Head Start Food Science Fair Promotes Healthy Eating

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February 28, 2020 by HCDE-Texas

Parent Valeria Aparicio appreciates the Food Science Fair initiated at her son’s Harris County Department of Education Channelview Head Start Center.

As a health-conscious parent, she cooks with organic ingredients as much as possible and uses the oven instead of frying the family meals. When son Alexander Ramirez came home talking about vegetables, she decided they could create a buzz about healthy foods through a recipe for the Food Science Fair competition.

Mom and son won first place for their “Spinach Oat Pancakes Recipe.” Second place went to Kennedi Welch for a savory, broccoli rice-cheese casserole, and Zari Cerf gained third place for her favorite banana pudding.

HCDE Head Start uses the Food Science Fair to fold nutrition curriculum into school readiness activities. Each center provides a friendly contest for families as they devise a recipe using a vegetable or fruit. This year’s winning entries included a fresh-fruit peach pie, broccoli salad, banana pudding, carved pineapple and more.

“Nutrition is an integral part of a child’s development, and the fair is a way to partner with families to promote health eating habits,” said Venetia Peacock, senior director of HCDE Head Start. “Nutrition is a critical part of our curriculum because it’s important to a child’s physical and mental well-being.”

Ramirez helped create the tri-fold science display which accompanied the pancakes the judges taste-tested. He washed the lettuce, helped decorate the plate with banana and topped his pancakes with organic honey.

Mother Aparicio plans to start volunteering at the center where parents are encouraged to assist and help make decisions about activities at their school. In particular, the community garden interests her.

“After finding out about the programs parents can be involved in with their children, I would like to be more active,” she said.

Recipe for Alexander’s Award-Winning Spinach Oat Pancakes (serves 6):

1 ½ cups quick-cooking oats
2 cups fresh baby spinach
2 over-ripe bananas
Dash vanilla extract
Dash ground cinnamon
100 percent organic natural honey
Add water as needed
Blend oats to powder, preheat butter in pan for cooking pancakes
Wash spinach leaves
Add spinach and remainder of ingredients to blender; pulse 3-4 times for a smooth batter.
Cook pancakes in pan with butter


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