‘Kids in the Kitchen’ taste a rainbow of healthy snacks
MUNCY – The Life Center at the Lycoming Mall was host to the annual event, ‘Kids in the Kitchen’ to help prepare school age children on how to eat healthy and make lifelong decisions when it comes to good nutrition.
Sponsored by Susquehanna Health and Blue Cross of Northeastern Pennsylvania, the Pennsylvania Department of Health with Karen Baldys were all on board to show kids some samples of nutritional foods that will be a positive influence throughout their lives.
Last Tuesday three sessions were available for kids and parents to attend this free health education event and taste a rainbow of healthy snacks according to Jennifer Deemer, Grant and Program Specialist for Blue Cross. This educational activity was able to teach children and their caregivers tips on selecting healthier food options and correct food portion sizes. “We have a commitment to health and wellness in Lycoming County. For several years we have partnered with Susquehanna Health,” said Deemer. All three sessions were filled averaging 16 children in each.
Susquehanna Health’s Registered Dietician, Kathryn McKernan facilitated these hands-on interactive sessions by demonstrating how to make some simple, quick and delicious, budget-friendly snacks and meals. By following her easy instructions, children made some delicious high-fiber spinach wraps with hummus and crisp vegetables, a fresh fruit snack and a healthy trail mix with whole grains.
“This is an opportunity usually not offered in a home setting,” Deemer added. “We consider this an adventure to learn healthy foods and habits.” Before entering the kitchen that was set up for the children with the help of volunteers, Baldys from the Department of Health explained food portions and sizes, and that it is good to try foods that may be “new to you.” She explained, ” A portion size is about the size of a deck of cards.” Stay away from the vending machines, she cautioned. “It is important to understand portions and quantity at a young age. Our bodies don’t need those large size portions and calories.”
Giant donated most of the food that was used for the program according to Robin Dawson, Director of the Life Center. She provided handouts with recipes, coloring sheets with activities and coupons for the registered participants. Prior to the learning experience, each child had the option to make their own chef hat as they became their own chef under McKernan’s guidelines.
“This is a great sampling activity. Children get to see and handle food to learn to make healthy meals and snacks,” said Baldys who showed the children mostly fruits and vegetables, which is now the highest segment in the food pyramid. The children learned how to make food substitutions such as whole wheat pasta and whole grain breads. “They make your body work better,” McKernan said while showing them sizes of plates and how to create a colorful rainbow with foods on the plate. “Good food gives us energy for the day. Different foods give nourishment and power,” she added while making Veggies in a Blanket with the children. She asked the children to try everything which they did. They added fillers using baby spinach and carrot sticks and even got to decorate their plates.
The cream cheese fruit dip seemed to be a favorite. “I really like it,” said Rachel Yohn from Turbotville. “I wouldn’t mind having the option of not having some of the things, like as much lettuce,” she said. Maurice Klinger from Williamsport who brought her six year old son, Jack, said that she enjoyed the program because they talked about healthy eating at home. “This gives my son a hands-on experience,” she said. In all, parents need to stock the kitchen with healthy choices and keep unhealthful foods out of the house to eliminate any conflict over which type of food to eat or prepare as recommended by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine.
Veggies In A Blanket
8 flour tortillas
1/2 cup hummus
4 grated carrots
8 lettuce leaves or baby spinach leaves
1 container of sprouts
Warm tortillas in a dry pan. Spread hummus on the tortillas. Add carrots, lettuce and sprouts. Roll up each tortilla evenly using toothpicks to hold and slice into 5 individual rolls per tortilla. Other vegetables can be added such as fresh cucumbers or sweet red peppers.