Thursday, Aug 3, 2017
Whoever said there were too many cooks in the kitchen hasn’t experienced a Child Advocates’ Cooking Class! But earlier this month, 16 foster youth and their Advocates packed into a kitchen to learn how to prepare healthy pizzas. For many children in foster care, the lack of a consistent adult presence often means they are not taught to enjoy physical exercise or learn healthy eating habits. Many teens leave the system without basic cooking skills.
After receiving instructions from volunteer Chef Rachel Lambert, everyone donned aprons and got to work. Picture a lively room full of children measuring, chopping, mixing, arranging, studying all the ingredients, asking questions, about what goes with what, and layering their own creation with vegetables (like spinach, olives, artichoke hearts and peppers) and meat (like pepperoni or ham) and different cheeses and spices to create their version of the perfect personal pizza.
Decisions, decisions! And talk about crusts! The group created a regular pizza crust, a sweet and flaky pie crust, an herb crust, a whole wheat crust, and a gluten free crust made with cauliflower. On top of the crusts, they used either a white sauce (a favorite, it all disappeared), and a red sauce.
Finally, the children got to sit down and enjoy the results of all their work. Between bites, there were lots of smiles and appreciative comments from all. The fact that nearly all of the food was consumed or went home in a people bag indicated that the children’s adventure in healthy cooking was not only empowering but also delicious.
After making the pie crust for the fruit pizza, one Advocate learned her youth had never had eaten pie. A week later, she took him to Marie Calendar's and he tasted peach, strawberry and coconut cream pie. “I think he will be a champion for coconut cream pie,” the Advocate remarked. “He found the peach and strawberry too sweet.”