Trocaire’s Nicole Klem Speaks on Introducing Healthy, Colorful Eating to Kids

Earlier in July, Trocaire Nutrition and Dietetics Program Director Nicole Klem traveled to Arden Farm in East Aurora as part of a story by Buffalo News Refresh Blog editor Scott Scanlon. Together with Dan Roelofs, owner of Arden Farm, and Julie Levin, chef at Nardin Academy, Klem spoke about how to introduce fun, nutritious eating to kids.

“All three are doing creative, dynamic work that have resulted in previous Refresh stories, so it was a natural to talk to them for a cover story on healthy, fresh produce for kids,” Scanlon said.

Colorful Eating

The result of that meeting was a Buffalo News article published this weekend: “Color your way to better nutrition.”

In the story, Klem partners with Roelofs and Levins to create several healthy, seasonal and delicious meals that parents can make with their kids. The recipes each highlight a different colored vegetable, which Klem said is an easy way to ensure a variety of nutrients are making it into every meal.

“More variety, more color, more diversity means more nutrition,” she says in the article. “We’re getting most of our vitamin K, potassium, folic acid and fiber from these fruits and vegetables. It’s like taking the world’s best multivitamin.”

The recipes include cherry tomato and pearl mozzarella salad; one-pan spiralized “spaghetti” with tomato sauce; “going blue” fruit and spinach smoothie; blanched green beans; and a “better” (read: healthier) ranch dip.

“Nicole has a broad background, open mind and commitment to fresh, healthy, locally sourced foods,” Scanlon said of using Klem as a resource for stories on nutritious eating. “She fits nicely into the wheelhouse of Refresh, which focuses on health, wellness, fitness, nutrition and family life.”

Klem blog 2

Commenting on Nardin’s Success

Klem also contributed to another recently published Refresh story: “Nardin Academy finds a healthy recipe for success in its dining hall.”

In the article, Klem comments on Nardin chef Julie Levin’s commitment to bringing locally produced, healthy foods to the school’s dining hall and involving Nardin kids in the process with an Edible Schoolyard Club, a “learning garden” and summer cooking classes.

“Anyone who says they’ve got a challenge with their kids is not inviting them into the kitchen and making meals with them,” Klem says in the story.

Reflecting on the Experience

Klem answered a few questions about her experience working on the two Buffalo News pieces and the importance of the topics they examine. See her answers below!

What was your reaction when asked to contribute to pieces promoting healthy eating for kids?

Registered dietitians (such as myself) and dietetic technicians (such as our program’s graduates) are at the forefront, in partnership with school food service and farmers, of bringing a tasty message of healthful eating to parents and their families.

Current childhood nutrition concerns include energy balance, excessive intakes of dietary fats, saturated fats, sugar, and sodium, and inadequate intakes of foods rich in calcium, potassium, vitamin D, and dietary fiber.  These nutrients are found in abundance in fresh foods (like veggies, fruits and whole grains) but often parents don’t know what to do with a summer squash, tomatoes and blueberries.

Graduates of the nutrition program have the opportunity to teach parents how to prepare whole foods in nutritious and delicious ways that both satisfy their family today, and promote lifelong good health and nutrition practices for years to come.

Why are conversations about such issues important?

While the obesity concerns have mostly leveled off in recent years, children can achieve and maintain optimal physical and cognitive development, healthy weight, and reduce the risk of chronic disease through appropriate eating habits and enjoying good food.  There is no better time than the height of summer produce season to talk about how to get kids to enjoy fresh food.

What was the experience working with Dan, Julie and Scott like?

Dan and Julie are two of my favorite foodies.  We should all be so lucky to know someone like Dan Roelofs, who aims to both feed his community, but also educate us on what it takes to bring food to the table and how to really savor the in-season flavors from his farm.  Julie is laying the foundation at Nardin Academy by promoting healthy food choices away from home. Students in the Nutrition and Dietetics program gain valuable experience by working with these professionals in the field where they get to see nutrition in action.

Scott is very healthy himself and takes the job of health promotion through media for WNY very seriously.  He asks good questions, and finds a way to tie the excitement the three of us have over good food together in an article.  I look forward to developing these relationships and seeing what kind of culture change we can bring about in WNY.