"Nomtastic!" "Totally crunchable." "You can slurple them."
As it turns out, that the old adage 'kids say the darndest things' is especially true when you invite them to a produce party. The get-together was hosted by Chefs Dan Long and Marley Hodgson, MAD Greens' Co-Founders and chief veggie enthusiasts, who are on a mission to help kids eat better.
Studies show that healthy eating habits start at an early age, and we've been working with the Boys and Girls Clubs to host healthy eating field trips for students age 6-12.
Pictured: Marley helps members of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Scottsdale - Thunderbirds Branch build a balanced salad.
"We're hosting the Boys & Girls Clubs members to show them how much fun customizing and combining different fresh fruits, veggies and leafy greens can beand how good they can taste," says Hodgson. "Developing healthy eating habits is an important life lesson, and inviting these kids in the restaurant where we can encourage them to touch, taste and ask questions about fresh foods is a great way to nurture the habit."
A big part of the field trips is letting the students touch, smell and taste different fruits and vegetables that they may not have previously experienced. For example, earthy beets, crunchy pumpkin seeds and sweet grilled onions.
Pictured: Dan gets students from the Boys and Girls Club of the East Valley - Ladmo Branch excited about tasting new vegetables.
"Today I learned that radishes aren't so bad," says 11-year-old Zoe Alderman who attended a Sept. 13 MAD Greens field trip with the Boys and Girls Club of the East Valley - Ladmo Branch.
In addition to tasting fruits and vegetables and discussing the importance of knowing where your food comes from, the students learn about healthy snacking and making produce a bigger part of their daily routine.
Pictured: Students from the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Scottsdale - Thunderbirds Branch learn about how juicing can be a fun and easy way to get your greens.
"One of the areas we focus on is healthy lifestyles," says Paola Gale, Thunderbirds Branch Director for the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Scottsdale. "This means we try to teach the kids to be active and make excellent food choices. When the opportunity came up to partner with MAD Greens, we couldn't have been happier. This is a wonderful experience for our kids to learn that healthy foods can taste great and be something to look forward to."
Pictured: Henry Cullum, 6, of Boys and Girls Club of the East Valley - Ladmo Branch creates a salad masterpiece.
Marley and Dan also give the students step-by-step tips to finding the right balance of savory, sweet, crunchy and chewy. A good balance of different flavors and textures keeps the salad interesting and appetizing -- especially to kids who can be finicky eaters.
Pictured: After building their dream salads, kids sit down to taste their creations and talk about what they learned during the field trip.
After taking a couple of bites, 10-year-old Ayden with the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Scottsdale - Thunderbirds Branch says, "My salad tastes delicious. I call it Raisins in the Jungle with cheese, raisins, chicken and lots of veggies. I think this salad would be a big hit if it was added to the menu."
Raisins in the Jungle? Not bad Ayden. We'll definitely consider adding it to our pre-designed salads menu. Stay tuned for photos from more veggie-centric field trips in the coming months, and many thanks to the Boys and Girls Clubs for helping us co-organize these most recent hands-on education events!