This is a great LDS Activity Days idea for learning about the Word of Wisdom while also teaching them how to “cook” a healthy meal. Don’t be intimidated by the “supplies” list; other than chopping a few veggies there is very little prep for this activity! If you are low on budget you can assign one food item to each girl to bring, though most items on the list cost less than $1.
Yes, there is a rule for most church buildings that the church kitchens should only be used for “warming” foods and not full-on cooking. Before this activity I explained to the Bishop that all the foods were pre-cooked and pre-chopped and we were just “warming” them together in the microwave. He thought that it fit perfectly within the church building rules and we didn’t have any issues carrying out the activity.
Category: Developing Talents, Learning and Living the Gospel
- 1 can black beans
- 2 cans chicken breast pieces
- 1 can corn
- 1 jar salsa
- spinach from the freezer section, thawed and squeezed out (don’t throw away the wrapper!)
- large bag shredded cheddar cheese
- container of full fat sour cream
- whole wheat tortillas (two for each girl)
- 1/2 c diced onion (nutrition facts for this one are at the bottom of the page)
- 1 diced red pepper (nutrition facts for this one are at the bottom of the page)
- 1-2 diced tomatoes (nutrition facts for this one are at the bottom of the page)
- Print the nutrition facts for low fat cheese, low fat sour cream, white flour tortillas, and 80% lean ground beef for comparison (see the bottom of this page to find the labels) You can also bring these items for more variety if you like.
- Writing utensils, including permanent markers if possible.
- Microwave safe plates
- Spoons and forks for serving out of the cans/packages
- Tablespoon measure for the sour cream
- cup measure for the shredded cheese
- Knife or kitchen scissors for cutting the tortillas
- Dice onion, red pepper, and tomatoes.
- Print nutrition facts for any fresh foods.
- Make sure your church building has a microwave, or bring your own (or plan to do the activity elsewhere)
- Tell the girls we will be learning a simple meal that they can make for themselves or even their family for dinner. Have them help unload the food and see if they can guess what the meal is.
- Assign each girl or group of girls to a food or foods. Also assign the “comparison” nutrition labels for the low fat sour cream, ground beef, etc. Have them identify the nutrition facts label and ask what they already know about the label. If they aren’t sure how to read it, give them some guidance on where to find everything.
- First, have them look at the vitamins and minerals at the bottom, and circle (or write down) the ones that say 10% or more. If it has anything from 10-19% that food is considered a “good” source of that nutrient, and above 20% is considered an “excellent” source. Discuss what each of these nutrients does for our body:
- Vitamin A: Good for vision and a healthy immune system
- Vitamin C: Keeps immune system, skin, and heart healthy.
- Calcium: Needed for strong bones
- Iron: Important for the health of your blood and brain
- Next, have them look at the fiber content. If a food has at least 2.5 grams or 10% of the recommended daily fiber intake, it’s a “good” source of fiber. Discuss the benefits of fiber (makes it easier to poop, reduces cancer and obesity rates).
- Protein is a building block for muscles, blood, skin, cartilage, and bones. The amount of protein your body needs depends on your size and fitness level, but in general, anything over 5 grams is considered a “good” source of protein. Have the girls circle the protein if it is above 5 grams.
- Finally, have them look at the saturated fat content of their food. Explain that saturated fat is very bad for our blood and heart, and we should try to eat as little as possible. (You may want to acknowledge that saturated fat is very tasty and tempting so this can be easier said than done!) Nutrition Scientists recommend staying below 15 grams of saturated fat per day, which means 5 grams or less of saturated fat per meal. Have the girls draw a frowny face on their label if their food has more than 5 grams of saturated fat.
- Now for some scoring! To give the girls a rough idea of which foods are healthiest and which are not so healthy, have them “score” their food by giving it one point for each circle they made on the label, and taking away a point if they had to put a frowny face for saturated fat. The highest scoring one should be the spinach, with the full fat dairy scoring the lowest. Discuss.
- At this point the girls may complain that they don’t like spinach and the looove cheese! Of course we all sympathize with this, but you should avoid the temptation to use the “moderation in all things” diatribe here – we certainly don’t believe in “moderation in all things” for smoking or alcohol! Instead, encourage the girls to do the best they can, that eating healthy is not about eating 100% healthy overnight, but instead taking little steps to eat healthier and healthier every day. And, if they make the effort to do this, science has actually shown that a person’s tastebuds can change to like healthier foods as they eat healthier!
- Talk about how this is related to the Word of Wisdom. In the Word of Wisdom we are encouraged to eat healthy, especially plants, and we know that these are very good for us. Animal products do provide some nutrients but a lot of them also have saturated fat so we have to be careful not to eat too much.
- Read the promise from the Word of Wisdom for committing to eat healthier: “And all saints who remember to keep and do these sayings, walking in obedience to the commandments, shall receive health in their navel and marrow to their bones; And shall find wisdom and great treasures of knowledge, even hidden treasures, and shall run and not be weary, and shall walk and not faint.”
- Now it’s time to make the quesadillas!! Give each girl a tortilla and instruct them on making their tortilla. Put everything they want on except cheese, sour cream, or salsa. Don’t put too much food on or the quesadilla will be hard to eat! Then add cheese (encouraging the girls to use the measuring cup to avoid too much saturated fat) and the top tortilla.
- Take turns microwaving – should take just about 30 seconds, no more than one minute. If there are a lot of toppings you can use another plate on top to flatten the quesadilla after taking out of the microwave.
- Enjoy eating your food and encourage them to give their adults a break one evening by getting together all the ingredients for a “quesadilla bar” for the family’s dinner.
- Add a second “frowny face” to the exercise by talking about sodium. High sodium items get an extra frowny face.
80% Lean Ground Beef
Low Fat Sour Cream:
Low Fat Cheese:
White flour tortillas: