Kids in the Kitchen

bday-081For the past two years, I was asked to serve as the “guest chef” for a program called  “Kids in the Kitchen”.  The event, sponsored by The Junior League,  is designed to teach inner-city middle school kids about nutrition and making healthier food choices.  In an era where childhood obesity and Type 2 diabetes are at an all-time high, the program is much needed.
 
So, this past Monday afternoon I travelled to the Thomas Hooker School in Bridgeport, Connecticut where I was greeted by a room of fifteen “tweens” who weren’t really sure what to expect from this “lady in an apron”.  Naturally, their attention was piqued when I told them we’d be preparing snacks for them to eat.  When I added that they were healthy snacks, there was a low but audible groan throughout the room. 
 
bday-077I focused on snacks that were easy to prepare (and could be made ahead of time and kept on hand in the fridge) and used ingredients that were easy to find in any grocery store.  The snacks also had to pack a nutritious punch, but most importantly, taste good!  We discussed how it was very easy to come home from school and dig into a bag of chips, but how with a little planning, it was just as easy to grab some carrot sticks and the yummy black bean and salsa dip we’d be whipping up that afternoon.   Now it was time to get cooking!
 
The kids did a great job helping with all the preparation.  They mashed beans for two versions of  low-fat/high protein dips used for veggies or whole wheat pita chips.  They assembled and rolled healthy snack wraps, and mixed up a sweet but nutritious dip for fruit slices.  And then they ate!   Everyone had their favorites, but (thankfully!) they all agreed that everything we made was yummy.  The hope is that by learning a little about healthy snacks and being involved in their preparation, that they will go home and share the recipes with their families, who will all benefit from making healthier snack choices.
 
Have your kids help you make this simple but delicious snack!
 
bday-0851Black Bean and Salsa Dip
(Serve with carrot sticks and/or whole wheat pita chips)
 
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup prepared salsa (any variety)
1 clove garlic, minced
 
Place the black beans in a bowl and mash with a fork or potato masher. 
Add the garlic and salsa and mix.
Alternatively, you may prepare this in a food processor or blender, but the consistency will be smoother and less chunky.

Click here for more information about Tracy’s Connecticut cooking classes, or to read her The Secret Ingredient Blog.

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