Learning about Health Education

We were very lucky to have Annie Fortnow interning with Healthy Waltham this semester! She has been a wonderful addition to our team and a great presence at numerous events and workshops. She shared some thoughts on her time with us. Thanks, Annie!

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By Annie Fortnow, Brandeis ’17annie

Interning at Healthy Waltham this semester has broadened my knowledge of food access and education and introduced me to the structure of a small nonprofit organization. So far, my internship has had me working with underserved populations in Waltham to teach them about the importance of healthy eating. During one of the first weeks of the internship, I visited the Greater Waltham Arc, an organization that caters to adults with disabilities, to help lead a healthy cooking demo. We taught how to make healthy pizzas and had our students cut the vegetables for the pizza toppings, roll out the dough, and apply the toppings. Working at this event helped me remember why I became passionate about food justice in the first place. Food and cooking help bring people together. Since everybody eats, food and cooking serve as topics that everyone, no matter their background, can bond over. Encouraging healthy cooking with fresh ingredients both promotes community and helps create healthier individuals in our neighborhood.

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Annie and Reva at the Outreach Market

In addition to cooking demos, I have gotten the opportunity to provide healthy food samples at the Outreach Market put on by Waltham Fields Community Farm. The Outreach Market serves as an opportunity for low-income individuals in Waltham to receive subsidized fresh vegetables. Healthy Waltham sets up a table at the market every week with samples featuring some of the vegetables offered. Providing these samples allows the customers shopping at the market to see what they can do with the vegetables they pick out. Educating others at the Outreach Market helps me bring context to the work that I love to do. Access to local, fresh food is an issue that is extremely important to me. Through my work with the rooftop farm project at Brandeis as the Donation Coordinator, I have gotten to see the impact of providing fresh produce to those in need. Without education about how to use this produce, however, individuals who have never had access to this kind of food may not know what to do with it. My experience with Healthy Waltham taught me the importance of giving context to fresh food distribution.

As I continue my internship with Healthy Waltham, I feel excited and honored to work with more individuals within the Waltham community to educate them about healthy eating as well as other health topics. As a senior, I hope to use this experience to determine whether or not health education is a viable career path for me and how I can best use my prior knowledge about food justice and environmental health to help Healthy Waltham.

 

Visiting Chef Program Returns

We’re very excited that the “Fresh! Chef-to-School” program is returning to the Waltham Public Schools for the 2016-2017 school year. Continuing our partnership with the Waltham School Nutrition Department, Chef Reva will visit all elementary school cafeterias to work with cafeteria staff and encourage kids try new foods. The “Fresh! Chef-to-School” program helps to educate kids to make healthy food choices and promotes life-long healthy eating habits. We’re working to create new dishes that are both healthy and delicious, with an emphasis on local, seasonably available produce. After learning about the featured fruit or vegetable of the day, all kids get to try a sample. Favorite recipes may turn up as regular features on school menus!

So far this year, our Confetti Cornbread has been very popular! In fact, one child said, “Your Confetti Cornbread tastes like rainbows.”

Confetti Cornbread

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Samples of Confetti Cornbread ready to be served

To make Healthy Waltham’s crowd-pleasing Confetti Cornbread, simply combine equal parts of your favorite cornbread/corn muffin mix (such as Betty Crocker, Arrowhead Mills, or Bob’s Red Mill) with grated vegetables such as carrots, zucchini, or summer squash (approximately 1 cup mix to 1 cup vegetables). Add water according to package instructions or until your desired consistency is reached – we tend to like ours on the thicker side! Then spread the mixture in a well-greased baking dish or use a muffin tin. Bake at 350F until golden brown on top and a toothpick comes out clean when inserted in the center, 20-25 minutes for cornbread, 15-20 minutes for muffins.

This is a great way to take a store-bought mix and add a big punch of nutrients. Half of the cornbread ends up being pure vegetables! If you’re looking for a lighter, more savory option, try this recipe, featured at this year’s Farmers’ Market and Waltham Fields Community Farm’s Outreach Market:

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School Nutrition Director April Liles with Chef Reva

Other “Fresh! Chef-to-School” recipes:

 

Healthy Summer Drinks

The heat is on! It’s important to stay well hydrated during these hot summer days. While water is your healthy choice, when you crave something different, why not try a homemade beverage or smoothie? You can avoid the high calorie and sugar content of commercially prepared beverages like sodas or frozen coffee drinks. Plus, homemade tastes great!

Try these suggestions from Chef Reva:

Raspberry Lime Sparkler

Fruit and Herb Water

Sparkling Peach Iced Tea

Cherry Mint Limeade

Pineapple Coconut Agua Fresca

Fruit Smoothie

 

Healthy Kids Summer Program

Healthy Waltham was delighted to hold our Healthy Kids Summer Program for the third consecutive year. This program is conducted in partnership with the Waltham Public Schools for special education students enrolled in the WPS summer school program. The program was sponsored by a grant from the Jones Partnership of the First Parish Church in Waltham.

Healthy Waltham’s Chef/Program Manager Reva Haselkorn met with the middle school group four times this summer. The first lesson included a planting day in the McDevitt Middle School Garden. Kids cleared weeds and planted seedlings on one of the hottest days of the year! Then in July, kids got to learn more about growing vegetables and explore the school garden at the Northeast Elementary School. Waltham Fields Community Farm’s Education and Outreach Manager, Alex Lennon-Simon, led the tour of the garden. Then, students got to harvest herbs and vegetables to use in creating healthy snacks. The final day of the program, the students made healthy pizzas with creative veggie and herb toppings.

Youth from the Waltham Fields Community Farm “Youth Crew” also assisted with the program. To see more photos, please click on the photo gallery.

Farmers’ Market Demo & Recipe

We had a great time at the Waltham Farmers’ Market in June talking to customers of the market about healthy eating and local produce! We partnered with the Waltham Fields Community Farm to share a table and offer a tasting of a yummy chopped salad with farm-grown mixed greens. The salad was topped with a zesty lime vinaigrette created by Chef Reva. You’ll definitely want to try this one!

You can see us again at the Waltham Farmers’ Market (corner of Lexington and School Streets) on September 10, where we will be sampling another dish created by our chef. We will also be conducting demos at the Outreach Market of the Waltham Fields Community Farm (former Fitch School parking lot), please check back for upcoming dates when they are confirmed. Check out our photo gallery from the market here. Here is the recipe:

Zesty Summer Salad with Herb Vinaigrette

serves 6

Ingredients

for dressing:

  • ½ jalapeño pepper, seeds removed, chopped
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped or garlic scapes, chopped
  • ½ cup mixed herbs such as parsley, cilantro, tarragon, basil
  • zest of one lime, grated
  • 3 Tablespoons lime juice (from about 2 limes)
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper

for salad:

  • 5 cups mixed chopped greens such as lettuce, Swiss chard, bok choy, arugula, kale, spinach
  • 1 cup thinly sliced vegetables such as carrots, cucumbers, onions, beets, radishes
  • Instructions

Combine dressing ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Adjust seasoning to taste. Toss greens and sliced vegetables with enough dressing to coat. Enjoy!

Chef Reva’s Tip: “A successful dressing is all about balancing acidity, fat and salt. To adjust the seasoning of your dressing, dip a piece of lettuce or other greens into your dressing and eat (remember that salad greens are mostly water and will dilute the flavor of your dressing). If it tastes too acidic to you, add a little more salt and oil. If it tastes oily or bland, add more salt and lime juice. Always feel free to experiment by adding or eliminating spices, herbs, mustard, and/or nuts and seeds.