I learned this, and my role as a nutrition educator, the hard way–working with peers and the dining dietitian. I began educating a year ago providing interesting facts, visuals, and fun food games for students frequenting the dining halls. It seemed that people were doing everything they could to sneak past our tables: acting like they were on the phone, texting, or even just staring at us like we were from outer space. But even the troupers who mustered up the strength to stop by for some food facts commonly responded with, “So what do we get for stopping by?”
Hamburger Yo-Yo’s and veggie tattoos didn’t exactly work out as learning incentives. It was time to come up with some recipe ideas so we could provide some eye-catching, mouth watering, secretly nutritious treats for our fellow diners.
This epiphany occurred right at the start of National Nutrition Month – so we gathered some interesting recipes, some of which went along with the American Dietetic Association’s theme: “Eat Right with Color.” The chefs at each dining hall were able to whip up these delicious foods for each day of March to reel the students into what I like to call “secretive nutrition education.”
Our most successful demos included recipes like spring rolls, homemade salad dressings, and our “undercover” healthy meatballs. Students raved about the new foods and frequently asked, “Wait, so these are actually healthy?” It was really interesting to observe the increased student interest in our programs – which was most likely due to the fact that we weren’t bombarding them with information but rather challenging their taste buds with some surprisingly nutritious (3 Guiding Stars!) flavors. Imagine, educating our peers about healthy decisions was as simple as sharing flavorful, nutritious and delicious options.
Try adding these mouth-watering recipes to your cuisine this week:
Veggie Spring Rolls
- Rice paper
- Shredded carrots
- Diced red onions
- Julienne cucumbers
- Chopped cilantro
- Diced red peppers
Soak the rice paper in warm water for about 30 seconds or until soft. Place rice paper on cutting board and add vegetables and cilantro in a straight line. Fold sides of rice paper in and roll tightly like a burrito. Slice in half. Enjoy with your choice of sauce!
Homemade Blue Cheese Dressing
- 10 oz. part skim ricotta cheese
- 7 oz. buttermilk
- 3 ½ oz. crumbled blue cheese
- 2 tsp Worcestershire
- 2 oz. cider vinegar
- 1 tsp roasted garlic
- 2 tbsp chopped chives
- ½ tsp black pepper
Using a food processor, blender, or immersion blender, combine all ingredients except the chives and pepper. Blend until smooth. Fold in the chives and pepper; chill. Yield: 1 ½ pint.
Undercover Meatballs & Sauce (By Susannah Locketti)
- 20 oz. package 93 percent lean ground turkey
- ½ cup bread crumbs
- ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 tablespoon Italian seasonings
- 1 egg
Undercover agents to add-in: ½ cup mashed white beans, 1/2 cup finely chopped spinach
- 2 jars store-bought spaghetti sauce
Undercover agents to add-in: canned pumpkin or squash puree, pureed roasted red peppers, carrot juice
In a large bowl, combine all of the meatball ingredients and mix well. Form into at least 24 meatballs. Put the pasta sauce and puree mix in a medium sized pot and place over medium low heat. Drop meatballs directly into pasta sauce. Cover the pot and cook until the sauce boils and the meatballs are cooked through (about two hours), or cook all day in the slow cooker on low.
About our Student Blogger
Sarah Frederickson is a senior Nutrition & Wellness major at the University of New Hampshire (UNH). She has a strong passion for promoting healthy eating and overall wellness. With some help from the UNH dietitian, Sarah recently finished a project called Creative Eating which is an approach to educating students on making interesting, delicious, and smart choices in the dining halls.
Along with a personal blog that she uses to support this project, Sarah has a Facebook group where Creative Eating enthusiasts can stay updated with project events, news, and recipe ideas. She is also an active member of Students Promoting Information on Nutrition (SPIN), a UNH student organization meant to spread nutrition knowledge to students through peer education.