Our schoolwide seedfood curriculum is in full force. Preschoolers are cooking bean soup and banana muffins. Toddlers are tasting different types of fruit. Lists of nutrition terms are growing longer and even in P. E. classes children are matching food colors with the colors of hoops. It’s inspiring to see such enthusiasm for food all around the Seed. We started our nutrition focus last September and have carried it on throughout the year. The support from our families has been remarkable and it’s gratifying to see how much awareness and concern there is for children’s nutrition. For a bit of history, check out this link (https://www.awakeningseedschool.org/2013/08/nutrition-revolution/).
All of this food talk has made me think of my own food journey, particularly in the last five years. Although I’ve tried to eat consciously since the 1970s, it wasn’t until recently that I’ve been truly passionate about food. When I decided to go gluten free five years ago, it was transformative for my health and it also brought me back to cooking again. I discovered that making food can be a creative practice with life-enhancing benefits. Conversations with a friend helped me get organized by introducing me to mise en place, a chef’s practice of prepping the small parts before assembling dishes (https://www.awakeningseedschool.org/2011/09/everything-in-its-place/). Beautiful food at farmers markets presented invitations to try different vegetables and I started paying attention to heirlooms, for both eating and gardening. I also took it on as a personal challenge to use as much of our backyard produce as possible. I have to say that the internet has provided a wealth of information to fuel my foodie tendencies. One of the best discoveries was freezing pesto in silicone mini-muffin pans. All the basil that came to fullness around the same time gave us nearly a year’s worth of pesto to enjoy.
My food journey took another turn in 2011 when I was diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer. It was cancer that instigated my love affair with cauliflower and brussels sprouts. While in recovery, a friend sent me The Cancer-Fighting Kitchen, written by Rebecca Katz. She writes so eloquently about the cruciferous family of vegetables—broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, kale and cabbage—and their antioxidant properties that have been shown to reduce cancer risks. As I explored ways to prepare them, a whole new world opened for me. Heidi Swanson’s recipe for brussels sprouts (http://www.101cookbooks.com/archives/goldencrusted-brussels-sprouts-recipe.html) made me a life-long enthusiast and I know I’m healthier because of all the crucifers in my diet now.
My latest food adventure happened this past spring when I was introduced to the Whole 30® as described in Melissa and Dallas Hartwig’s It Starts with Food (http://whole30.com/itstartswithfood/). Following the vegetarian version, I’ve been able to eliminate sugar from my diet (okay, I did eat a LOT of Irish chocolate in July). It’s most importantly brought awareness of how certain foods, particularly sugar, affect my health.
I’ve always been a passionate learner of topics I find interesting. It’s apparent that an added piece of my mission is to disseminate information that holds potential for improving the lives of children. In this case, I guess you could say it’s my nutrition mission.