It???s not often you see children voluntarily gulping down spinach. It???s even more unusual to find children using spinach as an ingredient in the preparation of a healthy smoothie.??

Nonetheless, Aphaia Lorde and Donnecia Mayers, of the St. Margaret???s Primary School, combined this nutritious ingredient with banana, oats, linseed and a powdered supplement to win the inaugural St. John Independence Parish Committee???s Inter-School Healthy Smoothie Competition.

With 15 minutes to prepare the beverage, provide samples to the panel of judges and arrange a display glass for presentation purposes, St. Margaret???s Primary School faced stiff competition from participating schools Mount Tabour Primary, St. John Primary and Society Primary.??

Ecstatic about the win, teacher, Anjanette Samuels, said the winning smoothie was called Spinach Banana Coola and explained the ingredients were chosen based on their nutritious value.

Ms. Samuels described the preparation for the competition as ???fun??? and said a bonus was that the students were able to learn about the health benefits of the ingredients.

According to Aphaia and Donnecia: ???The spinach is high in iron and fiber; banana is high in potassium; the oats help to lower cholesterol, the linseed contains Omega-3 and the supplement is high in iron, vitamins and minerals.?????

More importantly, the Spinach Banana Coola tastes delicious! Donnecia revealed that her classmates had the opportunity to sample the smoothie prior to the competition and the general consensus was that ???it tasted very good???.

Aphaia admitted she initially thought that spinach was a strange ingredient for a beverage, but quickly added; ???As soon as I got to taste it [the smoothie], I thought it wasn???t bad.???

The Inter-School Healthy Smoothie Competition was part of the St. John Parish Committee???s 2013 Spirit of the Nation project. Parish Ambassadors, Dario Harewood and Sanchia Alleyne, said their outreach activities were guided by the theme: Healing the Nation, a Healthier You, a Healthier Barbados.

We understand the youth are the future. We wanted to help them adopt healthy lifestyles, so we conceptualised the smoothie competition to get them to consume nutritious foods and provide a creative way of preparing healthy meals,??? Mr. Harewood noted.

Ms. Alleyne added the St. John Independence Parish Committee worked with schools in the district to start or maintain kitchen gardens. The committee partnered with the Mayfair Ballroom Dance Club, a community group, to provide residents with an option for physical activity, and to encourage community spirit.??

While they are happy with the overall project, the response to the Inter-School Healthy Smoothie Competition left both ambassadors extremely pleased.

It???s easier to get children to blend stuff together to make a healthy drink, instead of just giving them the spinach or the pumpkin to eat alone. So, with the smoothie competition, the children were excited to consume nutritious foods,??? Ms. Alleyne said.

Placing second in the competition was Mount Tabour Primary School. Kiara Bishop and Chequen Inniss, prepared the Fruitilicious Smoothie, a yummy pink brew, which contained golden apple, guava and strawberry. The team was led by teacher, Natasha Layne-Slinger.??

In third place was Society Primary School with the Oh-La-La Smoothie, made by Tyrese Haynes and Dondrea Rowe. Their teacher, Claudine Moseley, said it was ???a 100 per cent Bajan smoothie made with exotic ingredients: sapodilla, star fruit and watermelon???.??

Commending her team for the effort, Ms. Moseley added: ???These little children have a lot inside of them that should be pulled out and used. I am very pleased at how they communicated on the job.???

Dondrea described her smoothie-making experience as ???amazing???, while Tyrese, whose dad makes health shakes at home, noted he was happy with the whole competition.??

St. John Primary presented the Bananakin Pie Smoothie ??? a delicious blend of banana, pumpkin, spices and almond milk. Students Keann Peters and Tyrek Moore, mixed the beverage under the watchful eye of their teacher, Ryan Griffith.??

The panel of judges comprised Chief Judge and Instructor at The Barbados Hospitality Institute, Basil Jemmott; Function Coordinator at the Barbados Hospitality Institute, Joy-Anne Taitt-Taylor; Bar Manager at the Waterside Restaurant, Ryan Crichlow; and Retired Food Development Officer, Marion Harte.

While Chief Judge, Mr. Jemmott congratulated the schools and lauded the organisers for hosting the contest, he advised the teachers to encourage the children to talk to the judges. ???Let us know what you are doing??? You can tell us, I am adding this, and I am adding that. This will help you, we [the judges] are not as scary as you may think,??? he said.

Mrs. Harte commended the participants on their choice to use primarily local products. She was even happier that none of the smoothies contained sugar. ???One of the things that I found was that nobody used sugar. That is very good. We can get our sucrose and fructose from the natural fruit??? and I hope that this does not stop here,??? Ms. Harte added.

Mrs. Taitt-Taylor said she was happy to see ???budding chefs and bartenders??? using healthy ingredients such as spinach, and called for a national smoothie competition for 2014.

Mr. Crichlow disclosed he was in awe to see young children using healthy ingredients without sugar and described the inaugural Smoothie Competition as a forum that gave the nation???s children a ???healthy start???.

Author: Shamkoe Pil??

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