Thanks to the Adopt-A-School program, our friends at Centennial Central Public School have been enjoying healthy snacks and learning about healthy eating as part of the Ontario Elementary’s Health Curriculum. Students begin to learn in Junior Kindergarten that healthy eating helps us grow strong and that it delivers lots of energy to keep us active. Chris Konrad, the principal at Centennial, helps explain the importance of promoting healthy active living at school.

The Importance of Veggies –

At Centennial Central, we strive to have students develop a healthy relationship with food. Research shows that having a full belly of healthy food also helps kids to learn and focus better. Earlier this month, all classes at Centennial Central had a workshop from local organizations that helped reinforce what we have learned about healthy foods. Primary students learned that choosing healthy foods helps to give us energy and helps to regulate our moods as well.

We want to teach our students that healthy eating can not only be nutritious, but delicious! Pure Flavor® is a wonderful partner in this endeavor! Not only does Pure Flavor® provide us with cases of Mini Munchies® Snack Sized Veggies filled with our favorites- cherry tomatoes and cucumbers each week through the Adopt-A-School program, but they have also treated us to their delicious Aurora Bites Mini Sweet Peppers as well!

Salsa Time –

This week in Mrs. Jinks’ class, we wanted to make our annual winter pajama day even more special by making salsa as a special treat. We also shared the salsa with our Grade 4 neighbors in Mrs. Burger’s class. The best way to try healthy new foods is to be invested in the experience. That means helping to cook with your friends and sharing with others! So much fun!

Our grade 2 students in Mrs. Jinks’ class love to use our school kitchen! They were even more excited to use the food processor to make the salsa. First, we discussed what ingredients might be used to make the salsa and then washed our hands before entering the kitchen. We could smell the onion and garlic that was already roughly chopped, and we saw the Juno® Bites Red Grape Tomatoes that we already know and love. We chopped the stems off the Aurora Bites and discussed how they have a sweet taste like the tomatoes. We compared the mini peppers to the jalapenos that we would add to make our salsa spicy. We discussed how the jalapeno seeds give the pepper its heat. We decided to only add one jalapeno so it wouldn’t be too spicy!

We talked about the limes, salt, and cilantro and how they would add even more flavor. Many of our students love the sweet and puckery taste of limes, so they were excited to see how the lime juice would taste in the salsa. Many of the students also hadn’t seen cilantro before, so we took the time to smell and look at the cilantro closely. Then it was time to put all the ingredients in the food processor and press the button. The students squealed with excitement as the food processor roared to life. We took turns adding ingredients until it was time to taste test!

School Taste Testing –

We brought the salsa back to the classroom where we added a dollop of salsa and a handful of chips to each plate. The Grade 2’s were surprised at how fresh the salsa tasted compared to the jarred kind they are used to. They were thrilled to taste and give their opinion. Here are some of their comments:

“I like that it was nice and sweet with the chips. I give it a million stars!”

“10 out of 10. It was sweet and spicy!”

“I liked it because it has good cilantro. It had a really good taste.”

“You could open a store and sell salsa, Mrs. Jinks!”

“100 million stars. Spicy, but the tomatoes were sweet and the limes too!”

“I don’t like salsa, but I tried it. Not so bad.”

As you can tell, most kids loved the salsa, but the big gain is that the picky eaters were brave enough to try something new! I even joined in and loved the sweet tomato salsa!

Next, we shared our salsa and chips with Mrs. Burger’s Grade 4 class across the hall. They were very excited to try the salsa after we discussed the ingredients. They were pleasantly surprised by the taste. Here are their comments:

“Infinity out of 10!”

“I’m a non-salsa eater and I think it’s a 7 out of 10.”

“I’m going to make this with my mom, it’s so good!

“I don’t usually like peppers, but I like this, it’s amazing!”

“I barely like salsa. I only have it on wraps usually, but I really like this.”

“The smell of the food makes it taste better!”

“Soooooo good!”

It was another big hit with the Grade 4s. They all tried the salsa and some asked for the recipe! We even had a big lineup of people who wanted seconds!

Promoting Healthy Eating –

Overall, this recipe was a success because it exposed students to healthy foods in a new and interesting way. Thanks to Pure Flavor® for supplying their delicious vegetables through the Adopt-A-School program – making the students excited for their Mini Munchie® bag each week. This type of in-school program allows students to participate in a group activity that encourages them to try something new with their friends. And we’ve learned that some peer pressure isn’t all bad when it’s encouraging healthy options! Research shows that children may need to be offered a new food 8-15 times before they will eat it willingly. Perhaps we made some progress through this initiative. The salsa was a success, and we can’t wait to try another food next term! Stay tuned to see what’s on our plate next!

~ Chris