what I could see, the Foster Grandparents quickly emptied their plates and sat back with satisfied smiles. During a break later in the meeting, one of the Grandparents approached me and told me her story. She said that when she heard my introduction (namely no syrup or butter) she decided that she wasn’t going to taste the pancakes. However, when they were served, she didn’t have a chance to say “no thanks” so she acquiesced and decided to give it a try. She ate half of her pancake, thinking that she probably wouldn’t like it. To her surprise, she did like it and ended up enjoying the whole thing. She assured me that she will incorporate this recipe into her repertoire and try to be more open about trying new foods. The Moral of These Stories: People LIKE healthy food done right... Do it in your kitchen tonight!