New to the site. I have never ever participated in an internet based discussion before. Your adventures made me recall wonderful timnes and join forces with you. I have been a professional chef for over 20 years and raised a daughter in Chicago, as a single parent. Owned a Mediterannean Tapas restaurant from 93-97, where my daughter would hang out after grade school with her friends, before our dinner service got under way. I snuck the best food information and experience into her/thier lives every "secret squirrel"' chance I had without them realizing the healthful influence wanted to achieve. If my methods and or memories of what appealed to them can help or interests you, let me know and I will send them periodically, as my memory recalls.
When asked to by her school to volunteer time as a parent, I agreed to a category listed as enhancing real life skills, incorporated their popular "hero" (He-man and Sheera in those days) as an entity to relay nutrition information they might try to emulate. Without using the "N" word, I would casually talk about Vitamin C, for instance, and point them out from a easily read list of particular foods I was featuring, with "strength" values, next to fruit and vegetables listed alphabetically for them to color in/ and keep. I would ask which fruits they thought He-man ate to be so strong accomplish what is best for all????, while they were praticing on the strawberries I had given them, to turn into bunnies or fans, which most happily gobbled up and a few tried to take home on the bus, as a gift to Mom.
As I correlated cartoon/hero figures they related to and achieved great questions and participation, I kept thinking of the phrase "secret squirrel", a character I watched as a kid thinking the name was,"cool" in a, get the job done in the best"sort of way.
Customized "ice cream" sundaes for eveyone?
And how! Taught them to make the frozen treat themselves with non-electric ice cream makers, using yoghurt, instead. of cream initially. Even made Italian ice a few times and highlight was - comparing color left on tongues from cherry and blueberry, with concentrated fruit juice added.
Popcorn. Showed them different types amarranth, relayed a bit of it's history incorporating the gorier parts, re-naming it "kitten sized popcorn". They were thrilled! and although I had alot of serious sweeping to do afterward, making cookies from amarranth flakes or crunchy sprinkles to top thier fruit skewer with, became as standard as chips & soda at other parties. Even made holiday ornaments with left -overs. The energy I used to have. Makes me think about taking nap right now...
Speaking of soda: I would buy bright/unusual/goofy plastic drinking vessles, offered in discount stores, usually 4/$1 (still have some I use for wee amounts of dips or salsas) and set up an area for them make their own favorite.
Club soda, real cranberry, pineapple, black currant, mango, etc., juice, sliced seasonal fruit (always orange wheels), pinealpple chunks, kiwi, strawberry, carambola, etc.,... and fancy parasol or animal pics to adorn/hold fruit in the non- soda pop coke/pepsi/whatever drink (used about one box per year in hey-day). Portable baby bathtub to was used to hold ice including crazy/fun/left over napkins.
I DO NOT come from a monied or pretentious background.
Re-reading this message almost makes me sound as if I might have, or perhaps just be fussy. Nope. Wanted a good time to be had by all in todays terms, while adding a positive influence that could carry over.
I admire the information passed back and forth as to what you are participating in and leading. Many thanks to mentors like you.
Necessity is sometimes the Mother of invention. Once in awhile, I run into one of those former malieable short-ones from my daughters childhood, who's attention I had for a moment, and get a big hug or happy handshake. They recall me as a "Cool Mom - we thought you were a cop", while I recall me as a secret squirrel.
All Best to You!