Thursday, December 6, 2012

Healthy Happenings at Holt Middle

Last month, I commented on how fast winter was approaching, but it appears that Arkansas still can’t seem to make up its mind about the season. Unseasonably warm weather means that Holt’s garden is still producing copious amounts of greens! Every week we harvest several lettuce varieties, spinach, and arugula for the cafeteria salad bar. This week, we celebrated our harvest with a salad extravaganza. I taught my students how to make homemade balsamic vinaigrette, which we used to dress the greens along with our garden grown carrots and a couple other vegetables donated by Ozark Natural Foods, a local grocery cooperative. We also harvested kale and learned how to bake kale chips! Exposing the students to this new vegetable in a form that is more familiar to them worked wonders. Not one student had a negative reaction. In fact, they were completely devoured in less than 30 seconds!

Contrast this experience with the week I made Lola Bloom’s massaged kale salad for the kids. It was a huge disappointment, because from the moment I had tasted that salad during FoodCorps orientation, I was excited to feed it to students. Almost all of my students rejected it. The flavor and texture was just too unfamiliar for their unadventurous palates. Being a huge fan of massaged kale salad myself, I was completely deflated. What kept me going was the small handful of kids who loved it and especially the girl who said: “If I can have my own restaurant when I grow up, I’m gonna put this kale salad on the menu.” I responded: “You mean when you own your own restaurant,” and “THAT’S AWESOME!” (my heart melts). Hearing this kept me from giving up, but the kale chip success re-inspired me.

Not only does Ozark Natural Foods help us out with ingredients for our Garden Club here and there, but they have also made possible free monthly cooking classes for Holt Middle School families. We offered our first class in November, and it went splendidly. Charles Ragland, a father of one of the students here at Holt, is a trained chef and led the class. All ages participated in cooking a nutritious, balanced meal. FoodCorps Service Member and Registered Dietician Ally Mrachek discussed the nutrition of the meal components, and everyone got to take home a recipe to make the meal at home. We look forward to offering these hands-on cooking classes every month from now on. From reading the feedback forms I had the attendees fill out, it’s obvious that people are very eager to learn how to make their meals healthier while still making them filling and delicious. With the help of Ozark Natural Foods and my colleagues here in Fayetteville, we will be able to get this information out to families and eat a delicious meal together while we’re at it!

Beautiful ingredients culminating in a tasty, healthy meal!
You can read about our class on the blog of Ozark Natural Foods as well. 

by Sophia Gill

No comments:

Post a Comment