Carrie Fehr

Kitchen Garden Food and Fitness

Tag: Cooking with Kids

Confetti Spaghetti

Bold colorful peppers and vine-ripened tomatoes always welcome me back to the kitchen classroom in the late summer, where I teach elementary school children how to cook real food inspired by the garden.

We kick off the season with the recipe, Confetti Spaghetti, highlighting the harvest’s bounty of bright jewel tones that look like the fireworks sky on the Fourth of July– a party on a plate that tastes like a celebration in your mouth.

And, oh so healthy too, these vibrant colored fruits and vegetables have a generous infusion of beneficial vitamins and minerals that nourish both the mind and body.

It’s no wonder that students eagerly swarm like bees to honey, to the cooking lesson. Excited fingers slice, dice, and roll fresh leaves of basil into cylinders that are thinly cut into a chiffonade.  This early hands-on nutrition lesson is not only fun and engaging for children, but will have a positive impact on the choices they make about food for many years into the future.

Confetti Spaghetti is one of the most versatile recipes you can have in your repertoire.  Feel free to choose your favorite seasonal vegetables, red, orange, even purple, and experiment with different flavors and textures or whatever is available to you.  Click here for the Confetti Spaghetti recipe.

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Confetti Spaghetti

Bold colorful peppers and vine-ripened tomatoes always welcome me back to the kitchen classroom in the late summer, where I teach elementary school children how to cook real food inspired by the garden.

We kick off the season with the recipe, Confetti Spaghetti, highlighting the harvest’s bounty of bright jewel tones that look like the fireworks sky on the Fourth of July– a party on a plate that tastes like a celebration in your mouth.

And, oh so healthy too, these vibrant colored fruits and vegetables have a generous infusion of beneficial vitamins and minerals that nourish both the mind and body.

It’s no wonder that students eagerly swarm like bees to honey, to the cooking lesson. Excited fingers slice, dice, and roll fresh leaves of basil into cylinders that are thinly cut into a chiffonade.  This early hands-on nutrition lesson is not only fun and engaging for children, but will have a positive impact on the choices they make about food for many years into the future.

Confetti Spaghetti is one of the most versatile recipes you can have in your repertoire.  Feel free to choose your favorite seasonal vegetables, red, orange, even purple, and experiment with different flavors and textures or whatever is available to you.  Click here for the Confetti Spaghetti recipe.

The New American Classroom: Farm-To-School Cooking

By Carrie Fehr

As we have become distant with our relationship to food, cooking at school offers children the opportunity to experience food in a completely new way, weighing each word, measuring each ingredient— it captivates all of their senses and highlights the love of food that nourishes the body, soothes the heart, and stimulates the mind while connecting them to the source.  Cooking in the classroom provide schools with a new opportunity, a new responsibility to play a leading role, of participating in shaping a healthy future that our children will inherit.

The following excerpt is about a day in the life of cooking in the classroom at The Berkeley Unified School District, where the lesson spotlights the Harvest of Greens.                                                                                                                        

Love is Greens: Since Valentine’s Day is celebrated during the same month as the Harvest of Greens cooking class, we share our feelings of love and how it relates to our nature’s bounty, which is a natural and perfect springboard into our lesson, Love is Greens!

Setting the Stage:  The culinary stage is set with table arrangements of tools, measurements, colorful mats, and mason jar centerpieces filled with harvest greens, which look like a still life against the backdrop of blue-and-white checkered bistro tablecloths illuminated from the sunlight that pours into the room like honey, transforming a bland space into a vibrant cooking lab.  The drama of the table setting announces the cooking adventure, and students dance with excitement into the classroom.

The Symphony:  The elements of cooking, math, and science come together like a beautiful symphony, with each section keeping tempo and harmonizing with the next. Beginning with the rhythmic staccato of chopping garlic against the cutting board, followed by the smooth rolling movement of knives slicing long cylinders of leafy greens that squeak, when very fresh. Students dangle thin ribbons of chard between excited fingers, placing them along the edge of their rulers, admiring each strand as though it was a special star before recording the longest and shortest measurement on a notepad. The grand finale erupts when a round of applause from the skillet of sizzling greens piled high like Mt. Everest, reach its crescendo that make students, jump! “Steam.“ “Evaporation.” “It’s Shrinking,” are a few of the excited responses students shout with joy.  And then softly like a distant murmur that melts into silence, an unspoken signal to all, it is time to enjoy the fruits of our labor, in the recipe, Mac N’ Greens.

Silver Lining:  Mac N’ Greens formerly known as, The Pasta and Greens Recipe, morphed into a little jewel, due to an unfortunate circumstance. The supermarket where I grocery shop, was sold out of my pasta of choice, and as a result, I settled on elbow macaroni. When I arrived to cooking class with the macaroni, my student’s eyes poured over with excitement and cheered in unison, “Yes, we’re making Mac N’ Cheese,” the idea stuck and I re-named it, Mac N’ Greens, a kid-friendlier version, which was an instant success.  I like the ease of preparation of this recipe it’s healthy with inexpensive ingredients and tasty!  Greens are a nutritional powerhouse too, mix and match for a contrast of flavors and textures, Collards, Chard, Kale, or add a little Broccoli Rabe for good measure. To make a creamier version, try some grated sharp cheddar cheese, and for a little crunch, top it with toasted breadcrumbs.

The Recipe: http://kidseatingright.com/recipes-5/mac-n-greens/

Carrie Fehr begins her twelfth year as Chef Teacher for the cooking & gardening program in the Berkeley Unified School District. When not teaching or writing on her food blog, http://www.carriefehr.com.  Carrie practices Bikram yoga, and devotes many hours to cycling.  She is an advocate for school food reform and is working on a book about her cooking lessons learned from the classroom.  The New American Classroom:  Farm-To-School Cooking In Berkeley was  featured in Fedupwithlunch.com

The Science Of Food: The Chef And The Scientist

Teaching science through the lens of cooking encourages students to understand the valuable connection between a chef and scientist, and offers a rich stew of inquiry-based science lessons that reinforces the vital role food plays in our health.

The Lesson:  In the science of cooking lesson, fifth graders explore the relationship of cellular respiration, a process about how cells extract energy from food– and its impact on our health.  In the concept of cellular respiration, students learn that the human body uses sugar glucose as a main source of energy, and when combined with oxygen, it will release that energy.  For example, eating simple carbohydrates, will offer a quick boost of energy, but the excess glucose (energy) will convert into fat, also increasing the risk for developing diabetes, high blood pressure, and obesity, an epidemic that according to experts affects one out of three children and teens.  Eating foods rich in complex carbohydrates like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, will breakdown the glucose more slowly, process the energy more efficiently,  and will help  lower the risk for getting diseases.

The Experiment: To prove the effects of cellular respiration, students investigate three different nutrient sources from the recipe, Three Sisters Succotash aka Corn, Beans, and Squash.  Yeast, a single cell organism that can convert sugar into carbon dioxide, is mixed with each nutrient source, and then sealed inside a plastic bag submerged in a warm water bath.  For comparison purposes, students create a fourth variable that is only sugar.  Students make predictions on what they think will happen between the nutrient sources and the sugar.  Lucky this is the science of cooking class, because students now put on their chef hats and prepare the recipe, Three Sisters Succotash, while waiting on the outcome of the cellular respiration experiment.

As another epic class concludes, the results of the experiment confirm that sugar processes energy the fastest, but yet the message is clear:  slow and steady, corn, beans, and squash will win the race, the marathon of all–good health.


The Science of Cooking

The idea behind the Science of Cooking Class took shape when two teachers, one part science, and one part cooking, decided to team up and collaborate on a new and exciting approach to teaching science concepts through food, and as a result, The Science of Cooking Class came about.

Each Science of Cooking Class focuses on a nutrition lesson, a cooking lab activity, and a science concept. Students gain practical knowledge and skills by exploring the scientific components of each lesson. A study in the November/December 2011 issue of the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior shows how cooking in the classroom successfully helps students learn school subjects and develop cooking skills. Even at the higher educational level, the benefits and importance of combining cooking with an academic subject have become clear.

At Harvard University, the administration encouraged their faculty to create new ideas for courses that connect classrooms to the “life outside,” an experiential approach that students embrace. Offering a course on, The Science of the Physical Universe, Cooking and Science, proved extremely successful at Harvard’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. “This course may accomplish what I’ve been trying to do for so many years — make physics interesting, ’’ said David Weitz, Harvard professor of physics and applied physics, who led the course. (Boston Globe, 10/10) “I spent all my life in academia trying to teach physics… Weitz said. “And for the first time students were interested. They wanted to learn—they enjoyed it.” (Harvard Crimson, 12/10/10)

This month, the featured topic in the Science of Cooking Class for fourth graders, focused on how the electrolytes from a pear play a key role in sending signals to our muscles, brain, and heart. To illustrate the point, we showed how a pear uses its electrolytes to conduct an electrical charge from two different metals to make an electrical circuit, highlighting a science lesson on magnetism and electricity.

Beyond exposing students to the connections that underlie these two subjects, it also creates another dialogue for supporting greater collaboration between teachers of different subjects at school. Plus, the value of integrating science with cooking and how it relates in the classroom offers students both practical skills and conceptual tools that will serve them well in life.