Monday, November 24, 2008

Green Smoothie Goodness Experiment

Here's what I wrote the Raw Divas regarding the CHIdiet home study course that I won in their Mother's Day contest...

After having a couple of months to begin to digest the information I've studied so far in this course, I know that I have only scratched the surface of all it entails. The information is very detailed and wide in scope. It begins with talk on enzymes, chlorophyll, and the life of Ann Wigmore. It goes on to talk about how to set up your raw food kitchen, benefits of this lifestyle, as well as how to transition to a living foods diet. Eating simply and sleeping well, drinking pure water and the power of thought are all touched upon...and this is just the beginning.

Being a teacher by trade, my thoughts kept turning back to how I could introduce this lifestyle to my students without turning them off the idea of eating healthier. They are a group that lives on sugar, processed foods, and the traditional SAD diet. I have a new class this year and they were not fully aware of how I eat, or why. I am very open about what I eat and they see me in class, eating my raw, fresh, ripe, organic fruit and salads. They also see me with various concoctions - warming chia pudding, and the like. Something they haven't seen me eat is my green smoothie. I began bringing my green smoothie jar to the school instead of drinking it at home in the mornings...I wanted to pique their interest, and pique it did! They've always been curious about how I eat and I always tell them, if they ask.

The green smoothies were really the turning point! Every day they'd ask what I put into it and wanted to smell it and were so extremely curious about the whole idea of eating a drink that was so green. In fact one student asked if I had my "Shrek" drink, when it was missing from the desktop that day. We'd been enjoying "Fruitful Fridays" each week, where I bring in a different fruit for the students to try. The students bring in fruit to include in our Friendship Fruit Salad and we all have our class meeting while learning about a new fruit each Friday as well as enjoying a great fruit salad that we all made together. The first week we did that, the students made me swear not to tell their parents that they "enjoyed eating healthy" or else they'd be made to do so by force instead of choice...a valid point! However if you make this type of food available and tasty, they are bound to make a good choice!

Because of their interest in the green smoothie, I decided last Friday morning to bring my Vitamix to class and have a demo on how to make a green smoothie. The students were aware that I was going to do this and were full of anticipation when I opened the classroom door that day. First, they could not believe how huge the blender was, then their eyes became as big as moons when they saw how much kale I had ready to put into the drink! It was amazing how interested they all were! They are so impressionable at this age and this seed of an idea that was planted that day will reap rewards in the months and years to come.

I told them about the benefits of each food that I put into the blender. We made a very simple smoothie. Here's the recipe I made which fed the class a small dixie cup each:

2 cups blueberries
2 bananas
2 apples
1 stick celery
4 huge leaves of kale
3 cups of water (or more to assist in blending)

The blueberries made the smoothie more blue than green, however the colour helped a lot of them around the idea that there was so much green in there in the first place. We talked about the blender as well, and how it breaks up the cell walls and does the "chewing" for us so that the nutrients are more bioavailable.

Then it was the moment of truth: The Taste Test!!!

I began pouring the drinks, not really knowing what to expect but figured the great taste of the smoothie would encourage even the most finicky in the class. Some comments made include:

"I can't believe there's like a whole salad in here, you'd never know it!"
"It doesn't taste bad at all!"
"If I didn't see you put those greens in there, I'd never know they were there, it tastes so good."
"I have to get the recipe!"

There were so many positive comments made that morning that I had each student write a testimonial on a cue card for me to reference. Here are some of what the cue cards said:

"I was not nervous to try (the smoothie) but it was better than I thought it would be." - Rhylan, Grade 7

"When Ms. Gill was putting in the fruit, it looked pretty good. But when she blended it it looked bad. It smelled like bananas and when I took a sip it was very good." - Kody, Grade 7

"Before I tasted the smoothie, I was concerned about what it would taste like. After I tasted it, it was delicious! It tasted like blueberries and bananas with a hint of a peppery taste. I would like the recipe" - Michael, Grade 7

"I would ike the recipe! Watching it blended, I almost didn't try it, it looked slightly unappealing. And well, it kinda was. Drinking it tasted ok but there was a bit of an after taste. Overall, pretty good!" - Rozi, Grade 7

"When I saw my new teacher eating a raw green smoothie I thought 'Wow, what is she eating?' So we asked her and she said she was a raw foodist. Now if you told me I would be trying some, I wouldn't have believed you. So I was pretty nervous when I got a cup full of "slush". I took a sip...tasty, but yet kind of bitter. I love my smoothie. Yes I would like the recipe." - Mitchell, Grade 7

"While I was watching Ms. Gill make it, it kind of looked like "unmentionable" and I also thought it would taste like that, but when I tasted it, it was "greenalicious", yummy, yummy! Yes I would like to try it again!" - Simran, Grade 7

"I really liked this drink because it was really good and I would love to get my mom to buy the ingredients so I can have more." - Matt, Grade 7

There were only two students out of 29 that said they really didn't like the smoothie but would be open to trying different combinations if we ever did this again...which we are!

As you can see it was a very successful endeavor. Afterwards, the students asked if we could do a green smoothie every week. I said we could call it our "Smoothie Start to the Week". The students will bring in 25¢ every Monday morning to help offset the cost of the ingredients and we're going to have a green smoothie each Monday morning to get our week off to a good start. So in our class, we will begin the week with a green smoothie and we will end the week with a fruit salad. Baby steps, is all I keep thinking. As I absorb more information through the CHIdiet course, I will slowly incorporate this in my teaching in a fun and informative way.

The message to take away from this is that children are open to trying these things in the right circumstance, but the long term change has to include the the whole family. I especially liked the comment Matt made about getting his mom to buy the ingredients so that he can have more. It's true, I can plant the seed, but kids need encouragement and help at home too. I can only hope that his mom WILL buy him the ingredients and that he will enjoy green smoothies for a lifetime!

This gave me another great idea! Get the parents involved! That leads me to my next adventure...the PAC (Parent Advisory Council) meeting. Stay tuned and we'll hear how that one goes.

In closing, here's a short poem I wrote in honour of Ann Wigmore:

Raw and Living foods
Ann Wigmore knew it the best
Green simplicity

In simple green goodness,



Kristen's Raw said...

Hi Melinda,
That is an amazing story. I gobbled up each and every word - how fun!

Big kudos to you in enlightening the kids (our future) with healthy eating. Well done!!!

I look forward to reading more (and hearing about the PAC meeting.

Cheers and Happy Holidays,
Kristen's Raw

Ashley said...

Hey Melinda!

I just got back from the potluck and it was so delicious! I hope you can come to the January one, but it reminded me to check out your blog:)

Smoothie Start to the Week - Brilliant! Next up: Superfoods intro, where you can actually get them to come in costume as their favourite superhero promoting their favourite superfood, lol. Too much;)

Talk to you soon, just got my excalibur from Upanaya, Thanks for that tip!

Ashley from FUNdamentals.

thriveonlive said...

Thanks for your comments Kristen and Ashley! I am glad you enjoyed the read. I have lots planned for the new year, so stay tuned!