“Whoa, what is that green stuff you’re eating?” Olivia asked her classmate, Jaime, as they sat down to begin eating lunch.
“These are called ‘snap peas’,” Jamie stated, “I learned about them during my cooking classes.”
“Oh. What kind of things do you learn?” Olivia asked.
“Lots of things!” exclaimed Jamie. “I learned about ‘eating the rainbow’ and making things with all kinds of fruits and vegetables that taste really good!”
Olivia thought to herself, eating the rainbow? Everything I eat is a shade of brown. She looked at her lunch of chicken nuggets, tater tots, soda and a chocolate bar…not any color of the rainbow in sight.
On the bus ride home, Olivia was talking to her little brother, Logan about his first day.
“It was super fun!” He said, “I’m hungry, can I have cookies when we get home?”
When they got home Olivia looked in the pantry for an afternoon snack and found more brown…chips, candy, and packaged snacks. Their mom wasn’t home because she worked second shift. Like most nights, Logan and Olivia were on their own for dinner.
“Logan, want to take a cooking class?” Olivia persuaded.
Logan looked excitedly at Olivia as she started explaining what Jamie was telling her at lunch. When their mom came home from work the two of them bombarded her and started begging to sign up for cooking classes.
Confused, their mom jokingly responded, “Sure, if you cook for me!”
Two weeks later Logan and Olivia were standing in Nana’s Kitchen at the Sofia Quintero Art and Cultural Center prepped with aprons and ready for their first CENARE class.
“Welcome!” stated the program coordinator, “Who is ready to learn about grains today?” she asked excitedly.
Grains?? Thought Olivia. That’s just more brown stuff.
“We are going to be making grain bowls today.” The instructor presented a beautiful bowl full of colorful vegetables to the class.
“Now, let’s talk about our first grain, quinoa. Does anyone know what quinoa is?”
Logan and Olivia looked cluelessly at each other, “Keen-what? I have never heard of that before.” Lucas stammered
“Me neither,” stated Olivia.
“Well I shouldn’t really call it a grain,” the instructor stated, “because it is actually a seed. This means quinoa is very high in protein, fiber, B vitamins and gluten-free, so it is safe for people who have wheat allergies.”
Olivia was learning things about food she had never heard before. The instructor explained that the food you eat has “vitamins and minerals” that can help your maintain a healthy body and avoid health issues.
Logan and Olivia attentively listened as the instructor showed them how to rinse their grains, hold a knife, chop vegetables and create foods with a lot of different textures. When they finally finished their grain bowls they stood back and admired their work.
Chicken, broccoli, onions, peppers, yellow squash and quinoa. Olivia had never seen food look so pretty and taste so good. The two could not wait to get home to tell their mom about their class.
That weekend, Logan and Olivia took their mom to the grocery store to pick up the ingredients to make their own grain bowls at home.
“Don’t forget the quinoa,” Olivia yelled to Logan as he ran down the aisles.
“Keen-what?” Olivia’s mom asked her.
“Quin-oa,” Olivia explained. “It is a grain – well actually a seed – that has lots of protein and vitamins. It is very healthy and it tasted really good when we tried it in class.”
Olivia’s mom was shocked that Olivia knew so much after just one class.
Back at home Olivia and Logan’s mom sat back as the two kids diligently chopped vegetables and contemplated the ingredients to use for their sauce. She had never seen the two of them work together so well.
“DONE!” They both shouted.
The two of them turned around to reveal a beautiful bowl full of colors, great smells and even better flavors.
Olivia and Logan looked at their mom with eager anticipation as they took the first bite.
“Wow,” she stated in a shocking tone, “This is really good. You two chefs have outdone yourselves! I cannot wait to taste what you two cook up in your next class.”
*This blog post is based on a true story / success narrative from Sofia Quintero Art and Cultural Center’s CENARE Program. All identities of submitted success stories are anonymous for privacy and story details have been added in order to provide a better understanding of the individual’s successes and struggles.