Pumpkin parfaits teach kids about nutrition

It looked like a small cup of light-orange goo. Most of the students seemed hesitant to try it.

But not Erick Tadeo. The 8-year-old immediately took a heaping spoonful of pumpkin parfait, pronounced it was good and gave it two thumbs up.

Jill Wooten's kindergarten and Tomi Scofield's mostly first-grade special day classes at Victoria Elementary School in Costa Mesa got cooking Wednesday morning as part of the Network for a Healthy California's mission to teach students about nutrition and making healthy choices.

Scofield's class helped make the pumpkin parfait using the Harvest of the Month vegetable, and Wooten's class ate "Stone Soup," after reading Marcia Brown's children's classic by the same name.

For the "Stone Soup" lesson, pupils learned about the antics of three soldiers tricking villagers into adding lots of different vegetables, such as carrots, cabbage, onions and celery to their broths, said Geoff Ianniello, the school district's nutrition services operations manager for Network for a Healthy California.

Kindergartner Dominic Andrade said he loved the soup, especially the carrots.

"I want to make the stone soup in my house," he said.

The story was used in a lesson that taught pupils about the benefits of the ingredients, such as the fiber in barley and vitamins A and C in carrots and tomatoes. Similar lessons have been planned around "The Very Hungry Caterpillar" by Eric Carle and "Chicken Soup with Rice" by Maurice Sendak.

"We're using the stories that they would normally read in class," Ianniello said.

Scofield led her students in making the pumpkin parfaits, pointing out the food group for each ingredient. The students looked at a real pumpkin, smelled canned pumpkin, looked at low-fat vanilla yogurt and helped crush Wheat Chex onto their parfaits.

"Today, with our parfaits, we are having vegetables, grains and dairy," she said. "Is this a healthy snack today? Yes it is."

In Scofield's class, the students get a chance to cook every other week to teach them what is hot in a kitchen, enable them to help out and also appreciate those that make them meals, she said, adding it also instill skills like washing hands, following directions and knowing what is healthy.

"It's really fun to cook, and the kids love it," she said.


Twitter: @britneyjbarnes

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