My son’s school recently invited parents to share their jobs with the students. I happily agreed, but as the event got closer, I continued to struggle with what to do with the class. There are so many fun options. And while I had already made the new MyPlate with both Bobby and Billy’s classes (see the picture), I was still left to decide between taste testing different fruits and dips, coloring placemats portraying everyday foods like fruit, veggies, legumes and low-fat dairy products, or something else.
Anytime I participate in an event like this, my goal is for the kids to have fun learning about different foods so they realize that nutrition and being healthy is both easy and delicious. Easier said than done though; they are, after all, only four to six years old.
One of my ideas was to use a lesson plan from my program, Healthy Habits, to educate the kids on what it feels like to be hungry and full, and then have them take a quiz using their newly learned cues. When working with such young pupils, however, I also want to make sure that the message touches their bellies—not just their brains—and I was afraid that this activity wouldn’t achieve that.
Unsure of what to do, I went to my oldest son, Bobby, and asked what he would’ve liked me to do. He said he didn’t know. So instead, I tried another tactic: I asked him if he knew what I did—what a dietitian does. After thinking momentarily, he went on to share this very insightful response. “You teach people what is healthy and what is sometimes food,” said Bobby.
I don’t know why, but I was amazed that Bobby was able to give such a brief, succinct description of what I do, and I especially loved the fact that he used the phrase “sometimes food.” My efforts and practices are most definitely influencing my son. As an RD, but most importantly as a mother, I felt proud.
This is when I prosed the idea of making healthier cookies. From my encounter with Bobby, I knew that the kids could understand the idea of “sometimes foods” and “everyday foods.” (It doesn’t have to be cookies either; you can modify any recipe at home, like turning traditional spaghetti and meatballs into whole-wheat pasta with turkey meatballs and all-natural sauce.) For the purpose of my upcoming show-and-tell though, cookies would do just fine. They take just 20 minutes to make, and they’ll certainly send a kid-friendly message. Better yet, the kids may even bring the recipe home and share it with their siblings and parents.
So that is what I’m planning to do for bring your parents to class day: to turn a “sometimes food” into an almost-everyday-food and a decidedly healthy and delicious snack option.
Here is the recipe for our wholesome chocolate chip cookies (dark chocolate that is) if you want to try them out too:
Wholesome Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookies
Tina Sweitzer – Mom to Young and Chef
Laura Cipullo, RD, CDE – Mom to Robert and Dietitian
For ~ 2 dozen cookies
- 3/4 cup unsweetened apple sauce
- 1/2 stick butter
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 2 tsp. pure vanilla extract (not imitation vanilla)
- 1 egg
- 1 egg white
- 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
- 1 cup whole grain oats rolled
- 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- 1 tsp. fine sea salt
- 8-10 oz. package of Whole Foods Dark Chocolate Chips or 60% Cacao Bittersweet Chocolate Chips
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Now just mix and bake them like a batch of normal chocolate chip cookies. In a mixing bowl, combine all the wet ingredients (partially soften the butter in the microwave, just be careful not to melt it too much). Stir them together with a spoon. In a separate bowl, combine the dry ingredients. Now carefully stir in the dry ingredients in with the wet. Now stir in the dark chocolate chips. Place cookies on baking sheet and bake at 350 for 10 – 14 minutes.
Download a PDF of the recipe here.