Nutrition gets underway full force at Aliñambi

Our first guest blog of 2011 comes from Zoë, with news on our Nutrition program.  Aliñambi, the school in which we work, does not allow us to take pictures of their students, so please forgive the lack of photos for this week’s blog!

Hello blog-readers! Thank you for coming back to us after our break for the holidays. Most of us traveled back to the U.S. to visit our respective hometowns for Christmas and New Year’s Eve. While the three-week break was much enjoyed by all, we are excited to be back to work.

One of the most thrilling parts of being back in the community is that the Nutrition program is now being fully implemented. Becky, Noel, Brock, Luke and I are all part of the Nutrition team, and we are all excited to bring the nutrition charlas and cooking class to the Nutrition program starting this month.  Charlas are essentially informational talks or lectures.  Up until December, the Nutrition program was just made up of the garden, which Becky blogged about a few months back. Now the garden has made excellent progress and the whole program is growing along with it!

Every week, Noel, Becky and I present a charla to the 6th graders at Aliñambi school. We will be covering topics such as why nutrition is important, the food pyramid, micro- and macronutrients, and different types of Ecuadorian products. Using these concepts as well as some of the crops from the garden, Becky and I teach the students how to prepare a healthy dish using economical and accessible Ecuadorian ingredients. All of the recipes have been provided to us by María Luisa, the wife of the Principal of Aliñambi—so she could be sure to include culturally appropriate ingredients.

Today was our first cooking class. We prepared a mixture of rice and quinoa with a topping of swiss chard. We also prepared steamed vegetables with garlic and Naranjilla juice. It ran smoothly, but I do have to admit that the children are going to have to acquire a taste for certain ingredients- such as the Swiss chard María Luisa included in the recipe for today. When I asked one student if he wanted more, he shook his head in an absolute panic! Juan Carlos, their teacher, was threatening extra homework to the last one to finish their food.

Despite the somewhat unfamiliar tastes, all in all, the students really enjoyed being in the kitchen. Many of them help their mothers cook at home, and were teaching Becky and I new kitchen tricks. For example, one girl told me to soak the onion before I started cutting it so it wouldn’t hurt my eyes as much.

We have been preparing and planning the curriculum for Nutrition since about September, and so we are all eager to get it off the ground. Thanks for tuning in!