Saturday, June 25, 2011

Cooking With Kids in Berkeley (Macrobiotics Today Article)


                       JULY 2016


                 MARCH 2015

              MISO SOUP &GREENS 

                     JANUARY 2015

Letter written (by a Teacher) to First Grade Parents illustrates the importance of cooking classes for kids:

 "Today was our first day of cooking class and we made miso soup. I overheard one student say, "If I could have any super-power it would be to have miso soup any moment that I wanted it, right away!" She didn't say the ability to fly, or be invisible, or make toys and technology gadgets appear whenever she wanted, she said she wanted a "miso soup" power! This is a testament to the importance of our cooking classes and the impact they have on our students. Thank you to everyone who supported this project!"


 Way Fruit Wraps (for kids and adults)

October  2013 Here's a good hands-on food project to do with the kids. It's a fruit wrap that is kid-tested and kid-approved. When children take part in preparing food, they are more likely to try and like it. This is like a science project that can be eaten when you're done! Strong kids build strong families that in turn build strong societies. Bon Appetit!


1 apple, cored and sliced into 1/8 pieces
1/2 pomegranate, seeds removed
8 grapes, cut in half
4 leaves Romaine lettuce
1 lemon, quartered

Place a few apple and grape slices on the lettuce leaf and sprinkle pomegranate seeds on top. Squeeze lemon on fruit and roll or fold. Enjoy!




Thousand Oaks students were excited to roll sushi today in class. We used nori, brown rice, cucumber, avocado. The rice was cooked soft enough so that it was of a sticky texture. Students commented how tasty the rice was compared to refined white rice. We sent a Sampler's Plate to the Principal.         

                  Thousand Oaks Students

                           Principal's Sampler Plate

by Michael Bauce   2008
It has been said that when one door closes, another opens. Although the mystery of what lies behind the new door may be daunting, change is always exhilarating. I had this in mind when I abruptly ended my job, back in 1999, and trusted that the Universe would take care of me as it always had.
I had been operating a macrobiotic meal service out of my home for a period of years after almost a 5 year stint working at the Oakland Macrobiotic Center. The income was good and the customers were happy. I felt satisfied contributing to the development of a peaceful world. 
On the back side, I was feeling increasingly isolated in my kitchen. I spent most of my time planning, shopping and cooking, with little close connection to the larger community. I awoke one day and decided to listen to that little voice in my head telling me to reinvent myself once again, for my own good, despite the risks of uncertainty. I called my customers and told them I was moving on to unknown destinations. Instead of focusing on the pile of bills accumulating on my desk, I remained excited about what adventures may lie ahead.
One short week later, that golden opportunity fell into my lap. I received a phone call asking me if I was interested in teaching cooking/nutrition in a Berkeley elementary school. Our mission was to not only to help students learn to cook and enjoy natural foods, but also to appreciate ethnic diversity through the great diversity of food. It was part of the macrobiotic dream of establishing peace through food, Berkeley style.
The California Nutrition Network provided the funding as part of the USDA Food Stamp Program. The focus of these programs is on “vegetables, fruit and whole grains.”  It provides yearly grants for cooking and gardening classes. The program was just beginning in Berkeley and was currently in three schools. I was happy to hear that my good friend, Susanne Jensen, was also involved. 
  My experience with macrobiotic cooking made me very familiar with the subject matter. Since our 2 sons were raised macrobiotically I had some experience with kids and food. I was eager to learn more.  I realized that in many ways, I was now the student. I knew my kids appreciated these foods, but what about kids raised on the Standard  American Diet? How would they react to it? What happens when you expose inner-city kids to healthy foods? You might end up tossing out stereotypes about kids and junk foods. 

Cooking classes are structured so that each of the 20 classrooms (k-5) are scheduled for 1 hour classes, once every 2 weeks. We use the same recipe for all 20 classes and then move on to the next recipe. We are guided by Harvest of The Month (root vegetables, beans, whole grains, etc...) which keeps all cooking instructors focused on the same vegetable, grain or fruit for that month. We use all organic, locally produced, seasonal produce and grains from Berkeley Farmers’ Markets (3 a week) or from our own school garden. The grant also provides gardening classes for students, so they are able to experience the whole process. 
The first recipe I tried was vegetable miso soup. I used more sweet tasting vegetables like carrots and broccoli. I chose chickpea miso and soy souce for a kid-friendly soup. I had the students cut nori seaweed into strips as a topping. They chopped, washed their cutting boards, set the tables with tablecloths and flowers, stirred the soup and added the miso. I explained that the nori seaweed was a vegetable that grew in the ocean. I told them that miso helped digest the food they would soon eat for lunch. We talked about how the fiber of the vegetables acted like a broom and swept their digestive tract clean. We sat down together and enjoyed the soup. I saw it as a small success when over half of the students finished their bowl of soup.
Over the next years, the successes continued. We are now offering cooking and gardening classes in 8 Berkeley schools. Currently, we have almost 100% participation in trying new foods. During recess, children rush into the cooking room and sample soups, stir-frys, brown rice and raw carrots. We have made Pumpkin Muffins, Chinese Won-Tons, Black-Eyed Pea Soup, Hummus Sandwiches, homemade Tortillas & Pinto Beans and more. The 3-Bite Rule (first bite tastes different, second one tastes a little better, by the third bite, you’ll love it) encourages reluctant students. What seems to be a major factor in determining if kids will try foods is whether or not they have had a hand in preparing them. I have learned that the more a student participates in preparing the meal, the more open he or she is to eating it.
                     Loving Miso Soup for the first time

Once a child has become excited about healthy foods, he/she
naturally wants to spread this enthusiasm at home. Some Mothers have reported that their whole family has now begun to eat healthier as a result. What is vitally important is that families show positive examples through healthy eating habits so that the seed planted in cooking class grows in the larger community. Kids love to imitate their parents and teachers. If we are truly  enthused about food, they will feel our excitement. I began to see that Michio’s dream of One Peaceful World through food, may begin with the children.
When I first handed out Nori as a snack, I had only a few takers. They were mostly Asian students who were already familiar with the yummy taste of sea vegetables from their home life. Soon after, students from all ethnic backgrounds came and started requesting seaweed samplings.They had seen their friends munching on a green square, wondered what it was, and wanted to sample some too! I explained that it’s not really a weed, but a mineral rich vegetable that grows in the sheltered inlets of the sea. I told them it was most delicious to boot (the bottom line with kids and adults). Some chose to roll a carrot inside and called it raw sushi! When asked if we could use it in cooking class, I knew I was on to something big. So, we made rice balls and rolled them in roasted seeds, nuts and of course..... shredded nori. The response was overwhelmingly positive. Thousand Oak students are currently sampling 50 sheets of Nori per week (each one per-day per-student sample is 1/4 sheet). We have dubbed a young student "The Nori Queen" because of her ongoing enthusiasm. Parents have now related stories about visions of Nori dancing in their children’s heads as they sleep.
Michael Bauce has been practicing macrobiotics since 1988. He is currently teaching cooking at Thousand Oaks Elementary School in Berkeley, assisted by Chuck Collison.



1 comment:

  1. Michael; I really loved your publication about about macrobiotics and your passion to teach children. You were an inspiration to me today. I am currently studying to become a Health Coach with the Institute for Integrative Nutritiona and I am a teacher in Detroit too. Thank you for making a difference in the lives of children and for standing for good health and caring for others. "It takes a village to raise a child".
    Ibis Aragones,