When deciding on our monthly nutrition challenge theme for November, it’s safe to say that the team was a little apprehensive about the veggie of choice. Anyone who has gardened before will tell you that zucchini, a friendly green member of the squash family, grows like a weed at the peak of its season and we’ve all had our moments of wanting to call it quits with this veggie. Not to mention that the youngsters who roll into a breakfast program every morning have likely not used the words zucchini and breakfast in the same sentence before – they might not have even heard of zucchini! Despite these challenges, we decided to move forward optimistically and encourage schools to get creative with this unusual breakfast veggie.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that many amazing students, volunteers, and school staff got on board with this challenge and impressed us with their zucchini creations. Some schools took the sneaky approach with their zucchini adventures (shredding it to go in salsa or in muffins!) while others were more obvious (sliced on breakfast pizza or in scrambled eggs!).
I had the chance to take a “Try-Me” plate, consisting of raw zucchini sticks with greek yogurt dip, to RJ Scott School in Edmonton. A couple of open-minded student volunteers took me around to each classroom, sampling and having conversations about zucchini. I was shocked at the way the kids not only had the courage to try something new, but ended up liking it so much that they wanted seconds! Many of them said they will go home and eat zucchini…mission accomplished! These kinds of mornings are when it becomes very apparent that our breakfast programs are really about more than simply eating breakfast.
Of course, we must congratulate the schools whose efforts stood out the most this month. In Saskatchewan, E.D. Feehan School was chosen as the winner, for their amazing zucchini-filled menu items and creativity. Just reading about their Soufflé Monterey (loaded with peppers, zucchini, herbs and quinoa!) made our mouths water. Their innovative breakfast program is student-based and together they learn how to do everything it takes to cook a healthy breakfast from menu planning and grocery shopping to food preparation and sharing their creations with the entire school. A big thank you to the coordinator, Tricia Carter, the life skills teachers, and the students for getting excited and creative with zucchini for breakfast, you inspire us all!
In Alberta, Crystal Macdonald, coordinator from Catherine Nichols Gunn School, got the whole Club on board for eating zucchini for breakfast. She whipped up a few different BCC recommended recipes, including Zucchini Muffins and Zucchini Tater Tots. Crystal did an amazing job of getting the kids to try these recipes, along with some raw zucchini as well. She has enjoyed the process of trying new recipes so much that she now hopes to compile a small breakfast program cook book at the end of the year. Way to go Catherine Nichols Gunn!
Stay tuned for stories from December, which is cranberry month – a colourful, local, and festive fruit for all! Can’t wait to see what our amazing schools come up with as we wrap up 2014!