Friday, January 28, 2011

An A+ in Nutrition

For an easy ego boost, try offering kiwi slices to a classroom full of fifth and sixth graders. I was rewarded with a standing ovation! This week I had fun teaching a few nutrition classes at my kid’s school.

After explaining that your body needs 40 nutrients every single day to grow and be healthy and that the way to do this is by eating according to the Food Guide Pyramid, we tasted several “new” foods. Here are a few of the highlights:

• Every single kindergartener tasted and LIKED grapefruit. The trick was to tell them it’s a tricky fruit because it’s yellow on the outside and “super pink” on the inside. I also sliced it into wedges so the kids first tasted sweet/sour juice instead of pith.

• My kid – daughter of a dietitian – knew the answer to every single nutrition question.

• The fifth and sixth graders were presented with a tray of fruits and veggies and asked to identify the following for extra credit: Persimmon, fennel, guava, kiwi, pomegranate, Bosc pear, star fruit, cactus paddles. One kid got eight of 10 correct.

• One sixth grader told me his mom de-prickers, slices, and fries cactus paddles for dinner. And she’s not Hispanic, she’s Irish.

• There was not a single kid in grade K, five or six who refused to taste the star fruit.

• The fifth graders kept trying to get me to okay soda: “What if you drink it alongside a glass of milk.” “Can you have pop just once a day?” “But if my mom sends it in my lunchbox, it must be ok.” Ugh, I can’t argue with that last comment: Moms – if you put it in their lunchbox, you’re giving it an inherent stamp of approval.

• But I did get the 10-year-olds to utter , “Oh gross!” when I held up a bag of Skittles…by simultaneously holding up a bag of 9 teaspoons of sugar – the amount in the Skittles.

In summary, it’s cool to wow kids with starfruit.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Chicago-isms: Stopping for "some Bakery", "coffee, and"

We stopped off for some bakery yesterday. That’s right. “Some bakery” is a Chicago-ism, that in most parts of the country – and in proper English – would translate to “some baked goods.” Maybe it’s because this city is so rich in bakeries with the tradition of preparing such incredibly delicious baked goods that the phrase implies that one would take home the entire bakery. Or maybe it implies a bakery is an integral part of a neighborhood. Either way Weber’s Bakery on Archer Ave is not to be missed.  Erich is the third generation in his family to be turning out most delicious German ‘bakery’in the city.

In fact, Weber’s poppyseed pastries or apple fritters would be perfect to have at your next “coffee, and.” That’s another Chicago-ism and it means coffee klatch or coffee break.

Yesterday, while returning our delightful guests to Midway Airport, we had the opportunity to stop at Weber’s to pick up some bakery for today’s coffee, and. Specifically, we ordered fresh rye bread, a chocolate donut, poppy seed Danish, apple pastry, prune Kolacky and butter croissants.  It was all placed lovingly in a box by one of many helpful counter attendants and tied with an old-fashioned twine stringing machine.  (My girls loved watching this machine that whipped the string around the box and tied it snuggly!)

Weber’s lists their signature items as buttermilk poundcake, Banana Split Torte, Kolacky, chocolate cake donuts, Grandpa Rye Bread, Cinnamon Raisin Cylinder, Fresh Strawberry & Cheese Coffee Cake, Raisin Houska, Sauerkraut Rye Bread and brownies. All that bakery is good. My list would also add: Poppyseed Danishes and apple pastries. But I would scratch out the chocolate donuts; while they have dense delectable frosting made with two different chocolates, the cake donuts always taste like they’ve been fried in old grease. (A downfall of places that fry A LOT of donuts…like Dunkin.)

The apple pastry is a unique masterpiece. It is a few paper-thin layers of pastry dough wrapped around a large mound of spiced-cooked apples and walnuts that have been sprinkled with sweet bread crumbs.

The poppy seed Danish is rich buttery sweet dough stuffed with ooey-gooey poppy seed filling and drizzled with just enough creamy glaze.

Unfortunately the Saurerckraut Rye bread is not made every day. (That’s right sauerkraut is baked right into round loaves of crusty rye.) Instead, we took home a beautiful loaf of plain rye that must have been stuffed with 2-3 tablespoons of caraway seeds. Caraway can be a questionable flavor for many kids, but mine think it tastes like peppermint sprinkles. The dark black seeds do have a zing-y quality! And my eight-month old baby had his first taste of rye bread today. He loved it – another testament that introducing strong flavors early on can lead to wide-ranging kids’ palates! (That’s what I’m hoping!) The rye bread is delicious when lightly toasted and topped with aged Wisconsin Brick cheese; a German classic that started with some classic German bakery (the bread) from a classic German bakery (Weber’s)! Got that?