Just as important as getting kids to cook, Sherwood says, is providing them with healthy school lunches. Staring this month, Sherwood is working with Title I schools to improve meals for students who qualify for a free lunch. Meals will include whole-wheat pizza, black bean burgers, and broiled fish.
"Whether it's an underserved area or a school that charges $15,000 a year, the problems are still the same," she says. "We need to feed kids healthy foods so they can excel in school and focus on their goals."
Another program Sherwood is developing soon will capture the kids at an earlier age. "Healthy Eaters, Little Reader" is geared to children ages 2-5, and connects a book with a recipe. For example, children read a Winnie-the-Pooh book and work with their parents to make a honey dish.
Sherwood's ultimate goal is for kids to value nutrition, as it will help them lead healthier lifestyles.
"If we don't start helping our children help themselves, where will our future scientists be?" Sherwood says, "Kids need that quality time. They thrive on that."
Since Melissa Sherwood hosts a public access cooking show called Family Time, Parents come up to her and ask, "How can I get my child to eat spinach and carrots?" "Simple," she replies." Cook it with them."
That is the philosophy behind Deliciously Nutritious, a company Sherwood started with her husband Andre in 2006, which offers healthy cooking classes to kids ages 6-17. They also host summer camps and this month, are starting to work with elementary schools to improve school lunches.
"When you get kids cooking, they're more eager to try something new," Sherwood says. "And their diets can change their behavior".
Sherwood teaches classes at schools, community centers, and public housing developments around Annapolis. A typical class always begins with a safety lesson (like using a blender) and ends with a lifestyle one (like preventing diabetes). In between, children help cook recipes for healthy foods, like smoothies and vegetables lasagna.
"In a fast-paced, microwave world, we've lost the art of cooking." Sherwood says, "We need to get kids in the kitchen."
““Eating what stands on one leg [mushrooms and plants foods] is better than eating what stands on two legs [fowl], which is better than eating what stands on four legs [cows, pigs, and other animals]”.
MICHAEL POLLAN Author of FOOD RULES an Eater’s Manual
Camper Aubrey Coleman, 7, eats a carrot cake muffin at the Deliciously Nutritious cooking camp, Tuesday, June 17, 2008, in Davidsonville, Md. (AP Photo/Jamie C. Horton)
This week at Germantown East, the snacks were stewed apples and puffed pastry. The 20 first and second graders all girls took turns stirring the apples in a pot arranging the pastry in muffin pans.
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