As I looked over the unique winter twist to this week’s recipe of Moroccan Mint Tea and Squash Kebabs, I had a flashback to my experience with after school snacks as a child. Squash & Kebobs were just not in my food vocabulary. Rather, sugary cereals, Capri Suns, pop tarts, and cheese rollups, my finest culinary specialty of microwaving cheese on a flour tortilla. It wasn’t that I was a picky eater, I simply didn’t know any other way.

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Starting a new session of Butter Beans classes, I was reminded at how much my experience and relationship with food has changed. I feel an extra sense of responsibility and excitement towards introducing seasonal, fresh, and delicious healthy recipes made with real food.

It is incredible to hear an energetic child ask if they can taste a raw vegetable they just chopped, the anticipation and hunger too much for them to wait!

There are also an abundance of stories told while cooking together in class. “ My mom uses olive oil while cooking all the time!” or “ I’ve tried pomegranate tea before so I will probably like the mint tea!” The connections they make from experiences at home or even in school are inspiring and contagious towards creating a positive relationship with food.

We introduced composting our food scraps, and a 7 year old explained to the class, “it is just like recycling but for the earth.” Another student was bummed out to find that there would be no worms assisting the compost in our classroom!

image1There is something innately creative about children and their ability to see something for what it is. We work on not “yucking someone else’s yum” and cooking with care, but the magic for me comes out in the way they talk about smell and taste, their strategies for assembling a kebob or tearing a mint leaf, and the end result of wanting to take home their hard work to show off to their parents!

All done with gratitude towards our famers and our chefs, a lesson I know will impact this next generation far beyond the classroom.

This post was written by Ann Duffy, Food Educator and Cooking Instructor