We all know that eating a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables is good for our health. Eating fresh foods instead of sugary, fatty junk food is also good for our waistlines.
But how can you get your kids to reach for a piece of fruit or crunchy veggie instead of French fries?
The folks at the California Department of Public Health have made it easy for teachers, parents and other educators to interest kids in trying new fruits and vegetables.
The Harvest of the Month program has fact sheets and recipes for a variety of seasonal fruits and vegetables, with variations meant for use in the classroom or the community.
Each featured produce item is selected to be:
• California grown
• In season during the month it’s featured
• Represent a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables
• Familiar to children
• Affordable when purchased in season
• Aligned with the department’s programs
• Easy to taste-test in the classroom
• Recommended by school produce buyers for seasonal availability and cost
Outside the state of California, educators can contact the program for suggestions on adapting the materials locally.
Templates for everyone
Take Kiwis, for example. The handout for educators lists some great reasons to eat kiwifruit. It’s:
1. An excellent source of vitamins C and K
2. A good source of fiber
3. A source of potassium, folate, beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin
4. One of the most nutrient-dense fruits
You’ll learn how kiwis grow, where they come from, classroom activities and games, along with a recipe for using kiwis.
A shorter family newsletter in English and Spanish helps parents reinforce what the students have learned in class with another recipe and serving suggestions.
A newsletter for the community has attractive photos of the suggested recipes and offers tips for shopping for ripe kiwis.
A menu template allows schools to insert their own recipes and contains games and activities for the elementary classroom.
Each season features several fruits and vegetables. For example, for the fall season the site also offers newsletters about apples, cooked greens, pears, persimmons and pumpkins, root vegetables, tomatoes and winter squash.
The site’s Educator’s Corner lists activities, quizzes, California content standards, graphics, recipes and translated materials for teachers to use in the classroom.
Whether you’re hungry for lesson plans or just trying to build an appetite in your own tots, you can use these templates for a bushel basket of ideas for using fresh, seasonal fruits and veggies.