Parents Give 'Kids in the Kitchen' Class High Marks

Kids learned how to make pizza from a healthy "crust" of green zucchini.
Kids learned how to make pizza from a healthy "crust" of green zucchini.
The Popeye Power Smoothie seemed to be the most popular of the "green" recipes cooked up during the class.
The Popeye Power Smoothie seemed to be the most popular of the "green" recipes cooked up during the class.
Young cooks sauted green vegetables to the perfect degree of doneness to retain nutrients and flavor.
Young cooks sauted green vegetables to the perfect degree of doneness to retain nutrients and flavor.
Parents were encouraged to try samples of the kid's green creations and to take recipes to cook at home.
Parents were encouraged to try samples of the kid's green creations and to take recipes to cook at home.
Emily Grimmett appreciates class
In Spanish. Parent view of class
Michael Freitas opinion.

There’s hope for getting kids to eat their green fruits and veggies

By Mary Stewart, OSU Extension Service.

Many parents struggle to get their kids to eat their fruits and vegetables – especially the green varieties. Moms and dads know vegetables are part of a healthy diet and look for creative ways to encourage their kids to eat up.

The OSU Extension Service offers some deliciously-easy ways to excite young eaters about fresh green foods. In the ‘Kids in the Kitchen’ cooking classes, youth ages 7 - 13 years old learn to cook and eat new foods. During the class, kids are introduced to new flavors and textures while gaining valuable life skills.

“Going Green for Spring” was the second class topic offered in 2015. “The kids did really well in the kitchen – they seemed excited to prepare the recipes,” says Tonya Johnson, OSU Extension faculty who manages the program. “Of the four recipes prepared during the class, the Popeye Power Smoothie was a favorite, which was a surprise to their parents.”

The green smoothie is made with fresh spinach, yogurt, fruit and orange juice. The recipe and instructions are available on OSU Extension’s food hero website: https://foodhero.org/recipes/popeye-power-smoothie.“Green fruits and vegetables are important to health because they are nutrient dense – rich in vitamins and minerals, lower in calories and they taste good!” Tonya explains.

“We give kids the recipes to take home and hope they will prepare them in their own kitchen,” says Tonya. The ‘Kids in the Kitchen’ cooking classes are held four times a year.

Results from a recent survey of parents who had kids attend one or more of the classes indicate 100 percent of the kids were making the recipes at home or increased their cooking at home since taking the classes. 

Emily Grimmett said her daughter, Macy, has attended six of OSU Extension’s cooking classes. “Macy has really learned a lot and she has become very comfortable in our kitchen at home,” says Emily. One of the things Emily appreciates is the variety of food her daughter has the opportunity to cook and eat during the classes. 

A goal of the ‘Kids in the Kitchen’ program is to have parents continue to work with their children to develop cooking skills and healthy eating habits. Parent Michael Freitas and his son Isaac were first-time attendees at the April class. “The fact that this class was hands-on was perfect for Isaac. It helped develop his skill set and was fun. I can’t wait for the next one," says Michael.

The ‘Kids in the Kitchen’ cooking class series is part of OSU Extension’s Family and Community Health program. The ‘Going Green for Spring’ class was developed by Elizabeth Perez, OSU Extension student intern from Western Oregon University. The teaching points focused on increasing fruit and vegetable intake and basic cooking skills of chopping, recipe reading and sautéing.

More educational programs will be offered quarterly in October, December, February and April.

For more information about Kids in the Kitchen and other OSU Extension programs, contact Tonya Johnson at 503-373-3783 tonya.johnson@oregonstate.edu or the Marion County Extension office at 503-588-5301. 

Photos: Mary Stewart

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