Chef Jamie DeRosa helps a group of kids make strawberry smoothies at tables in his restaurant

Target and Common Threads Get Miami Kids Cooking with Help from Chef Jamie DeRosa

What’s cooking? On Jan. 28, Izzy’s Fish & Oyster restaurant in Miami Beach, Fla., opened its doors to 40 kids and their families for a day of healthy cooking classes with its founder, Chef Jamie DeRosa. Kids helped out during the hands-on cooking demo and also participated in games with Chef Jamie. Among the dishes they made? A fresh and healthy strawberry salad and smoothie. (Want the recipes? Check ‘em out below.)

Chef Jamie makes a smoothie while a booth of kids look on

Target co-hosted the event with our wellness partner, Common Threads, as part of its Cooking for Life Month campaign. The nonprofit provides hands-on cooking and nutrition education programs that inspire children, families and teachers in underserved communities across the U.S. to make healthy behavior changes and increase their confidence in the kitchen. The programs aim to prevent childhood obesity and reverse the trend of generations of non-cookers.

Target first teamed up with Common Threads in 2016 as one of our new wellness partners. We invested nearly $40 million last year with these organizations, all committed to giving families more choices that allow them to increase their physical activity and eat healthy every day. This school year, we are helping expand Common Threads programming in Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, New York and Washington, D.C. Our partnership will support 97,000 hours of nutrition and healthy cooking education, and provide 65,000 healthy snacks and meals for more than 8,000 kids, parents and teachers. In addition, our partnership with Common Threads also supports the national organization’s anticipated service to more than 70,000 kids during the 2016-17 school year.

Three kids in chef hats smile and drink smoothies

Common Threads CEO Linda Novick O’Keefe was with the participants cooking up a storm at Saturday’s event. “We’re thrilled to see Target elevating the conversation around health and well-being and are grateful for the opportunity to partner with them to be able to deepen our impact,” she said. “Districts, schools and community centers rely on joyful and affirmative programming like ours to make wellness goals a reality. The ROI is real and it is meaningful. We’re not only educating students about the importance of taking care of their bodies but also creating lifelong habits for stronger communities and a healthier society.”

Getting hungry yet? We sat down with Chef Jamie to hear more about the event and why learning to cook is so important for kids.

Chef Jamie smiles and chats with four family members during the event

Why is it so important to learn about nutrition and healthy eating at a young age? 
When kids understand what they’re eating, they get into it! We start feeding them freshly made food, pureed first, then more course, one flavor at a time, then adding in more with some texture. It really ignites their palette and taste buds and allows their senses to become more alert at a much earlier stage. You see them smiling over strawberries, or enjoying the soft texture of a banana. It’s also fun and exciting when they start getting involved in preparing meals themselves. I hope that after today’s event, the kids leave curious, excited, and thrilled about food.

How old were you when you first started cooking?
I was about 5 years old. The first dish I learned to make was a Paella with my grandmother Aurora, who is from Orencia, Spain. 

Does your daughter, Izzy, cook with you now?
Izzy and I cook a lot together, even though she has allergies to all dairy, soy, rice, sesame, eggs and nuts. She loves to make pancakes, waffles, popcorn, pressed juice, cookies, smoothies and pasta (or ‘ronies’ as she calls them). Easy snacks to make with kids are the ones they love the most. Smoothies and popcorn are almost always a winner! When we go grocery shopping at Target, Izzy loves to get Alexia Smart Classics Straight Cut Fries.

What are some of your go-to dishes for when you want to make a healthy meal for your family?
Our most recent go-to meal is simply marinated chicken and a nice salad with tomatoes, olives, cucumbers and vinaigrette. Another dish we do is a roasted pork loin with carrots and potatoes and grilled asparagus. Izzy loves cucumbers, carrots, broccoli and asparagus—and sometimes those are enough on their own. 

Any tips for swapping ingredients to make family-favorite dishes healthier?
Always use fresh fruit and vegetables. Anything else can be added by your mood, but it’s important to always have a stocked fridge of fresh ingredients.

Feeling inspired? Check out these easy recipes from the event that kids and parents can make together:

Chef Jamie blending a smoothie in front of the class

Strawberry Smoothie
Serves 4 people

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups of strawberries, or any combination of fruit (fresh or frozen)
  • 1 banana (optional)
  • 1 cup nonfat plain yogurt
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tbl of agave
  • 2 tbl Simply Balanced Organic honey

Place all ingredients into a blender and blend. Adjust water as needed to thin out the smoothie. Pour into cups and enjoy!

A closeup of the strawberry salad in a bowl

Knaus Berry Farm Strawberry Salad
Serves 4 people

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups olive oil dressed strawberries
  • 1 tbl Simply Balanced Organic honey
  • 2 cups Vanilla and honey Whipped cream
  • 1 cup Basil leaves
  • 1 tsp Lemon zest

For the Strawberries:

  • 2 cups strawberries
  • 1 tbl Simply Balanced Organic olive oil
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • ½ tsp salt

Trim the leaves off of the top of the berry, and cut into quarters. Place berries in bowl and glaze the sides of the bowl with extra virgin olive oil. Season the berries with sea salt and raw sugar. Let marinate for 1 hour.

For the Whipped cream:

  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2 tbl honey
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

In a bowl, whip the cream with the honey until thickened. Add the vanilla to the cream, whisk until stiff peaks. Season with salt and chill for later.

To assemble: In a bowl, place one scoop of the whipped cream. Dress the berries on the top. Tear basil leaves over the berries. Finish with a fresh drizzle of honey. 

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