Teen chefs dial up the nutrition in Superior
A summer course offered by UW-Extension taught local students skills they can use in the kitchen.
SUPERIOR — For their final cooking session Thursday, July 14, at Superior Middle School, 11 teen chefs souped up the nutrition value of ramen noodles.
They supercharged the meal by slicing, dicing and sauteing fresh vegetables, then cooking them together with the noodles, broth and canned chicken. The resulting one-skillet meal capped off two weeks of learning provided by the University of Wisconsin-Madison Extension’s FoodWise program.
The Around the Table class focused on nutrition and kitchen skills, with a surprise sprinkling of friendship. Seventh grader Celestia Utyro said her favorite part of the course was “making friends with Mitchell.” She and partner Mitchell Koch, a high school junior, shared duties for each recipe instead of designating a head chef for each.
The students baked berry crisp and made vegetable roll ups and pita pizzas during the free course. They hand-breaded their own chicken nuggets, learned knife safety skills and the importance of separating produce from meat during preparation. The teens also taste-tested fresh produce, deciphered food labels and learned calming techniques such as “soup bowl breathing.”
The goal of the class, said Julie Montgomery, FoodWise coordinator for Douglas County, was to build a healthy connection to food, self and community.
“One of the things that hopefully they learned is that when we’re hungry, the first place we should look is for nutrient-dense foods, to feed your body that way. And then there are sometimes foods which we eat sometimes, but not daily,” Montgomery said.
The students identified ways to make traditional foods more healthy, such as adding fresh fruit to a peanut butter sandwich in place of jelly.
Montgomery said FoodWise educators offered Teen Cuisine classes in Douglas County prior to the pandemic. This is the first time they’ve used the Around the Table curriculum for teens, although a version aimed at adults has been used for community nutrition classes. A total of 25 students signed up for the course, which was held from noon to 2 p.m. four days a week. Fourteen teens returned for the second half of class following a one-week hiatus for the Fourth of July week.
Students said one of their biggest takeaways from the class was how to properly sharpen and cut with a knife. Many were looking forward to recreating some of the dishes at home.
High school freshman Alyssa Bohannon said she would like to make the chicken nuggets and pita pizza for her family.
Koch was looking forward to replicating the ramen noodle dish at home.
Sixth grader Aubree Severson planned to test out a yogurt parfait recipe from their workbook.
“It sounds really good,” she said.
Seventh grader Mica Bohannon said she really likes cooking, and hoped the skills to use the skills as she gets older and is allowed to do more cooking at home.