Wednesday, January 14, 2015

WELLNESS WEDNESDAYS: Lessons from a 4 year old boy

"Quinoa is delicious, healthy, easy to prepare and extremely digestible.  It is the perfect food for older adults and young children.  It is also the only grain that is a complete protein.  The fact that people have been eating it for 5,000 years should convince you to give it a try."   -- Nancy Heinrich

It was the red quinoa.  His mother watched in silence as her young son ate a bowl of quinoa with zucchini, cilantro, and onions prepared for a Growing Healthy Kids presentation for a local Girl Scout troop.  The mom just kept saying to everyone, “My son is a picky eater.  I just can’t believe he is eating.  Look at him.  He loves this!” 

Image result for picture of quinoa

This quiet little boy had been watching as his two older sisters actively participated in the healthy cooking class.  I brought all the supplies into a classroom at a local church, only to find chairs but no tables.  I asked someone to locate a table.   One was found in another room and one of the moms brought it into our room/aka “kids’ kitchen”.  I put a cloth on the table and then unpacked and organized all the ingredients for the simple quinoa dish we were going to prepare together. 

The children were all told that in order to be a part of the healthy cooking class for Growing Healthy Kids they had to go to wash their hands. After a necessary lesson to the kids about turning off water and not wasting our precious resources, we headed back to our makeshift “kids’ kitchen”. 

The little boy quietly sat on his mother’s lap and watched as his sisters helped squeeze limes and cut cilantro.  Each child had a job to do, which, in my humble opinion, makes everything taste better.  The kids took turns mixing and stirring.  I asked for three kids to be taste testers and, yep, you guessed it, all the hands went up.  Three Girl Scouts had a sample taste.  We came to a consensus about the taste and whether we wanted to add any ingredients (we decided on a little more lime juice and pepper).  Then the kids all lined up with their plates and forks. 

That’s when it happened.  The 4 year old brother took a plate of the red quinoa dish back to his mother and sat next to her and his two sisters.  His mother watched in awe as he ate every morsel, then wanted more. 

Music to my ears!  When kids are engaged in preparing food and there is excitement about how to create something delicious, they become more than miniature chefs.  They learn to eat foods that make them feel good and give them good energy.  Just like that little 4 year old boy.  

All children deserve access to healthy foods and regular outdoor playtime.  By improving the health literacy of parents, we can improve the health – and lives – of America’s children, one child at a time. 

With love and gratitude,
Nancy Heinrich

Founder of the Growing Healthy Kids Project