What’s on Your Plate?

Here in the garden, we’ve been working hard on our new raised concrete garden beds by the pollinator gardens and tearing down the rotting wooden beds in Creekside to make room for an outdoor classroom space. We are very excited for these changes as it gives us a chance to immerse the students more with our gardens!

Healthy recipes and healthy eating have been on my mind recently. People talk about “superfoods” a lot, going “keto”, etc. Information seeking can be overwhelming and making the change to healthier living may seem more complicated than it needs to be.

Last year, students learned about healthy eating using the MyPlate guidelines. They cooked their own quesadillas, packed with veggies, with the aim of eating at least one vegetable they don’t normally do.

Healthy Eating Plate Guide

To improve the current MyPlate guidelines set by the USDA, Harvard School of Public Health created the “Healthy Eating Plate”. It’s a simple reminder of what we should strive for when we think of quality diets. Print it out and stick it on your fridge for an easy guide!

Copyright © 2011, Harvard University. For more information about The Healthy Eating Plate, please see The Nutrition Source, Department of Nutrition, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, www.thenutritionsource.org, and Harvard Health Publications, www.health.harvard.edu.

The Main Takeaways

  • Use healthy oils (canola, olive oil, peanut oil, sunflower). Use unsaturated fats, avoid transfats and saturated fats. Coconut oil is not currently recommended as a healthy oil as it is 90% saturated fat, while it does boost “good” HDL cholesterol, there are limited studies on its health effects.
  • Avoid sugary beverages, this includes juice (limit to a small glass a day!)
  • Focus on the types of foods. Choosing whole grains, limiting red meats and using healthier proteins like fish, beans, nuts and poultry, and eating a variety of fruits and vegetables!

Adapted from My Korean Kitchen

While I’m not Korean myself, my family is a huge fan of Korean cuisine. What’s great about kimbap is that you can customize it based on each member’s food preferences and it’s a fun activity to assemble it together!

It may seem like a lot of steps, but you can omit ingredients depending on what you want in it. You can also prepare more ingredients and store in the fridge for 5 days and use them for future kimbap. However, fresh rice works the best for rolling.

The only specialized equipment you need is a bamboo sushi mat, which you can purchase from Amazon for $8. You can find seaweed sheets and sesame oil in the Asian/International section of chain grocery stores. I have found yellow pickled radish in the refrigerated section where tofu is found but you can easily omit if you can’t find it.

Ingredients (6 rolls)

5 sheets of nori (seaweed sheets)
2 medium carrots
2 small cucumbers
2 eggs
8 oz ground beef (omit for vegetarian)
2 cloves minced garlic
1 bunch spinach
1 package of yellow pickle radish* (omit if can’t find)
2 cups short grain white rice (can substitute with brown rice)
2 tsp soy sauce
sesame oil


Cook Rice
– Make the rice. Rinse rice with water and add to a small/medium pot with 2 cups of water over medium heat. If using brown rice, I’d add another 1/2 cup. Bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer and cover the pot with a lid. Cook until soft, fluff with a fork once done and remove from heat.
– Add 1 tablespoon of sesame oil and a pinch of salt to cooked rice and mix inwith a wooden spatula or rice paddle.

Prepare Meat
– In a small bowl, add minced garlic, soy sauce, ground beef and sesame oil. Let marinate for a 15 minutes while you cook the rest of the ingredients.
– On the same pan, heat up 1 tsp of sesame oil and saute the the marinated ground beef if using. Once cooked and browned, set aside.

Prepare Carrots and Cucumbers
– Julienne the carrots and cucumbers, cutting them into small match sticks. Here’s a useful video on how to safely do this, don’t worry about making them super small like the pros, a general matchstick size is fine!
-In a medium frying pan, heat up 1 tsp of sesame oil and quickly saute the carrots. They should still be crunchy. Season with a pinch of salt. Set aside on a plate.

Prepare Blanched Spinach

– Boil water and prepare an ice bath. Blanch spinach, add to ice bath, then dry out some with paper towels. Season with 1 tsp of sesame oil and a pinch of salt.

Prepare Eggs
– Whisk eggs in a small bowl. Add to a hot frying pan, larger is ideal. Add the eggs and let cook until you feel like you can confidently flip it. You want the eggs to cook as a large sheet (imagine a very thin omelette that’s not folded). Flip and let cook for another minute.
– Transfer the eggs to a cutting board and slice into long strips.

Prepare Radish
– Cut yellow pickled radish into a long rectangles.

– Lay out a sheet of seaweed on the bamboo sushi mat.
– Using a wooden or plastic spatula, add a thin layer of rice to the sheet (1 rice grain thick), leave the top 2 inches of the seaweed sheet bare. Add a grain of rice or two at regular intervals along the top edge of the bare side, this helps it stick when you roll.
– Assemble whatever filling you desire, I like to leave around 1.5 inches at the bottom for rolling.
– Roll with the bamboo mat, taking the bottom edge over the filling. Give it a squeeze to make a tight roll, then continue rolling till the end.
– Serve! Kimbap is typically is not served with a dipping sauce like in Japanese sushi rolls, but you can choose to serve with soy sauce.

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