Let’s Review!

It’s hard to believe that we are nearing the end of the 2013-2014 school year! It feels like just yesterday that we greeted fourteen anxious and excited sixth graders to our afterschool program. During one of our last afterschool sessions, we played a couple of games to review the topics we covered this past year. We started with nutrition bingo.bingo Students really enjoyed playing and the winners got to make their vegetable pita pizzas first. We used whole wheat pita bread, spinach, tomatoes, peppers, mushrooms, tomato sauce, and low fat cheese to make a healthier version of pizza. We brought in a toaster oven, so that the cheese melted and the pizzas were warm.

We then played jeopardy with more challenging questions falling under the categories of MyPlate, heart health, the digestive system, dental health, and meal planning. 705113It was great to see how much the students learned over the course of the year! We ended by having students write a couple of sentences about what they learned in Food as Medicine this past year.  Some of the students wrote, “I learned that you can be healthy by doing things you really like”, and “What I learned in Food as Medicine this year is that healthy foods are the best foods”.

Thanks for reading and stay tuned for new posts next fall. Have a happy and healthy summer!healthy summer

The Digestive System

Our previous discussions about whole grains and how fiber helps to keep things moving through the digestive system led students to want to know more about the digestive system. Some of the questions we received were about how long it takes for food to get digested and where food goes after it enters the stomach. During our afterschool session on the digestive system we first tested how much students knew by asking questions like where digestion begins and where most of the nutrients are absorbed.

Next, the students completed digestive system puzzles, where they had to put the different parts of the digestive system in the correct order including the accessory digestive glands. Some students were shocked to learn that digestion does not end at the stomach! IMG_2393We then simulated the digestive process by placing crackers in a Zip bloc bag to represent the food. Students added orange juice to represent the digestive juices and then squeezed the Zip bloc to represent the churning and mixing of food in the stomach. It gave students a great visual as to what is happening inside their bodies after they eat!IMG_2395

We ended the session by making healthy cookies out of soy nut butter, maple syrup/honey, and rolled oats. The cookies were a hit and were very easy to make!     IMG_2401

Healthy Teeth

Sometimes the relationship between the food you put into your body and how it impacts the health of your teeth is overlooked. So we decided to expand our focus and do one afterschool session on dental health.3-1 Volunteers from the Students United for America’s ToothFairy Organization joined us to teach the students about dental health. First, students learned about the location of taste receptors on their tongues by placing drops of salty, sweet, bitter, and sour drinks on their tongues. 3-3Then students learned about the impact of soda on teeth by observing hard boiled eggs that had been soaked in water, coca cola and mountain dew for a few days. Students noted that there was a drastic difference between how the soda made the egg shell soft and weak in comparison to the water that didn’t have much impact on the egg shell. We ended the session with the students making edible toothbrushes out of celery and string cheese!3-2

Rethink Your Drink

When we surveyed the students at the beginning of the school year, over half of them reported that they drink soda at least once per week. We knew that soda consumption is a pressing health issue among children, but those results were shocking. Thus, we figured that the students would benefit from a rethink your drink activity. 2-1We began the afterschool session by asking the students why drinks are important. As many of the students guessed, drinks supply the body with water, which is essential for survival.  A person can only survive a few days without water since almost every function in the body depends on water. Although all drinks supply the body with water, some drinks are better than others.

We started the rethink your drink activity by having students match the amount of sugar with different drinks like water, coca cola, energy drinks, and orange juice. Next, students compared the nutrition labels of drinks. One of the measures of comparison was grams of sugar, which students used to calculate the number of teaspoons of sugar. Then students measured that out using sugar. We got mixed responses from the students. Some were very grossed out by the fact that the amount of sugar in energy drinks and soda fills up almost an entire bowl with sugar. However, other students wanted to eat the sugar straight of the bowl! Although we didn’t convince all students to rethink their drinks, we hope that the next time they have a soda or an energy drink that they will think about the amount of sugar they are drinking!

We ended the session by making fruit smoothies with yogurt and soy milk. Smoothies are always a hit, but the students especially enjoyed the smoothies knowing that they were drinking a healthy and nutritious drink!  2-2

Healthy Snacks

Often with all of the different health and nutrition ideas out there, it is confusing whether it is okay to snack. Thus, we focused an afterschool session on snacks by first discussing that healthy snacks can help you focus in school, can help make sure that you don’t overeat during mealtimes, and can provide you with extra vitamins and nutrients. We first played a game of snack hot potato, where students passed a ball around and had to name as many healthy snacks as possible without repeating any snacks.1-1

Then we played snack attack, where students had pictures of fruits, vegetables, healthy spreads like hummus and peanut butter, yogurt, and healthy grains, and they had to join with their peers to create snacks. Some of the combinations like veggies and peanut butter were pretty wacky, but creative! We concluded the session by making healthy kabob snacks with low fat cheddar cheese, apples, and grapes.IMG_2231

The Most Important Meal of the Day–Breakfast!

This week’s Wednesday workshop focused on Breakfast, otherwise known as the most important meal of the day! The workshop began with a review. Students were asked to help volunteers complete a fill in the blank activity that covered material from the previous workshop. The sixth graders were then split into groups of two or three and asked to complete a nutrition label worksheet based on their assigned food item. Some of the items included: spinach, chicken nuggets, raspberries, “Tastykake” snacks, and Mountain Dew. In their groups, students identified the serving size of each item, the number of calories in each serving, and the number of serving sizes in each package. They did a great job!

In addition to the calorie activity the kids also completed a “My Plate” breakfast worksheet. Volunteers first asked the students to write down what they typically have for breakfast in the spaces. After the volunteers asked the kids if their plates were balanced. In other words, was there a food that fit each of the categories on the plate? (Grain, Vegetable, Fruit, and Dairy). If not, the students where asked what foods could be added to make their breakfasts more balanced.

Breakfast on Choose MyPlate for Kids

The session ended with a healthy breakfast option, fruit parfaits made up of strawberries, raisins, cinnamon, vanilla Greek yogurt, and granola. The Waverly students correctly identified that we were using Greek Yogurt because contains more protein than traditional yogurt. Each student cut their own strawberries and with a little help assembled their own parfaits. The granola stole the show! And many took some home for a snack.



The focus of this Wednesday Workshop was PROTEIN. There were three new volunteers this week for the Waverly students to get to know. Once everyone was settled in we started the session with a fill in the blank exercise. The kids really enjoyed writing on the board during the activity and with a smidgen of help were able to complete it very quickly! After the activity students were given the opportunity to write down sources of protein on the board. A few the students came up with included: Pork, Chicken, Cheese, Milk, Beef and Hotdogs.

The vocabulary exercise was followed by a walking relay race in which volunteers had students break up into two teams. Students were asked to place a picture of a source of protein in one of two bags labeled VEGETABLE and ANIMAL respectively. Team One correctly identified all but one protein source and Team Two identified all but two correctly.

plant protein 2

Coincidentally, both team incorrectly identified hummus dip as animal based protein, which just so happened to be that day’s snack. The volunteers took this as an opportunity to discuss with the students the differences between VEGETARIANS and VEGANS. In addition, the volunteers explained how individuals who practice these diet get protein from the foods they eat without eating animals and/or animal products. The winning team was rewarded with the opportunity to prepare their snack of Hummus first that was served with carrots and pita bread. Many of the kids had already tried hummus once before and most really enjoyed the pita bread.


Heart Your Heart

The month of February brought an exciting time for Food as Medicine and the Waverly students – American Heart Month!  Our afterschool workshop was something the students really took to “heart” and tons of learning and heart-healthy eating followed!  We started the workshop with some fill in the blank heart sentences, and the students were all eager to participate, learning about blood flow, heart disease, and exercise!

Heart Month gave us a great reason to do some super cool demonstrations, which the students were fascinated with!  First, each of the students had a straw, representing the arteries in the body.  We dipped them in water and then into a mound of cornstarch.  The gooey, sticky mess that stuck on the straws demonstrated the unhealthy build-up that occurs in our arteries, causing poor blood flow!  It really showed what happens to our body when we eat poorly and don’t exercise, which can eventually lead to heart disease!  The students loved this demo, and also had tons of fun pouring the water into the cornstarch and making some faux-silly.

Our next demonstration involved two cups, one with a small straw poked through the side, and the other with a wider straw poked through.  The students filled the cups with “blood” (some water with red food dye, but it looked real!) and watched the blood flow through both straws that ensued.   The larger straw represented a healthy artery, and the blood flow was strong and fast.  The smaller represented a clogged artery – and the blood barely dripped out!  Everyone couldn’t wait to fill the cups – we had blood flowing everywhere!

heart experiment

Next we got to make salad – with delicious balsamic dressing instead of ranch!  The students were somewhat opposed at first – but then absolutely loved the balsamic “sauce.”  They prepared the whole salad, with apples, grapes, spinach, and avocados!  Some students were introduced to avocado for the first time, and while some took a little while to get used to it, most ended up loving it!  We finished up the workshop with some poster making.  The students got a chance to share what they had learned about heart health, and we got to hang them up for the whole school to see!

salad prep

Hummus is (actually) Yummus

Alicia, a registered dietitian, visited afterschool last week to discuss mindful eating with the students and do a hummus demonstration. The session began with each student getting a plate with a fresh cranberry, chickpea, and dried cranberry. Students were encouraged to use their senses to touch, look, smell and taste the three morsels on their plate. They learned that is one of the many ways to eat mindfully. Other ways include eating slowly and only eating when you are hungry.

Next, Alicia showed students how to make hummus by mixing chickpeas, lemon juice, olive oil, water, and garlic in a blender. Students were amazed that making hummus is so easy! They then picked different spices and toppings like nutmeg, cinnamon, pesto, and hot peppers to add to the hummus on their plates. Although some of the students had never tried hummus before, they thoroughly enjoyed it with carrots and pita chips.   Hummus 1 Hummus 2

Afterschool ended with a few fun games and a discussion of how to make some of our favorite unhealthy snacks and meals healthier. Stay tuned as we further explore this discussion in the upcoming weeks!

In the meantime, we wish everyone a Happy and Healthy Thanksgiving!

What Differentiates Fruits and Vegetables?

Students first played the “is it a fruit or vegetable game?” where they had to run to either side of the room depending on if they thought carrots, strawberries, cucumbers, for example, are fruits or vegetables. When the students were divided on whether cucumber is a fruit or vegetable, some students were quick to shout out that cucumber is a fruit because it has seeds on the inside. The other students quickly learned that foods such as tomatoes and cucumbers, which are often thought of as vegetables, are actually fruits. They are now fruit and vegetable experts!

We ended the session by labeling this diagram, which showed students how all parts of a plant are either fruits or vegetables.Plant Diagram photo_1[1]