Xtreme eating
Florida cooking school teaches kids the value of healthy and local

Florida Fruit Parfait
1/2 cup vanilla nonfat yogurt
1/2 Florida mango
1/4 cup Florida blueberries
1 teaspoon roasted pecans

Kid-friendly recipes from the “Xtreme Cuisine Cooking School”

Posted August 26, 2005: After-school snacks are as much a part of the school year as pencils, paper and textbooks. But if those snacks are low in nutrition and fiber -- and high in salt, sugar and fats -- they can contribute to the growing problem of childhood obesity.

Teaching students how to make their own healthy snacks using fresh Florida fruits and vegetables is the focus of a new pilot program developed by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

Timed to coincide with the start of the new school year, the “Xtreme Cuisine Cooking School” introduced students aged 9 to 15 to the world of cooking and good nutrition. The one- and two-day classes were held at County Cooperative Extension Offices in Tampa, Miami, Orlando and Tallahassee during June, July and August.

“Many children often prepare their own after-school snacks when they come home each afternoon,” Florida Agriculture Commissioner Charles H. Bronson said. “We want to help them change their snacking habits. Instead of automatically reaching for junk foods, we want them to explore healthy alternatives by using fresh Florida fruit and vegetables as ingredients for fun and delicious snacks.”

Under the guidance of Executive Chef Travis Summers, students learned to prepare whole-wheat pizzas, fruit parfaits and other nutritious and tasty treats using Summers’ original recipes. They also learned how Florida fruit and vegetables used in these recipes provide vitamins and minerals that can help prevent heart disease and other obesity-related illnesses. In addition, students learned the dangers caused by excessive amounts of salt, sugar and fats in their diet, and how fiber could eliminate their desire for high-calorie, low-nutrition snack foods.

At the end of each session, students learned how many calories are needed for their age and gender, the vitamin and mineral content of many Florida fruit and vegetables, and how to read a food nutrition label. They also received recipe and nutritional brochures as well as an “Xtreme Cuisine” certificate attesting to their skill in the preparation of healthy snacks.

“The nutritional information provided at these seminars will help students make healthy eating choices as they become adults,” Bronson said. “Learning the importance of good nutrition at a young age is the key to a healthy future.”

Classes were offered in cooperation with Family and Consumer Science offices within the University of Florida Extension and 4-H Youth Development Programs and were provided free of charge.

Teachers, parents and children are encouraged to visit www.Fresh-From-Florida.org for more information about nutrition and fresh Florida fruits and vegetables.

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