White River Valley Nutrition and Wellness students enjoying the vegetable dishes they prepared during class.
Healthy eating is highly encouraged in White River Valley Family and Consumer courses. This past week Nutrition and Wellness students came to understand the health benefits of eating vegetables, how to prep vegetables and a variety of ways to cook vegetables.
High school students need a large amount of vegetables in their diets. According to the USDA, boys 14 - 18 need three cups a day and girls 14 - 18 need two and a half cups a day. It is not just the amount that matters, but also the variety of colors.
Everyone needs to eat a variety of colorful vegetables everyday: green spinach, white cauliflower, orange carrots and red radishes. Each color has its own nutritional value, so a variety can supply you with the vitamins and minerals you need. Vegetables are also naturally low in fat and sodium, two nutrients that most people get enough of, and high in fiber, a nutrient most people do not consume enough of.
Vegetables must be prepared following procedures in order to prevent contamination and keep an orderly and efficient work space. Since vegetables grow outdoors in and around the ground and travel to get to us, they must be washed. Rinse fresh vegetables under cold running water. Chop them using a designated cutting board. If you have a color coded set, you should use the green cutting board.
The class then practiced knife skills and learned how to use knives using correct procedures. The paring knife has many uses from paring (removing the skin), coring and mincing. The chef knife is the most used knife. It has a specific grip and the hand holding the product should be in a claw grip.
When students enter the kitchen they should set up the cutting station with a secured cutting board, scrap bowl above the cutting board and a plate for receiving the cut-up product. Ingredients move from left to right with the goal of accurate cuts and safety. Students first practiced this procedure by chopping and pan-frying potatoes. They did great following the procedures for chopping and enjoyed the dish. Jayden Byarly said she really enjoyed cooking the potatoes and will use this technique at home.
Vegetables can be prepared in endless ways. In Nutrition and Wellness, students compared raw, boiled and steamed broccoli. I was so excited when all the broccoli was eaten in both sections, but I think that had a lot to do with the fact that I provided ranch. Students liked all the different presentations of the prepared broccoli.
Students went on to prepare a variety of vegetable dishes. They made sautéed brussels sprouts, cauliflower rice, creamed peas, glazed carrots, sweet potato fries and green bean casserole. They really liked trying the vegetables prepared all the different ways, and as usual there were students trying and liking vegetables they previously believed they did not like. It is so exciting to see them trying new things and enjoying the cooking labs.
My favorite vegetable dish is the sautéed brussels sprouts.
Fresh brussels sprouts, cut in half lengthwise
1 tablespoon bacon grease
Salt and pepper to taste
Warm the bacon grease on medium heat.
Toss the brussels sprouts and cook for approximately 10 minutes.
Betsy Misner has been the Family and Consumer Science, formerly Home Economics, teacher at White River Valley for over a decade. Her motivation is helping students to strive for strong, happy, healthy families and providing career pathways. Check out more of what is happening in the classroom by following her on Twitter: WRVFACS@BetsyMisner