No cooking for the Petits Chefs this week (but we have some very exciting guests coming to work with the boys for the final two sessions of the year – stay tuned!) because we tried something a little different – a food-related field trip! I was really interested to learn that the Field Trip Factory offers free field trips to local supermarkets – in this case, Loblaws – to take part in the “Nutrition in our Aisles“. Nutrition is also a part of food education – teaching kids to cook is one thing, but teaching then how to shop is entirely something else – and no less important, in fact, I’d say nearly more so.
Portion sizes and understanding nutritional information labels is so important in learning how to eat right so I was happy to hear that we’d tour the store with a Registered Dietitian and learn to make healthier food choices. The fact that the Loblaws store I chose to visit (at Maple Leaf Gardens) is such a beautiful store did make me wish I had set aside more time to simply, well, wander…. I took my younger students on the same trip last week and found it fascinating to watch them in the aisles of a supermarket, looking at what caught their eye and listening to them learn all about nutrition labels and how to read them.
The tour itself, led by the charming Nema McGlynn was an interactive hands-on learning experience where the boys learned all about making informed healthy food choices using Canada’s Food Guide and the Guiding Stars® nutrition labeling system. Guiding Stars is “a food rating system that rates food based on nutrient density using a scientific algorithm to assign a 0, 1, 2 or 3 star rating. The program rates foods based on vitamins, minerals, fibre, whole grains, Omega-3s, saturated fat, trans fat, added sodium and added sugar. “No stars” means, although the food was rated, it didn’t meet the nutrition criteria to earn a star.” It’s actually a great way to quickly scan products to see which ones are the better choices.
The boys started out in the produce section chatting about portion size and thinking about healthy combinations of foods to combine for better snacking. They were each asked to choose a fruit and tell Nema what they would pair with it for a healthy snack (so, things like bananas with peanut or soy-nut butter). I was amused (and proud) to listen as one boy told Nema he would make a shortcrust pastry (from scratch) and use his raspberries to make a tartlette. Although that wasn’t exactly the type of snack Nema was aiming for, clearly I have trained these boys well 🙂
We moved on from the produce section to chips and salty snacks and bread aisles. The boys spent a lot of time reading labels and trying to figure out “better choices”…
They were fascinated with, of all things, Twinkies. It turns out that many of them had never eaten one but had “heard” that they are bad for you. The nutritional information on the label confirmed this!
I think apart from the nutritional information itself, the thing the boys were most surprised about was the idea of portion sizes. It’s a good lesson for ANYONE, kids or adults, to learn that what they consider a portion size might actually be 2 or even 3 portions. To say some eyes were opened would be an understatement!
After the tour (just under an hour although I have a feeling we could have spent MANY hours in there – a supermarket is such a GREAT destination for a kids’ field trip!), Nema took a few volunteers to choose some snacks (I thought there might have been some gentle guidance there but for the most part, they devoured the food!) which we sat down to enjoy together…
I left this field trip wishing I had made this a full afternoon of activities, which I just might do next year. So many valuable life lessons to be learned in the humble supermarket aisles…
EXCITING NEWS! I am thrilled to announce that tomorrow, Friday May 30th, Breakfast Television‘s LiveEye will be at the school filming members of both the Petits Chefs and Cooking Basics cooking clubs! We’ll be cooking up a variety of dishes over the course of the morning and our segments will be live to air at the following times: 6.40am, 7.12am, 7.50am, 8.24am and 8.50am. I’ll have 18 boys working in groups of 3 on six different recipes – it’s going to be TOTALLY fine, right?! The boys and I are so excited to showcase what we do each week – kids learning to cook real food!
If you’re interested, you can catch Breakfast Television on CityTV (find the channel number depending on your provider here). You can also watch Breakfast Television from 5:30 to 9 a.m. online at BTtoronto.ca, or on the Breakfast Television mobile app for iOS and Android. Wish us luck!
Canadian readers: Enter to win a copy of “Beerology”. Ends Sunday June 1st 6pm EST!