WHY COOKING CLASSES FOR KIDZ ARE SO VITAL - AS EXPRESSED BY A BERKELEY TEACHER
Health: Michael offers students a chance to sample and enjoy healthy and fresh vegetables, grains and fruit. Because the students prepare the food themselves, they are extremely motivated to sample these otherwise unpopular foods. They say, “Huh, I never knew I liked greens so much,” or “May I please have some more sweet potato soup?” or “It’s called, ‘Polenta?’ I love it!” Having kids beg for more of these nutrient-rich and low calorie treats is an enormous step in the direction of solving our country’s childhood obesity crisis.
Home-school connection: Another quote often heard during cooking class, “I’m going to make this at home!” So many parents have told me that their children come home, recipe in hand, demanding to make Three Sisters Soup, Lettuce Wraps, Simple Cinnamon Apples and Garden Salad with Chick peas. This is a wonderful opportunity for parents to validate school curriculum at home, while having fun and being healthy.
Access to all: Very much like the arts, our cooking curriculum is accessible to students of all languages and abilities. As teachers, we are constantly searching for ways that our struggling learners can have success; our cooking classes are an amazing self-esteem boost for these students. Likewise, because the hands-on and visual nature of cooking class, the lessons and experiences are pretty much equally accessible to students of all language ability.
Curriculum Integration: Because students love cooking class so much, it’s a natural choice for engaging them in many academic areas: the step-by-step writing process, measuring, counting, reading, small motor skills, five senses, compare and contrast, science, hygiene, nutrition …I could go on and on. As a teacher, I’ve learned that student engagement is pretty much everything. If I can capture student’s interest, there is no limit to what they can learn, process and experience. Michael provides us with this stepping stone to learning on a regular basis.
Sheer joy: In this often chaotic world, it is so sweet to watch my classes, year after year, engage in the nurturing process of food preparation and eating with others. If only I could attach the hundreds of photos I’ve taken of my students joyfully stirring, chopping, sautéing and simply sitting with their classmates enjoying their efforts; the photos would say more than I could ever express about the value of the cooking program at Thousand Oaks.
1 1/2 cups short grain brown rice
1/2 cup sweet brown rice
3 1/2 cups water
5 sheets nor sea-vegetable
1 large ripe avocado
1 small cucumber (or dill pickle)
soy sauce (can be diluted with water)
Brown rice needs to be cooked longer and with more water than white rice and also longer than most instructions suggest. This increases flavor as well as digestibility. For brown rice to be the proper consistency for this recipe it must be cooked until very soft and sticky, ideally earlier in the day and then set aside to cool. It can be pressure-cooked or pot-boiled. To pot-boil, put rice in pot with water and add 1/4 tsp sea salt, cover, bring to a boil and then lower flame to very low and simmer for 45 minutes until done. Check rice periodically, adding more water if necessary. After rice is done, set aside.
Cut avocado into long thin slices. Cut cucumbers into long thin strips. Slice carrots into long thin strips and par boil and remove.
Spread cool rice on 1/2 sheet nori, add avocado, carrot and cucumber.
Carefully wrap the closest edge over the vegetables, then roll the nori delicately but tightly. Seal by moistening the edge of the nori. Once the nori sheet is completely rolled, carefully slice the roll into pieces with a sharp knife. Put desired amount of wasabi into small bowl with soy sauce and blend for dipping.
SUMMER FRUIT COMPOTE
1 pint strawberries
handful of cherries
1/4 cup apple juice
1 tablespoon arrowroot (or kuzu)
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
2 handfuls granola
Wash strawberries, remove the green part, and cut into quarters. Cut peaches, plums, nectarines and cherries. in half, remove pits and cut into mouth-sized pieces.
In a saucepan, bring apple juice (save small amount of juice for blending arrowroot) to a boil and add salt. Dissolve arrowroot/kuzu in leftover cold apple juice and add to boiling juice. Cook until thickened (add more apple juice/arrowroot mixture if necessary). Remove from heat, add strawberries and peaches and stir until fruit is coated, but not fully cooked. Remove from flame and place in serving bowls. Add granola as a topping.
HUMMUS ON PITA
1 1/4 cup dried chickpeas (aka garbanzo or ceci beans)
5-6 cups fresh water
1/4 cup tahini
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup lemon juice
1-2 tsps sea salt
3 carrots, cut into small sticks
2 cucumbers, cut into small sticks
whole wheat pita bread
Rinse and soak chickpeas overnight. Drain soaking water; place in pot and add fresh water. Bring to a boil and simmer for 1-2 hours or until chickpeas are very soft. You can substitute canned beans, by draining water first.
Place chickpeas (hold back water and use if needed later) in blender and add lemon juice, tahini, garlic, salt. Blend until creamy smooth, adding cooking water only if necessary. For a less creamy consistency, mash by hand.
Lightly toast pita bread on both sides in a skillet and stuff with hummus and veggies.
RICE CRISPY BARS 15 small bars
3 dry ounces puffed rice (1/2 package), half crushed up
8 ounces peanut (or sunflower) seed butter
6 ounces rice syrup
few sprinkles cinnamon powder
Put the sunflower seed butter and sweetener in a small saucepan and heat on medium flame. Stir until it begins to bubble. Turn flame off and mix thoroughly. Pour mixture over puffed rice in a small mixing bowl and mix again. Place parchment paper in small tray, add mixture. Sprinkle with cinnamon. Using a plastic bag, press down until firm. Let cool. Cut into individual pieces and serve. Enjoy!
Kids usually like simple when they are trying something for the first time. Sometimes an overly strong taste (like spices) turn a child off to to the taste of the vegetable. We made this Simple Sweet Potato Soup in class today. The students cut rounds into half-moons and then triangles. They toasted pumpkin seeds and grated ginger. We sat down together and enjoyed our soup with whole grain bread. Here’s the recipe (popular with Adults too):
SIMPLEST SWEET POTATO SOUP (March 2018)
3 Sweet Potatoes (we used red, gold and purple varieties for fun), cut in small chunks
1 tsp ground Ginger
2 tsp sea salt*
Add sweet potatoes and ginger to soup pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil and add salt. Lower flame, cover and simmer gently until sweet potatoes are soft. Blend thoroughly with hand blender. Taste and adjust salt if necessary and cook a few minutes longer. Top with roasted pumpkin seeds and serve with your favorite bread for a hearty meal.
* the correct amount of salt will bring out the natural flavor of this soup (don’t make it salty, it should still be sweet)