Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Guest Cooking Lesson with Kelsey Weisgerber

The 2nd and 3rd graders at Allentown Academy were treated with a guest cooking lesson from Kelsey Weisgerber, the Food Service Director from Environmental Charter School. Kelsey brought great energy and enthusiasm to our cooking session. Not to mention a super healthy and delicious dish: Vegetarian black bean and mushroom tacos with pineapple salsa!

Kelsey brought a variety of fresh fruit and vegetables for our recipe: tomatoes, bell peppers, onions, garlic, cilantro, mushrooms, lemons, limes and avocados. Students helped to wash the produce. Kelsey then passed out the cutting boards and divided the produce. With the help of the adults, every student was given a knife and began cutting the ingredients. Kelsey taught us important safety tips, like keeping your fingers curled like a claw while you hold the vegetable you are chopping. There was not a single call for a band aid!

The students did a great job matching the slice of the pieces to Kelsey's direction. They quarted mushrooms, deseeded bell peppers, learned how to peel cilantro leaves off the stems, mashed avocado and smashed garlic. It was exciting when the pineapple was introduced into the mix. I was impressed by the small dices the students achieved with their handy knifework!

Another new experience was juicing limes. After we mixed up our salsa, Kelsey showed us how to use a press to sprinkle it with tasty lime juice.


While students finished chopping, Kelsey turned on her portable stove and began to heat the black beans and mushrooms for the taco filling. Soon it came time to clean off the table and add all of the chopped ingredients to plates for colorful toppings. I believe we were eating every color of the rainbow except for blue.

After a lot of cooperative work preparing the meal, it came time to eat! Students were served plates with every ingredient we used. Kelsey told us that one of the rules for the session was that we try everything, even if you think that you might not like it. After all, our taste buds change every seven years. Kelsey also outlawed the term "nasty," when trying food. She emphasized positivity, mindfulness and gratitude for the food we eat.

It felt like we were a big family as we ate together! The most popular components of the meal were the pineapple in the salsa and the multi-grain tortilla chips. Many students asked for second helpings. We had a plentitude of fruits and veggies from all that chopping. Kelsey is definitely a champion for healthy eating in schools. She works hard to provide wholesome, prepared-from-scratch food for lunch at the Environmental Charter School. She also is a champion for composting scraps and preventing food waste. I'm honored that she came to cook with us!




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