Kobucha vs. Spaghetti.. it’s a close call

7 Mar

Pasta squash! Mango squash! Watermelon squash! Butternut!

Some of them knew the names, some of them just enjoyed guessing and were very excited. Others knew they were terrified. Coming to science class and finding different kinds of squash on the table and bowls with forks ready for serving inspired all sorts of responses. For some, trying new foods, especially if you are pretty sure you aren’t going to like it – can be scary!

The hope, is that by bringing new foods to learn about and taste in the classroom, students will be more likely to try these same new foods in the cafeteria and at home. In this classroom setting, the students are scientists. Scientists examine things from every angle, and in the case of food, taste, is an important angle.

We began with a warm up. After concluding that most squash is orange/yellow inside, we learned that orange and yellow foods are good for our eyes, for our skin, for our heart and more abstract for many – for our pancreas. The pancreas we explain, helps to keep our blood sugar levels regular, among other things. Having found our pancreas with our left hand under our rib cage, we stretched over our left leg to massage our pancreas.  We stood on our toes with our hands held behind our backs to open our heart, and then wiggled out our giggles on our way back to our chairs to learn more.

Winter squash – why does it have that name? How long does it take to grow? What climate does it like and where does it grow? Hands raised high in the air to take a guess or share a story as squashes were passed around to examine up close.

We learned that butternut squash has seeds only in the bottom part, that acorn squash is yellow inside, that kobucha squash looks a lot like a watermelon and that spaghetti squash is really fun to eat.  We learned that squash love to grow in the heat and that they take approximately 100 days to grow!  Thanks to their thick skins, they keep well for up to three months, making them a favorite winter treat.

For tasting we had spaghetti squash (cut in half and baked), kobucha squash with the skin (chopped into 1 inch squares, brushed with olive oil and topped with sea salt) , and kobucha squash without the peel (a bit of a trick – this was cubed and tossed in olive  oil and topped with sea salt and baked.). Because squash is delicious when sweet or savory, we brought a little maple syrup and salt, to see how we liked it best. Interestingly enough, there was no consensus. We did this with 1st, 2nd and 3rd graders, and each class was different. In some, the spaghetti squash was the favorite, in others, the kobucha without the skin was the winner, in another class, the kobucha with the skin got the most praise.

The most consistent finding though, was that the students overall, were surprised by how much they enjoyed the squash! Of course there were a couple who really didn’t like it. They were especially congratulated for being such great scientists and trying the squash before coming to their conclusions.

The students went home with a picture journey of squash from seed to harvest with recipes for roasting seeds and making spaghetti squash at home. Can we have some more? I hear. Of course you can – in the cafeteria today, there’s butternut squash soup.

Stay tuned for March’s seasonal food of the month…

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