Our November Veggiecator Educator of the Month is someone who exudes this passion both at home and in her work. Kimmell Proctor includes healthy eating into all aspects of her life, including her roles as a mother, educator, author, health coach, and Veggiecator Educator!
Residing in Philadelphia, Kimmell first heard about Veggiecation through a friend who knew her passion for food education in schools. After checking out the website and enjoying Lisa’s video clips, Kimmell was ready to sign up! Since then, she has been teaching Veggiecation classes in afterschool programs, with local scout troops, weebelos, and wolf packs to help them earn their nutrition badges, pins, and belt loops. Her most recent program/event was providing entertainment for a child’s Harry Potter themed birthday party. Kimmell says she dressed up as Professor Sprout of Herbology and we made Potter’s Paranormal Pumpkin Potion using the Pumpkin Cookie Smoothie recipe. Smoothies were served in individual hollowed out pie pumpkins with spoons to make it extra special!
Recently however, Kimmell had to cut back on most of her program offerings order to concentrate on writing her children’s book, Prince Peter Eats the Sun. Kimmell took an extension program in self publishing that was being offered by the Institute for Integrative Nutrition upon her graduation. Six months later, she has a comprehensive book that adheres to the USDA health standards can be used in the classroom (there is a joint website for teachers!) or at home. Prince Peter Eats the Sun reads like a story and introduces children to concepts of healthy eating, nutrition, real food!
When she’s not writing or teaching kids cooking classes, Kimmell is a mother of two children who have been raised to be open to trying new foods and making smart choices. She has ingrained in them the concept that they will feel better and more energetic when they eat fresh, unprocessed foods. While she teaches her kids about making healthy eating choices, she never forces them to or restricts their autonomy. A perfect example of this is the Halloween Candy Fairy – the children are allowed to take candy out of their nightly collections and whatever they choose to leave, they leave at their door. During the night, the “Candy Fairy” will come and swap left over candy with a present; the more the candy, the bigger the present. She says her kids leave almost all of it, as they get older.
Being a certified Health Coach and working as a curriculum consultant and teacher trainer for a local farm-to-school non-profit organization, Kimmell was well informed about wellness and nutrition. She was teaching about food labels, food systems, and the importance of a nutritious diet, but wasn’t as experienced with the culinary aspect of food education in schools, especially when it came to child safety and allergies. She says her decision to take the Veggiecation training was based off the comprehensive, user-friendly model of culinary education.
What has been the best thing about your Veggiecation training? and VEN membership?
Veggiecation is a versatile and powerful tool in my health educator toolbox! The training boosted my confidence around cooking in a classroom setting with kids, and the helpful resources, recipes, and equipment made the training a great value! VEN membership is a great way to stay connected to the supportive and innovative Veggiecation community and expand my teaching resources with the latest VeggEd materials.
What's your favorite anecdote about an especially cute or picky child?
Most picky eaters will proudly identify themselves early on in the class, so I’ll use that as an opportunity to talk about taste testing etiquette and not using words like “ew” if there’s something you don’t enjoy tasting. One especially vocal little boy who said he would “never” like anything made with kale, tasted his green smoothie with all eyes on him and let out what sounded like a loud, “EW!” but then sheepishly smiled and said he meant it as in “OOoo, Ahhh!” because “surprisingly” it tasted “pretty good”!
What are your favorite recipes to use?
Smoothies – especially the green ones like Shamrock Smoothie! I find smoothie recipes to be a family-friendly way to introduce new veggies. Nutrient-dense greens like spinach, kale, and arugula all taste delicious when blended with a bit of fruit and coconut milk (my favorite!). Both kids and their parents seem most receptive to trying a new smoothie recipe - plus watching the distinctly colorful raw foods blend into a frothy pastel concoction, in only a matter of seconds, never fails to fascinate. And I appreciate that smoothies are easily customizable, so they’re easy to theme to a particular time of year, holiday, special event, or classroom unit of study.