Hudson Valley Parent

HVP January 2015

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Page 8 of 40 ■ Hudson Valley Parent 9 I am a Hudson Valley Parent Josh Kroner: Teaching kids to give peas a chance By KATHLEEN WILLCOX S low down." How many times do we say that to our kids? Yet, when it comes to food and convenience, most of us fall prey to the fast lane — either in the drive-thru or at the grocery store in disguise (we're looking at you, organic chicken nuggets). However, according to chef and real food proponent Josh Kroner, it is possible to quickly and easily cook real, healthful food for our families. Kroner is the owner of Terrapin Restaurant in Rhinebeck and a fa- ther of two girls — Juliette, 11, and Bella, 9. He is helping his communi- ty by teaching children — and their parents — how to slow down and enjoy real, healthful food, all with- out breaking their stride. "When Bella was in the second grade, I went in to talk to the kids about the history of food in Rhine- beck itself, which was settled in the late 1600s," Kroner says. "I made them a dish of succotash, which is typically corn, beans and tomatoes. I explained where the food comes from and I was struck because so many of the kids just eat food out of a box. Kids have to understand that macaroni and cheese boxes don't literally grow on trees — but unless we educate them about real food, how are they going to learn?" High price of fast food After all, the convenience of fast food comes with a hefty price tag, and not just at the cash registers. In the United States, "fast" food provides 13 percent of the total calo- ries consumed by 2-18-year-olds; it's the second largest source of energy in children's diets, according to a recent study by Arizona State University. In New York State, the number of children who are obese has tripled in the last three decades, according to the state's Department of Health. Many schools in the Hudson Valley have alarmingly high rates of obesity, including Poughkeepsie City Schools (27.7% of middle and high school students are obese) the Northeast Central District (26.4% of all students are obese) and the Tuxedo Union Free School (26.1% of elementary school students are obese), JAMA Pediatrics reports. Higher obesity rates lead to increased rates of heart disease, depression and even cancer. Picky eaters At fi rst glance, Kroner doesn't seem like a candidate to spearhead a children's food program. His fi ne din- ing restaurant, located in a renovated church built in 1825, churns out beautifully presented classical French fare, with infl uences from Asia, Italy and the American Southwest. But while Terrapin may seem like the last place to take your picky eater, Kroner says feeding little ones dumbed-down food or grease-laden gut bombs creates health problems and a nation of fake picky eaters. "Look, I'm not saying don't feed your kids boxed mac and cheese," he says. "But sauté a little fresh kale in butter to go alongside it. It doesn't take long. Unless you introduce your children to fresh, real food, they're not going to understand what it is and how delicious it is. They'll never give it a chance; the health conse- quences of not eating fresh food, ever, are devastating." 'Taste and talk' While Kroner enjoys his occasion- al forays into his children's classes, he says that creating a real children's menu at his restaurant and hosting his bi-monthly kids cooking classes at Terrapin is where he focusing much of his energy. At Terrapin, Kroner offers a kids menu that caters to their sometimes simple tastes, without sacrifi cing quality or imagination, like his ma- hi-mahi crispy fi sh sticks, uncured hot dogs and mini cheeseburgers. All ingredients are organic, free-range and hormone and antibiotic free. He also runs quarterly "Taste and Talk" events open to children ages 8-12. Every event includes cooking demos, conversations about what good food is and how to fi nd it. Not even Kroner is immune to the picky eaters, he admits. "My eldest daughter eats more widely and adventurously than most adults," he says proudly. "She'll try any form of food on any menu, and most of the time, she'll love it. She even comes in once a week to work in my pastry department. But my youngest? She's … a bit fussier. More motivation to keep her trying new things and pushing her bound- aries though. She's getting there!" "Unless you introduce your children to fresh, real food, they're not going to understand what it is and how delicious it is." "

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