Just Cook for Kids Week 5

The Just Cook for Kids – Child Nutrition course from Stanford School of Medicine via Coursera has now finished (I’m not sure, but I think new people may be able to sign up before the end of February, but if not I’m sure they will run it again).

So, week 5 notes as follows:

5.1 Basic Concept: How to Work Around Food Allergies

This was a short video which mentioned several different kinds of allergies (peanuts, treenuts, eggs, milk, gluten, soy, fish and shellfish) and although it addressed the additional difficulties children with allergies have in school such as bullying, and talk about how to work around these issues, there was not a lot at all about the healthy food alternatives to replace these allergens. A little bit of a disappointing, missed opportunity I think.

5.2 Focus Point: Reading Nutrition Facts Labels

This video went through everything you can expect to find on an American food label (there are slight differences with UK labels – for example, fibre and carbohydrate are counted separately in the UK). We were advised to keep an eye on overall calories, fats and sugars (and avoid trans-fats), and to avoid too much sodium, and too much protein. I did not discover why ‘too much’ protein might be troublesome until I watched the optional video on Metabolism. (Basically, protein eventually gets converted to bodily fat if more is consumed than is needed for energy.) Maya mentioned that although vitamins and minerals are ‘good’, they don’t make the food healthy overall if it’s full of unhealthy ingredients, so beware of ‘healthy’ claims.

5.4 Basic Concept: Food’s Environmental Impact

This was a re-cap of previous videos. It emphasised that 30 times the amount of greenhouse gases are released in the production of meat compared with lentils, along with water demands and antibiotic use (see notes from previous weeks). It needs to be remembered though that this is American-style CAFO mass-produced meat rather than grassfed meat. I would like to know how that more healthy method of production compares.

5.6 Focus Point: Understanding Taste and Flavour

Again, this was a re-cap of previous videos, emphasising that the freshest, locally grown will be of the highest quality. But Maya also looked at the theory of different taste sensors on the tongue and mentioned that 80% of taste is actually related to the sense of smell.

Recipes included: Stew, salad dressing, roasted vegetables and crepes.

Although I didn’t like it right at the beginning, it really grew on me and I enjoyed it so much that I’m sad that it’s over.

I do think that it is a little too easy for anybody who has already had an interest in or studied nutrition, but it would be a good basic refresher course or a complete introduction. I certainly would have wanted a little bit more detail about micro-nutrients but it’s obviously not intended for people who have studied nutrition before.

For people who, like me, have studied nutrition before, I would recommend the optional videos in order to make the most of the class. Once you have signed up, the course materials remain available to you indefinitely.

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