Learning Through Your Stomach

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Remember the old saying, “The best way to reach (whoever’s) heart is through their stomach“? Well, it’s true! Recently, I’ve been using my kids’ stomachs to give them a greater love and understanding of themselves and their world.

Eating Your History

Our family has a personal connection to many heritages, including: US/Philadelphia, the Philippines, India, Vietnam, and Sweden. Our birthdays, holidays, and family gatherings have an amazing blend of flavor options. Not only that, but my in-laws work with international students and frequently bring us potluck leftovers made by people from all over the world! 

Food has an amazing power. It makes us feel connected to others, to feel pride in ourselves, and to engage with cultures we only know from afar. True, I can point to the Philippines on our map and say that’s part of our family heritage, but pointing at it while we munch on lumpia is a whole other level. And I can point to Pennsylvania on our map, but eating an authentic tasting cheesesteak from JB O’Brien’s, reminds us of the times we’ve been there and eaten them with family. 

While I’ve grown accustomed to incorporating curry, pho, Swedish meatballs (thanks, IKEA), pancit, and pork roll (don’t ask) with personal connections to our family, we wanted to expand our palates and our minds! 

Eating To Expand Your World

For the last two months we’ve been trying a subscription box called Raddish and, wow, have I been impressed. They offer options for Bakers, US fare, and Global Eats. We opted for Global Eats. With our first box we received an official apron, an iron on badge representing our current area of the world, a cooking tool related to the recipes, Table Talk conversation cards, and phenomenal illustrated step-by-step laminated recipe cards. Not only that, their website has bonus content like extra recipes, music playlist, lesson plans, dietary modifications, additional activities, and places to connect with other Raddish Kids on Facebook and instagram.

Our first box started with the Middle East. The info card highlighted the area of the globe, described the flavors we would explore, gave tips on meat cutting, and had a word scramble puzzle of our ingredients. I especially loved how the recipe cards highlighted the skills we would cover, like knife skills and palate development. It also has short descriptions of Desert Agriculture, Street Eats, famous Sights, and more. 

What I love is the springboard this provided for us. Middle Eastern food led to googling Middle Eastern world changers, which led to Malala Yousafzai and discussions about education for girls, which led to talking about the freedoms we enjoy where we live, which went off in five different meaningful directions of learning! Then music exploration, geography and estimating distance… the ripples go on and on.

Pairing Learning With Delicious Memories

Raddish is one of many cool options out there to explore. Or, if you have momergy (mom energy), you can ask your kids what part of the globe they might want to explore. Then head to your local library to find cookbooks, google a playlist of that area’s music, maybe find a documentary or cartoon, too! (Jelly, Ben & Pogo is a great Filipino cartoon). Maybe you’ll even find a local restaurant or exhibit highlighting the country you chose. Then use the spark of your child’s interest, fueled with good food, and explore your world!

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Cheryl Quimba
Cheryl is a nearly 20 year Oregonian who grew up in a suburb of Philadelphia. She learned to turn down the sarcasm dial, hike in the rain, and keep an IV drip of coffee at all times, making the PNW deeply home. She obtained her Bachelor's degree in Pastoral Counseling and, in her pre-kid years, worked in substance abuse prevention, special needs tutoring, and as administrative support for the psychiatric care of at risk children. She and her husband, BJ, are two-time adoptive parents to Nora (8) and Evan (5). Together, they love discovering nature, mountains of library books, and endless hours of legos, art, and YouTube. A potent cocktail of pandemic school closure and a growing understanding of neurodivergent needs led Cheryl to educate their kids at home. She spends much of her time geeking out over resources for Child-Led Learning (Unschool, Self-Directed, Natural Learning -whatever your flavor!). Through NEST she has obtained certification in supporting individuals with the Pathological Demand Avoidance profile of the Autism Spectrum. She enjoys encouraging families in their journey as they seek to understand and love their children well. You can find her at WhatHelps.me, where she educates and supports in areas of OCD, PDA, Unschooling, and Open Adoption.