I recently received the coolest gift – thank you Gaby from Westwood Unidos! It’s a water bottle with a fruit dispenser built into it. I’ve already used it (added some mandarin oranges to it) and I will admit, it did encourage me to drink more water.
Teachers and school staff are always searching for creative ways to encourage students to drink more water. One school I visited had beautifully designed water dispensers; one with fresh cantaloupe, another with fresh strawberries and still another with fresh lemons in it. All looked very inviting!
And some of you, like me, may remember the old gray metal drinking fountains in schools that dispensed what tasted like rusted water. It certainly wasn’t designed to encourage water consumption. Well, New York City public schools have a solution to these old machines. They have installed “water jet” machines (even the name sounds cool!) in their schools to encourage water consumption.
These modern-looking machines dispense fresh tap water that has been oxygenated. The oxygen really doesn’t provide any nutritional value, but they say does make the water taste better.
Some interesting research on water-jet machines:
I do have to mention that what I found to be the most successful way of encouraging students to drink water is teacher and staff modeling. One school that I worked with decided that school staff and teachers would only drink water on school premises in front of students. And guess what? Students started to do the same.
How do you encourage your students to drink more water?
Orange Pistachio Cream Dates
Serving size: Serves 5 – (4 dates each)
20 Medjool dates
1 cup shelled pistachios
¾ cup freshly squeezed orange juice (OR 100% fruit juice, no sugar added and not from concentrate)
1 teaspoon orange zest
Pinch of unrefined sea salt
1. In a food processor or a blender, grind pistachios, ¼ cup orange juice, orange zest and sea salt.
2. Add remaining orange juice (1/2 cup) and blend until mixture is smooth and creamy. If your students prefer a chunkier blend, only grind the mixture until ingredients are mixed together.
3. Cut each date in half and add a smidge of the cream to one side. Close with the other side and serve. Or if students prefer, they can put a dollop of the cream on a plate and dip the dates into it.
√ High in Vitamin C
√ Good source of protein
√ Contains “nature’s” sugar
Real foods are generally better quality foods, because they are packaged in a more nutritious wrapper than their highly processed counterparts. Take dates for example. Dates are really high in sugar, which makes them a good candidate for raising blood sugar levels. High blood sugar levels can cause the sugar crash leading to fatigue, headaches, irritability, lack of concentration and a craving for more sugar. Over time, high blood sugar levels can cause heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, vision problems and diabetes-related complications.
Dates are high in sugar, but yet they don’t seem to cause the same crash as regular old table sugar. The big reason why is because what they are packaged in….fiber. Dates are an excellent source of fiber. Fiber is only found in plants and it is the part of the plant that is not digested. Dates are mostly an insoluble fiber that is not digested and help keeps you regular. They also are digested slower, so don’t cause that rapid rise in blood sugar levels. Translation, they do not cause the sugar crash! Plus, they are high in carbohydrates that provide energy for active teens.
A popular type of date among teens (the fruit of course) is the Medjool date. Medjool’s (pronounced med-jewel) are Middle Eastern treats. They are very sweet, have an almost caramel-like taste and are sticky to the touch. They are considered the “king of dates”, because they are the best quality dates. I like to look for dates without their giant seeds, as they are easier to eat.
Teachers can educate students about the value of dates by having them make a simple recipe (below). If you have limited time (10-20 minutes) and limited equipment, this is an easy recipe to make. I will usually bring in a couple of different ingredients so that students can make it their own. Or if you are a culinary or family and consumer science teacher and are lucky enough to have a kitchen and the time, you can make the longer version recipe.
4 dates = 1 serving
Teaching tip: Explain to students that dates are one of the all-time best finger foods, so they can carry and eat them pretty much anywhere. They can pack some of them in their backpack and enjoy them as an after-school snack before activities.
Stuffed Dates – Simple Recipe
Purchase enough Medjool dates so that every student can make at least two of them.
|Nuts (purchase a few different kinds):
|Creamy foods (purchase a few different kinds):
Kite hill cheese (vegan)
|Flavor ingredients (purchase a few different kinds):
Shredded dark chocolate
Orange essential oil
- Cut dates in half and remove seeds (if applicable).
- Mix together a creamy food with a flavor ingredient.
- Spread on ½ of date.
- Top with a nut(s).
- Do the same with the 2nd ½ of the date.
- Serve on a napkin or plate.