“What does it take to meaningfully engage young children while growing their potential as healthy eaters and leaders?”
Learning: Community Food Centres Canada
Community Food Centres Canada ( CFCC) builds and supports vibrant, food-focused organizations that unite communities. Together they grow, cook, share, and advocate for healthy food for all. The goal of CFCC is to use food as a pathway to physical health and social well-being. They also work towards building a Canada where everyone has the means and knowledge necessary to access good, healthy food in a dignified way, and the opportunity to voice their opinions on the food issues that affect them.
Earlier this month, I had an opportunity to attend two events at CFCC’s 3rd Annual Food Summit. The summit kicked off the evening of April 7 with a discussion panel of outspoken food security advocates including: Tabitha Martens, Mixed ancestry Cree researcher, educator, writer and student, Debbie Field, Executive Director of FoodShare and Andy Fisher, Writer and US community food activist. Moderated by Nick Saul, President and CEO of CFCC, the evening’s discussion aimed to paint an inspiring picture of a fair food nation while articulating a path to get us there.
Doing: Get Their Hands Dirty
CFCC has eight Community Food Centres across Canada, which provides more programs like healthy meals, affordable produce markets, community kitchens and gardens, and peer support for more than 24,000 people per year.
The second event I had the pleasure of attending at the Food Summit was a child and youth workshop. At this workshop, we heard from organizations like the Toronto Youth Food Policy Council, that are helping youth dig into important issues while getting their hands dirty or cooking up a storm. The question of “what does it take to meaningfully engage young children while growing their potential as healthy eaters and leaders?” was a key discussion point.
Confidence: Inspire Creativity
Hi guys! Thanks for checking out part 2 of my Cooking Green Goodness segment with Ayane. Ayane (pronounced Aya-neh) is my adorable 9 year old niece. If you missed our first segment together, please check out “Cooking Green Goodness with Ayane (part 1): Creating The Perfect Smoothie.”
Here are some ideals I stand by that may beg to answer, or solve only a part of the issues surrounding the above question asked:
- Children learn by example. If they see their parents cooking and eating a healthy diet, they will most likely do the same.
- Cooking with children isn’t just a nice-to-do activity. The kitchen, used properly, is a starting place for young people to get involved with meal planning and preparation – weaving together the realities of their nutritional needs.
- I believe that if children can play a part in deciding what the family will cook, they’ll be more likely to accept new foods. Allow kids to have a choice and share what they’re thinking!
- When a child learns how to cook, it opens up to them a new world about nutrition and the importance of making healthy, active living choices.
- When you empower a child to make healthier lifestyle choices through experiential learning, highlighting healthy eating, nutrition, cooking skills and active living, these things can make a difference in promoting and improving their quality of life.
Zucchini (also called courgette), is a fast growing fruit that is treated as a vegetable in most kitchens I know of. Zucchini is available on the market in yellow, light green or dark green colours. The dark green skin of zucchini may be naturally striped or speckled. The shape of a zucchini resembles that of a ridged cucumber and features numerous soft, young seeds. Some cultivators also produce zucchini in rounded shapes.
It might also interest you to know that zucchini is a type of summer squash that belong to a family of plants (Cucurbitaceae); relatives of winter squashes (including pumpkins), melons (including watermelon), and even cucumbers. But summer squashes are typically much more delicate, and are more often eaten fresh and shortly after harvest which is between May and July. Regardless of variety, almost all parts of summer squash are edible, including its soft shell and creamy white flesh, seeds and skin.
Kid Made. Kid Approved for Eating.
Whether you’re looking for a quick snack or finger food idea, zucchini is a good choice to start with because of its versatility. It’s easy to prepare and cook with, and can be eaten raw. Ayane and I had a fun afternoon in the kitchen preparing the fixings for an easy-to-follow recipe for Zucchini Pizza Bites.
The ingredients used here are minimal, simple and tasty: zucchini, pizza sauce, oregano and cheese. These ingredients are all familiar to Ayane on their own, but now she’s learning how to combine them to make a mighty snack that can also double as a meal. These little bites cook fast, requiring only 3 minutes to broil.
Have a Good Time Cooking With Your Kids
Cooking with children isn’t just a nice-to-do activity. The kitchen, used properly, is a starting place for young people to get involved with meal planning and preparation – weaving together the realities of their nutritional needs. I also believe that it’s equally important to allow kids to have a choice and share what they’re thinking when it comes to teaching them how to prepare meals. It helps them to feel valued and could inspire creativity on both ends.
So before Ayane and I got started, we talked about her favourite pizza toppings. Pepperoni was on her list as a topping she wanted to try on some of the little bites. The pepperoni topping turned out to be a delicious addition we all enjoyed! Black olives, bell pepper and jalapeno (for those who can handle the heat) were additional toppings used throughout the three batches we made to share with family members.
Broiling, as I explained it to Ayane, is a cooking technique that use direct heat – nothing but a thin layer of air separates the heat source from the food. The main idea behind broiling is to get a nice, slightly charred crust on the food’s exterior while cooking the interior to the desired doneness. The best foods to broil are less than an inch thick; thicker foods tend to burn on the inside before they are fully cooked inside. But you can also broil thicker cuts with a couple of minor adjustments. Just move the food farther from the heat source so it browns a little more slowly, giving it time to cook through.
Grilling is identical to broiling, the only difference is that one puts the heat source on the bottom, the other on top. Always preheat your broiler but only for a few minutes. Generally, you will broil two to six inches away from the heat source, the closer distance for thin, quickly cooked foods, the greater the distance for thick, slowly cooked foods.
It’s Good Snacking
Zucchini Pizza Bites is officially a hit!
See the last of this three part series in two weeks time. We will be making vegetable sushi rolls with the addition of some of Ayane’s friends. It’s officially a party! Enjoy today’s recipe.
Zucchini Pizza Bites
Kid made. Kid approved for eating.
3 medium zucchinis, sliced diagonally
1 cup pizza sauce
2 tablespoons dried oregano, plus more as desired
1 ½ cups each mozzarella and cheddar cheese, grated
¼ cup Parmesan, feta or goat cheese (optional)
10 – 12 slices pitted black olives
10 – 12 slices pepperoni
- Trim and discard zucchini ends. Cut zucchinis into ¼ or ½ inch diagonal slices depending on desired thickness; you could even try it both ways. Place zucchini slices on a non-stick baking tray.
- Combine the grated cheeses in a bowl.
- Preheat broiler with rack adjusted at least 12 inches from the heat.
- Spread a scant tablespoonful of pizza sauce over each zucchini slice. Sprinkle with oregano. Top with 1 – 2 tablespoons cheese, plus more as desired. Top with 1 olive slice or 1 pepperoni slice.
- Broil for 3 minutes or until cheese is melted and zucchini is tender. Serve immediately.
These little bites are outstanding with or without the extra toppings, like the olives and pepperoni. Top with slices of jalapeno for those who can handle the heat.
To learn more about Community Food Centers Canada and how to get involved, visit their website at https://cfccanada.ca/.