LOCAL & FREESTYLE: CULINARY NUTRITION PROGRAM @GLEC
This Summer, Earth’s Elements, in a collaborative effort with the Germantown Life Enrichment Center (GLEC) developed and launched a pilot nutrition program component to the GLEC’s first Summer Camp since its transformation from Germantown YMCA.
With space and campers but, limited resources we have been able to create a successfully unique program. The initial goal of the program was/is simply to expose young people to healthy food and sound nutrition. While we are meeting the objective, what has transpired from this idea is a focus on sustainability, healing with food and creativity. Campers are learning about the benefits of local foods, how to channel their creative energy in preparing them and how foods heal us from the inside out.
During the first week of the program, I quickly learned that talking to kids about food and demonstrating good practices, are only a few parts of the equation. As with most children, they want to learn by doing. So allowing them to use all their senses, their own hands and intuition to guide them has not only yielded success, but also an enthusiasm of what we will make each following week.
Earth’s Elements philosophical approach is simple. No cookbooks, no prescribed recipes, and a work with you have dynamic that has never failed and has always brought about more creative ways to approach and eat food. Totally… Freestyle.
And we are able to accomplish this with the generous weekly donations from Greensgrow Farms (where I sold edible arts last summer). So while I am not at the market this year vending, I am still able to tap into some of the finest local foods to benefit the program. Each weekly session involves a mini-lesson about the ingredients we have available and a hands-on component where the campers are able to assemble their own snack or dish and a chance to explore texture, color, intuition and creativity.
Thus far, we have made fruit smoothies, fresh vegetable juices, and a few weeks ago, given our donation of local blueberries and cantaloupes, amongst other goodies, I was sparked to create a Blueberry-Coconut-Cantaloupe Sorbet, with the addition of maple syrup, lemon juice. No comparison, nothing we had ever tasted before and they couldn’t get enough of it. Here is the final product:
Inspired my neighbor’s (Cindy Powell) delicious roasted summer corn salad, last week we made our own rendition, given the donation of local corn, zucchini, red peppers, and poblano peppers. We gratefully chipped in the garlic, olive oil and herbs and matched it with our contemplative practice and intuitive sense.
This past week, given the box of donated local produce, much of which included peaches and plums. We made our very own sweet and sour (aka “duck”) sauce made with local peaches and plums. To them, we added apple cider vinegar and maple syrup, after our mini-lesson on sugar and the detrimental effects of high fructose corn syrup. Most duck sauces are made with high fructose corn syrup (HFCS)and artificial colors. We are happy to say that ours was LIVE, made with maple syrup and no preservatives. To accompany, we prepared raw spring rolls, made with mung bean noodles, lettuce, carrots and peppers, most of which were also locally sourced.
Each week the donations vary, each week there is anticipation on what surprise might be in the box of local produce. Each week, our wheels are spinning and creative juices are flowing. Stay tuned for what’s next.