Food is Fun: Miraculous Mushrooms

One of Nurture’s most popular school programs is called “Food and Fun”. These monthly classroom visits are all about kids trying new foods and learning simple and actional nutritional information.

For example: reading labels, learning about added sugar, and understanding how the advertising industry affects how we feel about food.

We also highlight certain foods that might be in season or be local to a specific area.

This post is an example of a “food highlight” and is written by Nurture Volunteer Dijana Hodzic.

Feel free to incorporate them into a lesson at your own dinner table, at a trip to a grocery store, market, or farm, or wherever you find yourself in an opportunity to educate and inspire about food!

Guest Post by Dijana Hodzic

Mushrooms are nutritious, delicious, and available year-round.  Cultivated mushrooms may just be the next fun and smart addition to your next meal. 

Whether you slice them up and add them to your salad raw or saute them with garlic and herbs for a hearty side dish, only one cup of the modest white button mushroom provides:

  • Calories: 22
  • Carbs: 3 grams
  • Fiber: 1 gram
  • Protein: 3 grams
  • Fat: 0 grams
  • Vitamin D: 33% of the Daily Value (DV)
  • Selenium: 16% of the DV
  • Phosphorus: 12% of the DV
  • Folate: 4% of the DV*

When buying mushrooms, make sure they are free of slime and dark spots. Feel free to give them a rinse if you’re going to cook them right away, otherwise, you can clean mushrooms with a damp paper towel. Mushrooms contain a lot of water so the best way to cook them is to saute them dry (i.e. without any fat) until the water has evaporated. 

Ready to give mushrooms a try? Check out make Everything Fun’s Asian-Fusion Quinoa with Greens and Mushrooms for an easy, filling meal using a slow cooker. 


“Food and Fun” is simply a way to get kids excited about attending a nutrition education/wellness class.

Who doesn’t like Food and Fun?

The idea here is to choose materials and programming that offer hands-on learning opportunities. If your school policies allow it, having children prepare and taste their own foods is often the best way to make sure that they try them!*

This video demonstrates what the “Food and Fun” program looks like:

In addition to the Nurture Elementary Nutrition and Wellness Program (ENWP) materials, here are some of our favorite resources to help with a “food and fun-type” program:

Edible Schoolyard Project Formerly known as (Alice Water’s) Chez Panisse Foundation, the Edible Schoolyard Project has an expanded mission of building and sharing an edible education curriculum for kindergarten through high school.  The Edible Schoolyard project bolsters edible education in programs across the country through its extensive online network and resource center.
MyPlate Kids Place Designed for children ages 8 to 12, which can also help parents and educators make better and healthier food choices. It includes games, activity sheets, recipes, and tips, in addition to links to the website. Adults can encourage kids to become MyPlate Champions by taking the MyPlate Champions Pledge, available at MyPlate Kids’ Place.  Kids who pledge to be a MyPlate Champion make a promise to themselves to eat healthy and be active every day.

One of the best messages to send kids is to Eat a Rainbow.  Mushrooms are white, which is an important “color” that our rainbow lessons include. There are lots of great resources out there, but we wanted to list a few:

tableNurture resources, including:

*Recent studies show that hands-on tasting opportunities are superior to education alone when encouraging kids to increase fruits and veggie intake. An American Journal of Clinical Nutrition study examined whether providing a variety of familiar vegetables or fruit to preschool children as a snack would lead to increased selection and intake.

The children were offered a single type (cucumber, sweet pepper, or tomato) or a variety of all 3 vegetable types, and fruit (apple, peach, pineapple, or all 3 types). Uniform-sized pieces were served family-style, and children selected and ate as much as they desired. The children chose some pieces in 94% of snacks with variety and in 70% of snacks without variety. This form of presentation significantly increased overall intake.

A study in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics found that exposing kids to fruits and veggies seem to work better than educating. Students in an Educational Material group (EDUC) received a weekly educational program for increasing awareness and improving skills regarding fruit preparation/consumption. Students in the Exposure group (EXPO) were exposed to the consumption of a fruit on a daily basis by their teacher, and a control group did not receive any intervention. Higher fruit intake was reported by the children in the EXPO and the EDUC groups compared with the control group. However, at one year of follow-up, only the EXPO group remained significant.

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