Thursday, January 5, 2012

cookin' up a storm with the teen crowd

To give you a little background on my post today, this is what I wrote last January:

Sam and Jane go to a really neat school... One of the things that attracted us to this school was the idea of holding a "Winterim" during the first three weeks in January. This space, between semesters, could be a time of individualized, interest based, and experiential focused study. (This all takes the place of regular full-time school hours.)

Each student would choose some kind of research project, hands-on/real world learning experience to create a truly meaningful and memorable study time. Most of the teachers at the school organize and facilitate these opportunities. A lot of them might involve fun, out of state trips, even. Some of the students work independently. The students have to put in so many hours and are graded at the end of their project, and receive credit toward their graduation.

I think it's a great idea to let them have a chance to focus and have the time to explore something that truly interests them, as well as to have a time of variety and fun during the post-holiday blahs of winter. Don't you wish you could have done something like this in your teenage years?

Sam decided this year to participate in the Extreme Cooking Winterim experience. I'm glad he likes to cook. (I know for certain that he likes to eat.) This will involve learning some basic cooking techniques, having daily themed hands-on cooking experiences and demonstrations, and going to restaurants to enjoy ethnic cuisine, including some tours and talks with chefs, etc.

I was asked if I could teach a class. I was thrilled. I talked about my experience as a teen learning how to cook. My journey towards health and whole foods eating. Tips and encouragement when preparing food, focusing primarily on what I called "Sensational Salads".

I knew that this might be a terrific opportunity to introduce them to a portable, powerhouse "blended" salad- the green smoothie.

Would they go for it?

A resounding yes. And how. Each one of the 30 students came back begging more. Seriously. Raving and ranting about how something so green could actually turn out so yum.

I was floored. (But not really.)

I honestly think I got them hooked. Boy, this whole experience was so gratifying to me, opening up new possibilities for them of not only healthy, but tasty.

Thanks, Sam, for being my picture taking guy

All in all I was there for two and a half hours this afternoon, talking healthy eating as well as demonstrating (almost all of it prepped at home) four other salads besides the smoothies. A southwestern style brown rice and black bean salad, a spicy Asian peanut noodle and vegetable salad, Karen's, from Real Food Matters knock out Quinoa and Roasted Squash (I used sweet potatoes) salad, and Robin's, the Green Smoothie girl herself Spinach-Orzo Ensalata. (Her daughter, in fact, is a student at this school.)

I couldn't believe how much these kids went for this food. Filling their plates and coming back for seconds and thirds. The vibe in that room was so energizing and exciting. I loved teaching these impressionable and receptive young people, being there with them, feeding nourishing tastys to them.

And I definitely think they liked it, too.


  1. okay...really!! you are amazing!! I see something getting started here - you teaching healthy cooking classes. Do it - you would be so good :)

  2. Once again I am in awe of you! Way to go!!! You have inspired those kids and given them a direction to help them have a healthy life! Way to go!!

  3. What a great "extreme" experience for those kids, that can well be the launch of a lifetime of healthy cooking and eating. Kudos to you: sounds like this could be the launch of something exciting for you too! Thanks for using one of the recipes I posted - I'm going to try it now using sweet potatoes.