Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Early Sprouts: A Book Review

Plant lifelong healthy eating concepts in young children and counteract the prevalence of childhood obesity with Early Sprouts. A research-based early childhood curriculum, this “seed-to-table” approach gets children interested in and enjoying nutritious fruits and vegetables. 

The Early Sprouts model engages preschoolers in all aspects of planting, preparing, and eating organically grown produce. Find directions for designing and caring for gardens, recipes children can help prepare, and ways to involve the whole family in making healthy food choices. The activities used in this 24-week program can be tailored to fit any early childhood program, climate, or geographical region; have been tested in a variety of early learning environments; and have received accolades from children, their parents, and teachers alike. Age Focus: 2-6. Softbound, 224 pgs. 

Read an Early Sprouts success story. 

Read the July, 2009 issue of NAEYC's Young Children about Early Sproutsinnovative gardening and nutrition program for preschoolers. HERE Early Sproutsreceived a Champion Award from the Acting US Surgeon General, Dr. Galson.

Promote healthy eating habits with delicious Early Sprouts recipes!

The Early Sprouts Cookbook is packed with more than seventy child-tested and child-approved recipes that contribute to children's well-rounded diets. These recipes incorporate vegetables, fruits, whole grains, lean protein, and other nutrient-rich ingredients into preschoolers' meals—each aligning with the USDA Food Guide Pyramid and CACFP guidelines.

In addition to nutritious and delicious breakfast, lunch, snack, and special celebration recipes, you will find
  • Recommended nutrition guidelines for young children
  • A review of the Early Sprouts approach
  • Tips to create a child-friendly cooking environment
  • Information on creating partnerships with families as you create a nutritionally purposeful environment

The Early Sprouts Cookbook complements Early Sprouts: Cultivating Healthy Food Choices in Young Children, a complete nutrition and gardening curriculum to help preschoolers develop preferences for healthy foods. Age Focus: 3-5. Softbound, 216 pgs.

Karrie Kalich, PhD, is a registered dietitian and an associate professor in the department of health science at Keene State College. She consults on health and nutrition topics and also co-authored Early Sprouts: Cultivating Healthy Food Choices in Young Children.

Dottie Bauer, EdD, is a professor of early childhood education at Keene State College. Her academic background is in early childhood, special education, and human development. She is an avid gardener.

Deirdre McPartlin, MEd, is the academic coordinator at Keene State College's Child Development Center. Previous experience in the field includes teaching preschool and kindergarten, child care administration, and working with pre-service teachers.

Lynn Arnold, RD, LD, teaches undergraduate nutrition classes at Keene State College and is the program coordinator for the Early Sprouts program. 

Carole Russell is an early childhood teacher at the Keene State College Child Development Center and regularly presents training programs and conference sessions about the Early Sprouts program.

My Review:

I have been in the field of Early Childhood Education since 1998 and over the years have served many healthy and fun snacks and meals. There are many great recipes and cookbooks on the market, for purchase, today, as well as a wide variety of online resources. However, one thing that I find lacking is the availability of a solid curriculum that encourages organic foods and teaching children the importance of gardening, where our food comes from and how to make healthy food choices. I have found many separate resources that cover some of these topics but not one whole product. Until now that is.

 Recently I had the opportunity to review Early Sprouts: Cultivating Healthy Food Choices in Young Children and The Early Sprouts Cookbook. 

First, my thoughts about the book, Early Sprouts. Immediately you are drawn in by the cover. A bright cover with an adorable little girl that is super excited looking, holding a yummy tomato. It just draws you right in. Then you open the book and check it out, realizing this book is FULL of goodness from cover to cover. 

In Part 1 you are introduced to the Early Sprouts philosophy, the importance of nutrition, how to set up a Early Sprouts planting and learn about all the different vegetables you will grow (including how to grow them, and why they are so important for our bodies). 

Part 2 is the "meat" of the book, breaking down the 24 week curriculum set by set! This was fantastic and I absolutely loved how each week covered a sensory exploration activity and a cooking activity using a different vegetable. For example, week 11 covers the carrot, comparing shredded cooked carrots with uncooked carrots. Taking about 30 minutes for the activity was the perfect time length for preschooler's and I loved that the activity was set up step by step. Then you continue with a cooking activity, and in week 11 you make one of my fave foods, Honey Glazed Carrots. Again, a very easy recipe to make and one that my kids devoured! Not only do you get the recipe, but also tips on how to involve the children in prep and step by step instructions.  

In Part 2 you will also find a gold mine in what is called The Family Recipe Kit. This is an amazing addition to the curriculum, bringing what the children learn at school to home. Each week the child is sent home a kit, complete with a questionarre, recipe and some of the ingredients to prepare with. The goal is help families try new, healthy recipes and reinforce what the children are learning at school. I absolutely love this and hope to incorporate this in my own home daycare program in the near future. Just trying to work out the specifics and adapt it to my program (again, so far, pretty easy to do.)

Finally, Part 3 helps you understand the impact that a program like Early Sprouts has on a community. It was full of more statistics but also personal stories on it's impact. Included are a number of great resources in the appendix.

When thumbing through The Early Sprouts Cookbook, I was first amazed at all the full-color photos showing, not only some really yummy foods, but children interacting and cooking with adults side-by-side. This is the way cooking needs to happen, and does not happen enough. The cookbook is nicely organized by Breakfast, Lunch, and Snack ideas, as well as Celebration recipes and even an entire section of original Early Sprouts recipes. 

We tried several recipes including Harvest Muffins (p. 59), Pasta with Carrots and Peas (p. 87) and Italian-Style Roasted Cauliflower (p. 113). The cauliflower recipe was by far my favorite so far! All the recipes we have prepared and eaten have been delicious, and so easy to make. My children were able to help with prep in a safe manner and I will definitely be using this cookbook for many years to come.

If you are looking for a great food curriculum, a way to introduce gardening with children, or a wonderful cookbook for a gift, then look no further than the Early Sprouts products!

I highly recommend these books and give them a huge thumbs up!

BUY IT: You can purchase Early Sprouts Cookbook here, and the Early Sprouts book here, both from RedLeaf Press.You can also purchase them as a set here.

***I received a complimentary set of these books, courtesy of RedLeaf Press, for the purpose of review on this blog. All opinions expressed are my own, and I have not been compensated in any other manner***

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