Kids learn healthy eating can be fun, tasty

Mar. 3, 2013
Kids Food Event
Kids Food Event: Kids Food Event at Children's Museum of Green Bay, teaching kids that eating healthy can be fun, too.

Shhhhhh! Don’t tell anybody. The food the kids were eating Saturday at the Children’s Museum of Green Bay was good for them.

And they liked it. Mostly.

OK. So the turkey shawarma and the humus butterflies might not have been universally loved, but most kids at least took their polite bite before moving on to the apple crisp and earthworm yogurt.

“The idea was to come up with an event around food to show families that healthy eating can be fun,” said Gina Anderson, museum program director.

The first Kids Food Event sold out its 400 tickets in three days, said Jen Van Den Elzen, director of Live54218, one of the sponsors. Live54218 is the Green Bay Area Chamber of Commerce’s healthier living initative, which began as a challenge from the Press-Gazette to Brown County residents.

Amy Vogels of Ashwaubenon was surprised by the amount of food, given that the event was only $2 per ticket. Daughters Sophia, 4, and Kayla, 3, liked the bread and tried the whole-wheat cheese and veggie manicotti from Sisters of St. Francis Convent.

“I’ll bet the desert will be favorable,” mom deadpanned.

Carie Lohman of Green Bay, who brought daughters Jasmine, 8, and Evelyn, 3, said the event provided good ideas for parents. The recipes were available and generally easy to reproduce.

“We are trying to eat a little healthier at home. This is a good kick-off,” she said.

And how do you get kids to try unfamiliar food, something for which they seem to have a natural resistance gene?

Give it a fun name, present it in a fun way, give the kids control. Making it tasty doesn’t hurt.

“The kids get to control what they are putting on their plate. They tend to be more accepting of fruits and vegetables when it is up to them,” said Melissa DePra of St. Norbert College Dining, which offered the turkey schwarma — cooked turkey, pita bread, tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce and a dip.

“We tell them it’s what the Green Bay Packers eat for a snack, which is true,” said Chef T.W. Stanciu of St. Norbert.

Sometimes the stuff that is good for you can be ... well ... good. From a kid’s point of view, that is. The Lorelei’s apple crisp included wheat germ, apples, low-cal natural sweeteners and oatmeal.

“A lot of kids like the oatmeal. I love oatmeal,” said The Lorelei’s Ron Stahl, who’s wife, Lynne, was the apple crisp creator.

Leah O’Leary of Schreiber Foods’ culinary department said their earthworm yogurt includes vanilla yogurt, crumbled Teddy Grahams and a gummy worm broken in two. And no actual earthworms.

“They think they are getting more that way,” O’Leary said. “It’s very visually appealing as well and has good texture.”

In the museum’s Diner play area, Deb Johnson of Budding Chefs, which provides cooking classes for kids, was supervising the humus butterflies — humus squeezed into a split celery stalk and decorated with two pretzels for wings. One young artist insisted they were dragonflies, which was OK with Johnson. She said most kids liked the humus.

“It’s not at home and they help make it,” she said. “And sometimes, if helps if it looks cute.”

They’ll know by the end of the week what works best. Kids and their parents voted on which of six chefs will get the Kids Good Food Award Traveling Trophy.

Think desert, because the kids outnumbered the parents. and follow him on Twitter @RichRymanPG or on Facebook at Richard Ryman - Press-Gazette.

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