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Eat Your Veggies! How One Chef Got Her Kids to Love "Green Things"

kids holding carrot

By Carolyn Sweeney Hauck

One of the best hires the Blue Springs KinderCare has ever made was Darsetta Wood as the cook in the early 2000s. Since then, she's turned 2-year-olds into organic gardeners and 5-year-olds into connoisseurs of zucchini and okra. 

That’s just what Darsetta does: She spreads her passion for gardening and cooking everywhere she goes. And the people she loves cooking for most in the world are also notoriously the pickiest eaters: children. 

“I love to give them new foods and help their little taste buds grow,” Darsetta says. “My kids eat zucchini, tomatoes, green onion, you name it. They have to have variety.” Darsetta is not only an exceptional cook and gardener, but a healthy-eating advocate as well. Don’t get her started on kid menus at restaurants that feature everything fried, fried, and more fried. “Think of the kids, think of their health, and think of the benefits fresh foods have for them.”

Darsetta is so passionate about cooking for kids and giving them good nutrition that she even provides culinary research for KinderCare’s Nutrition and Wellness program. When KinderCare needs to figure out, say, the average time it takes to make a recipe or whether kids will enjoy a new dish we’re considering, Darsetta is one of our go-to test chefs—and her kids are our taste testers. (Darsetta and her children’s feedback recently helped us develop the perfect Tuscan Salad recipe, for instance.)

kid eating veggies

Darsetta makes sure the magic doesn’t only take place inside the kitchen, though. “Gardening goes hand in hand with cooking,” she explains. “There is no better way to teach a child healthy eating than through a garden. It gives them a clear understanding of where food comes from.” So the little green thumbs under Darsetta’s tutelage don’t just eat food. They get to grow their own by planting, watering, and harvesting veggies in their very own garden.

“Food is essential to our lives,” says Darsetta about her passion for teaching children the joys of food. “When you’re eating, you feel good. When you’re with the people you love, what better way to connect than over a good meal?”

We couldn’t agree more.

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