Learning About Stems and Leaves
Our latest Healthy Eating Lesson focused on foods we eat that are stems and leaves.
In our Healthy Eating Lessons this year we are focusing on the parts of the plant. In our most recent lesson, we discussed the stem and leaves of the plant and made a delicious vegetable fried rice dinner with our friends at Team Walker that featured plant stems like celery and asparagus and leaves like cabbage, as well as other vegetables.
We discussed how a stem is like a drinking straw, sucking up the nutrients and water that the roots provide and carrying the energy created by the leaves throughout the plant. When we chopped up the celery and asparagus, the children inspected the intersection and found that it did, in fact, look very similar to a straw. For some students it was their first time every eating asparagus, and they enjoyed it!
Leaves are very important parts of the plant that help collect sunlight and carbon dioxide and produce energy for the plant and oxygen through the process of photosynthesis. We were excited to share information about photonutrients with the children! Photonutrients are the nutrients (“the good stuff”) that the plant produces in the process of photosynthesis that we consume. The different colors, hues, and flavors of the plant correspond with different photonutrients and how densely packed with “the good stuff” they are! We discussed how deeper green, more bitter plants are the best to eat because they are full of antioxidants and other nutrients.
Bitter flavors are some of the most difficult for children to learn to like and can seem very strong and overpowering to them. After learning that bitter vegetables are some of the most healthy foods, and with the encouragement of taking one bite of a bitter food and pairing it with a bite of something familiar like rice, the children were enthused to try new things and excited about being “super healthy” from eating “super foods!”
Not only was the fried rice healthy, but it was tasty too. Having a hot meal with the group made it feel very satisfying and like a true family dinner. Many of the children declared that this was their favorite meal EVER. Our team took that as an amazing compliment…and a challenge: how can we top it next?