A few weeks ago, our good Sanibel buddy, Evette, asked Ross and I if we would mind talking to her home school group about nutrition and health. We were extremely busy prior to leaving for this trip. When we first arrived in Florida, we all (a total of 7 of us) headed down to Miami to compete in the Miami Man Half Ironman (Ross did the whole event, Evette and I each participated on Duathlon Teams.) So needless to say, we didn’t really think to much about this event until about two days prior, when Evette said, “So, are you still going to do the nutrition class for the home school group?”
Oh, boy! I had totally forgotten about it. A quick thought ran through my mind, “I am supposed to be on vacation.” But Evette is one of the nicest, kindest people I know. We will do it for her. She was expecting about 10 kids ranging in age from 3 to 17 and probably a couple of parents. We had no idea what to expect, but we’ve done a lot of public speaking, so I just prepared like I would for anything else. I find that most kids are very smart, particularly home school kids. These kids were no exception.
Here was my outline:
- Discuss the importance of eating right for your Diet Type EARLY in life to prevent you from getting diseases later on in life.
- Discuss the importance of eating REAL fresh food, instead of things that are prepared with chemicals, dyes, and other toxic additives.
- Discuss the building blocks of food – carbohydrates, fats, and proteins, and help the kids learn which foods contain the most of each macronutrient.
- Provide an overview of the five Hauser Diets and briefly review the principles of each one of them.
- Learn how to make healthy, tasty, foods from fresh ingredients. This section included participation from the kids.
So you might think, “oh my goodness! 10 kids in your house, holding knives, handling food – what a mess!”
I am here to tell you that it was an awesome experience. It just goes to show you that kids want to learn and are eager to do the right thing. Our kitchen is set up in a manner where the barstools and counter tops surround the cooking area. So it was a perfect setting to lecture and have the kids help with the cooking.
We started out with a short lecture covering the first 3 points. We also had a fill-in-the-blank quiz that the kids had to complete in order to be able to eat! (just a joke, but it made them take it more seriously!). We covered all of the questions with them, and amazingly, after just a short lecture of about 30-40 minutes, they really picked up the information well.
There were a number of classic kid moments too…
When asking for examples of protein-containing foods, one little boy (probably about 3 years old), said “alligator meat.” He was completely serious. And you know what, he was right! Alligator meat is protein!
One little girl, probably about 8 years old, when asked if anyone knew what a person was called who ate only vegetable sources of food, raised her hand and confidently stated, “an herbivore.”
How funny is that? These kids were amazing!
So then we started cooking. We made four recipes that were contained in the Hauser Diet: A Fresh Look At Healthy Living – our new book that was released about a month ago. Some of the things that many of the readers have said that they really enjoy are all the recipes in the book – nearly 200 pages of recipes! Many of them are our recipes that we have used for years that have been altered for each of the Hauser Diet Types. The great thing about the recipes is that we include a Hauser Diet legend where you can figure out which recipes are best for each of the five Hauser Diets. We provide a section called “tweaking for your type” which shows you how to take a recipe and make it more Otter-friendly or Monkey-friendly, for example, depending on your individual Diet Type.
But back to the kids – First we made peanut butter balls for dessert. This is great dessert or snack for kids. It includes organic peanut butter, a drop of honey, your favorite whole grain cereal, along with dried fruit, chopped nuts or coconut. This is obviously better for Bears/Otters/Lions, however, it’s a great alternative to cookies and chips for kids. I discussed why it is important to purchase organic peanut butter that contains just peanuts. Nothing else! I showed them the difference between organic peanut butter and regular store brand peanut butter, showing them how to read the labels. I enlisted the help of my friend Evette’s son Kyle. (he is one of the best kids I have ever met! I’d consider him one of my friends, even though he is only 10 years old!) We scooped out about a cup of peanut butter, added in some chopped peanuts, and a cup or two of organic peanut butter cereal. He mixed up that gooey mixture. Then three other kids dutifully washed their hands and came over to the table to roll the mixture into teaspoon size balls, which were then rolled in coconut and chopped peanuts. We whipped those out in no time, and had them in the refrigerator on a cookie sheet to harden.
Next on the menu were homemade cornflake chicken fingers. These are always a great crowd pleaser. You can make them with chicken or fish. I purchased six full large chicken breasts. I had already sliced 4 of them into strips. First I cut the chicken breast horizontally to make the strips thinner, then sliced the halves into strips. We discussed the importance of purchasing organic, non-hormone injected chicken. We also talked about how processed chicken fingers in the bag in the frozen section of the store contains a lot of chemicals, hormones, and other additives and fillers. You could definitely see the lightbulb go on in the mothers’ eyes. We talked about how those pre-packed chicken fingers are “quick and easy” but they are not good for you. One of the key factors to cooking well is preparing ahead of time. These chicken breasts could be cut into strips when you purchase them and frozen separately in plastic freezer bags. Then all you have to do is take them out of the freezer, run the bag under warm water, and you’ll be in business in no time. One of the factors that many moms face is finding the time to make quick foods. This chicken was made very quickly. Back to the recipe – we took some organic corn flakes, a little flour, our favorite seasonsings, and mixed them all in a plastic bag, crushing the corn flakes. Three girls volunteered to be the chicken dippers. They expertly dipped the chicken pieces (one saying, “it’s not too gross”) into the corn flake mixture and placing them neatly on a baking sheet. We popped those into the preheated oven at 350 degrees F for about 30 minutes.
While those were baking, I chopped up some fresh broccoli into bite-sized pieces and started them steaming in a saucepan on top of the stove. Again we talked about the benefits of fresh veggies versus purchasing something pre-made with cheese sauce. We were going to make a great homemade cheese sauce for a delicious broccoli! Hum, they looked suspicious! I don’t think they believed me on that one!
Next came the homemade French fries. I enlisted two of the older teenagers to take a very sharp knife to slice the freshly scrubbed skin-on russet potatoes into French fry strips. They sliced up the entire 5-pound bag – very expertly, mind you! We drizzled these with olive oil and some coarse sea salt and popped some in the oven, and cooked the other half on top of the stove on a griddle (we ran out of baking sheets!).
While those were cooking, we checked on the chicken strips. Those were browning nicely. My trusty 17-year-old assistant Ben was a great help with the hot dish-handling. He got in there and flipped the chicken pieces so that they browned nicely while we were cooking the fries and starting the homemade cheese sauce.
Kyle loves cheese, so he wanted to help with the cheese sauce. This has got to be one of the easiest recipes on earth! It all starts with learning how to make a basic white sauce. I think I learned how to do this at age 10 or 12. You start out by making a rue – which is a paste that will thicken the liquid you pour into the pan. Here’s how it goes: Set a saucepan on top of the stove at medium heat. Melt 2 Tbsp butter. Mix in 2 Tbsp flour to make the rue (paste). Pour in 1 cup of milk all at once. Stir in the rue. Keep gently stirring until the mixture is thick and bubbly. We discussed food allergies here because we used soy milk instead of cow’s milk for our white sauce. A couple of the kids were already drinking soy milk for cow’s milk allergies. We have seen that many times food allergies cause all sorts of symptoms including GI distress including bloating and diarrhea, or even pain in joints, skin conditions, and sinus trouble. But back to the white sauce…you can add anything to this sauce – sautéed mushrooms, shredded cheese, onions…whatever! It is THE substitute for canned cream soups – throw those out! MSG city! We finished up the white sauce. Turned off the heat and folded in the shredded cheese and some seasonings. The kids were turning up their noses, but I knew they were going to love it. We poured it over the steamed broccoli and our meal was ready!
You know what? There was not a drop of food left after these kids got done with it. One of the young ladies even asked if we could make some more broccoli and cheese. It just goes to show you that cooking can be easy, fun, and delicious!
Kids are smart! They want to grow up and be strong and healthy! It’s our jobs to help get them there! We hoped we help a little with this during our lecture/demonstration to the Sanibel Home School group!
The response from the parents was amazing. Our friend Evette received emails from them and they went something like this…
Parent 1: “That was amazing. What a blessing! My daughter took her quiz home to share the answers with her dad. She was so proud of what she learned.”
Parent 2: “Thank you so much for organizing that. I didn’t really want to go, but once I went, I was so happy I did. What the Hausers said made so much sense. We really need to do more of this and learn more about the foods we eat. My daughter even said that she feels sorry for her Aunt because she just eats junk food and may end up with a disease! I guess she really retained something from the session! How cool is that?”
Thanks to you, home school parents! You too are doing a great job!