Monster Munch: Local Kids Learn Healthy Cooking

By Mary Stewart

WOODBURN, Ore. – Woodburn area kids scared up a lot of delicious and healthy snack foods during “Monster Munch,” a basic cooking skills class taught by the Oregon State University Extension Service. The 1-hour class with the spooky theme gave local kids the recipes and ability to prepare nutritious food for themselves and their families.  And it was a lot of fun.

“By offering these classes, we are training the next generation to have healthy eating habits,” says Tonya Johnson, OSU Extension Family & Community Health faculty in Marion County.  Tonya and intern Katie Andersson demonstrated how to prepare each of the recipes then helped the junior cooks try their hand at making the recipe themselves. Parents were encouraged to observe and assist as needed.

“Working with kids to prepare foods in a classroom setting builds skills and confidence in the child as well as the parent.   It also encourages them to further explore cooking together at home,” says Tonya. In addition, parents observe that their child is willing to try new foods – especially vegetables.  

Each cook was assigned their own preparation area in the Harvest Kitchen at Woodburn Health, which included a set of utensils and food supplies. The recipes prepared included Jack-o-lantern mini pizzas, Disgusting deviled eyeballs, Witches smiles and Witches fingers with Food Hero ranch dip.

The classes are offered through Woodburn Parks & Rec Department and the next class – preparing foods with a holiday theme – will be offered December 3. Registration is accepted through Woodburn Parks & Rec on a first come, first served basis. The class size is limited to 10 kids ages six and older; there is a modest fee to cover the cost of materials.

“At the end of the session came the best part – eating the foods of their labor. And not surprisingly, no one was scared to eat the food they had prepared.   The kids beamed with pride.  They each said they will make these recipes at home,” says Tonya.