March brings grains to Harvest of the Month
Seventh graders learn to cook with hands-on recipes
ENNIS—Middle school students at Ennis Schools were the latest to learn about and cook some local ingredients when the time for the March Harvest of the Month rolled around.
Montana Harvest of the Month is a collaboratively-managed program produced by Montana State University and partners. The program has rotated among the grade levels for elementary and middle school students all year. This month, the seventh-graders had their turn, testing half a dozen varieties of Montana-grown grains.
Led by culinary science teacher Jamie Diehl, the students cooked “green grain grub” with a pesto sauce, comparing whole wheat cous cous, quinoa, oats, bulgur, farro and barely.
Montana produces the third most wheat and barley in the U.S., and is ranked 17th in corn production.
The students cooked dried versions of each grain, tossing them with sauce made with basil, garlic and parmesan cheese.
Grains like barley, cous cous, quinoa and farro are excellent sources of fiber, as well as antioxidants and beneficial micronutrients that often get overlooked such as manganese, selenium and niacin.
Grains can also be soaked or sprouted to make their nutrients more accessible by the body. Sprouted grains are often found in breads and are also thought to have even higher levels of minerals, proteins and antioxidants.
For people who want to lose weight, whole grains like these are also a good choice. With their high levels of fiber, they’re proven to reduce appetite and are also thought to combat metabolic diseases and help stabilize blood sugar levels in people with diabetes.
In their taste test of six varieties, the students selected the cous cous as their favorite. The Harvest of the Month program, which will continue for two more months through the end of the school year, seeks to teach children about the origins of their food and the environmental and economic importance of eating local products whenever they can. As the weather warms, the program will connect with the workings of the Ennis school garden, where students can get their hands dirty both growing ingredients and cooking with the bounty of their efforts.