Education in nutrition should focus primarily on the labeling of food products as well as calories and portion sizes. That’s at least my opinion.

When I joined my nutrition program at college, I felt it was the ideal combination. I could study the food I love, which is something I’m passionate about.

In my thesis I developed an “nutrition educational intervention” for students in 5th grade. It was a six-session study course covering the MyPlate guidelines including sugar and salt levels in processed food, how to understand a nutrition label and many more. At the conclusion of each class, students ate the “healthy” snack such as the hummus, trail mix as well as yogurt-based parfaits.

But I made a big error by not focusing on the most fundamental education, which was how to integrate nutritional information into the everyday kitchen. Yes, they learned about nutrition. However, who knows what percentage they actually retained around grams of sugar in a drink or what vegetables have vitamin C?

After graduation I looked for new opportunities to provide the subject of nutrition to students. Instead of constructing my classes around nutrition science cooking is currently on the cutting edge.


The prevention of childhood obesity

It was a time of great nutrition education. moment in the early years of the decade during the time I was studying for my degree in nutrition. The then-First Lady Michelle Obama launched her Let’s Move! campaign in 2010 with the intention of addressing “the issue of childhood obesity within one generation.” This campaign helped increase opportunities for exercise and healthier food options to schools.

Let’s move! came at a period when childhood obesity was rising. Nearly 17 percent of U.S. youth were affected by obesity between 2009 and 2010 according to a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This number has risen to 19.3 percent in the last few years, and affects around 14.4 million kids and teens.

Studies have linked obesity in children to a variety of negative health effects, such as the higher incidence of fat-burning liver disease as well as type 2 diabetes as well as heart diseases. Health authorities in the public sector have suggested that obesity during childhood is avoidable through diet and physical activity changes.

However, the notion that obesity is preventable could create feeling of shame for people who have no hope of losing weight. It’s crucial to realize that there are many variables outside of one’s control which can contribute to body weight. Children in particular have less control over their surroundings and food choices.

So I decided to concentrate on prevention through teaching them to cook.


Education in Nutrition Hands-On Cooking Classes

When I relocated from New York in 2018, I began cooking classes for a local organization known as Allergic to Salad. The program makes use of healthy, non-nut vegetarian recipes to provide students in school with thehands-on experiences in cooking using whole food.

When I’ve taught in these courses, I’ve observed how eager the students are when they cook. The more messy the recipe is, the more messy it is. When we can mix ingredients, such as chickpeas to make the hummus or whip cream to make the perfect berry mousse and they’re extremely engaged.

While nutrition science isn’t the main focus of the classes, I will talk about the various ingredients in my classes. Students also gain trust in their kitchens, as they learn cut veggies (using”bear claws”), chop vegetables (using the “bear claw” grip) and also measure ingredients.

One of my favourite moments during the classes I teach is having students try the food they’ve prepared. All of us eat together, and I allow them to taste their first bites. After that, I ask whether they are satisfied or not with the food. In most cases, there is one or two students who is frightened to say they don’t like the food.

“That’s OK! What are you not fond of most about this?” I always ask.

They’re always surprised by the question and it’s as if they are hoping that I’d be disappointed or say to them to keep eating it. Instead, I’d like to talk about the various flavors of the food, textures, and other ingredients that they find offensive and the things they could alter to make it more delicious.

A study in 2019 released in Appetite found that when children cook their food themselves they are likely to consume more. Cooking is an “compelling task” that can influence the children’s eating habits as they grow older According to the study’s authors.

After the initial nutrition class I taught in college I’ve realized how complicated the problem of obesity in childhood is. There are more variables involved than I thought when I was a young 20-year-old. Socioeconomic status, genetics, and environmental factors contribute to the health of children. At all times, kids do not have much control over the food they eat.

According to the study, cooking classes alone aren’t enough to reverse the childhood obesity rates. However, as kids are exposed to a variety of foods and ingredients, and are having great fun cooking they may become curious and more willing to try various healthy recipes as they age.


recipe: Figure and Oats Energy bites

My students usually love recipes that let them make and manipulate the food with their own hands. The recipe below for chewy figs as well as Oat energy balls was created from a recipe that I used in my classes. It’s a great recipe to cook with in a group since there’s something everyone can take part in. Let the kids begin cutting the figs, while others weigh out the ingredients.

After the preparation is completed the group can make their very own balls of energy.

This recipe is also great for smaller numbers of people. If you’re looking to have an enjoyable time cooking with your loved ones This easy and kid-friendly recipe is an excellent way to begin.

These will last up to one week in the refrigerator and are great to make over the weekend to keep in the pantry to serve as a snack after school.

I used peanut butter however, if you’re allergic to nuts, you could opt to use sunflower seeds instead. Dry figs can be found in many supermarkets and on the internet. (I purchase mine from Joe’s at Trader Joe’s.)

Stephanie Brown


Time 1 hour

Yield: 10 energy bites

Ingredients

2 tablespoons of 2 tbsp. rolled oats

2 tbsp fresh cranberries

1 cup of dried the figs (stems removed)

3 Tbsp peanut butter

4 tbsp coconut flakes divided

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 tablespoon coconut oil

1 tablespoon honey

1 teaspoon lemon juice

A pinch of salt

Stephanie Brown


Directions:

  1. Begin taking the stems of dry figs. Divide each fruit in two.
  2. Add rolled oats, figs as well as cranberries, peanuts 2 tablespoons of coconut flakes and coconut oil, cinnamon lemon, honey and salt to food processor.
  3. Pulse or blend until the mixture is blended for around 10 seconds. Take the machine off and test the consistency. The goal is for everything to blend into a dough that is sticky. Blend for another 10 to 15 seconds each time to ensure all ingredients are thoroughly mixed. (Depending on the blender you use or your food processor, this process might take longer.)
  4. Scoop up about 1 tbsp of the mix at a stretch and make a ball out of it.
  5. Place the energy bites approximately 1 inch apart in a bowl and place them in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes.
  6. In 30 mins, take the energy bites out of the refrigerator. Then , spread the coconut flakes remaining on an uncooked plate. Roll the bites in the coconut flakes.
  7. Enjoy!