Encouraging youth to eat healthy, local food can be a challenging task for a plethora of reasons. However, a recent recipe for boasting healthy food interests helped to mitigate the fear of said challenges. St. George’s YouthNet was a recent encounter where children gained serious interest in eating healthy, fresh “Vietnamese” spring rolls which they prepared; the trick, a healthy food competition, namely, an Iron Chef escapade.
A simple recipe for success here is to develop a fun, interesting competition; in this recent workshop, we introduced three different criteria for each of the youth to strive for; these included Best Rolled Spring Roll, Creative Cat, and lastly, Veggie King & Queen. The former of the three clearly looks for the best rolled spring roll, one which is tight, crisp and well presented; the second award boasts creative presentation skills, for instance, implementing interesting garnish setups and roll displays. Lastly, the Veggie King & Queen awards were given to those who made the best usage of vegetables.
Before starting the competition the youth were exposed to the general flow of procuring a spring roll keeping in mind that we hand prepped the vegetables and sauces in advance. Having purchased all of the ingredients locally, the children were excited to hear they were grown by local farmers from Nova Scotia…how fresh! With that being said, we introduced the children to the methods of preparing the rice paper, laying it out then applying vegetables, grilled chicken or tofu which was caramelized with mango chutney. With vegetables placed nicely on the wrap, the youth were then shown a simple wrapping technique. Lastly, three different sauces were procured, a soy based sauce, spicy thai sauce and Will`s favorite thai peanut butter sauce (simple recipe shown below).
After a couple of trial runs with different rice wraps, the competition began for all the youth. Excited and intrigued, each produced unique creations for the judges to examine before consumption. With many winners within each category, the youth were happy to be a part of the competition and some amazing food presentation skills were seen; what had seemed like an unlikely favorite became a grand success!
Thai Peanut Butter Sauce (250ml jar)
4-5 tbsp peanut butter
2/3 of jar filled with soy sauce or tamari sauce
1/3 of jar filled with rice vinegar or lemon juice
1 tsp chili flakes or chili paste
2-3 tbsp brown sugar