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Fall Explorers Club - Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese

Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese

As a family, we always enjoy the first rain of the season sitting at home and enjoying hot sizzling comfort food. Fall season brings in a variety of colorful squash. Growing up, I never really enjoyed eating squash. As an adult, I keep trying new ways to cook squash for my family. Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese is one of the ways I encourage my kids to eat Butternut Squash. The creamy texture and the color of Butternut Squash make it possible to add less quantity of cheese in pasta.

Culinary Skill- This was a team-based cooking activity. Kids learned to cook on the electric stove and to use a food processor. They learned safety tips on using an electric stove for boiling pasta. Kids were super excited on seeing pasta boil and wanted to peak-in multiple times. Along the way, they also learned on how to safely peak through the closed lid to check if the food was cooked or not. Later, kids were introduced to techniques of sautéing (onions, carrots and butternut squash) and cooking them with liquids (broth, milk). Once the vegetable was cooked, they learned how to use a food processor to puree them into a paste. Overall, they learned a lot of skills in this class.

Nutrition Education- Kids learned about the main ingredient- Butternut Squash, and cooking healthier and tastier Mac and Cheese. Majority of kids were unaware of this powerful and colorful food. When they saw it, a lot of them informed me that they had seen it in the grocery store but never tasted it. Some kids who knew it stated that they had eaten it in soup and curry form. Butternut squash is considered a fruit botanically; however, it functions in food preparation more like a vegetable. It contains a lot of Vitamin A. The beta-carotene in this creamy fruit promotes immune responses and helps you fight illness and disease.

Working as a Team- Every class I use “One Bite Rule” for all the kids in my class encouraging them to taste new food item. I have noticed that it’s effortless for kids to conclude that they don’t like a food item just by looking at it, even without trying them. I suggest you push your children to try eating at least one bite of the food that they’ve vetoed whenever you serve it. They will be surprised with the taste and might develop a liking for it going forward. The more your child experiences the item, the more they’ll get used to it and begin to enjoy the taste of what it is, rather than rejecting it on principle alone.

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