Food enthusiasts collaborate on cookbook for families

Food enthusiasts collaborate on cookbook for families

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Vineyard Nutrition, Island Grown Schools, and Mass in Motion have teamed up in a collaborative effort to help Island families cook healthy, seasonal meals with the release of their new nutrition and recipe booklet, “Vineyard Family Cooking.”

Written and prepared by Registered Dietitians Josh Levy and Prudence Athearn Levy of Vineyard Nutrition, the booklet includes time-saving cooking tips for busy care-givers, pantry basics, and kid-friendly recipes for breakfast, lunch, snack, and dinner. It also highlights ingredients that are available from local family farms.

“We are excited to get to help families find ways to cook healthy, seasonal food their kids will actually eat, in the limited time busy parents have and on a limited budget,” said Noli Taylor, Island Grown Schools Coordinator. “When it comes to life-long health and wellness, one of the most powerful things families can do for their children is to help them establish healthy eating habits at a young age.”

The booklet encourages families to help their kids be open to trying fresh, whole foods by growing food at home, cooking together, and eating together around the table. “Research shows that families who eat together regularly tend to eat healthier foods, and raise kids who are happier, more secure, and perform better during school,” says Athearn Levy. She adds, “Cooking and eating with kids, without the distraction of television, cell phones and computers, helps us reconnect with real food and each other.”

Some of the time-saving tips in the booklet include keeping cut-up carrots, washed celery, peppers, and cucumbers in see-through containers on the main shelf in the refrigerator, pre-making a large green salad and keeping it visible in the fridge, and pre-cooking protein for the week (beans, eggs, chicken, fish, etc.) in containers for quick and easy lunches and dinners.

“Success in school has a lot to do with what kids eat not just in the cafeteria but also at home,” Ms. Taylor says. According to the booklet, students who eat breakfast consistently have higher math scores, higher reading scores, better attention and behavior, fewer visits to the nurse’s office, and less tardiness and absences at school.

The recipes themselves are simple to prepare and colorful, and include yogurt and granola parfaits, fish tacos, and quinoa and edamame salad.

The 23-page cooking booklet will be available at all Island schools, libraries, the YMCA of M.V. It can also be downloaded for free on the Vineyard Nutrition website at vineyardnutrition.com/cookbook, and the Island Grown Schools website at islandgrown.org/schools.

Island Grown Schools will also organize family cooking workshops that will make use of the recipes in the booklet, to give families hands-on experiences with seeing how these foods are prepared and the chance to try them themselves. Last year Mr. Levy led the first family cooking workshop in this series with a group of parents from across the Island at the YMCA. The feedback was overwhelmingly positive.

“It was exciting to see participants trying new foods, enjoying them and talking about them together,” Mr. Levy says. “Our hope is that people come away from the classes inspired, with fun, doable, new ideas to try at home with their families.”

Future workshops will be available for parents of pre-schoolers through high-schoolers. Check the Island Grown Schools website for more information on these workshops, or contact Emily Duncker at emily.duncker@islandgrown.org.