May 29, 1998

City Schools Teaching Children That

Dinner is a `Family Affair'

The ABCs, reading, writing, rhythmic and of course playtime are generally what we think our young pre-schoolers are doing in school. But schools play an important role in yet another area - developing the knowledge and healthy habits when it comes to nutrition and what is good to eat.

Good eating habits start with a nutritious breakfast which encourages good study habits, lunch to get the children through the day and dinner where San Diego City School children are learning that dinner time is "A Family Affair."

Executive Chef Joaquin Cueva helped these young students make their very own burrito.

The program called, "Kids in the Kitchen: A Family Affair" was presented by the San Diego City Schools Food Services staff of Connie Hom, Brenda Reynosa and Joyce Woods who with local celebrity chefs traveled to schools spreading the word of good nutrition and good food.

"Our goal is to teach children skills they can use at home to help prepare meals for their family," stated Brenda Rey-nosa, R.D., Food Services Dietitian, "and the participation of local chefs is a marvelous way for children to be exposed to careers in the food service industry."

"A Family Affair" emphasizes that dinner time is a time to show affection for your children and an opportunity to talk with them about their activities and feelings. And it's also the perfect time to teach them how to cook and enjoy a variety of tasty foods.

According to the information provided to the children, "Preparing meals and eating together can be fun, rewarding family experiences that also impact your child's social, psychological and nutritional development."

"Kids in the Kitchen: A Family Affair" program offers these tips and ideas of How To Get Your Family Back to the Table:

* Make mealtime pleasurable for everyone.

* Emphasize the importance of mealtime and encourage your family to make it a priority.

* Keep meals simple and easy.

* Let all family members help with some part of the meal, including setting the table and cleaning up.

* Let your children help in a variety of ways, so that they don't get bored with the same old task.

* Be flexible. On occasion, the "family table" might be the car at a fast food restaurant or a picnic blanket in the park.

Get Kids Involved!

The first and most important place where children learn healthful attitudes about food is in the home. Children learn best by doing, not watching, so get them involved! Preparing and cooking food can be fun and creative, especially when you know the basics.

* Teach basic hygiene, such as washing hands before handling food.

* Whatever their tasks in the kitchen, teach safety rules and show your children how to use cooking utensils that they are old enough to handle responsibly. Younger children can manage measuring cups and spoons, while older ones can learn how to hold and cut with a knife or how to handle hot pans from the stovetop or oven.

* Teach your children basic skills: how to read recipes, how to measure with cups and spoons, and how to mix, chop, slice and grate different foods.

* Talk about the foods you are preparing: their taste, smell, texture and their origin. Experiment with different seasonings and sample the foods of different cultures.

* Be patient and have fun! Don't worry about the mess or making a perfect dish. It is the shared time and positive experience that are important.

But all the ideas and tips are only as good as the food you cook. If eventually you wind up with food that taste, well bad, who will come to the dinner table. This is where some of San Diego's finest chefs come in. Chefs such as Fred Rodriguez of Club Coronado, Joaquin Cueva of North Island Air Station, Jerry Dollar of Sea World, and Paul Boutris, Executive Chef, retired to name a few, visited several schools to share their expertise.

Nothin' taste better than a crunchy Bandito Burrito

"This program is wonderful. I love the volunteer effort of our chefs and the interactive nature of the activity," stated Bruce Ramet, Child Development Administrator. "Our children, staff and parents were most excited about this activity."

The following are some of the recipes that the pre-schoolers and the chefs made together.


Crunchy Vegetable Burrito Banditos


(Makes 4 servings)

1/2 cup shredded carrots
1/2 cup sliced red bell peppers
1/2 cup bean sprouts
4 ounces shredded Cheddar Cheese
1/4 cup ranch salad dressing
1/2 tsp chili powder
4 (8 inch) flour tortillas
1 cup torn iceberg lettuce, bite-size pieces

1. In mixing bowl, combine ranch dressing and chili powder

2. Slice red bell peppers

3. Tear lettuce into bite-size pieces

4. In mixing bowl, combine carrots, bean sprouts and red bell pepper with cheese. Add ranch dressing mixture

5. Lay tortillas flat on the counter. Spoon about 1/2 cup vegetable mixture and 1/4 cup of lettuce down the center

6. Wrap each tortilla around the mixture.


Mini Peanut Butter Sandwiches

Bread for each student to make 2 mini sandwiches

Peanut butter
Peanut butter "Companions", such as sliced bananas, jelly/jam, raisins, honey, etc.

1. Place peanut butter and companions into separate bowls for easy access.

2. Give each child enough bread to make 2 mini sandwiches.

3. Give each child a plastic knife. Instruct them to spread 1 piece with peanut butter, adding a companion of their choice, and top with another piece of bread. Repeat for second sandwich.


Ring Around the Rainbow Parfait

(Makes 24 child-size servings)

48 ounces of fruit-flavored yogurt
1 box crunchy cereal, such as granola
1-1/2 pounds of two different colors of fruit

1. Place 2 spoons of yogurt in a cup

2. Add a spoon of cereal.

3. Add 2 spoons of first fruit

4. Add 2 spoons of second fruit.

5. Add 2 spoons of yogurt.

6. Top with cereal.