Eat, eat, eat apples and bananas!
During the month of April, at our Healthy Eating Lessons in Jersey City, East Orange, and Newark, children loved to eat, eat, eat apples and bananas! The children got creative making tasty and healthy fruit quesadilla snacks. We were fortunate to have a group of Girl Scouts pursuing their Silver Award join us at our lessons. The girls did an excellent job of helping and making sure our friends from Team Walker and East Orange YMCA had a great time preparing the recipe.
After months of introducing new and different foods to the students, we thought it would be a great idea to encourage healthy eating by featuring fruits they might already be used to having as a way of saying, “Look, you’re already doing a great job and you might not even know it!” The education team hoped featuring apples and bananas would be a home run with the kids.
Most of the children recognized the fruit we were using. However, there was one 4th grader who was struggling to open his banana. One of the Girl Scout leaders noticed him looking at all the other children and trying to figure it out. He picked up his knife and tried to cut the banana in half. She asked him if he needed help opening the banana. “Yes, please!” was his reply. She showed him how to open it and asked if he’d ever had a banana before. The 10-year-old child said that he’d never had a banana before but was excited to try it. It’s moments like these that remind us not to take for granted something like a simple banana that should be – but is not – accessible to every child.
While bananas have a yellow peel and apples come in a variety of colors, both types of produce can actually be considered white. When we talk about rainbow produce, we are referring to the color of the inside part that we eat. White produce is packed with flavonoids and antioxidants that help reduce inflammation and boost immunity. It also contains B vitamins, which are known as the “energizing” vitamins because they are involved in producing energy in the body. Quercetin is found on the skin of many types of white produce like apples and pears and may contribute to fighting cancer as well as easing arthritis discomfort. While white isn’t a color of the rainbow, white produce is nutrient rich and shouldn’t be overlooked.
For the fruit tortillas, the children mashed up a banana for the base and topped it with sliced apple, raisins, and strawberries or grapes and cinnamon. The children loved decorating their tortillas with fruit and enjoyed the healthy snack. Peanut butter can also be added to the recipe, and it can be warmed up in a frying pan or in the microwave. We make sure to tell the students that they can try these options with the ingredients they take home. Stay tuned to hear about our lessons in May, the last month of classroom education for the season.