Valentine's Day: A chance to show your affection for people by plying them with chocolate. Wonderful and horrifying at the same time. As a chocolate lover, the only thing better is the day after Valentine's Day, when the chocolate all goes on sale. But as a teacher, Valentine's Day often turns into an excuse to encourage kids to overeat sugary treats in the name of celebrating.
Last year I took a stand and decided our class would observe Valentine's Day by making custom fruit smoothies while watching Cupcakes Wars. I started thinking aloud about this year while driving my children somewhere a couple of weeks ago.
"Maybe we'll make something not-quite-so-healthy," I mused.
"Let the kids have some fun and eat some sugar," said my sage almost-eleven-year old.
"Seriously!" chimed in the six year old.
I was seriously considering it. But the glitch is that our school has been trying to run a winter outdoor program on Thursday afternoons, which would eliminate the best chunk of time where we could cook something together. I knew I wouldn't be able to plan anything elaborate in the hopes that we were out of school this afternoon skiing and snowshoeing. (The weather hasn't been cooperating, and on all but one week, the outdoor plans have been canceled.) Then a parent contacted me asking if she could send in a special brownie treat in honor of the day. I decided to have our class celebration during morning snack in case the afternoon program ran. Kids would pass out all their valentines and indulge in brownies someone else made. Party plans complete.
But the opportunity to sneak in a vegetable experience landed in my lap, so what could I do?
My family gets a weekly share of vegetables from Pete's Greens. The owner, Pete Johnson, is a forward-thinking farmer who has figured out how to grow green vegetables in northern Vermont year round. Our share this winter has included greens almost every week, but at this time of the season most of it is stored root vegetables or frozen veggies. Yesterday, my husband brought home a bag filled with, among other things, Valentine radishes.
I stuffed a large one in my school bag and brought it to school as my Valentine's Day treat for the class.
We cut it open during morning meeting
and during snack, almost everyone tried a slice alongside their fudgy brownie and fruit from the kitchen. A slice cut in half looked enticingly like a wedge of watermelon!
The true victory was that no one freaked out about the idea of eating a weird bright pink radish on a day known for roses and candy. It was all just part of the fun.