Veggiecator Educator of the Month: Barbara Brandt | Veggiecation© a Culinary-Nutrition Education Program About Vegetables
Thursday, 08 October 2015 22:15

Veggiecator Educator of the Month: Barbara Brandt

A couple months ago, a woman named Barbara Brandt joined the Veggiecator Nation while in the process of writing her very own how-to cookbook for children called, Your Kids Cooking. Her dedication to food and food education is what motivates her to find new avenues and methods for spreading the word about the importance of cooking. And that’s where we came in! After seeing what our program had to offer, Barbara wanted to see for herself and took the training. Now that her book is done, it’s our time to learn from her!

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Barbara is a retired high school teacher who spent a lot of her retirement freelance writing for math and language textbooks. Her work with curriculum prepared her for her next big venture: writing a children’s cookbook. She has recently published a cooking program that teaches kids to cook, at home, with their parent’s support.  Additionally, Barbara speaks about the importance of kids learning to cook so they can avoid the health risks associated with a diet based primarily on processed convenience food and fast food throughout my community. Talk about being fueled by passion!

Being a Veggiecator Educator is how Barbara shares her message about the importance of learning to cook and eating healthy. Working as a Veggiecator allows her to work directly with children. The most rewarding part of the work she does to educate families about cooking fresh and eating healthier!

Barbara lives in Missoula, a small town nestled in a beautiful, mountain-lined valley in western Montana known for it’s outdoor recreational activities. Her passion for food stems from her family. Barbara’s grandmother was a great cook and learned to cook from her. And a love for good food seems to run in the family because her two grown children loved food from a very young age.

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(Barbara makes homemade cookies with her neighbor's children to teach the basics of of cooking such as measuring and mixing!) 

Her philosophy has always been that if you don’t make a big deal out of a food being “different” or “weird,” children won’t feel timid when being served new foods. And that’s more or less how she teaches her Veggiecation lessons. She lets students know that even if they’ve tasted a certain type of food/veggie before, they might not have tasted it this way, so what’s the harm? Her relaxed attitude is infectious and she’s been successful in getting kids try most of what she makes!

She first learned about Veggiecation from a blog post on the inspiring blog, The Lunch Tray. And even with her book promotion schedule, Barbara finds time to teach classes at least once a week during the school year and teaches roughly 10 classes a month in the summer. Her goals when teaching Veggiecation is to introduce veggies to children and their families and illustrate how easy it is to cook simple recipes.

What has been the best thing about your Veggiecation training? and VEN membership?

The fact that everything was already done for me and I didn’t need to take the time and energy to “train” myself and do all the leg work to develop workshops for kids from scratch. Having everything already done and ready to use was invaluable for me, given how busy I am with other areas of my business.

What's your favorite anecdote about an especially cute or picky child?

This was a cute story a child told the class one time. He and his brother were making something for dinner (I don’t recall what is was) and in the recipe it called for “oil (optional).” The boys made there shopping list and walked to the neighborhood market. They found everything else on their list, but couldn’t find the oil. So they went to the clerk and asked where the “optional oil” is. Pretty cute J

What are your favorite recipes to use?

When I need to do a workshop at the last minute, my go to recipes are dips. I do a workshop where we make 3 dips; one a “blender” dip, like a hummus or pesto, one is a “chopped” dip like a salsa or veggie dip, and one is a “stirred” dip which is typically a yogurt based dip with herbs and spices. I use different ingredients in each of the dips and we eat the dip with fresh veggies and whole-grain crackers and bread. Finger food is always fun for kids, and sometimes we play “waiter” and some of the kid serve others as if they are at a big gala event, with the snacks on a tray, towel over their arms, the whole shebang. They take turns serving and being served. It makes for a fun finale to the workshop and kids always love play acting.

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