Friday, November 1, 2013

Eating a rainbow

It's not often that I break out my Bugs Bunny apron, but twice last week I had a very important lesson to teach some very young students, and if a cartoon rabbit gives me a little street cred among the little people, I'd take it.

"What do I mean when I say you should try to eat a rainbow every day?" I asked a roomful of 6-year-olds last Thursday. (I'm not talking about Skittles here, people.) "I'll give you a hint: I'm talking about fruits and vegetables...."

Oh, the kindergartners at Brent Elementary got it. So did the 1st graders at Inspired Teaching Academy. Both groups were super excited for last week's Healthy Schools Week hands-on cooking demo in their classroom. They were so antsy for it to be HANDS ON, in fact, that I had to ask a few kiddos to keep their HANDS OFF of the ingredients until we were ready for the part where I would need some fearless volunteers: the mixing of salad dressings.

Before we got to that part, I explained, we needed to take stock of our fruits and veggies, identifying each by name and then organizing it into our produce rainbow....

Hands shot up. Carrots! Pears! Broccoli!! There was a little hesitation with the eggplant, but I know adults who couldn't name eggplants, either. Cucumbers, peppers, sweet potatoes... these kids were something else. Some would start telling a story about a relative who'd cooked -- or even grown -- each item on the table. Others loudly proclaimed their favorite one to eat. (Cherry tomatoes were especially popular with one group, carrots with the other.)

Our rainbow arranged, I moved on to the crux of the lesson.  "Rainbows look pretty and eating a rainbow helps you all stay pretty and keep your bodies healthy. Different colored fruits and vegetables have different vitamins so that's why it's important to eat many different colors. Try to eat at least a few different colors of fruits and vegetables each day," I encouraged the class. "How many colors will you try for our snack?" Lots, it turned out.

Alas, the action shots of various students helping me with assembling and shaking up the ranch and balsamic dressings came out blurry, but here's a great one of a few kids chomping on the plates of cut up fruits and veggies near the end of the lesson.

My favorite moment was at Brent, when a somewhat shy student shared his reflections on the lesson. "You know, today I had the very first radish I ever tasted and I liked it. Thank you for bringing the radishes and other things for us to try, Chef Vincent."

Anytime, kid.

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