Valerie trained in November of 2014, making her our first instructor in Ohio! She resides in Avon Lake, a community that she says is flourishing with more and more families moving in every year. She has two sons, Brandt (age 10) and Brady (age 7). Valerie was an interior designer for over 17 years before changing careers and going into education.
Although Valerie always had a passion for gardening and cooking, it wasn’t until she started to work in the schools that she realized that she wanted to share the passion with children. She witnessed just how poorly children ate and how little they understood food. She found Veggiecation after searching on Google for kids cooking programs that she could bring to her community.
Since her kids could walk, Valerie always had them in the garden with her or at a local farm. Her family traditions include blueberry and apple picking with the kids and they love it! That repeated exposure to fresh produce and fun activities that involve food make it so that her children are hardly picky eaters at all! They love smoothies as do many of the students that Valerie works with.
Valerie teaches roughly eight classes a month at not only the schools she works at, but after-school programs and day cares. The response to her work has been huge! Even the teachers learn from her lessons. Her community, like most, wants food programs in the schools and she’s been able to make it happen.
Her philosophy is one that we share and approve of. LET ALL THE SENSES WORK! Touching, smelling, tasting, and even listening to the food your preparing makes cooking FUN! Valerie tries to give every student in her class their own workspace so that children can “play” with their food. She even lets them make faces out of them as they do the prep work for a smoothie!
Valerie makes a point to note on individuality telling her students that even though everyone has the same ingredients on their place, all the faces look a little different and that’s OK!
What has been the best thing about your Veggiecation training? and VEN membership?
I like that there is one place to go for everything ….
What's your favorite anecdote about an especially cute or picky child?
I’ve found that the pickiest of kids at the beginning end up being the biggest of fans by the end of the class…they always announce that they are not eating that but once they see everyone else liking it, they dive right in and give me a big old YUM!!
What are your favorite recipes to use?
Sweetheart Smoothie & Big Green Monster Smoothie (an original recipe!)
Big Green Monster Smoothie
Super yummy and my signature recipe!
1cup water or apple juice
1 cup green grapes
2 ripe bananas
1cup fresh pineapple or small can of pineapple chunks in 100/ juice
1/2 cup vanilla yogurt (optional)
Squeeze of honey or agave necture
2 -3 cups of packed baby spinach leaves
1 plus cups of ice
Blend well and enjoy!!