Teaching kids to eat and drink healthfully requires much more than admonitions. After carting away the vending machines and abolishing the Big Gulps, we can't leave the kids empty-handed. Rachelle Boucher from Generation Chefs is working hard to fill the void. From the popular Pizza Smack-Downs at COPIA to her weekly cooking classes (free to high school students) in the beautifully outfitted kitchen at the Marin Youth Center (MYC a.k.a. "Mike") she's bringing fresh, whole, homemade food generously flavored with reaffirming messages and lots of common sense to a wide and diverse group of kids.
A visit to one of her cooking classes reveals her consummate skill in converting teens to the cause of healthy eating. Endowed with humor, warmth, and endless energy, she's a master of choreographing 25 wary bundles of apathy and hormones into productive teams of excited, skilled, fruit-and vegetable-loving cooks.
Rachelle hefts up 20 pounds of refined sugar so the kids can see how much the average American teenager consumes every six weeks.
Her class this past week highlighted our favorite fruit of the season--strawberries--along with one very shiny, red bike blender. The lesson for the day involved putting down sugary drinks and sipping fruit smoothies instead. In addition to fresh strawberries, melons, and bananas, the teen chefs could choose from a colorful array of juices, frozen fruit, yogurts, and natural flavorings. Most importantly, they learned that not a single grain of added sugar was needed to create a delicious drink.
A rainbow of sweet goodness just before the pedal action.
Mike Graham-Squire from the Youth Leadership Institute joined the class to show the teens how to select ingredients, calculate food costs, determine servings sizes and overall yield, and--most importantly of all--operate the bike blender. As representatives of schools and local community organizations, the kids were also learning how smoothies can be a healthful, interactive, and effective fundraising tool at large events.