To illustrate the concept of oxidation that happens when the body’s cells are attacked by free radicals, Sarah Laidlaw, MS, RD, uses two bolts.
One that had been exposed to the elements and was rusted and one that had been protected. The same process that causes rusting of metals causes damage to your cells, organs and body tissues. This damage can lead to some types of cancers, particularly those that adults get. (If the presentation is for children, it is good to mention that the cancers that children get are usually not related to what they eat.) Plant foods with lots of color contain phytochemicals (“fight-o-chemicals”) that are antioxidants that protect the cells. (“anti” means against, so antioxidant is against oxidation). Foods contain hundreds of antioxidants that we know about and some that we don’t, so food is the best source of these cell protectors.
Use colorful fruits and vegetables to illustrate this point. Have red, yellow and green and list the numerous compounds that are in them. Then compare them to potatoes, white rice or other white foods and their nutrient profiles.
Create a class titled Paint the Rainbow. Set up a rainbow palette with assorted fruits and vegetables and sort them by color. Use kitchen utensils for “paint brushes.”
Show the class how to add more colorful fruits and vegetables to their meals by making a few of these easy, no-cook recipes:
Garden Jewel Salad – This salad is full of jewels from the garden. A salad is one of the easiest things to make in front of a class and it really promotes the consumption of fruits and vegetables.
Utensils: Purchase a brightly colored plastic salad bowl and utensils from Wal-mart (or other discount store). They have seasonal plastic items on sale in the pool section and these are really fun and inexpensive for cooking demos!
Ingredients: Dark green lettuce such as romaine, spring mix, red leaf, watercress, spinach, etc. Chopped apples, celery, red onion, red cabbage, sliced oranges, tomatoes, etc. Use an assortment of greens and fresh fruits and vegetables in season. For the dressing, use canola or olive oil along with flavored vinegar, herbs and black pepper. Some feta or grated parmesan cheese can be used for flavor.
Success tips: It is best if you wash, peel and chop everything in advance. Arrange ingredients according to their colors to stress the importance of using a lot of color. For interest you can ask for a member of the audience to assist you with tossing the salad. Make a beautiful presentation of the finished product on a large dinner plate. Top it with fresh herbs, fresh-cracked black pepper and more dabs of flavored vinegar. Your helper gets to eat this one!! But before first see if he or she can guess how many servings of fruits and vegetables this large salad contains – this helps them see that one large salad can account for 2-4 servings of fruits and vegetables a day!
Rainbow Fruit Salad – This is fun to make in the spring or summer when fresh fruits are bountiful in the market.
Utensils: Purchase some fun plastic serving bowls and spoons from Wal-mart for final presentations. Assorted paring knives and a grater are helpful, too.
Ingredients: Fresh fruits in season along with fresh mint. Citrus is good because you can show them how to grate the zest for a delicious garnish.
Success tips: Ask for members of the class to come up and assist with cutting fresh fruit in front of the class (always wash hands first!). Have them arrange the cut fruit in the colorful fun plastic glasses. Top the fruit with a variety of garnishes: a drizzle of honey, chopped fresh mint, grated citrus zest, chopped dried ginger, flavored yogurt, chocolate sauce, etc.
Judy’s passion for cooking began with helping her grandmother make raisin oatmeal for breakfast. From there she earned her first food service job at 15, was accepted to the world famous Culinary Institute of America at 18 (where she graduated second in her class), and went on to the Fachschule Richemont in Switzerland where she focused on pastry arts and baking. But after learning that the quality of a croissant directly varies with how much butter it has, Judy sought to challenge herself by coming up with recipes that were as healthy as they were tasty.
Judy received The Culinary Institute of America’s Pro Chef II certification, the American Culinary Federation Bronze Medal, Gold Medal, and ACF Chef of the Year. Her enthusiasm for eating nutritiously and deliciously leads her to constantly innovate and use the latest in nutritional science to guide her creativity, from putting new twists on fajitas to adapting Italian brownies to include ingredients like toasted nuts and cooked honey. Judy’s publishing company, Food and Health Communications, is dedicated to her vision that everyone can make food that tastes as good as it is for you.