Health Check Kids: Exposing children to new foods

Richmond Elementary School's Local Food Ambassador Program is a way to get kids to try new things. (WJAR)

Richmond Elementary School's Local Food Ambassador Program is a way to get kids to try new things.

"We started the buzz a couple of days ago," said Sharon Martin, who is the school's principal. "We've been doing morning announcements for the last couple of days getting the children ready, giving them some background knowledge about what butternut squash is. How it's grown."

For the record, butternut squash is a fruit. And Thursday's rendition made it taste like one with a sweet orange glaze and some craisins.

The program is a partnership between food service provider Aramark, the Rhode Island Healthy Schools Coalition and Farm Fresh RI.

"We asked them to help us today because we want to know if it tastes good,” said Patricia Roth, a program associate with Farm Fresh RI. “We say, you know, we need to let the farmers know if they should keep growing it."

So, the kids did just that, with some of them giving the samples the sniff test first, while others dove right in.

"It's yummy," said one of the students.

"It was awesome,” said another.

One youngster gobbled up five samples.

"I like it because it's really tasty with the stuff that was added, It's just delicious,” he said.

Here's the recipe for the orange glazed butternut squash with dried cranberries. It's is a USDA Team Nutrition recipe that was scaled down for home use, courtesy of Chariho Food Service Director Jeff Powell.

Serves: 4 - 6


Margarine or butter 4 oz. (1/2 cup)

Ginger, fresh - chopped 1 TBSP

Orange Juice 1 cup

Brown Sugar 1 cup

Ground cinnamon 1 tsp

Ground Nutmeg 1 tsp

Salt 1/2 tsp

Vanilla Extract 1 TBSP

Water 1 cup

Fresh Butternut Squash 1 small about 2 lbs., peeled and cubed

Cornstarch 2 TBSP

Water 2 TBSP

Dried Cranberries 1/2 cup


1.) In a pot, add margarine or butter, ginger, orange juice, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, vanilla and water. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat and set aside for step 2.

2.) Combine 1/4 cup of mixture and the squash in a bowl. Toss.

3.) Place squash in oven and bake at 375 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until fork tender

4.) While squash is baking bring remaining liquid to a simmer. Mix remaining water and cornstarch. Add cornstarch mixture to liquid while simmering and whisk. It will thicken. Add cranberries.

5.) After removing squash from oven pour glaze over and toss.

6.) Serve immediately.

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