Culinary students in Chef Kathy Simmons Northwest Career and Technical Academy endured my morning inspirational talk about wellness with poise and gratitude. On behalf of flavorsforlife.org , I spent the morning sharing my experience with food that can improve your health in hopes these Junior's would be inspired to choose meaningful ingredients in their future recipes
I have to say, every time I walk into a classroom full of students to talk about healthy eating, I can always hear Forest Gump's line about life being like a box of chocolates. I never know what I'm going to get, but I do know I'm sure going to try and get them to engage, no matter what. What I got yesterday was definitely not the disappointing pink marshmallow filling.
Chef Kathy and I were teammates back in 2003/2004 on the first Las Vegas World Culinary Olympic Team. With the amount of effort and attention to detail she put into her pastry display during silver medal performance, I should have known her class would be just as advanced.
Because this was a baking and pastry class, I thought it was imperative to not just talk about sugar, but to share more about how we digest sugar and either use it as energy, store if for energy or store it as fat with no good purpose. I also shared more about gluten, gluten intolerance and celiac disease.
I'd be foolish to stand in front of motivate students who are enrolled in a technical school craving more experience about baking and pastry and tell them that nobody should eat bread & sweets or they will end up looking like a busted can of biscuits. Instead, I chose to give them some advice on pairing ingredients that can improve you health and counter balance the indulgent desserts full of carbohydrates.
As I went through my 18+ slides that included names of added sugars, FDA approved food additives, powerful disease fighting ingredients and the infamous glycemic index, I could hear the blood sugar crashing through the concrete all across the room. Actually, that's what I assumed was happening. Just as their zoned out looks started to do the wave across the room, I'd ask a question to hear what the students had to say. Every time i was impressed with their answers and to my surprise, how much they were really paying attention.
Thanks to Chef Jainine Jaffer of Shiraz Restaurant and now fellow board of directors member for Flavors for Life, shirazrestaurant.com, I had some assistance making 2 types of scones, actually, I assisted her. First she made her own curry spice and we added tangerine zest and desiccated coconut flakes to the whole grain scone batter. The other was more savory with sun dried tomatoes, castelvetrano olives, feta cheese and Italian basil. I know what you're already thinking, you don't like olives. If so, you haven't tried these olives. It's the olive that olive haters don't hate. Even Chef Kathy, the olive hater, didn't hate it.
The turmeric, ginger, cinnamon, cayenne and black pepper, which were only a few of the many spices in the curry blend, were stimulants of wellness, inflammation fighters and warder-offers of colds and flues. Using close to 50% of whole wheat pastry flour to the white all purpose flour also helped control the carb absorption during digestion. We paired this scone with a Orange Cinnamon Seasonal Tea sweetened naturally with stevia leaf blended by Lisa Gennewey @ jenweytea.com
Students also tried a taste of a Lemon Ginger White Tea paired with Mediterranean sun dried tomato, olive, feta and basil scone. The idea was to create a complete tea experience and use not only food to fight disease, but a beverage as well to compliment and reinforce the strength of nature.
Thank you to all the students for listening to a message that I wish I had close to 25 years ago. They have a chance to change the culture of food and the future of their own health. Also, thank you to Chef Kathy for opening her kitchen to us. As a parent myself, I sometime forget that from the time I drop my child off at school, until I pick her up, there are relentless professionals tasked with educating 30-40 students at a time, day after day. Keeping their attention is one thing. Keeping their attention and sculpting their education to become future leaders is something we should all be grateful for what teachers willingly do. Whether we are a parent or not we should be thankful for them. I salute you.
Once again...in good health