Can you tell the difference between a sugar snap pea and a snow pea? Kids at Lu Sutton Elementary can! They learned about the three most common types of peas we eat during spring as a part of the Joyful 12 School Project and their “Eat Green” challenge during the month of March.
We just completed week four of our Joyful 12 School pilot at Lu Sutton Elementary in Novato, CA, and we’ve accomplished so much in the few weeks we’ve been there. I’ve had parents and teachers tell me that the children are coming home talking about the vegetable of the week and saying things like, “It’s so important to try new foods,” and asking their parents to make them spinach smoothies. I promise, I’m telling the vegetable truth!
In addition to every member of the school receiving free access my Joyful 12 Online Kitchen Learning Lab to learn how to cook vegetables at home with their families, the amazing thing about our project has been the community effort from teachers to parents to community partners that have made it possible for us to help this school community excite, educate, and empower 360 children in Novato to learn how to explore seasonal vegetables as their new healthy (and delicious) food culture!
Each Monday, 360 kids have sampled our vegetable of the week through the school food samples I’ve been making with Miguel Villarreal, Director of Food and Nutritional Services for NUSD, and his dietetic interns Dorette Franks and Robin Larkson: Brussels sprouts, asparagus, spinach, and this week was peas!
Each Wednesday, our friends and partners, Chefs Elianna Friedman, Amy Nghe and Rachel Kiichli from Bay Leaf Kitchen, have taught anywhere from 30-50 kids of the school as I’ve been teaching their parents how to cook the vegetable of the week at least two different ways. Last week, we made a spring spinach Minestrone and Spinach Pesto Toasts (in just an hour!) and this week was a Spring Pea Fried Rice and fresh strawberries for dessert.
Our vegetable report cards in the gymnasium are filling up with kids declaring they’ve tried the vegetable of the week with their stickers (see photo attached of weeks 1-3)! Kids will fill out their last board for peas this week!
Huge thanks to all of our partners in the Bay Area for their support of this pilot: Director Miguel Villarreal and the Food and Nutritional Services Department of NUSD, Bay Leaf Kitchen, Whole Foods Market® Novato, The Humane Society of the United States, and the SF-Marin Food Bank. Our amazing chefs, educators, and dietetic interns: Amy Orlandi, Dorette Franks, Robin Larkson, and Delaney Kidd.
If all this talk of peas has made you crave a heaping plate of them, you can make our Spring Pea Veggie Fried Rice at home with your kids and experience the joy we felt when this Novato community came together to celebrate cooking, eating, and relishing seasonal veggies!
- Pre-cooked and chilled brown rice, 6 cups (cooked)
- Coconut oil or vegetable oil, 2 TBS
- Carrots, 2
- Ginger (fresh), 1 TBS
- Green onions, 1 bunch
- Green peas, 1 cup (fresh shelled or frozen)
- Eggs, 2
- Tamari (gluten free soy sauce), 1/2 cup
- Sesame oil (dark), 2 TBS
- Lime, 1
- Take 5 minutes to get out all your ingredients, measuring and cooking equipment needed, and place them on a cookie sheet within easy reach.
- Cook the brown rice in advance. This is a great thing to do the night before. Cook according to package instructions. Hold in refrigerator.
- Peel and grate the carrots, peel and mince the ginger, slice green onions into small dice (both the white and green parts). Set aside some of the green tops of the onions as a garnish!
- Shell fresh peas (or use frozen).
- Chop cilantro and set aside as a garnish.
- Zest and juice lime.
- Crack eggs into bowl and beat them with a fork.
- In a large deep bottom pan, heat the oil over medium high heat and cook the carrot and ginger for approximately 3 minutes.
- Next add your other vegetables (scallions and peas) and cook an additional 2 minutes on medium high. *Note – you can substitute whatever vegetables you have on hand for what’s in this list, including frozen veggies. Try to make sure there is a variety of colors – green, red, orange, etc.
- Push the vegetables to the left side of the pan. Next add your two eggs that you have lightly beaten with a fork in a separate bowl. You will scramble them on the right side of the pan and then mix them into the vegetables.
- Add your tamari and sesame oil, and check for flavoring. Add the juice of ½ lime. Cut the other ½ lime into wedges to garnish each serving of the fried rice.
- Mix in the chilled rice well and cook for an additional two minutes on medium high heat or until heated through.
- To serve, you can top each bowl with extra green onion and cilantro.